How to stop taking Ativan?

The best way to come off Ativan is to consult your doctor about it FIRST. Stopping abruptly can be dangerous and can cause a number of unpleasant withdrawal effects. Read this article to find out how to safely stop using Ativan.

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Consult a doctor first

You should never attempt to stop taking Ativan (main ingredient lorazepam) without talking to your doctor first. Especially if you have been taking Ativan for a longer period of time. Stopping the drug suddenly can worsen your condition and can cause withdrawal symptoms such as: anxiousness, sleeplessness, and irritability.

But, what is the safest way to stop taking Ativan? Usually, medical professionals recommend following a tapering schedule and lowering your dose gradually until you finally come off of the medication. If you feel that it’s time for you to quit Ativan, the decision should come as a result of consultation between you and your doctor.

Continue reading here to learn more about the risks of abrupt Ativan cessation and how you can minimize damage when you want to quit. Then, we invite you to share your questions, personal experiences or feedback at the end of the page. In fact, we try to respond personally to all real life questions.

Can I just stop taking Ativan?

No, not really.

Chances are, you were prescribed Ativan by your doctor to help you treat epilepsy or to relieve anxiety. People usually want to stop treatment when they start to feel better and think they may not need the medication anymore. Or, Ativan may not be working to treat your condition effectively. Additionally, you may be experiencing side effects from it. All of these scenarios are legitimate reasons for stopping Ativan, …but you should still not make this decision on your own.

The bottom line is: Stopping lorazepman on your own can be dangerous. It is not recommended. In some cases, stopping abruptly can even worsen the medical condition lorazepam was prescribed to originally treat. It is recommended that you make decisions together with your prescribing doctor and/or pharmacist, in order to minimize the chances for experiencing undesirable consequences.

What happens when you stop taking Ativan?

Due to it’s addictive nature, Ativan is usually not prescribed for longer than a month. However, if you’ve developed a physical dependence to Ativan you can experience withdrawal symptoms when you lower your regular dose or stop suddenly. Ativan withdrawal can be very harsh and compel you to go back on the medication. Still, doctors can help you keep withdrawal symptoms at a minimum.

In order to lessen the intensity of the withdrawal effects, medical professionals advise you to taper off Ambien. Tapering is a process of gradual reduction of doses over the course of several weeks, before stopping completely. You will require medical guidance, psychological support, and information about what to expect and what to do, as well self-help strategies. You may also be prescribed other medications or Over-The-Counter (OTC) medicines and herbal remedies to treat withdrawal symptoms as they occur.

Side effects from stopping Ativan

Ativan has strong calming effects is a effective for lessening the signs of physical tension and psychological anxiety. When you stop taking it your body will experience sudden changes. Therefore, the process of quitting Ativan should be taken seriously and monitored carefully by a medical professional. It is always recommended to lower the doses slowly before you completely quit using Ativan.

A number of symptomatic patterns can occur when withdrawing from regular dosage of lorazepam. The most common symptom is a short-lived “rebound” anxiety and insomnia. This usually occurs within the first 1 to 4 days of discontinuation. The second pattern is the full-blown withdrawal syndrome, usually lasting from 10 to 14 days. The third pattern may represent the return of anxiety symptoms which then persist until some form of treatment is instituted.

Physical dependence can occur after a prolonged treatment period (usually more than a month). Physical dependence is quicker to form than psychological dependence, but science still hasn’t determined which proportion of users are likely to experience a withdrawal syndrome. In some cases, it may only take one week of consistent Ativan use to cause dependency. Withdrawal side-effects from stopping Ativan include:

  • delirium and hallucinations
  • depression
  • dizziness
  • hypersensitivity to light, sound, and smell
  • increased anxiety, headaches and tension
  • intensified heart rate and blood pressure
  • intensified insomnia
  • irritability
  • nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and appetite loss
  • perceptual distortions
  • sensory hypersensitivity
  • short-term memory loss

These symptoms come as a result of the efforts of your body to adjust and successfully function without the influence of Ativan. It may take some time before your body and brain stabilize and recover from the Ativan usage.

Stop taking Ativan cold turkey

There are multiple ways Ativan addiction can be treated successfully, BUT quitting Ativan cold turkey is not one of them. Stopping abruptly or cold turkey can be extremely dangerous and may cause a variety of distressing reactions, rapid return of the anxiety or seizure conditions that are being treated, or even potentially life-threatening seizures.

NOTE HERE: Ending chemical dependency on Ativan will require professional help. Attempting to go cold turkey off Ativan can put your health and life in serious danger.

How to stop taking Ativan safely?

According to physicians and medical experts, Ativan can be safely discontinued in three ways:

  1. Gradually reducing the dose of Ativan without adding any other medication
  2. Switching to a longer-acting medication (benzodiazepine) than Ativan
  3. Prescribing medications to suppress the withdrawal symptoms of Ativan

In case none of these ways is appropriate for an dependent individual, then inpatient detoxification is recommended.

