Ativan is the generic name for the medication lorazepam. It is one of many drugs known as benzodiazepines. These medications are primarily prescribed for the short term treatment of anxiety disorders, and may also be used to help with insomnia.
Ativan works by targeting a particular chemical in the brain known as gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA). GABA is central nervous system neurotransmitter that inhibits over-excitation in the brain. It plays a significant role in sleep and relaxation, and has a naturally calming effect. This is why ativan and similar medications, such as Xanax, Valium, and Klonopin, are often referred to as mild tranquilizers or central nervous system depressants. They can be highly sedating.
When taken, the effects of ativan are often felt within a few minutes, although it may take a bit longer for some individuals. The effects of this medication include a reduction of anxiety, drowsiness, and muscle relaxation. Ativan can also work to stop seizures.
Ativan is sometimes prescribed “off-label” for a number of other medical conditions or symptoms. These include:
- Alcohol withdrawal
- Restless leg syndrome
- Muscle spasms
- Myoclonus (involuntary muscle twitching)
Individuals who have glaucoma, a history of depression, liver disease, alcohol or drug abuse history, allergies of any kind, or kidney disease, as well as women who are pregnant (or considering becoming pregnant) or nursing should discuss these conditions with their physician before taking Ativan.
As with the other benzodiazepines, Ativan is often abused and can be addictive. Ativan is fast-acting and can be overused by those who have significant anxiety symptoms. This can lead to tolerance. It is prescribed for short-term use only, as long term use can also lead to a tolerance for the drug. It is not recommended to be taken longer than 4 months.
If you develop a tolerance or become addicted to Ativan, it should never be stopped suddenly as this can lead to seizures. Panic attacks and hallucinations may also occur during withdrawal from ativan. The dose of the drug should be gradually tapered, preferably under the supervision of a physician or other qualified medical professional.
Individuals who become addicted to Ativan may require drug rehabilitation and / or outpatient drug treatment.