The Basics of Ativan Rehabilitation

This guide was written to provide an overview of the Ativan rehabilitation process, as well as to offer helpful resources for persons recovering from Ativan addiction.

Ativan is known to be habit-forming, and individuals who use it may become tolerant to its effects over time, requiring larger doses to obtain the same result. The desire to avoid withdrawal symptoms combined with the common co-abuse of opioids and alcohol can make recovery from Ativan addiction difficult.

Ativan addiction rehabilitation begins with a facility orientation, followed by a full evaluation courtesy of medical professionals who will create a comprehensive treatment plan tailored to each individual’s unique needs. Next comes the detoxification process, during which time users will receive medical assistance to help cleanse their system of Ativan safely while remaining as comfortable as possible.

After detoxification, therapy begins, largely focusing on behavioral changes, such as challenging negative thought patterns and learning how to use social support to create new habits designed to steer the user away from Ativan addiction and onto a new, healthier lifestyle. This support typically continues past discharge to help reinforce those new habits and prevent relapse.

four steps of rehab process

What Makes Ativan Rehabilitation Difficult?

Ativan is a Schedule IV substance, which means it has a relatively low potential for abuse compared to Schedule III drugs, such as Tylenol with codeine and buprenorphine. The European Drug Emergencies Network (Euro-DEN) determined that benzodiazepines and opioids are two of the most common substances associated with prescription overdoses in Europe.

Recovery from Ativan addiction can be complex due to its highly addictive nature, its ready availability, the growing frequency of prescriptions, the common co-use of alcohol and opioids, and the user’s desire to avoid psychological and physical withdrawal symptoms. Users who take Ativan for longer than four months or alongside other drugs may find it particularly difficult to recover.

The Unique Struggle of Ativan Addicts
  • is very addictive, especially when used for longer than four months.
  • requires increasingly larger doses over time to achieve the same effects.
  • is associated with potentially debilitating withdrawal symptoms, ranging from the return of insomnia and anxiety to nausea and tremors.

Ativan Rehabilitation Statistics

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) estimated in 2015:

  • 30,755,000 individuals 12 years of age and older — 11.2% of the population — used prescription benzodiazepines like Ativan
  • 5,438,000 individuals 12 years of age and older — 2% of the population — were addicted to prescription benzodiazepines like Ativan and in need of treatment
  • 19,683 individuals 12 years of age and older in need of treatment enrolled in a rehabilitation program for prescription benzodiazepines misuse

Ativan Treatment Admissions by Gender

47.9% Male
52.1% Female

Demographics of Individuals Seeking Treatment for Sedative Addiction

According to a 2017 SAMHSA report that charts admissions to and discharges from publicly funded substance use treatment facilities, women are slightly more likely to seek treatment for sedative use, which includes Ativan. The gender breakdown of treatment admissions for sedatives was 47.9% male and 52.1% female. While sedative addiction occurs in all age groups, the most common age group admitted to a treatment facility for sedative use was individuals aged 25 to 29, with 42 being the average age of all individuals from all age groups who are seeking rehabilitation.

Benzodiazepine Treatment Admissions Percentages by Age Group, 2017
Age at the Time of Treatment Admission Percentage of Sedative Treatment Admissions
12-17 6.3%
18-24 15.2%
25-34 25.6%
35-44 15.8%
45-54 10%
55-64 7.8%
65+ 19.7%

Ativan Detoxification & Withdrawal Process

Detoxification is the first step toward long-term recovery from Ativan addiction. This detox process is when the user’s body rids itself of the substance. Ativan has a half-life of 12 hours, and lorazepam glucuronide, Ativan’s major metabolite, has a half-life of 18 hours. That means it takes between 12 and 18 hours for half the ingested amount of Ativan to leave the body. The initial detoxification phase generally lasts four to five days, but full withdrawal may take several weeks, depending on factors such as age, weight, and genetics.

Users can expect to experience withdrawal symptoms during the detoxification period. Symptoms that outlast that time frame are considered “post-acute” and may last as long as a year. Detox timelines differ from person to person depending on the frequency of use and the average dosage.

