Ativan Detox Processes and Withdrawal Symptoms

When it comes to overcoming addiction, the road to recovery can often be a difficult and challenging one. Ativan can become addictive when misused or taken in large quantities for extended periods of time. If you or a loved one is dealing with Ativan addiction, it’s essential to know about the detox process and the withdrawal symptoms and what you can do to find long-term recovery.

At Lakeview Health, our detox center gives people a headstart on the road to recovery. Our dedicated team provides compassionate care throughout the process. If you or someone you care about may need of ativan detox with individualized treatment, we can help. Contact Lakeview Health today for more information about our opioid detox center by calling 866 704 7692 and completing our secure online form.

What is Ativan and why is it addictive?

Ativan is a class of drug known as benzodiazepines and is most often prescribed to manage anxiety. It works by altering levels of certain chemical messengers in the brain and slowing down overactive parts of the brain and body. Ativan can help reduce intense fear or worry that arises during panic attacks as well as treat seizures related to epilepsy. 

While Ativan can be a lifesaver for some people, it also carries with it the potential for addiction and abuse if not taken as directed by your doctor. Taking Ativan more frequently or in higher doses than recommended, mixing alcohol or other drugs with it (including over-the-counter medications), and intentionally increasing the amount that you take without a doctor’s supervision are all risks associated with abusing Ativan. 

People with histories of substance or alcohol abuse commonly struggle with an increased risk for developing an Ativan addiction, as do those who have not been treated adequately for mental health disorders.

What causes withdrawals to happen with Ativan?

When you take Ativan regularly over an extended period of time, you can become physically dependent on it and will likely develop a tolerance to the drug’s effects. This means that when you stop taking your regular dose of Ativan all at once or reduce your intake drastically, you experience withdrawal, which makes it difficult to remain drug-free without professional help.

Factors Influencing Ativan Withdrawal Symptoms Severity

Several factors can affect the severity of Ativan withdrawal symptoms, including:

  1. Dosage: The higher the dosage a person is taking when they decide to stop using Ativan, the more severe withdrawal symptoms may be. 
  2. Duration of use: People who have been using Ativan for a more extended period are more likely to experience severe withdrawal symptoms. This is because their bodies have become more accustomed to the drug and may have a more challenging time adjusting to its absence.
  3. Individual physiology: Differences in each person’s body composition and physiology can affect the severity of withdrawal symptoms. Factors such as age, weight, metabolism, and overall health can all play a role in how someone experiences withdrawal.
  4. Method of discontinuation: Stopping Ativan suddenly can result in severe withdrawal symptoms. People who gradually reduce their doses in a process called tapering are likely to experience milder symptoms.
  5. Co-occurring disorders: Having a mental health condition like depression or an additional substance use disorder can complicate the withdrawal process and potentially exacerbate withdrawal symptoms.
Withdrawal Symptoms

Ativan withdrawal can vary between individuals, depending on factors like the duration and severity of the addiction. That being said, certain withdrawal symptoms are common among those who undergo detox.


Quitting Ativan abruptly without the support of medical professionals can result in withdrawal symptoms that have psychological implications. Common short-term psychological side effects of Ativan withdrawal include:

As if this wasn’t difficult enough for those withdrawing from Ativan, there are also post-acute psychological withdrawal symptoms that may arise weeks or months after stopping the medication, including:


Ativan can have serious side effects when stopped abruptly or if taken in higher doses than prescribed. Unfortunately for some people, sudden discontinuation of Ativan may lead to uncomfortable physical withdrawal symptoms



The most common severe withdrawal symptoms include: 

Life Threatening Symptoms

Withdrawal Symptoms Timeline

If you or a loved one has decided to stop using Ativan, it’s crucial to understand the withdrawal timeline and what to expect as you progress through this challenging phase.

Days 1-4: Acute Withdrawal Symptoms

During the first 24 hours after quitting Ativan, acute withdrawal symptoms typically set in. These can include headache, nausea, dizziness, and sweating. Rebound anxiety here is common as well

Days 4-14: Peak Withdrawal

Days 4 through 14 of Ativan withdrawal can be especially challenging for those who are attempting to quit the drug. During this time, you may experience the same symptoms as above but even more intense, such as headache, nausea and dizziness, sweating. You may also experience difficulty sleeping, restlessness, agitation or irritability, and heightened sensitivity to sensory input such as noise, light, and touch. This is where you are at the highest risk for seizures and other dangerous withdrawal symptoms.

