According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, a great number of individuals who suffer from drug addiction also suffer from a co-occurring disorder or mental illness that may or may not be related to drug abuse. Also, individuals who suffer from mental illness have double the chances of suffering from addiction at some point in their lives. Some individuals may not even realize they have a mental illness that would respond to treatment before they experience drug abuse or addiction.
There are three main reasons why individuals might choose to abuse drugs. The first reason some individuals might abuse drugs is simply to belong to a group. The desire to be a part of a society is inherent in human nature. Humans are more likely to engage in behaviors that are accepted by their chosen society or group. The second reason for drug abuse relates to the desire to feel good. Many drugs of abuse affect the pleasure center of the human brain by either mimicking or causing the release of brain chemicals that enhance pleasure, reduce pain, or both. These euphoric feelings, which are often caused by excessive dosages, may lead to tolerance and the repeated use of higher doses of drugs can lead to addiction. Finally, the third reason for abuse of drugs is to “feel better.” If an individual participates in drug abuse for either of the first two reasons, they may find that symptoms they were not fully aware of are, in effect, treated through the use of these drugs. If they suffer from some type of anxiety condition, for instance, and they are exposed to Ativan abuse, they are in a position to self-medicate.
Inherent Dangers With Self-Medication
There are several risks involved with self-medication. The first danger concerns whether or not an individual can safely take the medication in the first place. When a physician prescribes medication for any condition, including anxiety, he or she will complete a full medical history for their patient, including the patient’s family history. They will also conduct a physical examination to make certain the individual is healthy enough to withstand the side effects of the prescription. Another reason for the physical examination is to determine whether there are any reasons other than generalized anxiety for the condition. If the doctor feels it is warranted, he or she may prescribe Ativan for the treatment of anxiety. If these crucial steps are overlooked because an individual obtains Ativan through illicit means, they risk not receiving a proper diagnosis of any condition, including generalized anxiety.
Another risk of self-medicating with Ativan concerns the dosages and length of time between doses. Ativan is a powerful benzodiazepine drug that should only be taken in strict accordance with a doctor’s orders. If someone has received a drug without a prescription, they lack these instructions and can significantly increase tolerance and the risk of addiction by taking doses that are too high or too close together.
Tolerance, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, occurs when an individual has been exposed to a substance for a length of time that results in the drug having less effect on the body. In order to receive the benefits of the drug, the individual must take higher and higher doses. If the abuse of the drug results in feelings of euphoria, and the purpose for taking the drug is to experience this euphoria, the person may be more inclined to increase their own dose. Ultimately, this behavior increases the risk of addiction.
How Dangerous Is Ativan and Other Benzodiazepine Drugs?
According to information published by ABC News, Ativan is a very powerful type of benzodiazepine drug that is generally prescribed for short-term treatment of anxiety. When individuals abuse Ativan without a prescription, they may take the drug for much longer than it would have otherwise been prescribed. Benzodiazepines, in general, can have specific side effects that include a feeling of drowsiness, confusion, reduced motor skills, and dizziness. These drugs can also cause vision problems. If an individual under the influence of this drug chooses to drive a car, he places himself and others at risk for severe injury.
Another danger that needs to be considered when seeking treatment for Ativan is the danger of severe withdrawal.
In many cases, when someone we love is affected by drug abuse, our initial reaction is to make them stop taking the drug by whatever means necessary. In the case of Ativan and other benzodiazepine drugs, however, this is not the best course of action. Psychology Today has published information that indicates the need to slowly wean an individual from long-term, high doses of drugs like Ativan.
Under normal circumstances, withdrawal symptoms from Ativan might include:
- Muscle aches and pains
- Anxiety and panic attacks
- Weight loss
While the risk of death due to benzodiazepine withdrawal is quite low, according to the U.S. National Library of Medicine, there have been instances when the abrupt cessation of consistent benzodiazepine usage has been fatal. Therefore, if you are, or someone you love is, engaging in Ativan abuse, it is recommended that you seek professional assistance for medically assisted detox prior to involvement in a therapy-based addiction treatment program. Many comprehensive addiction treatment programs offer detox as part of their program.
Detoxification From Ativan Is Not Treatment
Addiction is a complex disease. It can change how a person sees the world around them, affect their ability to make wise decisions, and be fraught with relapses. The experts at the National Institute on Drug Abuse have conducted research for many years into the mechanisms that make up drug addiction. One of the things they have discovered is that simply not using a drug long enough to allow the body to detoxify from its poisons is not, by itself, treatment.
Because addiction is often marked by relapse into further drug use, it is usually necessary for individuals to receive ongoing treatment in order to maintain sobriety. Even if you have, or a member of your family who is suffering from Ativan abuse or addiction has, firm intentions to not abuse Ativan in the future, relapse and a return to unhealthy habits is a likely possibility. You do not have to suffer, however. Treatments are available that can help you to retrain your thought patterns and develop new ways to combat anxiety and stress in a healthy environment that does not include Ativan abuse.
A few of the treatments available include:
- A thorough evaluation to determine the presence of any untreated co-occurring mental illness that may have contributed to or stemmed from the abuse of drugs
- Cognitive behavioral therapies designed to provide you with the tools and skills you need to overcome unhealthy thoughts and behaviors
- Alternative therapies including yoga or meditation to provide you with the skills you need to deal with anxiety or stress in a healthy manner
- Group therapy that can provide balanced relationships with others who have similar experiences
- Family therapy that can address not only your relationship with others in your family unit, but also address the needs of family members who may have been negatively affected by your Ativan abuse
Once the initial phases of treatment have been completed at an inpatient treatment center, it may be necessary to continue treatment in an outpatient setting as healthy habits are built over time. Treatment for Ativan abuse and addiction is a long-term commitment, but a worthwhile one in terms of one’s quality of life. If you are, or someone you love is, suffering from addiction, please call us at Futures of Palm Beach today.
Some services listed may not be included in our core program. An admissions counselor will be able to provide you a complete list of core services. Information provided for educational purposes. Premium services or programs may be arranged through your therapist or case manager.