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About Ativan Dependency

Information is provided below about Ativan (lorazepam) dependency and how to taper the drug safely. For long-term benzo users, it is highly recommended to consider a licensed benzo holistic detox program. We recommend learning about the mechanics of benzodiazepines prior to attempting to reduce and gradually eliminate the medication. In the early days of benzodiazepine drugs coming to market, these drugs were considered ultra-safe, and with few to none of the issues we now know that can arise after Ativan dependence has developed.9

Ativan is a sedative prescribed for anxiety, insomnia, and alcohol cessation to prevent seizures. Lorazepam also causes quite a number of adverse effects and carries a significant burden of such symptoms, especially when discontinuation is too rapid.1

Below we will discuss the characteristics associated with tapering Ativan in more detail.

Top 10 Ativan Taper Symptoms:
  • ativan withdrawal symptomsSuicidal thoughts
  • Seizures*
  • Psychosis, visual and sensory hallucinations
  • Rapid heartbeat
  • Increased sensitivity to light/sound/environment
  • Tingling in extremities
  • Sleep problems
  • Extreme mood changes, i.e., bouts of rage, paranoia, grief, etc.
  • Gastro issues such as nausea, indigestion, stomach pain
  • Memory loss

*The FDA warns that abruptly stopping lorazepam can induce seizures, especially when antidepressants are used concurrently.1

Those with a history of addiction or personality disorders may experience symptoms when stopping, after just a few doses of the medication.5 For these reasons, it is always recommended to come off of lorazepam safely under the supervision of a licensed professional, even if attempting Ativan tapering on an outpatient basis. This ensures that medical complications can be closely monitored and treated promptly, and more severe medical emergencies can be prevented if they receive the necessary immediate response.

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How To Ensure You Taper Off Ativan Safely

Due to the toxic reactions that frequently occur, work with a trusted physician, and have a set plan to follow. Lorazepam must be tapered in a gradual manner. Quitting Ativan cold turkey is a bad idea, as the shock to the body will be hard to tolerate, and may leave lingering after-effects for a very long time.

A detox center that is familiar with benzo tapering is the best care option. For severe cases such as co-occurring disorders, an inpatient benzo tapering center will help make things more comfortable. If you or a loved one is suffering and needs immediate advice, please call Alternative to Meds now.

Lorazepam / Ativan Dependency

ativan lorazepam dependencyBenzodiazepine overprescription has led to much discussion about the epidemic levels as seen in  recent research and reporting.13

Lorazepam (Ativan) is classed as a Schedule IV substance, meaning the DEA considers it has less addictive potential than heroin or fentanyl. 14 

The drug’s effects are very calming and pleasurable but tolerance may develop over time. Tolerance means benzodiazepines may become less effective over long term use. When a person becomes dependent, they may develop a fear of not having the medication, or on a bad day or flare-up of symptoms, they may tend to take more than their prescribed dosage.3

If a person has developed Ativan dependency after many years, the process of coming off safely becomes much more subject to difficulties. Severe symptoms associated with long-term benzodiazepine use are well-established, both mentally and physically, and research has shown that without proper benzodiazepine discontinuation support and treatment, these symptoms can persist for a very long time.10,11


People experiencing Ativan cessation may experience:

  • fear
  • depression
  • mood swings
  • hallucinations
  • physical issues like sweating, nausea, and stomach cramps
  • seizures

A person going through severe benzo cessation may experience psychotic reactions as well as physically debilitating symptoms and may start to believe they will never recover. Get competent help to assist with your Ativan taper.2,7,8

Treatment Options for Stopping Lorazepam Use

The symptoms that occur if stopping benzodiazepines abruptly, especially after longterm use, will be so uncomfortable that inpatient, medical oversight is advised.

Deciding on the best course of action can be confusing. Here are some options you can expect to find when looking for lorazepam cessation help or a treatment program. Analyze them carefully for your best options:

Ativan Rapid Detox

Alternative to Meds Center does not recommend rapid detox as it does not allow enough time for the body, brain, and CNS to adjust to the absence of the medication. Rapid detox is very fast, usually between 3 and 7 days. Typically the patient is discharged with additional medications to take upon returning home. Alternative to Meds designed their programs to begin gently and gradually normalize the neurochemistry even before tapering begins. This prevents shocking the body, especially after long-term use of a benzodiazepine, and can significantly speed up recovery. It is not realistic to expect this major healing event to occur and sustain itself stably, in just a few days or weeks.

