Ativan Withdrawal and Detox

Modified: 10th Jul 2019

Last updated on July 10th, 2019 at 10:32 am

Over 30 percent of overdoses that involve opioids are caused by benzodiazepines like Ativan. They are typically used to ease symptoms of anxiety, including insomnia, but despite being helpful, they can also be dangerous.

If you’ve had an Ativan overdose scare, it might be time to quit. But just like any addiction, it doesn’t come without awful withdrawal symptoms and the need for a detox. Not sure where to begin during this scary chapter of your life?

What Causes Ativan Withdrawal 

Once you start taking Ativan for an extended period of time, your body becomes reliant on its ability to keep you calm and help you sleep. When you stop taking the drug, it shocks your nervous system and organs and forces them to adjust to its absence. This is when withdrawal starts. 

While you’re going through this withdrawal you will experience various extremes of psychological and physical changes.

Ativan Withdrawal Symptoms 

There are two levels of withdrawal symptoms that you will go through, acute withdrawal and protracted withdrawal. 

Acute withdrawal typically consists of physical symptoms. These include:  

  • Cravings 
  • Irritability
  • Sweating 
  • Insomnia
  • Confusion 
  • Difficulty concentrating 
  • Abdominal cramps 
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Headache
  • Rapid heart rate 
  • Weight loss
  • Panic attacks

Protracted withdrawal happens after acute withdrawal is over. It mostly consists of the psychological symptoms which include: 

  • Anxiety
  • Depression 
  • Dysphoria 
  • Cravings
  • Lack of initiative 
  • Problems sleeping 
  • Inability to feel pleasure 
  • OCD tendencies 
  • Tiredness 
  • Memory issues

The duration of these symptoms strongly depends on how much of it is in your system before you start to detox from it. 

Duration of Ativan Withdrawal 

The acute withdrawal symptoms can start anywhere between 10 to 24 hours after the last dose. The duration of the symptoms is different for everyone because it ultimately depends on the strength of your doses and how often you took it. 

For some, the symptoms can last for a few weeks, some a few months, and others have even reported still having withdrawal symptoms years after stopping their use of the drug.

Ativan Withdrawal Timeline 

1-3 days after you stop taking the drug, the acute withdrawal symptoms, such as bad headaches, will start. You’ll also experience anxiety, insomnia, rapid heart rate, and raising blood pressure.  

4-7 days after you stop, your symptoms will reach their peak intensity. You’ll become irritable from lack of sleep and cravings. How severe these symptoms become vary from person to person. 

8-14 days after you stop, these symptoms will begin to fade. The side effects from the first few days should be mostly gone if not already. 

After 15 days you’ve gotten through the worse of it. The acute withdrawal symptoms should be completely gone at this point. If you are still feeling them, it will be very mild. For some, this is when the protracted symptoms start. 

Again, there is no real telling when the symptoms of withdrawal will completely stop. 

Detoxing from Ativan on Your Own 

Unlike some drugs, you can detox from Ativan on your own by quitting it. Most medical professionals will tell you not to quit the drug cold turkey however because it will make the withdrawal symptoms much harder on you. 

You want to slowly work your way off Ativan by taking smaller and smaller doses each time. Eventually, your body will become less dependent on it. 

Medical Detox for Ativan 

Though you can detox from Ativan on your own, it’s much easier and safer to go through medical detox. A medical professional can make the process more comfortable for you and step in if your withdrawal symptoms become too dangerous. 

Medical professionals can also provide you with support to prevent you from falling into a relapse. If you do wish to slowly wean yourself off of the drug, a doctor can prescribe a lower dose of it to make this process easier. 

How Medical Detox Works and What to Expect 

The most effective form of help you can get to fight Ativan addiction is by visiting a rehab center. There you will have a choice of inpatient or outpatient care.

With inpatient care, you’ll stay at a facility and be given 24-hour assistance. This is the best method of making sure you don’t relapse. 

If you choose outpatient care, you’ll have more freedom because you’ll attend group meetings for 10 or more hours a week instead of staying at a facility. This method allows you to have access to a support group. Most choose to do this as a continuation of their care after they’ve gotten through inpatient care. 

Medications Available for Ativan Detox 

On top of giving you a smaller dose of the drug to help you wean yourself off of it easier, there are a few more medications that they may prescribe to you. When you’re coming off the drug you will experience insomnia, so the answer for that will be melatonin.

Another drug that helps with the process is an antidepressant called Paxil. It eases withdrawal symptoms and will be a key to your success. 

Your Guide to Ativan Withdrawal and Detox 

The first step to successfully detoxing from a drug is knowing the withdrawal symptoms and being prepared for what is to come. When you quit Ativan, the intensity of the very symptoms that you were taking the drug for will increase. You’ll need a doctor’s help and a strong support system to make it through. 

Are you ready to get the help that you need? Contact us today to speak to one of our medical professionals. 

Article Reviewed by Dr. Keerthy Sunder, MD, DFAPA

Dr. Keerthy Sunder, MD, DFAPADr. Keerthy Sunder, MD is an accomplished and internationally recognized expert in the field of addiction. He has earned diplomates from the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology, the American Board of Addiction Medicine, and the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists.