How Long Does Withdrawal From Ativan Last?

Ativan Withdrawal Timeline

How Long Does Withdrawal From Ativan Last?

Ativan (lorazepam) is a benzodiazepine used to treat a variety of anxiety disorders, seizures and insomnia. Benzodiazepines work as central nervous system (CNS) depressants, which slow down brain activity and lower blood pressure and heart rate; together these create a calming effect, making it the ideal drug to treat overactive signaling in the brain.

It is recommended that Ativan be used for only 2 to 4 weeks and a maximum of 4 months, as it has the potential to become addictive and result in dependence.

When someone becomes dependent on Ativan and stops taking it, withdrawal symptoms can set in.

In the event that dependence occurs, it is important to know the withdrawal timeline of Ativan, what symptoms to expect during the process and available treatment options.

How Long Does Ativan Withdrawal Last?

Withdrawal is the set of symptoms associated with stopping the use of a drug. The body needs time to adjust to the drug’s absence and withdrawal can begin shortly after the last dose.

The exact Ativan withdrawal timeline and symptoms can vary from person to person, but it is important to have expectations on what these symptoms will look and a general understanding of how long they will last.

In general, Ativan withdrawal can last a few weeks to a few months.

Ativan Withdrawal Symptoms Timeline

Understanding Ativan withdrawal symptoms and the timeline is vital to the recovery process. Each person will experience Ativan withdrawal differently but there are common side effects and timelines to look out for.

Early Ativan Withdrawal

To understand how fast a drug is metabolized and cleared from the body, its half-life can be measured. The half-life of Ativan is between 12 to 18 hours; this means that it takes 12 to 18 hours to eliminate half of an Ativan dose from the body.

With this, early withdrawal symptoms can begin to set in roughly 24 hours after the last dose. During the early phase of Ativan withdrawal, mild physical symptoms can begin to occur. This is the result of the body coping with the sudden loss of Ativan.

Physical symptoms of Ativan withdrawal can include:

  • Headache
  • Tension
  • Insomnia
  • Nausea/vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Loss of appetite
  • Sweating
  • Convulsions or seizures
  • Abnormally increased heart rate (tachycardia)

Seizures are more common in those who were prescribed Ativan to treat a pre-existing seizure disorder or who are taking antidepressants, which can increase the lihood of a seizure.

Acute Ativan Withdrawal

Acute withdrawal is the second part of the Ativan withdrawal timeline and typically begins a few days after the last dose. Most withdrawal side effects will occur during this time and will typically last two weeks; however, a person who has a higher dependence may experience longer acute withdrawal for up to a few months.

Psychological symptoms from Ativan withdrawal include:

  • Depression
  • Confusion
  • Irritability
  • Hallucinations
  • Panic attacks
  • Memory loss

Post-Acute Ativan Withdrawal

Post-acute withdrawal syndrome (PAWS) is a set of symptoms that can last for weeks or months after stopping use of a drug. After using Ativan or other benzodiazepines for an extended length of time, PAWS is ly to develop.

Scientists believe that this is due to physical changes in the brain when someone uses Ativan longer than is recommended, which is why tolerance can develop and symptoms of withdrawal will occur.

With this, the duration of Ativan withdrawal symptoms may last for up to a few months.

Common symptoms of PAWS can include:

  • Irritability or sensitivity to stress
  • Anxiety or panic attacks
  • Depression
  • Struggling with learning, focus, memory or problem solving
  • Ativan cravings
  • Insomnia or irregular sleep patterns

Factors that Affect How Long Ativan Withdrawal Symptoms Last

There are many contributing factors to how long Ativan withdrawal lasts. These can include how long a person has been using Ativan for, the dose they were taking and underlying mental health conditions. Overall, Ativan detox time can last anywhere between a few weeks to a few months, depending on the severity of the symptoms.

To shorten the withdrawal timeline and alleviate some of the harsher symptoms, tapering off Ativan may be beneficial. When tapering, the dose of Ativan is reduced over a period of time compared to quitting “cold turkey” or suddenly.

