Q. I’m taking a benzo (Ativan®) for anxiety on the advice of my psychiatrist. My sponsor says it’s an addictive drug, and that I need to stop taking it. Do I?
A. Your sponsor is correct. There is no question that Ativan® (lorazepam) is a highly-addictive drug, and that long-term use by anyone is undesirable. In fact, extended use of any benzo is problematic, and there are other anti-anxiety medications that are more appropriate. The action of benzodiazepines in the brain is similar to that of other addictive drugs, and your central nervous system cannot recover to a normal state while they are in your body. Thus, other addictions are prolonged, and there is great possibility of relapse to other drugs.
You would be well-advised to discuss this with your physician, and to make arrangements to detox safely from the lorazepam. The ideal scenario would be treatment in a specialized detox facility with 24-hour medical monitoring. That would give you access to addiction experts who are up to date on best practices. The facility would also be able to provide referrals for aftercare. Post-acute withdrawal from benzos can be prolonged and severe, and may require clinical attention after detox.
Do not, whatever you do, take it upon yourself to stop without medical monitoring. Withdrawal from lorazepam can be fatal, and you need to be under a physician’s watchful eye, and adhering to a strict detox protocol.