If you struggle with an anxiety disorder, your doctor may prescribe Ativan, a brand name version of lorazepam. This benzodiazepine drug may help manage some anxiety symptoms. However, Ativan isn’t a stand-alone treatment for anxiety. It isn’t always helpful, and it may cause more problems than it solves. If you struggle with anxiety or past or present substance use issues, you may be interested in alternatives to Ativan.

Does Ativan Help with Anxiety?

Ativan can be a useful tool, but it is not a long-term solution. As the Western Journal of Medicine explains, when it comes to anxiety, “Initial therapy may consist of the administration of a benzodiazepine for 2 to 6 weeks…Cognitive therapy is also effective for GAD; it may be better than pharmacotherapy. The combination of cognitive therapy and medication improves outcome over treatment with medication alone.”1 If you and your treatment team decide to use benzodiazepines like Ativan, they should be used in conjunction with effective, proven therapy strategies. Using these therapies without Ativan may be as or even more effective.

Even if Ativan seems to help with anxiety symptoms, it can create serious, lasting concerns. U.S. Newsreports: “Benzodiazepines can be habit-forming. And they carry a host of dangerous side effects – including impaired cognition and mobility in older individuals, and potentially life-threatening withdrawal symptoms in people with severe addictions…Data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention showed that benzodiazepines, along with opioid pain relievers, are the prescription drugs most often responsible for emergency department visits and drug-related deaths.”2 Finding alternatives to Ativan can mean finding freedom from addiction. It can mean balancing mental health without putting your or a loved one’s life at risk.

Anxious man by window

Do I Have to Take Ativan?

If you struggle with anxiety or other mental health concerns, you do not have to take Ativan. If you have substance abuse or addiction concerns, you can avoid or stop taking this drug. Talk with your medical and mental health care team. Voice your concerns. Discuss ending or tapering Ativan use. Discuss alternatives to Ativan.

Treating Anxiety without Ativan

Anxiety and substance abuse treatment should be rooted in proven forms of therapy. You may include Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, dialectic behavior therapy, family therapy and more in your treatment program. The American Psychological Association suggests therapists, “[teach] clients to focus on the present moment, to value tasks based on their intrinsic value rather than solely their eventual outcomes, and to deepen interpersonal and emotional contact with events.”3 These and other strategies provide real, long-lasting tools for managing mental health. Therapy helps people find joy or peace in the moment. Rather than stress or worry, therapy provides options for positive thought patterns.

Individual and Group Therapy for Ativan and Addiction Treatment

Therapy can take place in individual or group settings. Both can benefit overall healing. One-on-one sessions allow therapists and patients to create a bond of trust, understanding, and support. Group work can help patients practice communicating with others. It can help them learn more about themselves as they build coping skills.

There are many types of treatment and ways to address anxiety symptoms. Explore your options to find the ones that work for you or a loved one. Personalized treatment offers the best, most effective care. Black Bear Lodge works with you to create a customized plan that addresses mental health and substance use concerns. Call us at 706-914-2327 to learn more about moving forward in health and life.


1 Rabatin, Joseph and Keltz, Lynn. “Generalized Anxiety and Panic Disorder.” Western Journal of Medicine. May 2002. Accessed 6 Nov. 2017.

2 Fawcett, Kirstin. “Benzodiazepines: Helpful or Harmful? U.S. News. 19 Feb. 2015. Accessed 6. Nov 2017.

3 Borkovec, T. D. and Sharpless, Brian. “Generalized Anxiety Disorder: Bringing Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy into the Valued Present.” American Psychological Association. 2004. Accessed 6 Nov. 2017.