How To Stop Taking Ativan (Lorazepam) Safely

Written by Theresa Valenzky

& Medically Reviewed by Leila Khurshid BCPS, PharmD

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Last Updated - 10/19/2022

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Updated 10/19/2022

If you plan to stop Ativan use, a taper can slowly wean you off this medication to avoid withdrawal symptoms. People with Ativan addiction, however, may benefit from a medical detox instead.

Ativan (lorazepam) is a benzodiazepine often used to treat anxiety and insomnia. Ativan works by slowing signaling between body and brain and can cause dependence, even if taken as prescribed. Although how to stop taking Ativan will depend on your specific needs, it is safest to wean off this medication to reduce uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms slowly or undergo medical detox to address them.

Benefits of Quitting Ativan

Quitting medication like Ativan has many benefits, especially after long-term use. Some examples include:

  • Feeling more energetic and alert: Without Ativan, you will have more energy. Common side effects of Ativan are dizziness and feeling fatigued.
  • The ability to think clearly: Using Ativan can cause drowsiness and memory problems while slowing down reaction time. These side effects can delay problem-solving skills.
  • Reclaiming yourself: Perhaps the most significant benefit to quitting Ativan is taking your life back. When you depend on Ativan physically and emotionally, you are constantly consumed with how to get more and when to take your next dose. When you quit Ativan, your life becomes yours again.

Can You Stop Ativan Cold Turkey?

It is not recommended to stop Ativan cold turkey. You can become dependent on this medication even if you have taken Ativan as prescribed. This is because Ativan works to slow down signals in your brain; over time, your body compensates for this by changing the number of receptors — this is how tolerance develops. In the same way that tolerance happens over time, it is essential to wean off Ativan to allow your body time to adjust.

Stopping this medication too quickly can lead to uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms and even seizures and coma. Instead, it is critical to tell your healthcare provider if you are considering stopping Ativan. Together, you can determine a plan for stopping this medication safely and permanently.

Ativan Withdrawal Symptoms

Withdrawal happens when you stop taking Ativan too quickly. Some symptoms of withdrawal can include:

  • Sedation
  • Fatigue
  • Memory problems
  • Slurred speech
  • Poor concentration
  • Mood changes
  • Irritability

How To Stop Taking Ativan Safely

While your plan to stop taking Ativan will depend on your specific situation, it is safest to taper off this medication slowly to minimize withdrawal symptoms and increase your chances of successfully quitting Ativan.

How To Wean Off Ativan

If you have taken Ativan for longer than a couple of weeks or at higher doses, the safest way to stop this medication is to wean off slowly. This gives your body time to adjust to less of the drug until you can safely stop taking it. This also minimizes withdrawal symptoms, making weaning off Ativan more comfortable and sustainable.

Example Ativan Taper Schedule

Each person will have an individualized taper schedule depending on how much Ativan you take. An example may look like this:

  • Week 1: Dose may be reduced slightly, but not very much.
  • Week 2: Reduce total dose by 25%. If you take Ativan multiple times daily, the overall change is 25% of the total daily dose.
  • Week 3: Like during week one, the dose may be reduced slightly.
  • Week 4: Dose is reduced by 25% (50% from your starting dose before tapering).
  • Weeks 5–8: No change in dose. This is meant to give your body time to adjust to this lower dose.
  • Week 9 and beyond: Every two weeks, the dose is reduced by another 25% until you can safely stop taking Ativan.

Substitution Taper

A substitution benzo can help you taper Ativan to wean off the medication slowly. Ativan has a quick onset and intermediate half-life. This means you start feeling the effect of Ativan soon after taking a dose, and it wears off quickly compared to long-acting benzos, like Valium (diazepam). These properties can make Ativan more habit-forming, so some people prefer to switch to an equivalent dose of benzo with a longer half-life. Each dose lasts longer when this happens, so you take the medication fewer times throughout the day. Once the medication is substituted, you would wean off slowly until it is safe to stop taking it.

How Long Does It Take Ativan To Get Out of Your System?

In general, Ativan is detected for 9–16 hours in blood and 1–7 days in urine. Specific factors can determine how long Ativan stays in your system. For example, younger people typically metabolize Ativan faster than older individuals. Also, kidney function is another major factor that impacts how quickly Ativan is eliminated because Ativan is excreted in the urine.

Perhaps some of the most significant factors are the dosage amount and how long you take it. Higher doses can build up in the body and take longer to be excreted. Other medications can also impact this by competing for the enzymes responsible for metabolism.

Medically Supervised Detox in Colorado

Quitting Ativan can be difficult and even unsafe on your own. However, you can safely stop Ativan under compassionate medical supervision to minimize uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms by undergoing medical detox. At The Recovery Village at Palmer Lake, Ativan detox typically lasts between seven and 10 days. Your counselor visits you daily alongside your physician as a part of your healthcare team. After you complete medical detox, we offer various inpatient and outpatient services to support your journey toward a healthier life.

The Recovery Village at Palmer Lake is an in-network drug and alcohol rehab provider for many different insurance companies, including Aetna, BCBS and Cigna. Learn more about the insurance we accept by visiting our insurance page or contacting us. In addition, our qualified medical staff can speak with you 24 hours a day to begin the process. Contact us today to get started.


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