Lorazepam

What is lorazepam?

Lorazepam is a drug which belongs to a group of drugs called benzodiazepines.

Why have I been prescribed lorazepam?

Lorazepam is used to help reduce levels of anxiety, agitation or acute mania,
normally in the short term. Your health care professional should have given
you some information to read about your condition and given you a chance to
discuss it.

Often it may be prescribed in the short term whilst other treatments take time
to work.

The medication should reduce the occurrence or severity of your symptoms
but should be given as part of an overall package of care that also includes
attention to psychological and social issues.

Is lorazepam safe to take?

It is usually safe to take as prescribed by your prescriber but like many
medicines will not suit everyone. Let your prescriber know beforehand if any
of the following apply to you:

  • Severe breathing or chest problems
  • Suffer from sleep apnoea (problems breathing at night)
  • Pregnant or breast feeding
  • Have myasthenia gravis (weakness of the muscles)
  • Serious liver disease
  • Abuse alcohol or drugs
  • Suffer from glaucoma
  • Have hypersensitivity to benzodiazepines
  • If you are taking other medication; this includes prescribed medication or any medicines bought over the counter from your pharmacy including herbal remedies

What is the usual dose of lorazepam and how should I take it?

The dose will vary depending on your personal needs, possibly up to 4mg a day. It is normally prescribed two to three times a day either regularly or on a when required basis.

It is occasionally given by injection to help calm down extremely agitated people; if this occurs, you will be given a chance to discuss this with the people looking after you afterwards.

What should I do if I miss a dose?

If you forget a dose, as long as it is within a few hours of when you normally take it, then take it. If it is longer, then miss that dose and continue taking it as prescribed. Do not double up doses.

Is lorazepam addictive?

Yes, if taken for more than a short period, you may become addicted to lorazepam. If you stop it suddenly after being on it for a long time, you may suffer from withdrawal symptoms. In general, you may experience headaches, anxiety, muscle pain, restlessness, sleeplessness, confusion and irritability. In more severe cases, it may include a loss of sense of reality, a sense of detachment, numbness or tingling in the arms or legs, being sick, tinnitus, twitching, hallucinations, convulsions (fits), hypersensitivity to light, sound and touch. If you experience any of these you should contact your prescriber.

To help avoid these effects, then lorazepam should ideally only be limited to the lowest possible dose for the shortest possible time and stopped slowly. Sometimes, the prescriber may suggest changing the lorazepam to another benzodiazepine called diazepam, which is easier to reduce and stop. You should discuss this with your prescriber.

What will happen when I start taking my lorazepam?

Generally, the effects will be felt straight away; your levels of anxiety and agitation should reduce. You may find that this effect lessens over a period of weeks as your body develops a tolerance to its effects. If this occurs, you should discuss this with your prescriber.

As with all medications, lorazepam does have side effects. Side effects are more common at higher doses. Generally, side effects are short lived. Not everyone gets the same side effects.

Below is a table that lists some of the usual side effects and what you can do about them. If you develop any side effects during treatment that worry you, you should talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist about them.

For details of the side effects table, please follow this link: Lorazepam

This list is not a complete list of all known side effects. If you notice anything else you are not sure of, speak to a nurse, pharmacist or your prescriber. You should read this together with package insert.

What about alcohol?

Taking alcohol with lorazepam can make you drowsier, sometimes severely. It is not advisable to drink when taking lorazepam. There is no safe drink and drive limit when taking this medication.

Driving?

Lorazepam can affect your ability to drive; if affected you should not drive. You should inform your insurance company that you are on this medication.

When I feel better can I stop taking lorazepam?

You should always discuss with your prescriber before deciding if and when to stop taking the medication. It should always be stopped slowly over a period of weeks to reduce the risk of withdrawal symptoms (see section on is lorazepam addictive).

Useful information

talking-shop-leafletPlease click on the image to the left or follow this link to download a copy of our Lorazepam leaflet.