What is Ativan?
Ativan is the brand name for the drug lorazepam. The benzodiazepine medication can be prescribed as an oral solution, capsule, or in tablet form. Ativan is commonly used to treat anxiety disorders, panic disorder, insomnia, seizures, and alcohol withdrawal in the US.
Ativan acts as a depressant on the central nervous system (CNS), slowing down the rate of interaction between nerve cells around the body and brain. In turn, this decreases the rate of bodily functions and produces calm and tranquilizing effects. The substance works by increasing the amount of neurotransmitter gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) available in the brain. GABA influences brain activity in areas relating to stress and activity, plus influences dopamine levels.
Why Do People Snort Ativan?
Snorting Ativan causes users to experience intense feelings of pleasure due to large amounts of GABA being released in their brains. Snorting drugs allows them to enter the bloodstream quicker, bypassing the digestive tract and metabolization by the liver. This results in users feeling its effects faster and with a more intense high. However, snorting Ativan in this way can lead to a number of dangerous short and long- term side effects.
People may start to abuse Ativan for a number of reasons, including:
- Self-medication for mental health issues
- To help cope with a difficult life event
- Being exposed to drug taking
- Peer pressure
Short-Term Side Effects of Snorting Ativan
Short-term effects of snorting Ativan include:
- Suicidal thoughts
Is Snorting Ativan Dangerous?
Abusing Ativan in heavy doses over long periods of time increases the chances of developing numerous serious health issues. One of these is damage to nasal passages and sinuses such as:
- Irritation and swelling of mucous membranes
- Nasal blockage and inflammation
- Loss of nasal hairs
- Nasal crusting
- Necrosis - death of tissue resulting in nosebleeds
- Loss of smell
- Increased risk for infections or sinus issues
Further health risks of snorting Ativan are the lasting damage to brain activity it causes. Regions of the brain that oversee anxiety, stress, and irritability are silenced when Ativan is taken. When someone abuses the drug for a long time, an individual may end up needing it to regulate stress and become extremely anxious if a regular dose is not taken.
Abusing the drug via snorting means it is easy to lose track of dosage, putting users at an increased risk of developing an addiction. Leading on from this, another one of the dangers of snorting Ativan is the chance of an overdose. Here, serious symptoms - such as respiratory depression - can have lethal consequences.
When an individual consumes other drugs - such as alcohol, opioids, or other prescription medication - alongside Ativan, the drug's toxic effects are enhanced. The drug's side effects are also felt significantly faster, increasing the chances of dangerous health risks occurring, such as a fatal Ativan overdose.
Even the most commonly prescribed medications have the potential for abuse and addiction if the doctor's instructions for taking them are not followed exactly.
An addiction - or substance use disorder - develops when an individual has chronically used the drug at high doses. It is an extremely powerful disease that takes over the reward and decision-making centers of the brain, leading to compulsive and uncontrollable substance abuse. People have the misconception that addiction is a character flaw or weakness, however, it is a serious mental health disorder that should be treated like any other.
An Ativan addiction can develop extremely rapidly and then cause severe side effects when the amount of the drug being consumed decreases. This makes it harder for people to quit the drug and a vicious circle continues.
Ativan Abuse Signs
It can be difficult to spot the signs of drug abuse and addiction due to people hiding their behavior from their loved ones. However, there are some general signs to look out for, such as:
- Changes in personality
- Not being able to uphold personal or professional responsibilities
- New financial and legal issues
- Wanting to quit the drug but not being able to do so
- Experiencing withdrawal symptoms if a regular dose is not taken
- Drug cravings
Ativan Dependency and Withdrawal
People who regularly snort Ativan end up developing a mental and physical dependency on the drug. Over time, a user's system will get used to the drug's depressing effects on the central nervous system and adjust to this new level of functioning. When the dosage of the drug is reduced or stopped, withdrawal symptoms will appear. Here, the person has developed a physical dependence on Ativan to function, and this dependency is one of the reasons it is so hard to quit an addiction to Ativan.
Ativan withdrawal symptoms appear due to the body going into overdrive. Without the presence of the drug in the body, all bodily functions are elevated to an extremely high level. This can result in a range of unpleasant symptoms, ranging from mild to severe, including:
- Intense drug cravings
- Nausea and vomiting
- Short-term memory loss
Can You Overdose on Ativan?
The central nervous system depressant slows down many bodily functions. Taking too much Ativan is dangerous for this reason and can result in fatal issues with the cardiac and respiratory systems. Snorting the substance only increases this risk, with a study finding that snorting benzodiazepines, such as Ativan, leads to a higher chance of an overdose.
Overdose symptoms include:
- Slurred speech
- Altered mental status
- Coordination problems
- Low blood pressure
- Difficulties with movement and memory
- Respiratory depression
- Loss of consciousness
If you suspect someone you are with is having an overdose, contact the emergency services immediately.
Ativan Addiction Treatment Programs
Because withdrawal symptoms can be life-threatening, a medical detox is highly recommended. The aim of a medical detox is to rid the body of a substance as safely and comfortably as possible. Medical professionals do this by creating a tapering schedule, where the person coming off pharmaceutical drugs decreases their dosage gradually over time to avoid fatal withdrawal symptoms.
Medical staff also provide around-the-clock care, regularly checking that the needs of each person are being met. They may offer medication to counteract Ativan withdrawal symptoms or psychological aid during this difficult time.
Some people think that to overcome an addiction, they simply need to carry out a medical detox, however, overcoming a substance use disorder is a life-long journey. As addiction is not simply a physical disease, it is important that a person's mental health is also looked at during the treatment process.
People start taking drugs for a variety of reasons, so until they are addressed and worked through, it is more probable a person will relapse. Psychotherapy should be carried out as part of addiction treatment to give someone the best chance of long-term health and recovery. Here, a person will learn how to cope with their illness without relying on substances - traumas can be addressed, and their self-esteem rebuilt.
There are numerous psychological treatment options for addiction, though the most common is cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). This kind of talk therapy changes the way people think and act by identifying thought and behavior patterns. CBT can help individuals:
- Identify substance-taking triggers
- Find the route of the drug-seeking behaviors
- Build new coping mechanisms
Rehabilitation Addiction Treatment Programs
Many people find it extremely helpful to check into an inpatient rehabilitation program when overcoming an addiction to snorting a drug such as Ativan. The new, calm environment - away from drug-taking triggers - can be extremely helpful in breaking the cycle of behavior. Plus, the 24/7 professional care offered to inpatients hugely improves the outcome of treatment.
Overcoming an Ativan addiction can be extremely challenging, filled with intense emotions such as fear, shame, and guilt. However, you are not alone. Cornerstone is a treatment facility based in Orange County that has been at the forefront of addiction care for the past sixty years.
Our twenty-day treatment programs cover all aspects of the recovery process - from managing Ativan withdrawal symptoms to substance abuse behavioral therapy. Cornerstone offers a wide range of addiction treatment programs that can be tailored to each individual's needs.
We take a holistic view of healing, where a person's entire well-being is considered to ensure a greater chance of long-term recovery and good health.
The expert staff is trained to approach everybody with patience, empathy, and discretion.
This combination of integrated services, a whole-person approach, and our excellent staff gives each individual who walks through the doors the best chance of overcoming their condition. If you or your loved one is struggling with Ativan abuse, don't hesitate to get in touch with Cornerstone today for more information.