Withdrawal Symptoms

Body Mind
Short-Term Symptoms Headache
Numbness and tingling in extremities
Hypersensitivity to light and noise
Involuntary movements
Memory loss
Abdominal cramps
Heart palpitations/tachycardia
Panic attacks
Long-Term Symptoms Headache
Muscle tension

Ativan withdrawal can lead to serious withdrawal symptoms

Prolonged use of benzodiazepines can lead to symptom rebound or symptom reemergence. These conditions occur when individuals with a history of prolonged benzodiazepine abuse experience a dramatic surge in withdrawal symptoms, such as anxiety and insomnia, or experience the return of symptoms they experienced before being medicated.

Ativan withdrawal can be exacerbated by the return of conditions initially treated by benzodiazepines

Because many of the symptoms, such as anxiety and sleeplessness, associated with Ativan withdrawal are also symptoms treated by Ativan and other benzodiazepines, it can be difficult to distinguish between symptom rebound (withdrawal) and symptom reemergence. Successful treatment may require addressing pre-existing issues, as well as the current addiction.

Ativan withdrawal can cause physical distress

Abruptly stopping the use of Ativan can cause the body to react, leading to issues ranging from stomach pain and vomiting to seizures, the latter being more common in people who were initially prescribed Ativan to treat a seizure disorder.

Ativan withdrawal can lead to severe psychological issues, such as anxiety, depression, and depersonalization

During the detoxification process, users may experience distressing levels of anxiety and depression, as well as debilitating panic attacks. They may also find themselves feeling detached from reality and even their own person, and some users have even been hospitalized with psychosis.

Ativan Detoxification Medications

To support Ativan withdrawal and lessen the side effects of dependency, doctors may prescribe supportive medications designed to alleviate symptoms and provide comfort throughout the detoxification period. Long-acting benzodiazepines with longer half-lives than Ativan may help users taper off rather than stopping their Ativan usage abruptly. Anticonvulsants such as carbamazepine have shown to be effective in managing withdrawal-related symptoms as has flumazenil, a medication that blocks benzodiazepine receptors, but antidepressants and beta-blockers have not been proven beneficial.

For more information about withdrawal, read our guide on Ativan addiction.

Treatment for Ativan Addiction

Because of the risks involved in abrupt withdrawal for long-term benzodiazepine users, a tapered approach is recommended whenever possible. In other situations, users may benefit from a combination of supportive medication and psychological support. While there are no specific drugs approved to treat Ativan withdrawal, medications such as antidepressants and beta-blockers may provide some relief.

The cornerstone of Ativan addiction treatment is psychological intervention, behavioral therapy, and informative sessions courtesy of rehabilitation specialists who can assist and educate regarding anxiety management techniques, healthy habits, and other facets of dependency.

Rehabilitation Settings

Within either an inpatient or outpatient setting, treatments such as detoxification services, behavioral therapies, and medication-assisted treatments are offered for varying lengths of time.

Inpatient treatment involves living full-time (including overnight) at a treatment facility for a set period of time. Outpatient treatment involves scheduled appointments at a facility in which you are free to come and go. Within each category, there are several distinctions.

Lortab Treatment Programs
Setting Type of Treatment Description Duration Time Commitment
Inpatient Short-Term Residential Intensive treatment, sometimes in a hospital setting. Therapies offered are extensive. Medication-assisted treatment is available to those who qualify. 14-30 days Hours Per Day:


Days Per Week:


Long-Term Residential Intensive treatment in a non-hospital setting, most often a therapeutic community with other patients. Therapies offered are extensive. Medication-assisted treatment is available to those who qualify. 3-12 months Hours Per Day:


Days Per Week:


Partial Hospitalization Intensive treatment in a hospital setting. Patients do not stay overnight. Considered inpatient due to the hospital setting. Extensive services are provided and require a near full-time commitment every week. Medication-assisted treatment is available to those who qualify. 14-30 days Hours Per Day:


Days Per Week:


Outpatient Intensive Day Treatment Extensive services of an inpatient program but patients return home each day following treatment. After completion, patients often transition to less intensive counseling. Therapies offered are extensive. Medication-assisted treatment is available to those who qualify. 3-4 months Hours Per Day:


Days Per Week:


Counseling Both individual counseling and group counseling focus on short-term behavioral goals to develop coping strategies. Therapies offered are moderate. Medication-assisted treatment is not available. As long as desired Hours Per Day:


Days Per Week:


Support Groups Support groups center on maintaining abstinence after another form of treatment. Typically meet one day a week for 1-2 hours. As long as desired Hours Per Day:


Days Per Week:


Behavioral and Medication-Assisted Therapies

Behavioral therapy for substance addiction seeks to identify and manage addictive behaviors that lead to use and prevent relapse. Behavioral therapy is based on the concept that all behavior is learned, and thus, unhealthy behavior can be changed through learning coping skills and increasing awareness of negative thoughts and beliefs that contribute to substance abuse.

