Ativan addiction leaves many people suffering. Tragically, the drug has led some beyond the limits of their endurance which ended in suicide.
A SAMHSA study showed in 2012 that approximately 30% of attempted suicides ending up in the hospital or other emergency treatment involved anti-anxiety drugs such as Ativan. But the majority of those taking Ativan have been prescribed the drug for the treatment or management of anxiety. Doctors hopefully warn their patients of the potentially lethal risks in combining Ativan with other substances such as alcohol, barbiturates, and other medications, which can lead to accidental death.
Ativan and Anxiety
Since anti-anxiety drugs are some of the most commonly prescribed drugs in the modern age, it would behoove us to understand more about what anxiety is. Anxiety is a moderate level of fear about something, or a mild worry about something. When worrying about something that is happening or about to happen, it is common to feel some level of emotional distress in response. The emotional response will hopefully activate or propel us into solving the source of worry.
When the level of worry becomes amplified, for instance seeing a burglar at the window, we call the emotional response fear or terror. Anxiety is a comparatively low level of fear, for instance, knowing that tax season is coming up soon, or worrying about losing a job, worry about one's social interactions, or the like.
Yet, sometimes a person experiences feelings of anxiety and fear, despite that there is no burglar at the window, the taxes are paid, and there is no problem with job security. Often, doctors will try to help alleviate their patient's discomfort by prescribing such emotion-dampening drugs as a first, rather than a last resort. At the Alternative to Meds Center, we take a more investigative approach to finding the root causes of symptoms like anxiety and addressing those without resorting to medications such as Ativan.
Ativan and the Brain
The brain is a marvelous apparatus with many intricate, interconnecting parts. The parts of the brain and central nervous system that regulate fear and other emotional responses are called hormones or neurotransmitters. Some neurotransmitters are excitatory, having a stimulating or amplifying effect.
Adrenaline is an excitatory type. Adrenaline is what courses through your veins when you are about to fall out of an airplane. Another kind of transmitter is an inhibitory type of messenger, such as GABA. GABA inhibits or numbs other excitatory hormones in its vicinity. Taking a walk, or listening to calming music would probably invite GABA to activate and would be calming for some people, as an example.
Ativan and GABA
Ativan does not make GABA. Ativan only chemically super-activates GABA that already exists to enhance its ability to numb the excitatory hormones. There are approximately 40 billion GABA receptors in the cerebellum alone, so flooding the body with Ativan can have a powerful sedating effect. The body seeks to normalize such anomalies and eventually responds by stopping its production of GABA hormones.
The person will acquire an eventual deficit of GABA, which produces a domino effect of leaving the excitatory hormones without the buffer of adequate GABA. This situation ramps up the feelings of anxiety, fear, or terror and possibly to a higher intensity than before taking Ativan.
Eventually, even upping the dosage or frequency of Ativan will not be able to buffer or dampen the excitatory hormones, as there is insufficient GABA left in the body to carry out that function. The GABA that was there, has now metabolized and broken down, and is no longer available. The body has shut down its GABA factory and removed those receptors to normalize after the effects of the Ativan. Trying to quell anxiety by taking Ativan in the absence of GABA would be like beating a dead horse. That would serve as an adequate, if unrefined, comparison. These after-effects of Ativan can last for a very long time until the stripped out receptors and GABA proteins can begin to rebuild themselves.
Ativan Tolerance and Addiction
Like all benzo drugs, the effects of Ativan eventually wear off, which is called tolerance. Tolerance is the point where a person will "crave" the drug in higher quantities or increasing frequency, to combat the severe discomforts.
In Ativan addiction and tolerance the person will begin to experience the opposite reactions compared to the initial effects of taking Ativan. Where there was muscle relaxation, there will now be muscle tension, stiffness, tremors, or uncontrolled spasms. Where Ativan resulted in sleep or drowsiness, there will be insomnia. Where before there was calm and sedation, there will be intense anxiety, fear and even the terror of panic attacks. The euphoria that Ativan produced will eventually be replaced by deep despair and depression.
These are the after effects of Ativan addiction which can leave a person in a state of inconsolable distress. It is easy to see how suicide statistics enter the picture if there is no other solution offered to a person in such emotional and physical pain. We hope we have described the general mechanics of the path to Ativan addiction, or dependence, in a way that can be easily understood.
Find Help With Addiction to Drugs Like Ativan
If you or a loved one is experiencing the after-effects of Ativan dependence or tolerance, we urge you to find out about our Ativan withdrawal addiction treatment program at the Alternative to Meds Center. We understand safely healing from medications that lead to dependence and how to help a person recover on every level, using science-based holistic treatment protocols. Call us today and find out more. You can get the help you need to begin your recovery from Ativan addiction.
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