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Ativan / Lorazepam

Discussion in 'Medications & Substances' started by jsiems, Aug 4, 2008.

  1. jsiems

    jsiems New Member

    I have been on ativan/lorazepam for almost 3 months. My day was 2/2/08 and have been diagnosed by 2 psychiatrist, 1 psychologists and 1 dr., all stating the same thing, PTSD. I am wondering what others have experienced with this drug? I take 1 1mg tablet every 6 to 8 hours. Somedays it helps, other days it doesn't even touch panic attacks. I am new to this and I figured this could be quite helpful.
  2. She Cat

    She Cat VIP Member

    Welcome to the forum!!!!!

    While they do help with anxiety and panic attacks, please be careful as they are extremely addictive.... Facing your fears/trauma and working to heal yourself is a better way to go, but I understand how difficult that may be for you.
  3. BassistKara

    BassistKara New Member

    Hi jsiems
    Welcome to the forum.
    Like She Cat said, be very careful with those sorts of meds, as they are very very addictive. Personally i was addicted to Xanax, and the withdrawals are just indescribably bad.
    Of course it sucks being anxious all the time, but unfortunatly the only way to really lower the anxiety is by working through the trauma. Meds can be great, but for me they were just covering up the real issues.
    I'm not really sure what else to say sorry!
  4. linasmom

    linasmom New Member

    Hi,

    First, let me say, Wendy -you know I love you dearly, truly.

    However, I really wish that we would stop stigmatizing certain drugs while not stigmatizing other drugs, on this forum.

    The word to be "addicted" is defined as :

    1. To cause to become physiologically or psychologically dependent on a habit-forming substance
    2. To occupy (oneself) with or involve (oneself) in something habitually or compulsively
    Antidepressants are AS addictive as benzos. Anyone who has come off of an antidepressant will tell you that the withdrawals are horrible. Antidepressants fit the definition of addictive just as equally as benzos. A person taking any antidepressant is addicted by text book standards: physiologically & psychologically dependent - and yes they are habit forming - why are they habit forming? Because a few hours after you miss a dose you start to feel withdrawal symptoms.

    And yes, if you take antidepressants you are involving yourself in something habitually.

    Society is quick to jump on benzos because they have acquired a street presence and value; because they make a person feel good. Because benzos make people who don't necessarily need them feel good, we have stigmatized them - but let's be real - they are not stigmatized because they are "addictive" they are stigmatized because benzos are being abused (take note of that word), by people who may not actually need them biologically. They are abused when people mix the drug with other drugs like alcohol solely to increase a buzz.

    Let's get back to "feeling good" and how it has become an unspoken "no-no" in our society, unless of course, someone is pocketing mad cash by your "feel good" substance. Have you noticed the price of benzos compared to that of any anti-depressant? Most antidepressants are double or triple the price.

    Yet, we forget that "feeling good" also exists with antidepressants. Of course, it's a different "feel good" feeling, but one would never compare the aesthetic of cigarettes to alcohol, but they both feel good to those who like using or abusing them.

    Speaking of "abusing" - that is the word we should be substituting for addicted in these sorts of contexts. Benzos have the properties to be more easily abused whereas antidepressants do not, and only because there is more of a bodily sensation when taking benzos compared to antidepressants.

    So, with all that being said, I truly hope we can start using the word "addicted" more carefully.

    With regards to the question at hand - I think you should speak to your doctor and share your concerns.

    Best,
    Rachel
    catjudo likes this.
  5. jsiems

    jsiems New Member

    It scares me to think that they can be addicting. But as I am new to this forum, I really appreciate everything that is being said. I want to believe that this drug is here to help and not hinder my recovery process.
  6. linasmom

    linasmom New Member

    Jsiems,

    They can help your recovery process - however, a doctor who does not disclose to you that a drug he/she is prescribing is potentially habit-forming IS hindering your recovery process and in that light, if you can find a new doctor, you should.

    Any drug that you take for any PTSD related symptoms are only there to assist you.

    Best,
    Rachel
  7. jsiems

    jsiems New Member

    I have been told many times over by my psychologists that there is not a magical drug for PTSD. Drugs can only assist, it is up to me to decide to get better. I am just curious what others have experienced with this.
  8. She Cat

    She Cat VIP Member

    Rach,

    I love you dearly also, BUT......Getting off Benzos is much more involved, and much more difficult that getting off of anti depressants. I don't think that Anti depressants are addictive. AD's do NOT fit the description for being addictive. You do not become physiologically or psychologically dependent on AD's. You do on Benzos though.....