Day 15 and Beyond: Protracted Withdrawal Symptoms and Recovery

Full-blown withdrawal usually occurs for up to fourteen days, at which point the next stage may emerge for some people, known as protracted withdrawal symptoms, which can persist for weeks or even months after discontinuing Ativan use. These may include continued difficulty sleeping, low energy levels, and mood swings. It’s crucial to seek appropriate support during this time to encourage ongoing recovery and avoid relapse. 

Medications Used To Treat Ativan Withdrawals

Withdrawal from Ativan can be tough, but there are options available to manage and potentially reduce the intensity of withdrawal symptoms. Here are some medications that may be used during Ativan detox:

1. Gabapentin

Gabapentin is an anticonvulsant medication that can be used to treat seizures in individuals withdrawing from Ativan. Additionally, it may also help with restlessness, a common withdrawal symptom.

2. Paxil (paroxetine)

Paxil, an antidepressant medication, has some research evidence to suggest that it can help ease some of the withdrawal symptoms. As an SSRI, Paxil works by increasing serotonin levels in the brain, which can improve mood and overall mental well-being. 

3. Melatonin

Melatonin is a hormone that helps regulate the sleep-wake cycle. It’s available in supplement form and may be beneficial in addressing insomnia experienced during withdrawal from Ativan and other benzodiazepines.

Treatment Options After Detox

Overcoming Ativan dependency is a challenging but necessary step on the road to recovery. While detox is a wonderful first step, it’s not the end of the road. It’s essential to learn about the next steps on your journey:

Inpatient Treatment

Inpatient treatment is an intensive, residential therapy program where patients live and receive round-the-clock care for the duration of their stay. This option offers the most structured level of care, with daily schedules consisting of individual and group therapy sessions, medical management, and other activities that support healing and recovery.

Inpatient treatment typically lasts between 30-90 days and is a great option for those with severe addictions or co-occurring mental health disorders. 

Partial Hospitalization Programs (PHP)

Partial Hospitalization Programs are a step-down from inpatient treatment that allows patients to attend therapy sessions at a treatment center for most of the day, usually for 5-6 days per week. In the evenings, patients return to a sober living environment or their own homes.

PHPs typically last 4-8 weeks, depending on a patient’s needs. They are ideal for people who require more support than outpatient therapy, but less intensive than full inpatient care. They bridge the gap between residential treatment and returning to daily life while still receiving structured therapy and support.

Intensive Outpatient Treatment

Intensive Outpatient Treatment (IOP) provides group and individual therapy sessions for several hours per week, usually 3-5 days. IOPs generally last 8-16 weeks. This treatment is suited for those with a strong support network at home and those transitioning from inpatient or PHP into a less intensive environment. 

Outpatient Treatment

Outpatient treatment involves therapy sessions that address the psychological aspects of addiction. These sessions include individual and group counseling, cognitive-behavioral therapy, and psychoeducation. This is usually two or three times per week. A primary focus of outpatient is learning about addiction and developing relapse prevention plans.

Outpatient treatment duration varies depending on your needs. This option is optimal for individuals with less severe addictions or those who have completed a more intensive treatment program but still require ongoing support.

Narcotics Anonymous Meetings

Narcotics Anonymous is a 12-step program based on the same principles that Alcoholics Anonymous was founded on. It provides emotional support, encouragement, and accountability to those dependent on or addicted to drugs through sharing of experiences, strength, and hope. Narcotics Anonymous meetings create an environment in which people affected by drug addiction can find understanding, acceptance, and ultimately recovery from their addictions.


Therapy should be combined with all levels of treatment. Whether it’s individual, family, or group therapy, working through mental and emotional issues surrounding substance abuse is crucial to building a foundation for long-term recovery. Therapies commonly utilized in addiction treatment include cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), dialectical behavior therapy (DBT), and trauma-focused therapies. Therapy should be ongoing even once outpatient treatment has been completed. 

Lifestyle Changes and Alternative Therapies

In addition to medications, there are several lifestyle changes and alternative therapies that may support the recovery process. Consider the following:

  1. Exercise: Engaging in regular physical activity can boost endorphins and help to improve mood and sleep quality during withdrawal and recovery
  2. Meditation and relaxation techniques: Practicing mindfulness and deep breathing can help to manage anxiety and stress levels when things get stressful during the recovery process. 
  3. Nutrition: Emphasize a well-balanced diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins to support overall health in sobriety.
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