At-Home Ativan Nutrients and Remedies

There are over-the-counter remedies that can help dampen mild symptoms associated with coming off benzodiazepines. These remedies can be purchased at health food stores and pharmacies and taken at home without medical supervision. For headaches there is aspirin. For insomnia there is melatonin. For indigestion, there is peppermint tea or apple cider vinegar. While these remedies may have some use, please note that coming off benzodiazepines without medical oversight can be both dangerous and sometimes unpredictable drug withdrawal experiences and should be handled under the care of a licensed specialist who is familiar with the process. When symptoms become more severe, call a doctor or clinic familiar with benzodiazepines for help.1,2,4

Slow Lorazepam Taper

For most people, trying to get off Ativan safely with a knowledgeable doctor is the safest way to approach trying to get off Ativan. Some benzo tapers last for over a year and if done slowly, with adequate support, can reduce the chance of major symptoms. This gradual transition may ease the impacts on the performance of their daily work duties or responsibilities. If major symptoms persist or become unmanageable during a medication taper at home, seeking the care of an expert can help move the healing along more smoothly. With a more focused inpatient approach and daily monitoring, this process can take considerably less time without lingering health impairments.1,2,5,12

Get off Ativan Safely at a Holistic Treatment Center

Inpatient holistic centers such as Alternative to Meds Center in Sedona, AZ use proven, gentle methods to help individuals overcome the mental health challenges associated with coming off benzodiazepines. 

Recovery stories from our clients express the relief they found from becoming benzo-free, some after decades of taking the addictive medication!

How to Get Off Lorazepam Safely for Good!

Getting off lorazepam safely, under the care of a doctor, a benzo detox program, or a wellness center, also means your treatment professional should offer some sound recommendations for maintaining a healthy lifestyle upon returning to your daily routine. Make sure to ask for resources and have a counselor or doctor already arranged for follow-up visits.

A person will likely experience physical, mental, or emotional symptoms once becoming med-free, so finding a healthy daily routine is important. As a basic roadmap, a person recovering from benzo use, anxiety, or any mental health condition should follow a regimen that makes their health the top priority. Be sure to incorporate healthy activities and a well-planned diet to support neurochemistry repair.

An individual leaving a recovery program prematurely, with no real plan in place, or having scheduled just one follow-up appointment per month will have a far lower rate of success than a person who is provided a daily regimen of holistic therapies, counseling, and nutrient therapy. Focusing your energy on your health is the best way to make sure your days keep getting brighter and will make any daily triggers that pop up less significant.

Holistic Ativan Tapering and Treatment at Alternative to Meds Center

methods to get off lorazepamAlternative to Meds Center is a holistic mental health and recovery center located in Sedona, Arizona.

The program incorporates an educational segment into the tapering program, that explains much information about how to maintain good health after returning home.

Protocols used in treatment include lab testing and analysis, orthomolecular nutrition-based therapies, neurotoxin removal, neurotransmitter rehabilitation, talk therapy, IV therapy, exercise, Chinese Traditional medicine, Equine-assisted therapy, and a wide range of adjunct treatments designed for true recovery. 

A person can turn their entire life around once becoming med-free.  Thousands of cases of even the most severe condition have been assessed, treated, and safely assisted with the oversight of the medical team at Alternative to Meds. The best treatment protocols in the world are delivered at Alternative to Meds Center in the context of a well-managed, individually tailored Ativan dependency recovery program.  Insurance-wise, the center is covered by the most widely used private insurers. Please contact us to find out more about how our Ativan tapering program in a comfortable and welcoming facility may be the answer you have been looking for. 