Tapering helps prevent shock to the body, so that it can adjust to lower and lower doses compared to stopping use of the drug abruptly. Ativan tapering symptoms will be much less severe and it will help prevent more serious side effects from occurring such as seizures or large mood swings.

Tapering is best done under the supervision of a healthcare professional.

If you or a loved one is struggling with addiction to Ativan, Orlando Recovery Center is here to help. Contact us today to explore treatment options available to you.


Food and Drug Administration. “Ativan Label.” September, 2016. Accessed October 28, 2019. 

Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior. “Post-Acute Withdrawal Syndrome.” Accessed October 31, 2019. 

Medical Disclaimer: Orlando Recovery Center aims to improve the quality of life for people struggling with a substance use or mental health disorder with fact-based content about the nature of behavioral health conditions, treatment options and their related outcomes.

We publish material that is researched, cited, edited and reviewed by licensed medical professionals. The information we provide is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

It should not be used in place of the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare provider.


Lorazepam (Ativan) Withdrawal Symptoms

How Long Does Withdrawal From Ativan Last?

Lorazepam (Ativan) is a commonly prescribed benzodiazepine. When someone abuses large doses of lorazepam for more than two or three weeks, they can become addicted to or dependent on the medication. Once addicted, if someone suddenly stops taking Ativan, they will experience withdrawal symptoms.

Benzodiazepine withdrawal can be very dangerous and uncomfortable. There are two stages of lorazepam withdrawal: acute and prolonged withdrawal.

Acute withdrawal symptoms of lorazepam (Ativan) can include:

  • sleep disturbance
  • irritability
  • increased tension and anxiety
  • panic attacks
  • hand tremors
  • excessive sweating
  • difficulty concentrating
  • dry heaving and nausea
  • a headache
  • muscular pain and stiffness

Prolonged withdrawal symptoms from lorazepam (Ativan) can include:

  • rebound insomnia
  • anxiety and restlessness
  • changes in mood

Problems with short-term memory and lack of coordination are rare but may also occur during lorazepam withdrawal. The psychological impact of prolonged lorazepam withdrawal can sometimes cause severe anxiety which may lead to hallucinations and psychosis.

How Long Does Lorazepam (Ativan) Withdrawal Last?

In general, the more intense the lorazepam abuse, the more severe the withdrawal. The severity of the symptoms felt during lorazepam (Ativan) withdrawal depends on the severity of the individual’s abuse. This is especially true if lorazepam is mixed with other substances such as opioids or alcohol.

One to three days after the last dose, acute lorazepam withdrawal symptoms, such as headaches and nausea, are usually at their worst. Rebound symptoms, or symptoms that occurred before starting lorazepam, may begin during this time and cause severe anxiety, rapid heartbeat and insomnia.

Lorazepam withdrawal symptoms typically peak in severity four to seven days after the last dose. The signs and severity of withdrawal will vary from one person to the next but can include tremors, cravings, and irritability.

After reaching peak severity, withdrawal symptoms from lorazepam usually begin to taper off about two weeks after the last dose. By this time, any rebound symptoms that an individual experiences should also subside.

The worst part of withdrawal is over after the first two weeks without lorazepam (Ativan), as acute withdrawal symptoms should be resolved. At this point, prolonged withdrawal symptoms may start to occur.

Potential Dangers Of Lorazepam (Ativan) Withdrawal

Withdrawing from high doses of lorazepam (Ativan) can increase the risk for severe and even life-threatening symptoms. Benzodiazepine withdrawal can lead to blackouts and memory loss. Missing a single dose can be devastating. Because Ativan is a short-acting benzo, it is eliminated from the body at a faster rate than other longer-acting benzodiazepines.

Because lorazepam is short-acting when it is suddenly removed from the body, withdrawal symptoms can onset more quickly. Individuals who have abused lorazepam (Ativan) for more than six months are more ly to experience more intense withdrawal symptoms, which can make it more difficult for them to come off it safely.

