Ativan (Lorazepam) Withdrawal Symptoms, Timeline, & Treatment

Ativan, also known by its generic name lorazepam, is a prescription medication commonly used to treat anxiety, insomnia, and certain seizure disorders. More than 10 million Ativan prescriptions are written each year. While Ativan can be effective in managing these conditions, it is a potent benzodiazepine, and its prolonged use can lead to physical and psychological dependence.

When individuals try to stop taking Ativan after prolonged use, they may experience withdrawal symptoms that can be uncomfortable and challenging to manage. In extreme cases, Ativan withdrawal can be severe, resulting in life-threatening symptoms such as seizures.

If you or someone you love are addicted to Ativan and are ready to quit, it’s important to know that you should never detox on your own. The safest way to detox is to do so under the medical supervision and support of a benzo detox facility. To learn about the benzodiazepine detox program at Arise Treatment Center or to find help for yourself or a loved one, please contact our team of dedicated admissions counselors today.

Understanding Ativan Withdrawal

Ativan belongs to a class of drugs known as benzodiazepines, which work by enhancing the effects of gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA), a neurotransmitter that helps calm the brain and nervous system. Over time, the brain can become reliant on Ativan to maintain a sense of calm and relaxation, leading to physical and psychological dependence.

When someone stops taking Ativan abruptly or reduces their dose significantly, the brain and body can react negatively, resulting in withdrawal symptoms. The severity and duration of these symptoms can vary from person to person, depending on factors such as the duration of Ativan use, dosage, and individual differences.

Symptoms of Ativan Withdrawal

Common Ativan withdrawal symptoms are:

  • Anxiety, depression, and restlessness
  • Panic attacks
  • Insomnia and sleep disturbances
  • Irritability and mood swings
  • Muscle tension, stiffness, and discomfort
  • Headaches
  • Sweating, hot and cold flashes
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Tremors or shaking
  • Confusion and memory problems
  • Heightened sensitivity to light and sound
  • Mood swings
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Cravings for Ativan
  • High blood pressure
  • Convulsions
  • Seizures
  • Hallucinations
  • Psychosis

Ativan Withdrawal Timeline: What to Expect

The exact timeline for Ativan withdrawal can vary from one person to the next depending on their dosage, length of use, and other factors such as age, weight, metabolism, and other medications. Generally, people who take Ativan in higher doses or for longer periods of time will experience more intense, longer-lasting withdrawal. Additionally, people with underlying mental health conditions may experience more severe psychological withdrawal symptoms such as anxiety, depression, and panic attacks.

The Ativan withdrawal timeline can be divided into several stages, with symptoms typically becoming more intense during the first few days and gradually improving over time.

Stage 1: Early Withdrawal (24-72 Hours After the Last Dose)

Between 24 and 72 hours after the last dose of Ativan, withdrawal symptoms will begin. One of the first symptoms to appear is increased anxiety or restlessness. Sleep disturbances are also common during early withdrawal, making it difficult for individuals to fall asleep or stay asleep.

During early withdrawal, mood swings, irritability, muscle tension, stiffness, discomfort, and headaches are common, as well.

Stage 2: Peak Withdrawal (Days 3-5)

Withdrawal symptoms tend to peak during this stage, with anxiety, insomnia, and irritability becoming more severe. Individuals may experience profuse sweating, hot and cold flashes, nausea, vomiting, and tremors or shaking. Changes in sensory perception, such as heightened sensitivity to light and sound, can also occur.

Stage 3: Subacute Withdrawal (Days 6-14)

Symptoms gradually begin to subside during this stage, but individuals may still experience lingering anxiety, insomnia, and irritability. Some people may experience cognitive symptoms like confusion, memory problems, and difficulty concentrating. By day 14, most symptoms will have resolved.

Stage 4: Post-Acute Withdrawal Syndrome (PAWS)

In some cases, particularly those where Ativan has been abused heavily for extended periods of time, individuals may experience protracted withdrawal symptoms that persist for weeks or even months. These symptoms can include mood swings, anxiety, cravings, and insomnia and are referred to as post-acute withdrawal syndrome (PAWS). PAWS is best managed with behavioral therapy and lifestyle changes.

Detox Treatment for Ativan Withdrawal

Ativan withdrawal can be unpredictable with the potential to cause severe and potentially fatal symptoms. As a result, it is necessary to detox under medical supervision. Receiving treatment from a medical detox center is often the first step toward addiction recovery.

Medical detox involves supervised withdrawal in a medical setting, usually at an inpatient facility. Medical professionals can monitor vital signs, administer medications to ease withdrawal symptoms, and provide emotional support. The goal of medical detox is to ensure the individual’s safety and comfort during the withdrawal process while avoiding potential complications.

When it comes to detoxing from Ativan, doctors typically advise tapering. Also known as gradual dose reduction, tapering involves slowly decreasing one’s dosage of Ativan while under medical supervision. This approach allows the brain and body to adjust to decreasing levels of the drug, reducing the severity of withdrawal symptoms. Tapering is safer than simply quitting Ativan cold turkey.

In addition to medical interventions, individuals going through Ativan withdrawal can benefit from supportive therapy and holistic approaches. Detox centers may offer services such as cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), group therapy, meditation, mindfulness, yoga, acupuncture, and more.

Find Help for Ativan Abuse and Addiction Today

Completing detox is only the first step in recovery from Ativan addiction. After detox, individuals often transition to a comprehensive benzodiazepine rehab program that addresses the underlying causes of their addiction and teaches essential coping skills for maintaining long-term sobriety.

At ARISE Treatment Center, we provide a full continuum of care, supporting our clients from medical detox and residential treatment to our flexible outpatient programs. We treat each individual with sensitivity and compassion, creating tailored treatment plans that meet each person’s unique needs. To learn more about our Ativan detox and treatment programs, please contact us today.


  1. National Library of Medicine: Lorazepam, Retrieved October 2023 from
  2. National Library of Medicine: The benzodiazepine withdrawal syndrome, Retrieved October 2023 from
  3. National Library of Medicine: Management of benzodiazepine misuse and dependence, Retrieved October 2023 from


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