1. FDA Label Ativan (lorazepam oral tablets) [approval Sept 30, 1977] [cited 2023 April 14]

2. Pétursson H. The benzodiazepine withdrawal syndrome. Addiction. 1994 Nov;89(11):1455-9. doi: 10.1111/j.1360-0443.1994.tb03743.x. PMID: 7841856. [cited 2022 June 8]

3.  Griffin, C. E., 3rd, Kaye, A. M., Bueno, F. R., & Kaye, A. D. (2013). Benzodiazepine pharmacology and central nervous system-mediated effectsThe Ochsner journal13(2), 214–223. [cited 2023 April 14]

4.  Guina, J., & Merrill, B. (2018). Benzodiazepines I: Upping the Care on Downers: The Evidence of Risks, Benefits and Alternatives. Journal of clinical medicine7(2), 17. [cited 2023 April 14]

5. Ashton H, “The diagnosis and management of benzodiazepine dependence.” Current Opinion in Psychiatry [Internet] 2005 May [cited 2022 June 8]

6. FDA Pediatric Postmarketing Pharmacovigilance Report for injectable lorazepam in children [July 8 2019] [cited 2022 June 8]

7. Khong E, Sim MG, Hulse G. Benzodiazepine dependence. Aust Fam Physician. 2004 Nov;33(11):923-6. PMID: 15584332. [cited 2022 June 8]

8. Ghiasi N, Bhansali RK, Marwaha R. Lorazepam. [Updated 2022 Feb 7]. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2022 Jan-. >Available from: [cited 2022 June 8]

9. Stewart SA. The effects of benzodiazepines on cognition. J Clin Psychiatry. 2005;66 Suppl 2:9-13. PMID: 15762814. [cited 2022 June 8]

10. Barker MJ, Greenwood KM, Jackson M, Crowe SF. Persistence of cognitive effects after withdrawal from long-term benzodiazepine use: a meta-analysis. Arch Clin Neuropsychol. 2004 Apr;19(3):437-54. doi: 10.1016/S0887-6177(03)00096-9. PMID: 15033227. [cited 2022 June 8]

11. Barker MJ, Greenwood KM, Jackson M, Crowe SF. An evaluation of persisting cognitive effects after withdrawal from long-term benzodiazepine use. J Int Neuropsychol Soc. 2005 May;11(3):281-9. doi: 10.1017/S1355617705050332. PMID: 15892904. [cited 2022 June 8]

12.  Brett J, Murnion B. Management of benzodiazepine misuse and dependence. Aust Prescr. 2015 Oct;38(5):152-5. doi: 10.18773/austprescr.2015.055. Epub 2015 Oct 1. PMID: 26648651; PMCID: PMC4657308. [cited 2022 Aug 7]

13.  Schmitz A. (2016). Benzodiazepine use, misuse, and abuse: A review. The mental health clinician6(3), 120–126. [cited 2023 April 14]

14.  Dept of Justice/DEA  Fact Sheet Benzodiazepines [published April 2020] [cited 2023 April 14]

15.  DEA Controlled Substance Schedules [published 2023] [cited 2023 April 14]


Originally Published Nov 2, 2018 by Diane Ridaeus

This content has been reviewed and approved by a licensed physician.

Dr. Samuel Lee

Dr. Samuel Lee is a board-certified psychiatrist, specializing in a spiritually-based mental health discipline and integrative approaches. He graduated with an MD at Loma Linda University School of Medicine and did a residency in psychiatry at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center and University of Washington School of Medicine in Seattle. He has also been an inpatient adult psychiatrist at Kaweah Delta Mental Health Hospital and the primary attending geriatric psychiatrist at the Auerbach Inpatient Psychiatric Jewish Home Hospital. In addition, he served as the general adult outpatient psychiatrist at Kaiser Permanente.  He is board-certified in psychiatry and neurology and has a B.A. Magna Cum Laude in Religion from Pacific Union College. His specialty is in natural healing techniques that promote the body’s innate ability to heal itself.

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Ativan Dependency: Taper Lorazepam Safely
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Nothing on this Website is intended to be taken as medical advice. The information provided on the website is intended to encourage, not replace, direct patient-health professional relationships. Always consult with your doctor before altering your medications. Adding nutritional supplements may alter the effect of medication. Any medication changes should be done only after proper evaluation and under medical supervision.

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