How to stop taking Ativan discussion

We hope to have answered your main questions regarding stopping Ativan safely. If you’d like to ask something or add a personal experience, please leave your comment in the section below. We try to answer all legitimate inquiries personally and promptly. If we cannot provide an answer to your question, we’ll try to refer you to someone who can.

Reference sources: Medline plus: When you feel like changing your medicine
NCBI: Using medication: What can help when trying to stop taking sleeping pills and sedatives?
NCBI: A physician’s guide to discontinuing benzodiazepine therapy
NCBI: The benzodiazepine withdrawal syndrome
About the author
Lee Weber is a published author, medical writer, and woman in long-term recovery from addiction. Her latest book, The Definitive Guide to Addiction Interventions is set to reach university bookstores in early 2019.


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  1. Hello Irina. It’s possible that your doctor is well-versed in prescription but not in withdrawal protocol for lorazepam. This is common. We’d suggest that you check out Dr. Heather Ashton’s work on benzodiazepine withdrawal and her tapering protocols. Also, check in with your local pharmacist (or even make some phone calls to pharmacies) to learn what these Rx experts say. The bottom line: When advice doesn’t synch within the healthcare system, seek a second opinion.

  2. I have been on 1MG Lorazepam for many years. My doctor won’t prescribe it anymore, he told me to stop it and take Trazodone instead. I tried it once and had horrible side effects from it. I asked my doctor about reducing the dosage of Lorazepam gradually, and he said it is not needed.
    I have stopped taking it and am not able to sleep at night.
    Please advise.

  3. Good day,
    Please attend to my inquiry. I have been suffering from insomnia for 4 nights out of 5nights and it is draining my normal life balance.
    I have been on 1mg Tanquipam and Activan(Generic equivalent to Ativan) for more than 40 years. My health practitioner decided to substitute 1 mgTranquipam for 10mg Zolpidem. I was nervous and hesitant to do the switch. I have transgressed to Zolpidem 5 days ago, but suffer from severe insomnia, sleeping less than 5 hours per night. I want to revert to Tranquipam once more, because I feel the effects of Lorazapam (Tanquipam)withdrawal symptones. Do you recommend that I revert to 1mg Tanquipam again?

    1. Hi J.F. I suggest that you consult with your doctor about your problem,and use those medications that are suitable for your body. Your insomnia is a withdrawal symptom cause by abrupt switch of medications. It may need few days or weeks to resolve it.

  4. 3 weeks ago had broke my ankle and had surgery and have been in rehab until last Wednesday. They had me on Ativan 1 mg 3x a day.. stopped taking it when I got home because I felt fine. 2 days later horrible naseous…alternate hot and cold .. diarrhea..can’t sleep..felling of being disconnected. I took a pill today am feeling better so I took one again for night.. how should I wean myself off.. as I said they were giving me 3 a day..1 mg..I will never take these again once off horrible

    1. Hi Debi. I suggest that you consult with your doctor to help you create an individualized tapering schedule.

  5. I have been on Ativan for 30 years after persistent sexual & physical abuse by my father. I was becoming a recluse & had high anxiety just talking to every person in my life even in my own family. When I was prescribed Ativan it completely gave me my life back. I have been very careful to take it as always medically advised & I know everything there is to know about its effects etc.
    My previous GP over the years has helped me to withdraw down from 4mg a day to at present time 1mg. I have now been put under a new GP who is now talking about 0.5mg then complete withdrawal. I am 65 yrs old & feel I panicked at the thought as I know I am addicted psychologically & will go back the the hell I lived in, in my mind when I was first helped with Lorazepam. I have tried tapering which is how I am now on 1mg to 0.5mg daily & also diazepam which was not successful in my case. I feel I am better now after all these years left with the existing dose which is tge advice of my previous GP until I feel able to withdraw completely without any pressure on time. Please can you give me of your honest opinion? Thank you.

  6. I have been taking lorazapam for years. Had to change doctors because of not having insurance. New doctor first gave me an antihistamine, which jacked me up,then he prescribed zolof which makes me sleepy. I’ve had 2 weeks of upset stomach and diarrhea. When will this stop

  7. I take .5 mg nightly to aid sleep, have for 15 years.I tried quitting, too difficult. Still want to quit, if I very slowly cut down, lm thinking one less pill a week for a month on a continuing basis. What do you think.

  8. Thank you for your information I never told you but I have been on Ativan for more than 30 years a doctor put me on it when I was about 28 never took me off then I was never able to get off it was a horrible thing for years I went to Mexico one time so I could buy it without a prescription thank you for your information I never abused them only I mg at night. I now found a doctor that will give me 90 tablets so I don’t have to go back so often but when he retires what will I do I am now 63 years old I’ll be 64 in March I’ve been trying to get off this drug forever and I know the only way to get off in it is with doctors care but I have no insurance My life is stressful a lot I would rather deal with it than to be on this drug addiction to lorazepam thank you for your help I sent my email address just in case a doctor has a plan to help me With Maybe more information like I should. Might not be good to go off it after so many years of being on i the drug after more then 30 years thank you for your time

  9. i am epileptic and have been prescribed Ativan 1mg twice a Day since 2010, i trusted my neurologist and have recently learn that i should not have been on this for so long. I want to quit but am affraidto have seizures, do you have any suggestions?

