Is lorazepam addictive?

YES. Lorazepam is addictive. This is even the case when lorazepam is prescribed by a doctor. We review what lorazepam is made of, and how you get addicted to lorazepam here.

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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

Do you recognize these signs and symptoms of lorazepam addiction in yourself or someone close to you? If YES, then don’t wait any longer to get help from professionals. See what it’s like to seek help from lorazepam addiction treatment programs and how you can choose the best treatment type, duration, and therapies for you.

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 – Treatment for Abuse of Anti-Anxiety Drugs Tripled Over 10 Years
DEA – Drug Fact Sheet: Benzodiazepines
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. Ok.. so I have been diagnosed several times by my doctor with different types of things.. we will go with the current diagnosis. The shrink says I have psuedo seizures. I am currently taking 1mg pill 2 times a day as well cymbalta, midodrine ,and lamotrigine.. they think I will probably be on this medication for life or until something better comes out. Now when I go to the hospital they inject it. I have never had anything work so well and I’ve been sick for over 6 yrs now. I dont understand why the pills do not calm me down to the point where I dont have any psuedo seizures but the injection does. The pills make me feel tired. But the injection does not.. it just makes me relaxed and calm. What would long term side effects be for either of these. I have seen that it comes in a liquid as well. Is that going to have a different effect? If so do you know how? If I talked to my shrink do you think I could be put on the injection?

  2. I have been taking Ativan for a longtime I cannot go without having twn2.5 tablets a day Ian addicted to it not a good thing I get severe headaches if I do not hav it can you recommend something to help me cut t down on this bad adictipn

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

  3. My father is taking lorazepam 2mg ..4 times a day ..and he is having 3 beers ( 8% alchol) per day ..since last 4 years father age is 64..he dos’nt trust anybody except me..he wants me to be there for him round the clock..he takes everything negativly and after consuming beer he is always saying very negativly about his life
    .i want to know that can he became normal after treatment and what should i do as he dos’nt want to leave these thing ..and he never wants to go to physcatirst…a few times i have stop that medicine which has adversly effect i.e he was shivring and if i have not given that medicene to him he …
    Please advise me

  4. I have taken lorazepam for at least 4 years by prescription of my psychiatrist. 1 to 2 mg. at bedtime. One usually doesnt help me sleep. Ocassionally I dont take any. I didnt have problems sleeping until. I was diagnosed with major depression and shock treatments 20 yrs. ago. Then @ 8 yrs. ago I had another episode of anxiety and depression, no shock treatments. I did not always contine to need a sleeping med with prescribed pristique 50 mg. daily. That med. worked better than any I tried. I have just retired from 16 years of working as a CNA mostly 3 to 11 shift. Because of this work I have been a night owl for the past 19 years. A high stress job in a senior psyc. ward and health center with every kind of senior illness, dementia to alzhemiers. My lifestyle will change dramatically. I dont feel depressed but do experience anxiety still. Should I cut down on the lorazepam and try to quit taking it. I never can say I sleep well even on it. But if I dont takecit several days and I’m wired, I dont sleep. Work isnt a problem now though so maybe its time to cut it off?

    1. Hi Gail. I suggest that you consult with your doctor. If you feel that it’s time to cut down your medication, do it. Also, I suggest that you look into the Ashton Manual (a manual that can help you with dealing benzodiazepine dependence and withdrawal):

  5. I currently am taking 0.5 mg once a day, maybe 3 days a week. I am concerned about getting addicted to the point where even if i need one, i will just work thru my anxiety.any thoughts on me getting addicted?

  6. I’va been on ativan for about 4yrs after I had my son I got baby blue and I have pinc disease and pts so now I take up to 6 to 7mg of Ivan I’m so scared never been a addiction please help me I want to get of them. I also suffered A brain aneurysm so I’m so scared of the well draw please help me

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

  7. My doctor prescribed antivan for panic attacks when driving but am scared I tried once it makes me drive well can I continue taking it until I get my convenience back it 1mg please help

  8. I have taken lorazepam 1/2 mg for years along with ssri, to control panick attacks! Stopped the ssri and just took 1/2 mg of lorapam at night, now went back on ssri’s which are killing me! My doctor in the last 6 month switched me to 3 different ssri’s, cynmolta, le apron and Zoloft! Omg! I was having migraines, and even passed out and lost 30 pounds!
    As of spy 7 2016 I weaned off ( under doc care) Zoloft and it horrific side effects are killing me! But I’m still taking lorazepam but upend it to 1/2 mg as needed, no more than 2mg a day!
    Unfortunately still experiencing dizziness fog nausea and panick attacks! Sounds to me me that I’m addicted to lorazepam ! I’m desperate I don’t trust my doctor any more … What will it take to wean off lorazepam without having panick attacks? Please help!

  9. I have been taking 1 mg of Lorazepam for sleep every night for 11 years. Last week my doctor told me I need to go off of it and is reducing my dosage and adding Restoril – 30 mg while titrating off the Lorazepam. I LOVE lorazepam and it has given me great sleep every night and I am worried about coming off of it. I tried to get off it twice and had severe INSOMNIA! Was my dosage considered high? What are the withdrawl side effects? I am totally dependent on this drug to sleep at night.

  10. You know what,I used to take loranzopam 3 times aday 1mg went in the hospital,don’t k for ten yearsnow how ,yes I do the good lord. Before surgery my doctor said he would not do the surgery until he took me off all these pain pills the other doctors had given me,he said they didn’t look for the cause,they was killing you,i’m talking about going to doctors to find out why i was hurting so bad for ten years until this one doctor said you have major hernia. And they wonder why i had to change so many doctors. All beleive that all i needed was astronger pain med. T o get back on the subject. One psychiast apologized for started me on benzos,now i’m allergy to most all of .I’m on 0.5mg of loranzopam 1 or 2 if needed,thats kind of hard to figure out,so i try to take it as needed,it be at different,but never to take more than prescribed.I,m trying to help ,pray about it he’ll give you the answer,it may come through others,you never know. Trust Him. God Bless.

  11. I have taken Lorazepam half a milligram off and on over the course of several years most of that time on an “as needed basis” for anxiety. Often I would go weeks without taking it. I had a number of stressors in my life starting July 2014 and in September developed high blood pressure and anxiety/panic problems and was put on 1 mg per day (.5 2xdaily) Late February I started to wean off and had no problem going from 1 mg to .5 daily, but the next step was difficult. My doctor had me go to 1/4 mg daily for 10 days then 1/8 mg for a week then 1/8 e/o day for 2 weeks. I cannot get past this last dosage without feeling “wired” and experiencing some confusion at times. Am I going too fast? Today I have been off so far for 65 hours and feel as if I really need that 1/8 mg. Shall I gut it out or go back on a regular dosage. I am nearly 78 yrs and in good health except for being treated (successfully) for HBP with Bystolic and Tramterene HCTZ. How much longer am I going to have to put up with this withdrawal situation?

  12. Hello Tac. It’s not safe nor is it recommended. Lorazepam withdrawal can be very uncomfortable and if you put alcohol withdrawal on top of that it’s not good. You can taper down one after the other-as instructed by a medical professional and under doctor’s supervision, and you can also find treatment facility that will be able to treat both dependencies at the same time. You can start looking for available treatment in your area, here: or here:

  13. Hello Linda. Ativan is recommended only for short term treatment, which is 2-4 weeks. Continuous long-term use of product is not recommended. So, be careful around this particular medication, and all benzodiazepines in general.

  14. 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.

  15. 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!

  16. 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:

  17. 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.

  18. 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?

  19. 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.

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