Ativan is a very powerful antianxiety medicine which is meant to be used for short-term treatment only. After your doctor prescribes you Ativan, you will likely be advised to follow through with some other course of anxiety treatment, like starting with cognitive behavioral therapy. It is important to realize that Ativan isn’t going to cure your anxiety: it is meant to help you get through the rough patches while you start with a long-term treatment plan.
After a couple weeks of taking Ativan, your doctor will likely start tapering down your dosage. For people battling severe anxiety and panic attacks, just the thought of coming off Ativan can cause anxiety. Don’t worry: your doctor isn’t going to stop your Ativan use cold turkey. Your dosage will be gradually reduced so your doctor can monitor how you react. If necessary, like you begin to experience severe panic attacks again, then your doctor will determine an appropriate course of action to deal with the symptoms, such as upping your Ativan dosage again temporarily.
Benzodiazepines like Ativan build up in your body system. You won’t just have the amount from your last dosage in your system, but also from many previous dosages. For people who have been taking Ativan for several months, the withdrawal process can take 1-4 weeks because of all the time it takes to get the drug out of the system.
A major mistake patients make while tapering their Ativan dosages is “cheating.” When they start to experience anxiety symptoms (which can occur even at a full dosage of Ativan), they get scared and take more of the medicine. In some cases, your doctor may even advise you to do this, such as if you are dealing with a particularly stressful moment and think that a panic attack will come on. However, your doctor will emphasize that you should only take more Ativan if it is absolutely necessary. If you are cheating on your dosage amount frequently, it will greatly prolong the amount of time it takes to get off of the medicine. Further, it leads to a habit of giving in to your symptoms which can ultimately let them take control of your life. When a person repeatedly gives into the need for a drug, he or she is considered to be addicted.
Before you start the Ativan tapering-off process, you should make sure that you have a support system in place to help you through any rough patches. Let your family or close friends know that you are going to be tapering off your Ativan use so they will be prepared to help you in any ways that they can. If possible, try to reduce your work load during that period of time so you don’t overwhelm yourself. Unless you are sure that a panic attack is about to come on, try to hold out against taking extra Ativan during the tapering off period. Use relaxation techniques that you have learned. When you overcome the anxiety and don’t use Ativan, you can feel proud of yourself for conquering your anxiety one step at a time.