Factors That Influence Lorazepam (Ativan) Withdrawal

Benzodiazepines lorazepam are fat soluble, so the longer someone abuses the drug, the more it builds up in the fatty tissues throughout their body. Individuals who continually take lorazepam will need larger doses of the drug. People who snort or inject Ativan may increase the rate at which they develop a tolerance to the drug’s effects, compared to taking it by mouth.

Individuals who struggle with co-occurring mental health disorders may also experience more severe lorazepam withdrawal. Abusing other substances in addition to lorazepam can increase dependency and may lead to longer than average withdrawal.

Research also indicates that some people naturally produce more of the enzymes used to metabolize medications such as lorazepam. This increased enzyme level can cause them to process the drug at a faster rate which can make it easier to develop a tolerance to them.

Treatment For Lorazepam (Ativan) Withdrawal And Addiction

The first step to treating lorazepam (Ativan) withdrawal is to detox from the substance. During lorazepam (Ativan) detox, individuals slowly taper off their dose over the course of a month or more until they are no longer dependent on the substance.

Some withdrawal treatment programs may also provide a less potent and longer-acting benzodiazepine for individuals with severe lorazepam addiction. Once detox is complete, treatment usually continues in an inpatient or outpatient setting, depending on the individual’s needs.


Ativan (Lorazepam) Withdrawal Symptoms, Timeline & Detox — The Recovery Village Drug and Alcohol Rehab

How Long Does Withdrawal From Ativan Last?

  • Ativan is a benzodiazepine that can cause physical and psychological withdrawal symptoms when someone stops taking it.
  • Withdrawal symptoms can begin within two days after the last dose and may continue for up to eight weeks,
  • To avoid withdrawal, a gradual taper is recommended if you have been taking Ativan for two weeks or longer.

Ativan (lorazepam) is a benzodiazepine drug that can cause physical dependence and psychological addiction. These conditions occur because a person’s body and brain can begin relying on drugs Ativan to function normally.

When someone is dependent on or addicted to Ativan, they may experience uncomfortable physical and psychological withdrawal symptoms if the drug is not in their system.

Withdrawal symptoms can make it very difficult to stop using drugs Ativan. Some people try to quit cold turkey or detox at home, but their attempts are often unsuccessful. Attending a medical detox program at a specialized facility can give you the best chances of getting through the withdrawal phase and onto the next steps of recovery.


  • Can I get off Ativan cold turkey?The general recommendation from experts in the medical community is that you should avoid quitting Ativan cold turkey. Abruptly ending Ativan use can lead to more severe withdrawal symptoms, including seizures and hallucinations.
  • What about stopping Ativan use after two weeks or a short period of time?You may not need a taper if you have taken Ativan for less than two weeks. Your doctor will be able to determine if you need a taper your Ativan dose and how often you take the drug.
  • How long does Ativan take to wear off?Ativan is usually prescribed to be taken two to three times a day because a person may feel the drug starts to wear off after eight to 12 hours. From a chemical perspective, however, Ativan lasts much longer. It has a half-life of up to 20 hours, meaning it takes that long for half the dose to be cleared from the system. Because it takes five half-lives to totally remove a drug from the body, Ativan will remain in the system for up to 100 hours.

Ativan (Lorazepam) Withdrawal Symptoms

Some of the physical symptoms of Ativan withdrawal may include:

  • Anxiety
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Restlessness
  • Agitation
  • Irritability
  • Memory and concentration problems
  • Muscle aches and tension
  • Drug cravings

Regarding psychological withdrawal symptoms, many people who are detoxing from Ativan find that they experience rebound symptoms.

Symptoms insomnia or anxiety are typically what cause someone to use Ativan in the first place, but during the withdrawal and detox process, these symptoms may return and be more severe.

Rebound symptoms usually occur in the earliest stages of detox and withdrawal.

How Long Do Ativan (Lorazepam) Withdrawal Symptoms Last?

