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.
Quitting medication like Ativan has many benefits, especially after long-term use. Some examples include:
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.
Withdrawal happens when you stop taking Ativan too quickly. Some symptoms of withdrawal can include:
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.
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.
Each person will have an individualized taper schedule depending on how much Ativan you take. An example may look like this:
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.
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.
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.
The Recovery Village aims to improve the quality of life for people struggling with a substance use or mental health disorder with fact-based content about the nature of behavioral health conditions, treatment options and their related outcomes. We publish material that is researched, cited, edited and reviewed by licensed medical professionals. The information we provide is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. It should not be used in place of the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare provider.