Mixing Ativan Lorazepam and Alcohol: Interactions and Risks

These medications work by enhancing the effects of gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA), a neurotransmitter or chemical in the brain that slows down nerve activity. The increased activity and effects of GABA lead to central nervous system (CNS) depressant effects, such as sedation and a sense of calm. The most detrimental side effects of drinking alcohol with the twelve steps alcoholics anonymous Ativan usage revolve around slowing brain activities, breathing, and heart rate. This is because both substances are central nervous system (CNS) depressants. Plus, they affect similar areas of the brain that are involved in GABA production. Alcohol and benzodiazepines like Ativan are commonly abused substances people may take separately or together.

Alcohol also increases the activity of GABA in the brain, so combining the two can have additive effects. These include the risks of slowed breathing and heart rate, overdose and death. Ativan — the brand name for the medication lorazepam — is a sedative-hypnotic drug from the drug class known as benzodiazepines. Ativan is approved by the FDA for the short-term symptomatic management of anxiety disorders and anxiety related to depression. Ativan is also sometimes used off-label without FDA approval as a sedative for insomnia and for preventing seizures in alcohol withdrawal syndrome.

  1. If you have concerns about Ativan and alcohol or any other substance use in yourself or a loved one, please feel free to contact us for a confidential discussion with one of our staff.
  2. Mixing alcohol and Ativan can cause the Ativan to have increased and potentially life-threatening side effects.
  3. If you take Ativan with alcohol, you are at a heightened risk of overdose.
  4. Long-term use of alcohol and Ativan changes the structure and function of the brain, often causing an increased tolerance, and polysubstance dependence.

People often combine these substances because they want to relax more and enhance the effects. But mixing Ativan and alcohol — two depressants — is extremely dangerous and can lead to several short-term and long-term effects. In fact, they have considered the best treatment when dealing with mild-to-severe symptoms of alcohol withdrawal. According to VeryWell Mind, when a daily dose of Ativan is stopped or reduced abruptly, withdrawal symptoms can appear in eight to 12 hours.

Insufficient GABA can also cause panic attacks and a decreased ability to fall and stay asleep. People combine alcohol with Ativan to get a more intense feeling of intoxication. Oftentimes, they want to sedate themselves to try to numb mental or physical pain, but the result can be deadly. This means that every 12 hours, its concentration decreases by half. The body gets rid of it through urine after it has been metabolized (chemically altered or broken down). The liver and kidneys help you metabolize everything you put into your body.

But for tablets, the maximum effect usually happens about 2 to 3 hours after you take them. Valium is also available as an oral tablet, which is typically taken one to four times daily. The generic name of Valium is diazepam, while the generic name of Ativan is lorazepam. Xanax is available as an oral tablet, which is usually taken three times daily. It’s also available as an extended-release tablet, which is taken just once daily.

Its calming effects must always be balanced against the risks of sedation, dependency, and the amplified dangers when mixed with substances like alcohol. Because alcohol and Ativan are central nervous system depressants, combining them increases your risk of unintentionally slowing down your central nervous system too much. It is even possible for your breathing and heart to stop when mixing alcohol and Ativan.

The Dangers of Mixing Ativan (Lorazepam) and Alcohol

Other benzodiazepines and substances that have CNS depressant effects, including alcohol, can cause similar effects as those of Ativan. Therefore, Ativan should be avoided or used with extreme caution while taking similar medications or consuming substances that have similar effects. These medications can make you feel calm, sleepy, and generally relaxed. With misuse, a drug is taken in a way other than how it’s prescribed.

Dosage and treatment duration

For anxiety, depending on your symptoms, you may need a medicine to treat your physical symptoms as well as your psychological ones. This allows your body to get used to being without the medicine and reduces the chance of side effects when you stop taking it. Addiction is more likely if you’ve ever had problems with alcohol use: weighing risks and benefits alcohol or recreational drugs. But you’re not likely to become addicted if you take it at a low dose for a short time (2 to 4 weeks). Ativan is contraindicated in people with hypersensitivity to benzodiazepines or any component of Ativan. It’s also contraindicated in people with acute narrow-angle glaucoma.

Ativan and Alcohol (Video)

Weight gain or loss aren’t typical side effects of Ativan, and studies have not confirmed these as side effects of this drug. In people who receive the Ativan injection, redness or deepening of skin color, and pain at the injection site can commonly occur. The following list contains some of the key side effects that may occur while taking Ativan. Remember, keep this and all other medicines out of the reach of children, never share your medicines with others, and use Ativan only for the indication prescribed. If you do breastfeed, tell your doctor if you notice drowsiness, feeding problems, or slow weight gain in the nursing baby.

Mixing Ativan and alcohol can intensify the side effects of both and lead to slowed breathing, which can be fatal. A person who has overdosed on Ativan and alcohol may be confused and have slurred speech, movement difficulties and slowed breathing. Talk to a doctor or pharmacist if you’re unsure whether it’s safe for you to drive while taking lorazepam. Note that this list is not all-inclusive and includes only common medications that may interact with Ativan.

The simple answer here is to avoid drinking, but if you must, speak to your doctor about your options. You should not drink until lorazepam has left your system, which could take a few days. The effects of Ativan may help reduce anxiety, seizures, and muscle spasms, which are common symptoms of alcohol withdrawal.