The duration and severity of Ativan withdrawal symptoms often vary from one person to another. Still, the Ativan withdrawal and detox process typically follows a general timeline and treatment approach. The following sections provide an overview of the Ativan withdrawal timeline and available treatment methods.

Ativan Withdrawal Timeline

Ativan has a long half-life of up to 20 hours, meaning that it takes that long for half the dose to be cleared from your system. It typically takes five half-lives for a drug to be fully eliminated from the system.

Withdrawal symptoms can begin two to seven days after taking the last dose of Ativan. Without treatment, symptoms can continue for two to eight weeks.

Managing Withdrawal Symptoms

Some people may wonder if there is an Ativan withdrawal medication that can be used to treat symptoms, especially during the Ativan withdrawal peak.

There is currently no drug that’s specifically approved for Ativan withdrawal treatment, but other treatment approaches are available.

For example, tapering Ativan use and changing to an extremely long-acting benzo diazepam are two common treatment options.

Medical Detox

During a medically assisted detox, patients receive treatment for emerging Ativan withdrawal symptoms. Their medical team monitors the entire detox process, makes necessary medical interventions and ensures symptoms do not become life-threatening.

Some detox programs might utilize a tapering process and provide benzodiazepines with longer half-lives, which are both approaches that help wean patients off Ativan.

Treatments for co-occurring disorders may be provided, and in some cases, there may be natural herbal remedies or supplements that can help the withdrawal process.

Tapering Plan/Schedule

Tapering involves gradually reducing the dose of a drug to prevent withdrawal symptoms. However, you should not try to taper your dose without the help of a professional.

  Only a physician can determine the right amount of Ativan to begin with, how gradually you should reduce doses and the schedule you should follow.

The tapering process can be complex, especially if other addictions are involved, and it may take anywhere from a few weeks to a few months to complete.

If you or someone you love is struggling with Ativan use, The Recovery Village is here to help. Contact us today to learn about detox and treatment programs that can work well for your situation.

  • Sources
    • Hallare, Jericho; Gerriets, Valerie. “Half Life.” StatPearls, August 23, 2021. Accessed October 31, 2021.
    • “Lorazepam.” November 9, 2020. Accessed October 31, 2021.
    • National Center for PTSD. “Effective Treatments for PTSD: Helping Patients Taper from Benzodiazepines.” 2015. Accessed October 31, 2021.
    • World Health Organization. “Clinical Guidelines for Withdrawal Management and Treatment of Drug Dependence in Closed Settings.” 2009. Accessed October 31, 2021.
    • Lerner, Alicja; Klein, Michael. “Dependence, withdrawal and rebound of CNS drugs: an update and regulatory considerations for new drugs development.” Brain Communications, October 16, 2019. Accessed October 31, 2021.
  • Medical Disclaimer

    The Recovery Village aims to improve the quality of life for people struggling with a substance use or mental health disorder with fact-based content about the nature of behavioral health conditions, treatment options and their related outcomes.

    We publish material that is researched, cited, edited and reviewed by licensed medical professionals. The information we provide is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

    It should not be used in place of the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare provider.

    View our editorial policy or view our research.

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Key Facts About Lorazepam: The Withdrawal Timeline

How Long Does Withdrawal From Ativan Last?

Lorazepam, also known by the brand name Ativan, is an anti-anxiety medication that can help people suffering from panic attacks, anxiety anxiety-induced insomnia, and anxiety attacks linked to depression.

Despite these important uses, it’s vital for anyone taking any form of lorazepam to understand the high potential for addiction the drug carries and how to spot the symptoms of lorazepam withdrawal.

How Lorazepam Works

Doctors prescribe lorazepam for short-term relief of various anxiety disorders. There are no clinical studies that support long-term use, or any use lasting longer than four months.

Lorazepam is a member of the family of drugs called benzodiazepines that act on the central nervous system. It works to relieve the symptoms of anxiety by enhancing the effects of naturally produced chemicals, known as GABA, in the brain linked to stress and relaxation.

