Anxiety is a common but serious mental health concern. According to “Anxiety disorders affect about 40 million American adults every year. Anxiety disorders also affect children and teens. About 8% of teens ages 13 to 18 have an anxiety disorder, with symptoms starting around age 6.”1

Because many American struggle with anxiety disorders, pharmaceutical companies developed products to help mental health professionals and patients. One of these products is Ativan. Ativan is a brand name for lorazepam. It is a benzodiazepine drug. It can help relieve mental and physical health symptoms caused by extra or unusual brain activity. It can also contribute to substance abuse or addiction problems.

Who Needs Ativan?

Anxiety graphicBenzodiazepines have been prescribed since the 1970s. Psychology Today explains, “Benzodiazepines were widely touted as a wonder drug for anything from chronic anxiety to mild stress.”2 Millions of people received prescriptions. Not all of these patients needed a medication as powerful as Ativan. Ativan may be prescribed for a variety of reasons, but it should never be used without a prescription.

It shouldn’t be used as a long-term strategy for managing mental or physical health. Tolerance and dependence can develop after just a few weeks of regular use or  misuse. Ativan can also cause the same symptoms it is intended to treat. It can worsen original problems or create new ones.

Ativan works by slowing down the central nervous system. It makes GABA more effective. GABA is a neurotransmitter that makes neurons less excitable. Ativan is an intermediate-acting benzodiazepine. It takes effect more quickly than Valium and lasts longer than Xanax.

Ativan and Anxiety Symptoms

It can provide relief for people who struggle with episodes of panic, intense worry or agitation.

U.S. News reports: “They’re extremely effective for patients…who have crippling anxiety. Benzodiazepines work almost immediately. They can also be good for treating chronic anxiety in patients who have adverse reactions to SSRIs and similar medicines.”3

An Ativan prescription can provide real benefits if the drug is needed and used as prescribed. However it is a temporary fix, as continued use leads to tolerance. This means the drug becomes less and less effective. It will not continue to manage anxiety or panic disorders over a long period of time. Patients will find their symptoms return even if they take larger or more frequent doses.

Insomnia and Alcohol Recovery

illustration of sleeping pills containerDoctors may prescribe Ativan for insomnia. The drug can make users feel calm and sleepy. Despite these potential effects, Ativan is not a first choice for treating insomnia. Potential side effects include rebound insomnia and daytime anxiety. Ativan should not be used for chronic insomnia. The risks of dependence and addiction outweigh the potential benefits.

Ativan suppresses brain and nervous system activity. This means it can treat seizure disorders. However it can also cause seizures particularly if it is misused or if individuals stop use abruptly and without medical supervision.

Ativan may be prescribed during addiction recovery. It can be a useful tool for those going through alcohol withdrawal. However because it is highly addictive, patients with a history of addiction should be even more careful when using this drug.


Who Shouldn’t Use Ativan?

If you have an unhealthy relationship with Ativan, reach out to an addiction treatment center like Black Bear Lodge. It doesn’t matter if you do or not have a prescription. You can find real health and healing. We offer detox services, personalized therapy and long-term aftercare support. We understand the struggles of combating addiction and co-occurring anxiety or physical health concerns. We provide in-depth assessments and integrated, comprehensive care.

Our lodge is a safe, supportive refuge from the stress of daily life and addiction. Focus on yourself and your health. Call our toll-free helpline, 706-914-2327, and learn more about our individualized addiction treatment plans.


Anxiety Disorders.” Office on Women’s Health. 12 Jun. 2017. Accessed 8 Sep. 2017.

2 Lane, Christopher. “Brain Damage from Benzodiazepines: The Troubling Facts, Risks, and History of Minor Tranquilizers.” Psychology Today. 18 Nov. 2010. Accessed 9 Sep. 2017.

3 Fawcett, Kirstin. “Benzodiazepines: Helpful or Harmful?U.S. News. 19 Feb. 2015. Accessed 9 Sep. 2017.