Lorazepam is a benzodiazepine medication that acts as a sedative. It is marketed as both a generic and under the trade name of Ativan.
Lorazepam is commonly prescribed for short term and acute management of anxiety disorders, insomnia, seizures, and aggression in patients. It is also sometimes prescribed alongside other medications in lower doses to treat different psychiatric disorders, such as schizophrenia and bipolar disorders.
The effects of Lorazepam are similar to other benzodiazepine medications: sedation, muscle relaxation, anxiolysis, and anti convulsive. It has a moderate duration, boosted slightly due to the affinity of the drug for receptors in the brain. It is widely considered to be among the more potent of the benzodiazepine medications, also due to the affinity of the drug for receptors. The drug is most commonly available as a tablet or a solution for injection and IV usage, though it can also be found in syrups, patches, and dissolving tablets that are administered under the tongue. The peak effects occur anywhere between ten (10) minutes (for IV injection) to one hundred and twenty (120) minutes (for oral tablets). The drug is considered to be effective for six (6) to twelve (12) hours, so using the drug daily typically involves it being given at least twice daily, so ensure that the drug is in effect for most of the day.
Some of the risks of Lorazepam are present in the side effects that come with any benzodiazepine drug. The drug should not be taken with alcohol, as this makes the sedation effects much more prevalent, and can pose a risk to the patient. As the drug will make the patient drowsy, one should not take the drug and drive or operate heavy machinery until they know the effects that it will have upon them. Tolerance and addiction are also major risks associated with Lorazepam and other benzodiazepine drugs. Due to the relatively high potency, the body can quickly become used to the medication, which then requires higher doses of the medication to be used. This can typically lead to addiction. Once addiction develops, stopping the medication can lead to withdraw or dependency symptoms, making functioning after stopping the medication much more difficult. Drug overdoses are also a possibility at higher medication levels, or if too much drug is accidentally ingested, and constitutes a medical emergency.
While this drug does carry risk, as do all benzodiazepines, it does have beneficial properties that can be an effective treatment when managed responsibly. As such, medications such as this should be discussed with a physician before use.