Ativan is a brand name for a drug called Lorazepam. Introduced in the 1970s, lorazepam is considered one of the “classic” benzodiazepines and is now sold under more than 70 different brand names.
It is a fast acting benzodiazepine that acts as an anticonvulsant, muscle relaxant, antiemetic, sedative, amnesic and anxiolytic.
Most commonly it is used to treat anxiety and panic attacks. However, it is also used to treat seizures and insomnia and sometimes simply used as a sedative.
There are, of course, other uses. It has even been rumored that Ativan and other benzodiazepines (namely diazepam) have been used by snipers to slow their heart rate and give them a steadier aim.
Though not particularly common, Ativan and similar drugs have been used by criminals as a date rape drug. Benzodiazepines are also one of the most common drugs used in suicide attempts.
Ativan is one of the more addictive benzodiazepines and is both easily aquired and often abused. Patients can quickly develop a tolerance to Ativan, leading them to take higher doses than they were prescribed.
This leads to worsening ativan side effects, addiction and can even have what’s known as the “paradoxical effect”. Meaning that the symptoms it was meant to treat will actually become worse.
Ativan commonly makes people unresponsive, “dopey” and often the person can remember little of what happens during the drug’s effects. Though generally considered safe in regards to overdose, due to it’s muscle relaxing and hypotension effects, Ativan should be used very cautiously with people who have:
- Drug or alcohol addiction
- Moderate to severe respiratory problems
- Myasthenia gravis
- Sleep apnea
- or women who are pregnant or nursing
However, used properly, Ativan can be very effective at treating anxiety and panic attacks. Often, ending the panic attack and leaving the patient calm and relaxed in a matter of minutes. Ativan is usually administered as a pill, tablet or injection.