Lorazepam Overview for Patients

Lorazepam is a type of benzodiazepine drug which is commonly used for treating anxiety or insomnia.  The drug is best known under its brand name of Ativan though it is also available in numerous generic forms.  Lorazepam works by acting on GABA receptors which have a calming effect on the body.

 

How to take Lorazepam

Lorazepam is a Schedule IV controlled substance which means that you will need a prescription from your doctor in order to obtain it.  The drug comes in tablet form in strengths of 0.5mg, 1mg and 2mg.  There is no set dosage amount for Lorazepam; the amount varies per patient depending on factors like medical history and reaction to the drug.  In general, patients start taking Lorazepam at small dosages and gradually have their dosage increased to 2-6mg daily which are broken up into several smaller dosages throughout the day.

 

Lorazepam should only be taken for the shortest necessary treatment time and in the smallest necessary dosage.  If taken for a long time in high amounts, a severe drug tolerance and dependence could occur.  To avoid withdrawal effects when treatment is stopped, patients will likely have their dosages gradually decreased.

 

Lorazepam Side Effects

Lorazepam produces side effects similar to other benzodiazepine drugs.  The most common side effect is drowsiness followed by dizzy spells and feeling weak.  Older patients are more likely to experience these side effects. Patients should be very careful while taking Lorazepam to avoid injuries from falls.  Other common side effects from Lorazepam which usually are not serious include:

  • Low libido and/or sexual dysfunction
  • Acid reflux
  • Constipation
  • Changes in appetite

Before you take Lorazepam, talk to your doctor about what is normal while taking it and what is cause for concern.  Also discuss the signs of a drug dependency.  Let your doctor know at once if you have symptoms such as cravings for Lorazepam.

 

Who Should Not take Lorazepam

Lorazepam is not safe for everyone to take.  Certain health problems could make it risky to use Lorazepam, such as: respiratory problems, renal or hepatic disease, psychological disorders, a history of drug abuse or alcoholism.  It is highly advised against taking Lorazepam while pregnant as the medicine may harm an unborn child.  Once the child is born, he may experience withdrawal symptoms from the Lorazepam.  Do not breastfeed while taking Lorazepam.

 

It is generally advised against giving Lorazepam to children.  The medicine could worsen anxiety symptoms instead of alleviating them.

 

What to Avoid while taking Lorazepam

If Lorazepam is used with certain other substances, such as medicines, street drugs, or supplements, it could cause a drug interaction.  Do not take Lorazepam without first letting your doctor or pharmacist know about all other drugs you may use.  The following are just some of the drugs which may interact with Lorazepam: other benzodiazepines, kava, hypnotics, GHB, psychiatric drugs like an antidepressant, muscle relaxers, pain medicines, sleeping pills, or an antihistamine.