We review the three main differences between Ativan and Xanax: drug use, action times and abuse tendencies. Although both Ativan and Xanax are both classified as benzodiazepines, their medical use is slightly different. Come explore and discuss the similarity and difference between Ativan and Xanax here.
What is Ativan?
Ativan (lorazepam) is a sedative medication, 3-hydroxy benzodiazepine drug, and is commonly prescribed to treat anxiety in patients. Lorazepam it is mainly available as tablets and a solution for injection, but it can also be found as a skin patch, an oral solution, and a sublingual tablet. In addition to lorazepam, brand name Ativan tablets contain lactose, microcrystalline cellulose, polacrilin, magnesium stearate, and coloring agents (indigo carmine (E132) in blue tablets and tartrazine (E102) in yellow tablets).
How is Ativan used?
Ativan is usually taken divided into 2-3 doses at certain periods of the day. The starting dose for adults is 2-3 mg daily, a typical maintanace dose is 2-6 mg, and the maximum recommended dose is 10 mg per day. However, Ativan can be habit-forming. It’s not recommended for long-term use (regular dosing for longer than 4 months), because of increased likelihood of withdrawal symptoms.
Why do people use Ativan?
Health care professionals prescribe Ativan for short-term management of severe anxiety. It is fast acting, and because of its high-potency, Ativan use is recommended for the treatment of fast onset panic and anxiety. But Ativan is also used to treat other conditions such as:
- acute seizures
- agitation and seizures in case of overdose
- ease symptoms of vomiting and nausea in chemotherapy patients
- sedation of aggressive patients
- sedation of hospitalized patients
Ativan abuse is defined as taking this prescription medication OTHER THAN PRESCRIBED. While Aitvan is mostly abused for its anti-anxiety, relaxing, hypnotic and sedating effects, some people use Ativan recreationally (against medical advice) in order to achieve a euphoric high. How can Ativan be abused?
Crushed Ativan tablets are insufflated (snorted) by recreational users. Ativan injection also has a potential for abuse and may lead to dependence. Some users mix Ativan with alcohol to produce a stronger high. Additionally, there is criminal way to abuse Ativan: the anterograde amnesia and sedative-hypnotic effects are sometimes used by predators on unwitting victims as date rape drugs, or for the purpose of robbery.
When Ativan is taken over a short-term period as prescribed, its effects can be positive. Ativan has a fast onset, and the effects last up to 8 hours. It helps reduce anxiety, sleeplessness, agitation and seizures. However, Ativan also may cause physical and cognitive impairments that users should be aware of, such as:
- anterograde amnesia
A person should stop using Ativan in cases of severe allergic reactions, swelling of the face, sleep driving or other serious adverse effects. In order to safely quit Ativan, experts recommend that you consult your prescribing doctor about creating a tapering schedule. This way you can avoid withdrawal symptoms and intense or severe side effects.
Is Ativan addictive?
Taking Ativan repeatedly over a prolonged period of time may result in physical and psychological dependence and Ativan withdrawal symptoms. Because of its highly addictive properties, doctors do not recommend Ativan use for longer than 3-4 months. The likelihood of dependence is relatively high with Ativan (lorazepam), and one-third of individuals treated with the drug develop dependence within 4 weeks of therapy.
Signs of Ativan addiction include:
- compulsively taking Ativan
- continued use despite the awareness of negative consequences to health, home, work or social life
- craving Ativan
- loss of control over frequency and dose
- taking Ativan to cope with everyday stress
If you have been taking Ativan for a longer period of time, you may need to consider Ativan addiction treatment when trying to cut back or stop using the medication. Treatment is especially recommended if you have been increasing doses or frequency of use on your own, and you may need to detox from Ativan under medical supervision.