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Ativan Withdrawal

Known generically as lorazepam, Ativan one of a category of drugs called benzodiazepines (also known as “benzos”). These drugs are sedatives that act as central nervous system depressants and are commonly prescribed for anxiety, insomnia, and seizures. Ativan is a fast-acting benzo, causing relaxing effects in less than 15 minutes. 

While Ativan can be helpful in the short-term, because it causes such powerful sensations of relaxation, it can also be addictive. In fact, deaths from benzodiazepine overdose such as Ativan accounted for almost 9,000 deaths in 2015. It’s important to follow dosing instructions carefully and not to take Ativan for a long period of time. If you become addicted to Ativan, like other benzodiazepines, Ativan withdrawal can be difficult and uncomfortable. Learn more below about how to withdraw safely from Ativan.

What Are the Ativan Withdrawal Symptoms?

If you have become addicted to or dependent on Ativan, withdrawal can be physically and mentally difficult. A broad range of Ativan withdrawal symptoms can occur, which may include:

  • Tremors
  • Stomach cramps or pain
  • Muscle cramps or pain
  • Dry heaves and nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Sweating
  • Headache
  • Anxiety and irritability
  • Irregular heartbeat
  • Panic attacks
  • Tension
  • Restlessness
  • Confusion
  • Changes in mood
  • Rebound insomnia
  • Hallucinations
  • Seizures

What Are the Stages of the Ativan Withdrawal Timeline?

There are two general stages of Ativan withdrawal. These stages are acute and prolonged withdrawal symptoms. The worst of the symptoms usually occur within the first seven days of withdrawal. However, some symptoms can linger for much longer, especially psychological symptoms such as anxiety.

Acute Ativan Withdrawal Symptoms

  • Headache
  • Irritability
  • Panic attacks
  • Hand tremors
  • Increased tension and anxiety
  • Problems concentrating
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Profuse sweating
  • Dry heaves and nausea
  • Muscle pain and stiffness

Prolonged Ativan Withdrawal Symptoms

  • Mood changes
  • Anxiety and restlessness
  • Rebound insomnia

Why Should I Detox?

Stopping Ativan immediately, or “cold turkey”, may seem like a good idea if you’re ready to get treatment. But withdrawing from Ativan can cause difficult symptoms like agitation, seizures, and sleep disturbance. Because of the severity of symptoms Ativan withdrawal can cause, it is not recommended to go through it on your own. It’s much safer and more effective to go through a medical detox as part of an addiction treatment program. 

A medical detox program includes clinical management and could involve the administration of medications to help ease the withdrawal symptoms. By entering a professional treatment program, you will have a better opportunity for a lasting recovery because of the structured medical and emotional support provided.

What Is the Next Treatment Step?

Addiction treatment is available in different formats and lengths of time, but following a comprehensive approach known as a full continuum of treatment will provide the best potential for a successful recovery. A program that covers the full continuum of treatment starts with the detox phase, which is the most intense level of treatment. From detox, the program progresses through gradually less intense treatment stages. The stages in a full continuum of treatment program include detox, residential, partial hospitalization, intensive outpatient, and alumni or aftercare.


The primary goal of detox, the first stage of withdrawal treatment, is medical stabilization. When you arrive at the treatment center, you will receive a complete medical assessment. This assessment will determine your level of addiction as well as any other medical needs you may have. It will include a medical exam and urine or blood tests to screen for drugs. 

It’s possible that your doctor may require additional testing. These other tests may include more blood tests, including a CBC (complete blood count), a chest X-ray, ECG (electrocardiogram), and testing for other diseases.

After you have completed the testing and your doctor has reviewed your results, he or she will create your detox plan. You will begin the detox process under the care of your medical team which will include doctors, nurses, and support staff. 

Part of your medical treatment may include medications to help manage the physical symptoms of Ativan withdrawal.

It’s common for people to experience anxiety, depression, and other emotional and psychological challenges as they detox. Therapeutic counseling is provided to give you emotional support as you begin addiction treatment. 

Partial Hospitalization

After you have successfully completed detox, the next stage is to continue treatment in either a residential or a partial hospitalization program (PHP). Treatment sessions during PHP are held five days a week for six hours each day. These sessions will include a combination of individual, group, and family therapy programs to fully address your emotional and mental health needs. 

During PHP, you’ll live at a transitional living facility while participating in this structured treatment program. 

At this stage, your goal will be to learn positive life skills and coping mechanisms. These are important techniques to help you prevent relapse and be successful in your recovery. These skills will help you begin the process of slowly returning to your life outside the treatment center.  

Intensive Outpatient

Once you have completed PHP, next you may want to transition into the intensive outpatient program (IOP) stage. 

IOP is sometimes used as standalone addiction therapy. However, this stage is also a vital part of the full continuum of treatment. Therapy sessions at this stage are less frequent but still intensive, and the program is more flexible.

You will continue with medication management at this stage if needed. IOP will also include periodic weekly drug testing as you continue to be accountable for your recovery. The main focus of IOP is to help you continue to build coping skills and prevent relapse.


After you have successfully completed the addiction treatment program, you will have the opportunity to join other treatment center alumni for weekly support groups and social events. Participating in these opportunities to meet other treatment program graduates can help you develop new friendships with others who also understand the recovery process first-hand. Your new support network can be a key resource as you grow and stay focused on your recovery while adjusting to your new life after completing the treatment program.  

Start Your Journey to Recovery Today

If you’re ready to get treatment for Ativan addiction, there is help. The admissions specialists at Pathway to Hope are available 24/7 for free and confidential help. Deciding to get treatment is an important step. Our specialists are here to provide the guidance you need so that you will know what to expect from our evidence-based services and feel confident to make an informed decision about your treatment plans. They can also contact your private health insurance company to find out if your treatment costs will be fully covered. Call us today so we can help you start your journey to recovery.


Ativan. (n.d.) WebMD. Retrieved from

National Institute on Drug Abuse. (2018, March 15). Benzodiazepines and Opioids. Retrieved from

Treatment Name: Lorazepam (Ativan®). (n.d.). Retrieved from

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