A sedative, commonly used in the short-term management of panic attacks, anxiety and sleep disorders, lorazepam has tranquilising and calming effects.
While generally safe when used therapeutically, lorazepam is often consumed recreationally or in violation of a prescription. As with other prescription drugs, the potential for abuse is high.
Lorazepam is considered to be one of the more potent benzodiazepines. Its pleasurable effects can compel both prescribed and recreational users to consume increasing quantities. As frequency of consumption and dosage increase, so too does tolerance. A cycle of abuse begins with the user perpetually chasing the initial high.
Over time, the body becomes used to the presence of lorazepam and adjusts accordingly; unable to function normally without it. If usage stops, the body demands the drug by means of uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms.
Someone addicted to lorazepam will compulsively seek it out despite an awareness of the adverse consequences of such behaviour.
A prescription-only medicine in the UK, lorazepam is recognised as being habit-forming with a high potential for abuse.
Addiction to lorazepam develops for a number of reasons and is generally the consequence of consistent recreational abuse or unwitting misuse.
While lorazepam addiction often occurs as a result of polysubstance abuse, dependence is rising in those without a prior history.
There are factors that may influence the likelihood of lorazepam addiction. Spending time around people who abuse drugs may influence behaviour. Parental guidance plays a big part in the likelihood of someone developing an addiction. Children who are exposed to drug abuse are more at risk of developing their own problem later in life.
Peer pressure can also result in recreational drug use. Teens are especially prone to engaging in risky behaviours; the areas in the brain that manage judgement and self-control are still developing at that age.
Equally, trauma or a challenging life experience can push someone to use in an effort to self-medicate difficult emotions.
Different psychological factors can increase the risk of substance misuse. As lorazepam is used to treat mental health conditions, it’s understandably more likely to be misused and co-occur as a problem alongside the mental health issue.
Repeatedly misusing lorazepam to self-medicate a mental health condition can become habitual and result in a substance use disorder. Dual diagnosis of this type is significantly more complex and requires specialist care.
While some people may be able to use lorazepam therapeutically, others will feel a strong impulse to consume it to excess.
Neuroscience has shown that people have varying levels of ability and brain function to control impulsive urges. If these genes are passed down through the generations, family members can be more prone to developing addiction problems.
Long-term lorazepam abuse affects the brain’s chemical systems and functions, resulting in psychological addiction. An addict will compulsively consume lorazepam despite an awareness of the adverse consequences. Stopping use becomes a struggle and will inevitably require professional help.
It’s also thought that taking lorazepam over a long period of time may result in physical neurological damage.
Any time someone uses lorazepam without, or contrary to, a prescription, it is considered to be abuse. If used recreationally, lorazepam is often consumed with alcohol to achieve a desired buzz.
The assumption is that recreational lorazepam use involves an element of control. In reality, any abuse of controlled drugs is harmful to your health.
The term addiction usually refers to a physical dependence but it generally means a psychological one too. An inability to refrain from using lorazepam is the first symptom of addiction.