    1. Hi Vee. I suggest that you consult with your doctor to help you plan an individualized tapering schedule.

  10. Help!

    I can not see how I could ever stop taking Lorazapam. I was first prescribed 1 mg 3×/day…that was 38 years when I was 22 year’s old.

    I am so ashamed (my dark secret) and so afraid. I take up to 5mg 2×/day. Yes my Dr I’d prescribing, however, only 1 to 3..1mg/day. She doesn’t know that I’ve been taking this medication for this long and that a friend gives me their prescription as my tolerance, stress and anxiety, increased over the many year’s…with a lot of stress…chronic stress in my home life etc….generalized chronic anxiety.

    Please don’t be angry with me. I am ashamed and feel there’s no way out now with my dependence, physically and Psychologically.

    It would be so Wonderful to be a person like most I know, who live their lives fully, with all it’s updated and downs, without having taken medication… especially Lorazapam. As most would say back in the late 70′ early 80’s… I wish the DRS knew tan just how addictive this medication is. I was very shy back than, and if your Dr prescribed a medication, you didn’t ask why or anything about a medication. We, most of us, trusted our Drs as we like to do, and follow their direction.

    This is not to put blame.

    I’ve asked over the years if I should stop taking this medication, usually I got your being too hard on yourself or well maybe cut back a bit. Two different GP’s over the past 30+ years. The Dr before them was the Dr who originally prescribed Lorazepam. My greatest motivator to want to stop taking them back than when I felt I could, was my feeling do ashamed that I was taking them. No one knew except myself and my Dr.

    I went through a very difficult time 12 years ago. Not a story I want to get in to. Still upsetting. As a result of what happened, I suffered a severe trauma reaction… I still have some PTS symptoms. I’m SO afraid of stopping Lorazepam as I’m scared the trauma symptoms will return. Just typing this I feel them…mildly. I want to think of me as living this next chapter of my life, as being free of Loazapam, and living my life fully without shame, anxiety, panic attacks, and no trauma symptoms. Has anyone, or does anyone have any ideas of how I can go about finishing up with Lorazapam…is there any hope here at all. Desperately seeking direction.

    1. Hi Susan. I suggest that you consult with your doctor to help you plan an individualized tapering schedule. Also, take a look into the Ashton Manual:
      It is a manual that can help you with dealing benzodiazepine dependence and withdrawal.
      Moreover, if you have any problems, call the helpline you see on the website to get in touch with a trusted treatment consultant who can help you find a rehab that fits your needs.

  11. hi dr I have been on Ativan for 10 years 2 mg 3 times a day some time I only take 2 time a dap its prescribed to me can I quit that and how ,and how long that will take ,I’m 57 years old .thank you for your kind response in this big matter.

  12. I am 74 years old and have been taking ativan for 23 years and this last year I have been slowly tapering off as per the Ashton chart using Valium with it. One month ago, I took my last ativan and within 2 weeks I couldn’t function, couldn’t go out, couldn’t go to mass, was afraid to leave the house. I have had to go back on it last week, as I cannot live like that and I likely don’t have too many more years, and to live like a recluse is no option. To bad you are not told what the consequences are, it is horrible and for myself I was not able to function. I am hoping that I will be able to start to function again soon, but it hasn’t happened yet.

  13. Can you still have withdrawal symptoms after a year quitting Ativan? I took Ativan for 30 years (2 mg five times a day). I still get horrible panic attacks and feel like am jumping out of my skin.

    Thank you

    1. Hi Linda. Yes. Ativan withdrawal may last even a year. You are actually experiencing PAWS (post-acute withdrawal syndrome).

  14. I have been using Ativan for admit 3 months now 1 mg in the afternoon and 2 mg at night to sleep. Will it be hard to withdraw from that amount?? The doctor prescribed it for sleep dyet to gaming severe gastro issues and severe reflux. I feel that the Ativan could possibly be contributing to the reflux. Will this take a long time to get off? I had no idea how complex of an issue this medication would cause. I love in Greenville SC. Wasn’t sure if there was help in the area in regards to this issue. Could this drug worsen the GI tract?

    1. Hi Summer. The best way to quit Ativan is by slowly reducing the daily dosage. I suggest that you speak with your doctor to help you plan an individualized tapering schedule. Since Ativan is a benzodiazepine, you may look into the Ashton Manual (It is a manual that can help you with dealing benzodiazepine dependence and withdrawal):

  15. having a hard time trying to stop ativan. stopped successfully in the past but this time
    hae been taking 6 mil per day so i now have decided that all doses during the day will
    be 1/2 mil with l full mil at night and l full mil in the morning totaling 4 mil.
    intend to cut to cut 1/2 mil in another 2 weeks. i stopped because it was not helping my
    anxiety and cuased horrendous headaches which have ceased since i cut out only 2 mil
    i intend to keep gointg until completely off this medication.

    1. Hi Joyce. Ativan can be difficult and dangerous to quit without medical help. Consult your doctor about Ativan dose reduction.

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