Ativan is a popular brand name for the prescription drug lorazepam. It’s primarily used for the treatment of insomnia, anxiety and seizures, but this drug can also be used for pain management. Ativan is a benzodiazepine. These drugs suppress the central nervous system and slow normal brain function.

This is why they can temporarily provide pain management and produce the following types of effects:

  • Sedative
  • Hypnotic
  • Amnesic
  • Muscle-relaxant


How to Use Ativan for Pain Management

Some medical professionals hesitate to prescribe Ativan for pain management because they feel that the potential negative side effects outweigh the benefits.

The Cochrane Library found that medical trials involving Ativan, “failed to find evidence of a beneficial effect of muscle relaxants over placebo, alone or in addition to non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), on pain intensity, function, or quality of life…

Participants who received a muscle relaxant had significantly more adverse events compared with those who received placebo.”1

In other words Ativan can create more harm than help when it comes to pain management. You can use Ativan as part of your medically supervised treatment plan, but you may not want to take the risk.

Risks Associated with Ativan for Pain Management

Woman in pain with doctorIf you have been prescribed some form of lorazepam by a medical professional for pain management, you may be wondering about the potential risks. The Cochrane Library explains that early side effects are mostly, “central nervous system side effects, including dizziness and drowsiness.”

Continued use can lead to more unwanted side effects like tolerance, dependence and addiction. It’s possible to use Ativan responsibly if the potential risks are taken into consideration, but make sure you pay attention to symptoms and side effects.

How Ativan Tolerance Develops

Tolerance is one of the primary risks when using any kind of prescription substance for pain management. When you develop drug tolerance, the substance you’re using becomes less effective. Your body begins to counteract its effects. Advances in Pharmacological Sciences explains that this is the result of neuroplasticity.2 Your brain can adapt and find new ways to function, communicate and maintain balance. It adjusts to Ativan being present and makes that the new “balanced.”

If you began developing a tolerance to Ativan, you might notice that your normal dosage begins to have a diminished effect.

You may even begin to take more frequent or higher doses to achieve the desired level of symptom management. Drug tolerance is especially dangerous because of the ways in which it opens the user up to dependency and addiction. You can be tolerant to Ativan without being dependent or addicted, but it is the first step in both of these serious health issues. If you are using Ativan for pain management, make a conscious effort to stick to your prescribed dose and dosing schedule. Communicate with your healthcare provider and take action at any sign of addiction development.

Ativan Dependence and Addiction after Pain Management

When you are dependent on a drug like Ativan, you begin to want and need regular (and increasingly frequent or large) doses of Ativan. You begin to use the drug to maintain function and feel normal throughout the day rather than to manage pain or feel good. Drug dependency can be difficult to diagnose because it can mimic the symptoms for which the drug was originally prescribed. Medical professionals can accurately assess the situation and help you take the next steps towards managing both pain and medication.

If you have questions regarding your use of the drug, we can help. We are available 24 hours a day at 706-914-2327, to connect you to the quality options for rehab that you need. We can even help you find insurance coverage. The call is free and confidential. You can manage pain and move forward after addiction.  Please call today.


1 Richards, Bethan, et al. “Muscle Relaxants for Pain Management in Rheumatoid Arthritis.” Cochrane Library. 18 Jan. 2012.

2 Vinkers, C. H., and Olivier, B. “Mechanisms Underlying Tolerance after Long-Term Benzodiazepine Use: A Future for Subtype-Selective GABAA Receptor Modulators?Advances in Pharmacological Sciences. 2012.