    Yes you have withdrawals for both.....But with AD's there isn't the psychological NEED for the drug as there is for a Benzos....
  9. linasmom

    linasmom New Member

    Wen - we'll just have to agree to disagree. =)
  10. nic

    nic New Member

    I find that just having the Ativan available in my purse or such, (even if I don't actually take it), helps with my anxiety.
  11. jsiems

    jsiems New Member

    nic,

    Have you taken ativan for awhile? or are you new to it. Are you worried about the addictive side of it? I seem to take two a day, even though I could take more. What has been your experience with it? Thanks to everyone, you have been so helpful.
  12. linasmom

    linasmom New Member

    jsiems,

    I've been taking Xanax (which is a benzo, same family as ativan and klonopin) for years - AS NEEDED. I'm prescribed one at night every night because benzos are the only things that work for me when it comes to sleep - I've tried many other things but I'm most comfortable with the Xanax for sleep and have been taking them to sleep for several years. I'm also prescribed 15 extra 1 mg. pills a month to use "as needed".

    I find this reasonable - the mg prescribed to me is what I need to go to sleep and also to bring me out of panic attacks when I have them. If what has been prescribed to you is not working for YOU, then you need to talk to your doctor.

    Also, and this is just my own personal opinion and I'm not a doctor, but I would be extremely leery of any doctor putting anyone on a "regimen" of benzos. They are not made to work that way. In my non-doctoral opinion, benzos shouldn't have time limits -ie: take one every 4 hours- these are not pain relievers nor are they antibiotics.

    I can tell you that I'm cautious of how much I take. Worried? I'm not so sure I would go that far. In all honesty, I'm more worried about what antidepressants have done to my body and brain.

    Jsiems - do some research - benzos have been around for decades. Educate yourself on the drugs that you are taking.

    Why are you taking two a day? Do you feel that you need to take that much? Are you suffering non-stop anxiety? When you take the ativan, does it help relieve some the anxious behaviors? Why "could you take more"?

    I know you asked Nic for her input but I wanted to come in and share some of what I know, too.

    Best,
    Rachel
  13. nic

    nic New Member

    I've been on it for over five years, and I take it on as needed. I can go a couple of months without any, but if I have a bad day/week, I take many. As long as I can go a week without popping a pill, I know I'm not addicted. I don't like that some days I have to take 5 or 6, but if that's what I need to get through panic, as long as I don't continue with that dosage, then I feel okay taking it. I've taken other (similar) drugs, but Ativan seems to work best for me.

    If you start to need more than 2 a day (on a regular basis), then you should talk to your doctor to make sure you aren't addicted.
  14. jsiems

    jsiems New Member

    Thank You Rachel. I will answer the questions. I feel like I could take more but because it makes me so tired, I try my best to stay at a limited number. I have adrenaline dumps about every hour or if not more. I have not found my triggers yet. I know that everyday is a day filled with panic attacks and anxiety with depression mixed in. The most I have taken in one day is 3. But, listening to you guys scares me into thiinking maybe I should not be taking them. My Dr. did prescribe them that way. Every 6 to 8 hours. When I first was prescribed them, I flushed them down the toilet because I did not like how they made me feel, "drugged." But my psychologist asked me if I was trying to beat my adrenaline (sp) gland, so he convinced me to start taking them. You are right, I do have to do more research. Thank You so much for your questions, its nice to answer something that isn't in the category of "so when you gonna just get better."

    nic,
    I do take them everyday. I like you, have them in my pocket all the time. There are days that I do put them back in the bottle, but I can say that I am taking 2 a day. I do my best to get through my morning, when afternoon comes, I take one to try to settle down. After dealing with the family, in the early evening I take another one. Thank You also, for taking the time out to share.
  15. BassistKara

    BassistKara New Member

    Linasmom, i just wanted to clarify something in regards to both our posts. I didn't even realise i was addicted until my then psychiatrist pointed it out. I'm not just throwing the words "i have an addiction" out there just for the coolness factor or something.
    I know that antideps have withdrawals too, but in my experience they haven't even come close to what i went through with the benzos. I'm still getting some of the withdrawal symptoms and i've been off them 100% for 11 months.
    Also jsiems, i don't mean to scare you off taking them, as they may very well work for you. I'm just a bit wary of anyone taking them because of what i went through with them.
  16. becvan

    becvan Queen of the Blunt!

    I was on these.. aside from the addictions (which have been well covered) they present a bit of an issue with anxiety. They cause your anxiety to cycle. So it works for a bit and then you crash, which causes more anxiety, so then you take more and on and on it goes. They do not help, long term, for anxiety. For a few months they will work but then it starts causing the anxiety. And sadly you won't even notice its doing that..

    Be very cautious on these..

    bec
  17. She Cat

    She Cat VIP Member

    This is from Wikipedia on both class of drugs.


