Lorezapam, also known as the brand name Ativan, is a common antianxiety drug prescribed by psychiatrists. According to Pharmacy Times, it is the 48th most used drug in the United States (Pharmacy Times “Top 200 drugs of 2012,” July 2013). It has received attention in the media recently for its possible implication in the suicide of American rock/grunge musician Chris Cornell (CNN “Chris Cornell Used Prescription Before Death, Toxicology Report Says,” June 2017).
Ativan is a benzodiazepine, which are CNS (central nervous system) depressants that aid in slowing and calming down the central nervous system and thus reducing anxiety. (PubMed Health “Lorazepam” May 2017).
Ativan is also commonly used for insomnia and alcohol withdrawal. In addition, Ativan is used to treat continuous seizures, agitation, irritability, mania, and schizophrenia, and used as medication before anesthesia. (Stanford Medicine “Lorazepam,” 2017).
Ativan is only intended for short-term use. According to Stanford Medicine, if misused, it can cause serious side effects such as acidosis (excess amount of acid in the body), drug dependence, and unusual and dangerous behavior. Moreover Ativan, like other benzodiazepines, is highly addictive causing physical and psychological dependence.
How Ativan is Associated with Suicidal Behaviors
Medical experts report that benzodiazepine could cause anterograde amnesia. Those with anterograde amnesia can exhibit dangerous behaviors, such as intoxicated driving, committing crimes, and attempting suicide. (PubMed “Anterograde Amnesia Linked to Benzodiazepines” October 1992).
A toxicology report recently released showed that seven drugs, including a significant dose of Ativan, were found in Cornell’s system. However, the medical examiner said drugs did not contribute to Cornell’s death, but that instead Cornell committed suicide. (CNN “Chris Cornell Used Prescription Before Death, Toxicology Report Says,” June 2017).
According to experts, long-term use of Ativan can cause depression and negative mood in those with a history of depression and suicidal ideation. However, they advised that if someone was to die of an Ativan overdose or blackout, underlying mental health issues could have also played a role. (American Addiction Centers “The Dangers of Long-Term Use of Ativan” 2017).
Research Confirms Benzodiazepines Use Connected with Self-Harm
Research has shown an association between self- harm and suicide and benzodiazepine usage (The British Journal of General Practice “Self-harm and Suicide Associated with Benzodiaepine Usage” May 2007).
The case report found that a patient self-inflicted stab wounds twice in a month after his benzodiazepine dosage was changed. The researchers also examined another study that showed a significant correlation between benzodiazepine and suicide in the elderly. The report concludes that although these effects are rare, prescribers should be aware of how a strong dependence on benzodiazepine is developed quickly.
Know Your Risks with the Rxight® Genetic Test
If you are taking or plan to take Ativan (lorazepam) and are concerned about side effects such as these, consider the Rxight® genetic test to analyze your genetic risks. Rxight® is a pharmacogenetic program made just for you. Your doctor and pharmacist work together to create an accurate, reliable, and easy to understand treatment plan to minimize harmful drug effects and get you on the right medications.