The Harmful Effects Of Taking Ativan

Have you recently been prescribed lorazepam, also known as Ativan? Are you feeling drowsy or tired? In that case, your medication could be to blame. Like other benzodiazepines, Ativan slows down brain activity, which may help improve sleep and ease anxiety (via Medline Plus). The drug is also prescribed for irritable bowel syndrome, epilepsy, and digestive problems associated with cancer treatment. But despite its potential benefits, it carries serious health risks and may cause addiction.

Benzodiazepines act on the neurotransmitter gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA), calming the brain, per Medical News Today. Lorazepam is safer than other benzodiazepines for people with kidney or liver disorders, suggests a 2013 review published in the Ochsner Journal. Plus, it's rapidly absorbed in the body and has a wide range of uses. The problem is that it can build up in your system, causing a loss of inhibition, among other side effects. As a result, it can lead to risky behaviors, such as careless driving.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) warns that Ativan can cause dependence, especially when used in large doses or for long periods. This risk is even higher in patients prone to addiction, as well as in those with certain mental disorders. But even if you don't fall into these categories, you may still experience serious side effects. 

If you or anyone you know needs help with addiction issues, help is available. Visit the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration website or contact SAMHSA's National Helpline at 1-800-662-HELP (4357). 

What are the dangers of taking Ativan?

Ativan is classified as a Schedule IV controlled substance, meaning that it has a lower potential for abuse than illicit drugs, narcotics, ketamine, and marijuana, according to the Drug Enforcement Administration. However, it can still lead to addiction and cause severe withdrawal symptoms, notes the FDA. The most common side effects include sedation, dizziness, loss of balance, confusion, and memory problems, but some people may also experience digestive distress or allergic reactions. Additionally, lorazepam can trigger or worsen depression, insomnia, and mood disorders.

The FDA also warns against taking Ativan with opioids, as this combo can lead to coma or even death. This drug may also pose risks for older adults, suggests a 2015 study presented in the journal Progress in Neuro-Psychopharmacology and Biological Psychiatry. Elderly patients who took lorazepam for at least three months had difficulty remembering things and coordinating their movements. In another study, a 23-year-old man developed vision problems after just five days of treatment. He stopped taking the medication, but his symptoms persisted for another two months, reports the journal Eye.

Ativan may also pose risks for pregnant women, according to the FDA. This medication can pass through the umbilical cord to your unborn baby, causing respiratory depression, decreased muscle tone, hypoactivity, and other complications. What's more, some patients may experience hallucinations, mood changes, low blood pressure, hair loss, or sexual problems.