    Benzodiazepine withdrawal syndrome, caused by withdrawal or dosage reduction of benzodiazepines, is the symptoms which appear when a patient who has taken the drug for a period of time stops taking the drug. Chronic exposure to benzodiazepines causes physical adaptions in the brain to counteract the drug's effects. This is known as a physical dependence. When the drug is removed or dosage reduced in an individual physically dependent on benzodiazepines, numerous withdrawal symptoms both physical and psychological may appear and will remain present until the body reverses the physical dependence by making adaptions to the drug-free environment and thus returning the brain to normal function

    Most antidepressants, including the SSRIs and tricyclics, are known to produce tolerance[who?] (i.e. a decrease in the effects of a drug over time), and withdrawal (particularly if abrupt) may produce adverse effects, which can range from mild to extremely severe.

    If an SSRI medication is suddenly discontinued, it may produce both somatic and psychological withdrawal symptoms, a phenomenon known as "SSRI discontinuation syndrome" (Tamam & Ozpoyraz, 2002). When the decision is made to stop taking antidepressants it is common practice to "wean" off of them by slowly decreasing the dose over a period of several weeks or months, although often this will reduce the severity of the discontinuation reaction, rather than prevent it. Most cases of discontinuation syndrome last between one and four weeks.
  18. linasmom

    linasmom New Member

    C'mon - so one is a "phenomenon" and one is "dependence"?

    I really can't believe that I'm the only one here who sees a problem with that. The way we choose to word things in order to make one seem more acceptable than the other. But hey, whatever gets you through your day, right?

    *hits head hard against wall*

    I think it's absolute brainwashing Bullshit.
  19. Riggs413

    Riggs413 New Member

    You are not alone Linasmom, but does that make me an addict to agree with you.:rofl:

    Strong convictions on both sides of the issue. I guess I come down on the side of "do what works for you". Make an informed decision with as much knowledge as possible, but in the end, it is your decision.

    Just my opinion.
  20. She Cat

    She Cat VIP Member

    Rach,

    All I can say to you is this. We all have beliefs, and we all do what we feel that we need to do. I am NOT against benzos as I have used them in the past.(20 yrs ago) That said...They are very addictive, and only the people that have come off of them can verify just how bad it is. The withdrawal from AD's is NOTHING compared to benzos.

    So Riggs is right....Make an informed decision. Also know when it's time to stop taking them...Do so under a Dr's care. It ain't easy.....
  21. catjudo

    catjudo VIP Member Premium Member

    I have used benzos on and off for 10+ years. I can go incredibly long stretches of time (months) without using any. Even when I'm not using it, I have a supply on hand (sort of like a security blanket) just in case things get too bad...I know I have it there to help me if I need it.

    There have been times when I was taking 5 or 6 a day (for days at a time, or longer) but this is the exception. If I find myself needing that much I consult with my doctor but the problem has never been one of addiction but one of my present situation being more difficult than usual and needing the extra help. My doctor has supported me through these situations until I was able to resume a more reasonable dosing schedule. There was one time when my usual benzo wasn't helping enough (but my life was being turned upside down by circumstances beyond my control at the time) and I temporarily switched to a different benzo. Because my body wasn't so used to this one I was able to use less and get more effect but when life settled down I stopped using it (or any benzo) again for awhile. The next time I needed a benzo I went back to using the same one I've used for so many years. Presently I'm taking one each night to help me relax and calm my insides enough to sleep. A couple of times a month I might take another one at some point during the day if I'm having an especially difficult day.

    Neither I, nor my doctor, think I have ever been addicted to benzos. I am always completely honest and forthright with my doctor about how much I am taking.

    Here is where my concern is. There have been times when I've hesitated or refused to take a benzo...or I would take one but not use it as much/often as my doctor was suggesting. The reason: because I hear all of the stuff in the media about people abusing prescription medications in general and I hear all of the strong warnings about benzos being addictive. I worry about that and don't want that to happen to me. There have been times that I've let anxiety take over my life because I was afraid to use something (a benzo) that I and my doctor both know would be tremendously beneficial because I got too fixated on the warnings. The reality is my doctor sometimes has to really push (almost force, if he actually had that ability) me to take benzos and he's told me many times that me becoming addicted to them is the last thing he's worried about. This isn't because he's an irresponsible doctor, quite the opposite, but because, at least in my case...I can't speak for others, the benefits far outweigh the potential risks.

    Can benzos be addictive? Absolutely! Are there some people who are susceptible to abusing them or any prescription medication? Absolutely! But I think we do a disservice to people to only focus on the negative possibilities and sort of glaze over the therapeutic benefits of any possible course of treatment including the use of benzos.
    Ace Ventura likes this.
  22. bratgrrl

    bratgrrl New Member

    I know I am knew here, yet I have quite a bit of experience with the addiction issue and the drugs (and strong beliefs).