Lorazepam prevents areas of the brain from becoming overstimulated, which can lead to panic attacks and other symptoms of acute anxiety. By boosting GABA levels in the brain’s chemistry, lorazepam ensures nerve cells don’t get overworked and create the adverse effects of anxiety such as insomnia, depression, the “fight or flight” reflex sensation and other symptoms.

Potential for Addiction and Abuse

many other drugs, there is a risk of benzodiazepine addiction for those who take Ativan and other forms of lorazepam. People with substance abuse problems shouldn’t take lorazepam or combine it with other drugs, as these interactions may prove fatal.

Additionally, the brain will naturally build a tolerance to lorazepam and the individual will need increasingly larger doses to achieve the desired effect. Over time, this escalates into a dependency that requires careful attention.

Detox for lorazepam requires medical supervision. Suddenly stopping lorazepam use after dependency can be disastrous and potentially deadly.

Withdrawal from Anti-Anxiety Drugs

Lorazepam exists for short-term use, and after a patient completes a round of Ativan treatment, he or she should speak to a doctor about how to stop taking Ativan safely. It’s important to taper these medications slowly, instead of stopping all at once.

Although lorazepam is an anti-anxiety medication, the symptoms of withdrawal can actually cause some paradoxical reactions such as:

  • Anxiety
  • Fatigue
  • Insomnia
  • Depression

Ativan Detox and Lorazepam Rehabilitation

Once a person forms a dependency on lorazepam, it’s vital to seek out a lorazepam rehab program equipped to handle the potentially extreme side effects of withdrawal.

While mild symptoms may include a lorazepam withdrawal headache, insomnia, irritability and anxiety, sudden stoppage can actually cause serious psychological problems, including:

  • Hallucinations
  • Depression
  • Suicidal thoughts
  • Bouts of rage

The Stages of Lorazepam Withdrawal

Once withdrawal occurs, the Ativan withdrawal timeline typically involves three stages. During the first stage of “early withdrawal,” the individual will start to feel the symptoms for he or she started taking lorazepam in the first place.

For example, if a person received a lorazepam prescription for panic attacks, he or she may start to feel:

  • The onset of a panic attack
  • Increased anxiety
  • Irritability
  • Compulsion to take another dose

The second stage is “acute withdrawal.” During this time, the symptoms are severe and unpleasant. These symptoms may include:

  • Cravings for more lorazepam
  • Sweating
  • Irritability
  • Mood swings
  • Anxiety
  • Heart palpitations
  • Increased heart rate
  • Headache
  • Panic attacks

The third stage is protracted withdrawal, or the psychological feelings associated with withdrawal once the acute stage is over. Post-acute withdrawal syndrome (PAWS) symptoms often entail:

  • Depression
  • Inability to feel pleasure
  • Anxiety
  • Sleep problems
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Rebound symptoms from the individual’s original condition

While some people may not experience PAWS, the symptoms of withdrawal can persist for months or even years for others.

Recovery Is Possible

any other type of substance abuse, lorazepam dependency requires careful medical attention, counseling and various other possible therapy options to help a person struggling with addiction begin to heal.

Ativan detox may involve tapering the medication with gradually decreasing doses or simply managing the symptoms of acute withdrawal. Once the lorazepam is the patient’s bloodstream, treatment then moves to focus on managing the symptoms of withdrawal.

Lorazepam rehab is a complicated process, and Family First Intervention works closely with the loved ones and friends of people struggling with addiction to achieve positive results. We can help a struggling individual acknowledge the problem and seek treatment in a constructive and supportive environment.

We also understand how important the role of family is in substance abuse recovery, and our professional interventionists help everyone involved understand the most constructive ways to support each other and heal.

Seek Professional Care

Most people associate detox and rehab with “harder” drugs heroin and cocaine, but the truth is that prescription medications lorazepam can be just as dangerous.

If you or a loved one is struggling with Ativan addiction, reach out to Family First Intervention to start the recovery process. It’s crucial to find a substance abuse recovery center equipped for medically assisted detox and proper cessation of lorazepam use, so contact us for guidance in your search.

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