Lorazepam is known as a minor tranquillizer, or a sedative hypnotic, with many adverse effects and dangerous withdrawal symptoms. This drug is in the category of Benzodiazepines, which affect the brain and central nervous system.
Some other commonly known drugs in this category are Xanax, Klonopin, and Valium. Benzos increase the result of a chemical, GABA, that appears in the body naturally and induces a calm affect. Lorazepam is primarily used to treat anxiety, difficulty sleeping, and active seizures. It can also treat Alcohol withdrawal symptoms, nausea or vomiting caused by chemotherapy, and can be used in surgery to impede memory construction and for sedation. It is administered orally or as an injection into muscle or vein.
The main effects of Lorazepam are weakness, fatigue or sleepiness, muscle relaxation, low blood pressure, and memory loss. It can cause mild euphoria and strongly lowers inhibitions and stress levels. This drug has many adverse effects, particularly for individuals of a more advanced age. It can cause ataxia, which is a reduced coordination and control over voluntary operation of muscles. This can result in falling and injury, especially in older people. It also effects the lungs, lightening respiratory effort, but this kind of respiratory depression can be dangerous when the drug is taken in high doses.
It also inhibits the brain from forming new long-term memories, both explicit and implicit memories. These types of memory include factual, like new ideas and concepts, as well as experiential, such as things that happen to a person. They also include more basic cognitive memory function like procedural memory, which enables us to perform certain tasks without actively thinking about them like pouring a glass of water or even walking. Lorazepam can cause depression and exacerbate pre-existing depression. It can also have paradoxical effects of aggression and aggravation, hyperactivity, seizures, sleeplessness, and sometimes symptoms of psychosis. Paradoxical effects are believed to be more likely when the dosage is higher.
Once people have been taking Lorazepam, they must not abruptly stop their use because withdrawal symptoms, especially after long-term or frequent use, can be life threatening. As with most drugs, the withdrawal symptoms of Lorazepam are somewhat a reversal of its usage effects. Withdrawals can include difficulty sleeping, irritability, heightened anxiety, sweating, tremors, mood swings, poor concentration and cognitive struggles, as well as memory problems. One can experience nausea and vomiting, diarrhea headache, elevated heart rate, a high fever, intensified sensitivity to light/touch/sound, pain and stiffness in muscles, and numbness or tingling in extremities. In some cases, especially when usage is ended without weaning off it before, withdrawals can even include hallucinations, psychosis, and seizures.
These symptoms can simulate the qualities of mania or schizophrenia. After long-term use or higher than normal dosing, withdrawals can be very severe and even life threatening because of the possibility of seizures. When ending usage, it is best to reduce the intake of this drug very gradually to avoid severe withdrawal.
While it takes about twelve hours for the drug to leave the body’s systems, withdrawal symptoms typically persist for ten to fourteen days. In some cases, usually after prolonged use, withdrawal symptoms can continue for months or even years. Physical dependency on this drug can happen very quickly, in even a couple weeks. While most prescriptions are usually limited to a short period, like a few weeks, one could develop a tolerance in this time and experience withdrawal after administering in accordance with the prescription.
Lorazepam is often used recreationally which increases the likelihood of long-term use. It should be noted than anyone with an independent mood disorder should not be taking this drug, as it can drastically increase the symptoms of their disorder. Even for people without mood disorders, use of Lorazepam can result in altered personality. Studies have shown that, probably due to disinhibition, a person is more likely to harm oneself or to commit suicide while on this drug, especially if they have a history of mental health issues such as depression.
Signs of addiction to Lorazepam should be looked for by its users and loved ones who are concerned about possible substance abuse. Someone who is addicted may run out of the prescribed amount early or ask for a larger amount than suggested. They will probably be taking more than suggested dosage to achieve the same effects they previously experienced on a lower dose. They may experience any of the above described symptoms of withdrawal and cravings. They can have a strange gate, very poor short-term memory, or seem unlike their usual self with mood swings or personality changes; they might be confused or even delusional.