Pros And Cons Of Using Ativan To Treat Alcohol Withdrawal

The overconsumption of alcohol can severely impact the way that the brain functions. Excessive alcohol use can essentially cause a rewiring of the brain which leads to physical dependence.

Being dependent on alcohol consequently means that your body is unable to function normally without the presence of alcohol. Hence, withdrawing from alcohol once you’re addicted can be difficult. When an individual addicted to alcohol looks to withdraw their use of alcohol, their body may reject the advance and the brain is thrown into disarray.

This conflict between withdrawing and the body’s inability to reduce dependence is characterized as Alcohol Withdrawal Syndrome (AWS). The symptoms of alcohol withdrawal can be extreme, causing severe pain, seizures, hallucinations, vomiting, and heart palpitations. The process is not only uncomfortable, in some cases, but it can also prove to be fatal.

However, there are some drugs available that can be used to combat the symptoms of AWS. These drugs help to reduce the impact of the effects of alcohol withdrawal. This post will explore the pros and cons of using Ativan as a taper medicine to treat AWS.

Using Benzodiazepines For Alcohol Withdrawal

Pros

Benzodiazepines are commonly used to treat symptoms of alcohol withdrawal. Benzodiazepines are a group of medicines that have a sedative effect on the body. They work by relaxing the central nervous system which can promote muscle relaxation and slow down internal systems. Benzodiazepines are highly potent and effective.

Different benzodiazepines may help to reduce the impact of AQS by treating:

  • Seizures and tremors
  • Insomnia and disturbed sleep
  • Feeling nauseous and vomiting
  • Chills and sweats
  • Muscle pain
  • Headaches
  • Anxiety, depression, and panic

Cons

A downside to using benzodiazepines for the treatment of AWS is that benzodiazepines can create side effects that are similar to that of alcohol withdrawal. As a result, an individual with AWS may misinterpret the effects of benzodiazepine as AWS symptoms and this may cause confusion and discomfort.

Benzodiazepines are highly potent. Their properties make it a highly addictive substance. Consequently, using benzodiazepine as a treatment for alcohol withdrawal may cause adverse side effects such as becoming addicted to the substance.

Additionally, using benzodiazepines as a treatment for AWS synonymously with other alcohol treatment medication may cause a reaction. A reaction of this kind could have detrimental results of causing an overdose.

However, taken under the correct supervision and in line with the prescribed dosage prescribed by a doctor or in a rehabilitation setting, benzodiazepines can be effective in the treatment of alcohol withdrawal.

When effective, benzodiazepine can help to counteract intense symptoms of AWS and help individuals overcome the worst of their symptoms to aid in full recovery.

A benzodiazepine that is commonly used to treat alcohol withdrawal is lorazepam, also recognized as Ativan.

Using Ativan (Lorazepam) For Alcohol Withdrawal

Pros

Ativan is a type of benzodiazepine that is commonly used to treat anxiety disorder and symptoms related to it such as insomnia. Whilst Ativan is not officially designed for the use of treating alcohol withdrawal, studies show that it can be effective in decreasing the symptoms of alcohol withdrawal.

Ativan works to inhibit neurotransmitters in the brain, which alcohol also does. Hence, Ativan works as an effective taper medicine for easing the symptoms that are associated with AWS.

In doing so, an individual will be able to overcome the worst of their withdrawal with less pain and discomfort. Its impact can subsequently contribute to an individual overcoming fatal symptoms, overcoming bouts of panic and depression, and stopping extreme cravings.

In comparison to other benzodiazepines such as diazepam, Ativan is considered to be a safer option when it comes to treating symptoms of AWS. It stands to be a more beneficial option as a result of its reduced effect on depressing the respiratory system which makes it safer for a wider range of people.

It is also administered in lower doses for shorter periods of time. This is done to increase control which works to reduce the risk of addiction. It is also safe to use in coordination with liver disease. This makes it a good option for individuals with liver disease as a result of alcohol misuse.

Cons

Whilst Ativan can be administered in small doses for a short period of time, it is a type of benzodiazepine. This means that it is still a highly potent substance, and therefore, there continues to be a high risk of addiction. The use of Ativan as a treatment for alcohol withdrawal could consequently lead to substance misuse of Ativan.

Another risk of using Ativan for treating alcohol withdrawal is that using it whilst alcohol is still leaving the body’s system may result in a negative interaction between the drug and the alcohol. This reaction may intensify the effects of the symptoms and cease to ease the symptoms. This can result in an individual relapsing.

Consuming alcohol and using Ativan at the same time can have fatal consequences that could result in overdose.

Using Haldol (Haloperidol) For Treating Alcohol Withdrawal

Pros

Haldol can be used as an adjunctive therapy with benzodiazepines in the treatment of alcohol withdrawal. It stands to be an effective medicine for treating symptoms of AWS such as hallucinations and agitation.

Cons

However, whilst effective for helping to treat specific symptoms of AWS, Haldol can lower the seizure threshold and therefore increase the risk of seizures.

Takeaway

Benzodiazepines stand to be effective in the treatment of reducing the symptoms of alcohol withdrawal syndrome. However, its high potency poses threats and challenges. With the right support and guidance, these threats can be managed to a better extent.

Ativan stands to be a safer benzodiazepine due to it being safer for those with liver disease which is commonly associated with alcoholism.

Haldol is not an effective treatment as an adjunctive therapy with benzodiazepine, however, its effect of increasing the risk of seizures is something to be considered.

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