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With all that is going on in the United States right now regarding drug addiction and the rise of the opioid crisis, which has now been deemed a “National Health Emergency” by President Donald Trump, addiction to other drugs and addiction, in general, can sometimes be forgotten or fall by the wayside of public awareness. One such drug that can be very problematic but does not receive the same press as opioids right now is the lorazepam drug.

What is Lorazepam?

Lorazepam is a drug in the benzodiazepine class of drugs. What that means is that it is part of a class of drug that are psychoactive suppressants that are also sometimes called “tranquilizers.”

Benzodiazepines, in general, are usually prescribed to help treat the symptoms of a wide range of health issues.

These issues include:

  • Anxiety.
  • Sleeping disorders such as insomnia.
  • Benzodiazepines are also sometimes used to help people through the effects of alcohol withdrawal.

Lorazepam is the name of the actual chemical drug compound, but it is sold under several brand names including Ativan, and Lorazepam Intensol.

Lorazepam specifically tends to be prescribed to treat the symptoms of anxiety and other related conditions.

Lorazepam is not typically intended for long-term use and is most often prescribed as a short-term treatment of acute symptoms. In addition to its standard effects, lorazepam can also have several other side-effects.

Some of the ways lorazepam effects can impact a user may include:

  • Feelings of euphoria. This is a side-effect that is common among many highly addictive drugs.
  • Drowsiness.
  • Difficulty or problems with speaking.
  • Slowed reaction time.
  • Increased sleeping ability.
  • Issues with impaired memory.
  • Improved feelings of general well-being.
  • Personality changes.
  • Slowed breathing.
  • Reduction of moral inhibitions.
  • Impaired judgment and decision making abilities.
  • Irritated skin, rashes.

Lorazepam tends to be prescribed only for short periods usually not exceeding more than a few weeks.

This is because lorazepam can often be very highly addictive and even when used only as prescribed, it still has a high risk of quickly bringing about addictive symptoms.

These signs and aspects of addiction include:

  • Dependence. In the case of lorazepam, it is only prescribed for short periods of time to minimize the risk of dependence, but even so, many people find that their bodies quickly grow accustomed to the presence of the drug in their systems and begin to rely on it being there. This is called dependence. The body gets to a point where it needs the drug to continue to function. There are also often mental aspects of dependence wherein the individual user feel that they personally need the drug for themselves, and without it, they would not be able to live their life, or even make it through the day. When a dependence situation had been established in the body and the person either decides to stop taking the drug or can no longer get it for any reason, the body will go through what is known as withdrawal.
  • Withdrawal. This is what happens to a body that is dependent on a drug such as lorazepam when the supply is interrupted. Withdrawal is usually comprised of various physical and even mental symptoms caused by the body detoxing and adjusting to being without the drugs that can range from the uncomfortable to the unbearable, and even in some extreme cases, life-threatening.

In the case of lorazepam withdrawal some of the most common symptoms can include:

  • Shortness of breath.
  • Depression.
  • Seizures.
  • Stomach aches and cramps.
  • Mental agitation or anxiety.
  • Increased cravings for lorazepam use.
  • Shakiness.
  • Mood swings.
  • Suicidal thoughts.
  • Fever.
  • Intense rage.

Because of the intense nature of the potential withdrawal symptoms of lorazepam, particularly the seizures which if uncontrolled can become life-threatening, it is strongly recommended to only withdrawal from lorazepam in a safe, controlled, and medically supervised situation such as at an inpatient rehab facility.

  • Tolerance. This is another condition wherein the body starts to become acclimated to the presence of the drug in its system but in this case, the body begins either to be depleted of its natural reserves of vitamins and minerals, or it builds up defenses, of resistance to the drug. The effect that this has on the user is that it takes more of the drug for them to feel the same positive effects. What this often leads to is the user deciding to take larger and/or more frequent doses to continue to feel the positive effects they desire. This trend can easily lead to a situation where the lorazepam gets abused.
  • Abuse. Drug abuse is defined as misusing a drug either by taking more than the recommended safe dosages or by using a drug for non-medical purposes such as, using lorazepam just to feel the euphoria and well being it can cause. Another common way that drugs like lorazepam are abused is by mixing them with other substances such as alcohol or even other street drugs. Abuse of not just lorazepam, but really abuse of any drug greatly increases the risks of the user experiencing uncomfortable or even dangerous side-effects, as well as greatly raising the odds of the user overdosing.
  • Overdose. This is when the user takes more of the drug than their system is able to handle and the drug toxins overwhelm their body’s ability to detoxify itself. Overdoses can be extremely dangerous and life-threatening. Lorazepam overdose can produce a number of effects on the body.

These effects may include:

  • Memory loss.
  • Confusion.
  • Shallow or slowed breathing.
  • Pale, cold, bluish skin or lips.
  • Stumbling or loss of physical coordination.
  • Weakness.
  • Slurred speech.
  • Loss of consciousness.

If you or someone you know is taking lorazepam and experiences any of these symptoms, you should seek immediate emergency medical attention as they may be signs of a life-threatening overdose.

  • Addiction. Drug addiction is typically characterized by strong compulsions to continue getting and taking a drug despite the negative effects it is having on the user and/or the people who love them.

Unfortunately, another common characteristic of addiction, in general, is a denial of the addiction. Because of this, it is often very hard, or even impossible for a drug addict to recognize their own drug problem.

These are some of the physical and behavioral signs and symptoms of drug addiction that you can look for if you suspect that you or someone you know may have a lorazepam abuse or addiction problem:

  • Abrupt changes in body weight.
  • Increased aggression or irritability.
  • Changes in attitude or personality.
  • Financial problems.
  • Involvement in criminal activities, especially to get more of the drug.
  • Depression.

What Can Be Done About an Addiction or Abuse Problem?

Fortunately, while getting through an addiction to lorazepam can be difficult, it is not impossible. Many people have done so successfully and there is effective help available to you.

The first step in most addiction treatment is a detox and withdrawal period.

In the case of lorazepam, it can be dangerous to quit taking the drug all at once, or “cold turkey.” it is often recommended that the detox is done gradually and under medical supervision to ensure a safe transition off of the drug. The same is true for those going through withdrawal. Because of the potentially dangerous nature of some of the withdrawal symptoms, it is strongly recommended that this step is done in a safe, controlled, and medically supervised environment.

Because of this, it is thought to be best to go to an inpatient rehab facility for the treatment of lorazepam addiction.

After the drug is out of the person’s system, they then will need to attend a program designed to help them address any potential underlying causes of their addiction and give them the skills, knowledge, and support they will need to go forward with their new, drug-free life.

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