Ativan’s Potential for Abuse

What is Ativan?

Lorazepam, or as it’s more commonly known brand name, Ativan, is a drug used to treat anxiety. It is a benzodiazepine drug with a short to medium half-life. Lorazepam was introduced in 1977, and is sometimes used as an adjunct antiemetic in chemotherapy.

Lorazepam is generally used to treat severe but shorter term anxiety, but is generally not as effective when treating panic attacks. With regards to anxiety, Ativan is an effective sedative which makes it a good choice for short term insomnia.

Another interesting use of lorazepam is as a sedative prior to anaesthetia for surgery. It helps ease anxiety and induce amnesia for the surgery procedure.

Ativan can also be used to terminate acute seizures, due to it’s anticonvulsant properties, and in rare cases be used to treat petit mal epilepsy. The anticonvulsant in lorazepam (the CNS depressant) are also useful for treating alcohol withdrawal.

Luckily, lorazepam does not require oxidation (hepatic, the liver) to metabolize, so this makes it useful for alcoholics. Lastly, Ativan can be useful in treating nausea and vomitting that occur with cancer chemo.

Potential for Abuse?

Ativan (Lorazepam) has a high potential for abuse. People with addictive personalities or a history of drug abuse are most likely to abuse lorazepam. It has been used to un-inhibit criminals and as a date rape drug, usually when combined with alcohol. Benzodiazepines are also commonly used in attempted suicides.

Ativan Side Effects

Serious Ativan side effects:

  • thoughts of suicide, depression or confusion
  • agitation, hyperactivity, or hostility
  • hallucinations
  • light-headed
  • fainting

Call your doctor immediately if you experience any of these side effects, or have an allergic reaction such as hives, swelling of the lips, face, tongue or throat; or difficulty breathing.

Less serious Ativan side effects:

  • sleep problems,
  • blurred vision,
  • drowziness,
  • tiredness,
  • dizziness,
  • muscle weakness,
  • forgetfulness,
  • trouble concentrating,
  • vomitting,
  • nausea,
  • constipation
  • appetite changes
  • skin rash

This is not a complete list of Ativan side effects. Consult your doctor for a full list.