Lorazepam (Ativan)

Lorazepam in Watson Pills


Watson Pills Containing Lorazepam

What sort of medication is Lorazepam?

Lorazepam is in the class of drugs called benzodiazepines. Lorazepam affects chemicals in the brain that may become unbalanced and cause anxiety, insomnia, and seizures.

Since its introduction in 1971, Lorazepam's principal use has been in treating the symptoms of anxiety, nervousness, and tension associated with anxiety disorders. It is also used to treat certain types of seizure disorders and to relieve insomnia (sleeplessness).

Though, compared to other benzodiazepines, Lorazepam has relatively high addictive potential, Lorazepam's sedative/hypnotic effects, and the duration of clinical effects from a single dose, makes it an appropriate choice for the short term treatment of insomnia, particularly in the presence of severe anxiety.

Lorazepam's anticonvulsant properties are useful for the prevention and treatment of alcohol withdrawal symptoms.

Lorazepam is unique among benzodiazepines in having potent antiemetic properties. It is used as an adjunct antiemetic for treating the nausea and vomiting frequently associated with cancer chemotherapy, usually together with first-line antiemetics.

Pure Lorazepam is an almost white powder that is nearly insoluble in water and oil. In medicinal form, Lorazepam is mainly available as tablets and a solution for injection but in some locations it is also available as a skin patch, an oral solution and a sublingual tablet.

Lorazepam tablets and syrups are administered by mouth only. The tablets contain 0.5 mg, 1 mg, or 2 mg Lorazepam, with some differences between countries. Lorazepam tablets of the Ativan brand also contain lactose, microcrystalline cellulose, polacrilin potassium, magnesium stearate and colouring agents.

Lorazepam injectable solution is administered either by deep intramuscular injection or by intravenous injection. The injectable solution comes in 1 mL ampoules containing 2 mg or 4 mg Lorazepam.

Lorazepam 1 mg is equal in effect to Diazepam 10 mg. Because of Lorazepam's high potency, the smallest tablet strength of 0.5 mg is also a significant dose reduction (in the UK, the smallest tablet strength is 1.0 mg, which accentuates this difficulty). To minimise the risk of physical/psychological dependence, Lorazepam is best used only short-term and at the smallest effective dose.

A clinically relevant Lorazepam dose will normally be effective for 6 to 12 hours, making it unsuitable for regular once-daily administration; it is therefore usually prescribed as two to four daily doses when given regularly.

Lorazepam may be habit forming. Physical and/or psychological dependence can occur, and withdrawal effects are possible if the medication is stopped suddenly after prolonged or high-dose treatment. Do not take more than the prescribed amount of the medication or take it for longer than is directed by your doctor. Do not stop taking Lorazepam suddenly without first talking to your doctor if you have been taking it continuously for more than 5 to 7 days. Your doctor may want to gradually reduce the dose.

Lorazepam will cause drowsiness and may cause dizziness. If you experience drowsiness or dizziness, avoid these activities.

Avoid alcohol while taking Lorazepam. Alcohol may increase drowsiness and dizziness caused by Lorazepam. Alcohol may also increase the risk of a seizure if Lorazepam is being taken for a seizure condition.

Possible side effects of using Lorazepam may include:

  • difficulty breathing;
  • closing of the throat;
  • swelling of the lips, face, or tongue;
  • hives;
  • sores in the mouth or throat;
  • yellowing of the skin or eyes;
  • a rash;
  • hallucinations or severe confusion; or
  • changes in vision.

  • Lorazepam may increase the effects of other drugs that cause drowsiness, including antidepressants, alcohol, antihistamines, sedatives (used to treat insomnia), pain relievers, anxiety medicines, seizure medicines, and muscle relaxants. Tell your doctor about all medicines that you are taking, and do not take any medicine without first talking to your doctor.

    In cases of a suspected Lorazepam overdose, it is important to establish if the patient is a regular user of Lorazepam or other benzodiazepines, since regular use causes tolerance to develop. Also, one must ascertain if other drugs were also ingested.

    Patients are ideally nursed in a kind, non-frustrating environment since, when given or taken in high doses, benzodiazepines are more likely to cause paradoxical reactions.

    In Watson products, Lorazepam is found in dosages of:

  • 0.5mg (in Watson 240 pills)
  • 1mg (in Watson 241 pills) and
  • 2mg (in Watson 242 pills).

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    See also:

    Lorazepam Quick Reference Guide

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