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What is Ativan and what does it treat?

Ativan is a benzodiazepine. It is approved to treat anxiety, insomnia or sleep problems due to anxiety or stress, epileptic status (persistent seizures), and as a medication given just before anesthesia. However, benzodiazepines can also be used to treat alcohol withdrawal.

Generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) occurs when a person experiences excessive anxiety or worry. Other symptoms include:

1. Anxiety.

2. Fatigue (loss of energy, feeling tired all the time).

3. Difficulty concentrating.

4. Irritability.

5. Muscular tension.

6. Sleep disturbance (difficulty falling asleep or waking up in the middle of the night).

What is the most important information I should know about Ativan?

Don't drive or operate machinery until you know how this medication affects you, because you may notice that you feel tired or dizzy. When you start taking Ativan, anxiety or insomnia may disappear quickly or within a few days. Benzodiazepines, such as Ativan, are often used only for short periods of time. They can cause emotional and/or physical dependence (addiction) even when the recommendations are followed. With your help, your doctor will assess how long you need to take the medication. Do not stop taking Ativan without consulting your doctor first. Abruptly stopping Ativan may cause one or more of the following withdrawal symptoms: sleep problems, anxiety, irritability, nausea, tremors, dizziness, blood pressure changes, palpitations, and seizures. Withdrawal reactions may occur when the dose is reduced for any reason.

The use of Ativan with medications such as opioid drugs has resulted in serious side effects, including slowed and difficult breathing and death. Opioid medications are drugs used to treat pain and include drugs such as: codeine, oxycodone, morphine and illicit drugs such as heroin. Some opioid drugs are also found in cough syrup. If you take Ativan with opioid medications, seek medical help immediately if you feel dizzy, drowsy, have slowed or difficulty breathing, or lose consciousness. Caregivers should seek medical attention immediately if the patient is unresponsive and not waking up.

How do I take Ativan?

Ativan can be taken regardless of meals. Take with meals if you have an upset stomach. Ativan can be taken every day at regular times or as needed. Your doctor will determine the dose and method of taking the medicine that is right for you, based on your reaction.

What happens if I miss a dose of Ativan?

If you miss a dose of Ativan, take it as soon as you remember, unless it's closer to the time of your next dose. Discuss this with your doctor. Do not double the next dose or take more than the prescribed dose.

What should I avoid when taking Ativan?

Avoid alcohol and drugs while you are taking Ativan. They can reduce the benefits (e.g., make your condition worse) and increase the side effects (e.g., sedation) of the medicine. Alcohol increases the risk of accidental overdose with drugs like Ativan.

What are the possible side effects of Ativan?

1. Feeling dizzy, drowsy, tired, or lightheaded.

2. Impaired coordination, decreased ability to concentrate.

3. Shortness of breath, speech problems, feeling very tired, dizziness, or loss of consciousness.

4. Rapid heartbeat, headache, memory impairment, irritability, anxiety.

Are there risks of taking Ativan for a long time?

Ativan is a safe and effective medication when used as prescribed. Benzodiazepines can cause emotional and/or physical dependence (addiction) even when followed. Physical dependence can develop after 2 weeks or more of daily use. The risk of developing withdrawal reactions when discontinuing therapy with Ativan increases with prolonged use of the drug.

How long does it take for Ativan to work?

When starting Ativan, anxiety or insomnia may disappear quickly or within a few days or hours after the first dose of the drug.

Is there an addiction to ativan?

As a benzodiazepine, Ativan carries a risk of abuse, misuse, and dependence on the medication. Physical dependence on Ativan can occur with long-term use of the drug. A withdrawal reaction may occur when discontinuing Ativan, but this risk can be reduced by slowly reducing the dose of Ativan when you stop taking it. Do not stop Ativan abruptly and do not make any changes in therapy without consulting your doctor.