    I am a recovery addict with 14 years sober, and I have worked in rehabs as a drug counselor for over 12 years now. No, I am not a doctor, yet working in this field has given first hand knowledge of these medications working side by side with some of the best addiction doctors in the U.S.
    I also have a prescription for ativan, which I hardly ever take. As I am scared to death of the chance of relapse for myself even after 14 years clean. I have also been on numerous anti-depressants(12) and have had no fear taking them.

    Ativan has a high potential for addiction as it produces feelings of well-being. Ativan causes psychological & physical addiction, long term use will create a tolerance requiring larger and larger doses.

    As far as Anti-depressant they are not considered addictive substances. Addiction represents harmful, long term chemical changes in the brain that can lead to tolerance, physical dependence, and uncontrollable cravings. However, the symptoms we feel coming off antidepressants, the anxiety, sadness, depression, headaches, dizziness, nausea, vomiting and diarrhea are all very real. As I have experienced them. They also will sometimes last months and are horrible!
    Tritating off very slowly helps with the withdrawal symptoms.

    Addiction is a disease, you have it or you don't. It was formally added to the DSM in 1966.The easiest way to put it is a compulsion to use alcohol or other drugs regardless of negative or adverse consequences.
  23. Rivergirl

    Rivergirl New Member

    I've been on 4 mg. of lorazepam at bedtime for about----hmmm, maybe about two years? I don't know if I am addicted because I don't really sleep without them, but I wasn't sleeping before I took them so when I don't take them I just return to the state I was in before I started.
    Sometimes I worry that my daytime functioning or moods are medication-related, but I think there is no way to tell unless I go off all the meds for months and am sure any withdrawal is over. Meanwhile, I need to sleep, and when I don't sleep my moods and functioning are in the toilet, so then again there is no way to tell.
    I think the danger of using them regularly for sleep, and also for anxiety, is that we train ourselves to look to some pill to make something happen, and then tend to ignore or undervalue other coping solutions that we might otherwise teach ourselves. I know I need to start using relaxation (day and night) to help me get out of the high gear I am stuck in. But being the Type A that I am I am impatient with this and it is easier to just take a friggin pill. So I am going in a circle, and meanwhile what has developed in me is this little voice that reminds me at night that I haven't taken all the pills I usually take and so will probably not get to sleep. Self-defeating, and ultimately it is a psychological dependance.
    I say, use it if it works, but be cautious, and be firm with yourself to develop other, non-pharmaceutical options for relaxing. Some I have worked on are self-talk (many books out there on positive affirmations----my favourite is Anna Wilson Shaef's Meditations For People Who Worry)----relaxation CDs (the best for me are ones where a voice guides you through the relaxation exercise or meditation), physical things like stretching or exercise, massage (if you can get it), and deep breathing and visualization exercises. I'm sure there are lots more I can't come up with. Maybe others can add to this list? What do other people do to help them "come down" from an anxious state?
    Personally I think it's important to develop these kinds of self-help things and save the pills for emergencies. I kind of wish I had because now it is just too easy for me to reach for the pills to sleep and I have lost confidence in my ability to sleep without them. Something I need to work on.....aaaack.
    Good luck.
    Rivergirl
  24. linasmom

    linasmom New Member

    Do you also know that the anti-depressant Effexor, does the same thing - it creates a tolerance requiring larger and larger dosages which is why a lot of people taking this drug end up maxing out on it at 300 mg. As for feelings of "well being", hmm, that's a bit subjective but okay. Do anti-depressants not create that feeling as well? In my own experience they do. I've described in an earlier post the difference between the two drugs and their specific sensations.

    By whom?

    Wow, now I'm really confused! Sooooooo, the withdrawal symptoms are very real but it's not considered an "addiction"? Is it because one does not experience "uncontrollable cravings" for an antidepressant like they would a benzo (a "feel good" drug)? Because all of the other "representations" you listed for addiction also apply to antidepressants.

    I just want to be clear - in no way am I saying that Benzos aren't addictive - of course they are. I'm simply trying to point out that we JUMP the minute someone says "I'm taking a benzo" and ramble on about the addiction element, yet RARELY do we do the same for antidepressants, which in my opinion, are as addictive.

    Benzos are simply more abused.

    :wall:
  25. linasmom

    linasmom New Member


    But Wen, would you say to someone who is trying to kick a coke habit "oh, it's not that bad, you should see what those heroin junkies have to go through!"?

    Probably not. Just because one is harder to kick than the other doesn't negate the addictive element. :kiss:

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