Behavioral Therapies for Ativan Addiction
Type of Therapy Definition
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

Further reading:

Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is a goal-oriented approach to treatment that focuses on problem-solving by changing thought patterns and creating new habits. CBT can help combat Ativan addiction by changing the behaviors associated with abuse while giving the user new tools to challenge destructive thought patterns.

For users who were taking Ativan for anxiety or insomnia, CBT can help users access their feelings, analyze those patterns, and use relaxation techniques and other mechanisms to find healthier ways to cope.

Contingency Management Interventions/Motivational Incentives

Further reading:

Contingency Management (CM) involves incentivizing users to stay clean by offering positive – often tangible – rewards, based on abstinent behaviors, such as passing a urine test.

Rewards may include cash prizes, access to certain amenities, or other privileges, all of which are designed to encourage continued abstinence and ongoing treatment success.

Community Reinforcement Approach

Further reading:

The Community Reinforcement Approach (CRA) seeks to address environmental factors that could influence addiction, treatment, and recovery. This type of psychosocial intervention encourages users to pinpoint internal and external triggers and develop skills for communication, problem-solving, and refusal.

CRA may be especially effective with adolescents and those combining benzodiazepines with other drugs such as opioids.

12-Step Facilitation Therapy

Further reading:

12-Step Facilitation Therapy promotes drug abstinence by connecting users with 12-step self-help groups. By encouraging the ideas of acceptance, surrender, and active involvement, 12-step programs drive recovery efforts and provide much-needed outpatient support.

Though 12-step programs are historically associated with alcohol abuse, there is evidence the same programs could benefit users with other drug addictions and underlying issues, such as mental illness.

Medication-Assisted Treatment for Ativan Addiction
Type of Medication Definition
Alternative Benzodiazepines

Further reading:

Abruptly detoxing from Ativan after long-term use can have devastating physical and psychological side effects. Using alternative benzodiazepines, such as diazepam, with longer half-lives can help users taper off without succumbing to dangerous withdrawal symptoms.

Further reading:

Flumazenil is classified as a benzodiazepine receptor antagonist, meaning it’s essentially an antidote for sedatives like Ativan. Some studies indicate flumazenil can help soothe the symptoms of Ativan withdrawal, but more research is needed to verify and expand on those results.

Further reading:

Like Ativan, carbamazepine — often marketed under the name Tegretol — can be used to treat seizures, but it’s also used as a treatment for nerve pain and bipolar disorder. Some studies indicate that carbamazepine can treat the symptoms of benzodiazepine withdrawal, lessening the severity of side effects, such as depersonalization and hypersensitivity to light and sound.

How to Find Help

Finding a Rehabilitation Center for Ativan Addiction

Finding a rehabilitation center for Ativan addiction is a crucial part of the recovery process. Criteria should include initial detoxification services, as well as the ability to help users safely taper off Ativan while remaining as relaxed and comfortable as possible. Facilities with addiction-specialized medical professionals can help with medical management, overseeing the withdrawal process, and treating both physical and psychological symptoms.

Due to the lack of widely accepted medication-assisted treatment for Ativan addiction, the frequency of co-abuse with opioids, and the common presence of underlying diagnoses such as anxiety, Ativan users may benefit from rehabilitation centers that emphasize psychological treatment, including cognitive behavioral therapy and motivational incentives.

For Ativan addicts who have a history of long-term sedative use, inpatient rehabilitation provides around-the-clock support and access to a comprehensive suite of resources that may assist with Ativan rehabilitation, as well as recovery from other co-occurring disorders and addictions.

Our Directory

Our directory of rehab programs includes a comprehensive list of available treatment centers and programs as provided by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). In the directory, you will find tools to filter the programs by setting, price, and location.