Friday August 1st 2014

Is lorazepam addictive?

YES. Lorazepam is addictive.

What exactly is it about lorazepam that makes it so addictive? Basically, lorazepam’s euphoric effects.  How long do lorazepam effects last – about 6 to 8 hours.   Plus, peak levels of lorazepam process relatively quickly through the body.  So how do you know if you have a problem with lorazepam addiction? We’ll review these questions here. Then, we invite your questions about the addictive potential of lorazepam at the end.

What is lorazepam used for?

While lorazepam is best-known for its anti-anxiety effects, it’s also sometimes used to treat severe seizures, insomnia, and muscle spasms. Lorazepam is an oral medication, usually given as a tablet, but sometimes also as a liquid. By slowing brain activity, lorazepam exerts its relaxing effects on the user. When taken in large amounts, lorazepam can be abused to create a euphoric high.

What is lorazepam made of?

Lorazepam is part of the benzodiazepine family of medications. More specifically, lorazepam (initially marketed under the brand names Ativan and Temesta) is a potent short-to-intermediate-acting benzodiazepine. Inactive ingredients that may be added in prescription lorazepam might include monohydrate, magnesium stearate, microcrystalline cellulose, polacriline potassium.

How addictive is lorazepam?

Lorazepam is extremely addictive. That’s why doctors typically only prescribe lorazepam for 3-4 months at a time. In fact, lorazepam is not appropriate for long-term use because of how easily the body can develop a dependence or tolerance to lorazpam. Addiction to lorazepam, or the psychological dependence on lorazepam can shortly follow. But there’s more to lorazepam addiction than just the chemical properties of the drug. Other factors which make it easy to get hooked on lorazepam include:

  • easy lorazepam availability
  • doctor’s attitudes in prescribing lorazepam
  • local controls and laws on lorazepam
  • lorazepam’s diversion history

Lorazepam dependence vs. addiction

Taking lorazepam long-term can usually result in physical dependence. While dependence on lorazepam isn’t necessarily the same as an addiction (it can be hard to tell the difference between the two), there is a subtle distinction. While a physical dependence involves both a tolerance to the effects of the drug, and the inability to stop taking the drug suddenly without withdrawals, addiction has an added psychological dimension. Lorazepam addicts will be unable to function emotionally or psychologically without their medication.

How do you get addicted to lorazepam?

You’re must less likely to develop a lorazepam addiction if you take lorazepam exactly as directed by a doctor, not in higher doses or greater frequency than recommended. Taking lorazepam in any other way is seen as intentional abuse and greatly increases the risk of lorazepam addiction.  For example, mixing lorazepam and alcohol for effect is more risky than taking either separately.  A past history of drug or alcohol abuse also puts you at risk for developing other addictions, including one to lorazepam.

Lorazepam abuse may involve:

  1. chewing lorazepam to more quickly access the medication
  2. crushing and snorting lorazepam powder
  3. dissolving lorazepam in water to inject the pills
  4. taking lorazepam without a prescription
  5. taking lorazepam in higher or more frequent doses than prescribed

Signs of lorazepam addiction

It can be hard to recognize the sings of a lorazepam addiction, since they can be so similar to the signs of a chemical or physical dependence on lorazepam. The following signs are usually a good indication that there’s something more than simply a dependence at work:

  • using or abusing lorazepam despite negative personal consequences
  • compulsive cravings for lorazepam
  • trying to stimulate the brain’s “reward center” with lorazepam

Lorazepam addiction potential questions

Do you still have questions about lorazepam’s addiction potential? Please leave them here. We are happy to help answer your questions personally and promptly. If we do not know the answer to your particular question, we will refer you to someone who does.

Reference sources: Medline Plus: Lorazepam
WomensHealth.gov - Treatment for Abuse of Anti-Anxiety Drugs Tripled Over 10 Years
DEA – Drug Fact Sheet: Benzodiazepines

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6 Responses to “Is lorazepam addictive?
andrea aragon
10:00 pm September 22nd, 2012

If I’m prescribed 20 1mg pills of lorazepam and take one pill at bed time, as doctor said to do…will I get addicted to them? I have no refills, its jus 20 pills once a night for 20 nights. Thank you.

9:05 am September 23rd, 2012

Hello Andrea. Thanks for your question.

Addiction usually develops as the result of a brain effect on the pleasure centers of the brain called “euphoria”, an extreme sense of well being. Just a little under 10% of the population really registers this effect, or seeks it out. If you get high from your dose of lorazepam, it’s possible that you can get addicted to it. But under normal therapeutic parameters…as long as you are taking lorazepam as prescribed and do not increase dose or dosing frequency, you may develop physical dependence on lorazepam. But this is characteristic of an expected reason when taking any benzodiazepine regulalrly and DOES NOT necessarily indicate addiction.

Do you feel high when on lorazepam?

mary jebara
11:51 am July 4th, 2013

How do I overcome a dependence on lorazepam. I was taking .5 when awakening at 3AM to go back to sleep.

I have tried Lunesta and Ambien to sleep through the night but I continue to wake up at 3AM. My doctor said I am “craving” lorazepam. I don’t know why the hell he prescribed this stuff.

I am unable to sleep past 3am.

11:34 am July 5th, 2013

Hello Mary. First, you’ll need to stop taking lorazepam completely. Seek a tapering schedule to slowly decrease your dosage over the period of weeks or months from your doctor. Then, you’ll need to learn how to sleep without medications. There is a superb webcourse offered by the Institute for Applied Meditation on sleep, although the basic courses on meditation helped me greatly, as well: http://appliedmeditation.org/Resources/upcoming.php

leah newstead
11:56 am June 9th, 2014

I lost my precious 43 year old son from lung cancer more than 3 months ago. During the last weeks of his illness and after his death, I have been prescribed and taking 1 mg. Lorazepam at night, because without this, I simply can’t sleep! Can you possibly suggest some other medicine I could take which woudl be non-addictive, help me to sleep and not feel groggy the next morning! I have tried weaning myself off the lorazepam without success. I am desperate!

7:52 am June 11th, 2014

Hello Leah. I am so sorry to hear of your loss. I’d suggest that you work on this with multiple professionals: for anxiety, depression, and grief you can really benefit by talking with a psychologist, psychiatrist, nutritionist, religious/community leader, and even a personal trainer. You need to go through the process of grief and then build up healthy patterns in your life. Turning to central nervous system depressants is a short-term strategy that can lead to drug dependence; while the symptoms may be addressed, the underlying condition of grief remains untreated.

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