Substance Use

Ativan and Alcohol Substance Abuse

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Mixing Alcohol With Ativan: What Are the Dangers?

Alcohol and benzodiazepines like Ativan are commonly abused substances people may take separately or together. 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.

Please keep reading to learn more about these two substances, the dangers of mixing them, and how to find help.

If you’re looking for treatment options for alcohol abuse or a prescription drug use disorder, contact Zinnia Healing’s admissions team today at (855) 430-9439.

What Is Ativan?

Ativan is the brand name for the prescription medication lorazepam. It is a benzodiazepine, a class of drugs used to treat various conditions, such as anxiety, seizures, and insomnia. Other common examples of benzodiazepines include:

  • Valium
  • Xanax (alprazolam)
  • Restoril
  • Klonopin

Ativan can be ingested in tablet form or injected in an intravenous (IV) injection. The drug, a rapid-onset medication that healthcare providers prescribe, is designed for short-term use, like other benzos. If you take Ativan for longer than two weeks, you risk becoming physically dependent on it.

How Does Ativan Work?

Ativan increases the effect of gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA), an inhibitory neurotransmitter. It does so by binding to GABA receptors — specific proteins in the central nervous system that decrease nerve activity and block some brain signals.

The most common side effects of Ativan include:

  • Dizziness
  • Weakness
  • Drowsiness
  • Confusion
  • Sleepiness
  • Weakness

Less frequent side effects of Ativan are:

  • Depression
  • Fatigue
  • Headache
  • Restlessness
  • Libido changes
  • Memory problems

The most serious side effects of Ativan, which typically happen when you take it in large doses, include:

  • Respiratory depression and slowed breathing
  • Blackouts
  • Respiratory failure
  • Low blood pressure
  • Fainting
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Stiff muscles

If you experience any of the above side effects, call 9-1-1 immediately because Ativan overdose symptoms can be life-threatening.

Effects of Mixing Alcohol and Ativan

Although people can abuse benzodiazepines like Ativan on their own, they most commonly use them with other substances, like opioids and alcohol.

The most detrimental side effects of drinking alcohol with 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.

GABA is integral to promoting communication between neurons. When there’s not enough GABA, neurons fire quickly, increasing the risk of epilepsy in people with seizure disorders. Insufficient GABA can also cause panic attacks and a decreased ability to fall and stay asleep.

The combined effects of alcohol and Ativan are more powerful than when you consume the substances separately. Taken together, they increase the likelihood of dangerous side effects, particularly severe drowsiness, difficulty breathing, coma, and death. Some of the more common side effects of mixing Ativan and alcohol include:

  • Impaired motor control
  • Unsteady gait
  • Stupor
  • Short-term memory loss
  • Unusual behavior
  • Coordination problems
  • Decreased inhibitions
  • Dizziness
  • Blurred vision
  • Slurred speech

If you’re experiencing a substance use disorder, remember that you’re not alone. The caring, dedicated medical professionals at Zinnia Healing are ready to help you regain control of your life. Take the first step by reaching out Zinnia Healing today. 

Signs of an Ativan/Alcohol Overdose

Mixing Ativan and alcohol use can lead to a risk of overdose. Be aware of the following signs of an Ativan/alcohol overdose and seek medical attention immediately if you or a loved one experiences them:

  • Slurred speech
  • Vomiting
  • Drowsiness
  • Lack of control over muscle movements
  • Low body temperature and clammy skin
  • Slowed breathing
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Seizures
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Alcohol poisoning
  • Coma
  • Death

Signs of Ativan Withdrawal

Once your body becomes dependent on Ativan, it will produce unpleasant side effects when you stop taking the drug suddenly, such as:

  • Headache
  • Sweating
  • Tremors
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Rapid heart rate
  • Heart palpitations
  • Nausea
  • Cramping
  • Irritability
  • Anxiety
  • Mood swings
  • Panic attacks
  • Seizures

Signs of Alcohol Withdrawal

When someone mixes Ativan and alcohol for an extended period and stops taking the substances, they may also experience alcohol withdrawal symptoms, which are similar to the signs of Ativan withdrawal:

  • Anxiety
  • Headache
  • Tremors
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Insomnia
  • High blood pressure
  • Restlessness
  • Delirium tremens

Treatment for Ativan and Alcohol Abuse

There are several treatment options for Ativan and alcohol substance abuse. The most popular treatment programs include:


Undergoing a medically-supervised detoxification program is highly recommended over attempting to cut using any controlled substance “cold turkey.” These programs use tapering and medications to help your body get used to stopping the substance. Getting treatment with the help of medical supervision and medication helps prevent you from using again to deal with any tough side effects of withdrawal.

Inpatient Rehabilitation

Inpatient rehab programs provide around-the-clock care, supervision, and treatment. During these programs, you live at a treatment facility and undergo detox, therapy, and other forms of treatment in a controlled environment.

Outpatient Rehabilitation

Outpatient rehab provides counseling and therapy for drug abuse on a “part-time” basis. This program allows patients to meet work, family, and school obligations while attending rehab after these commitments or on the weekends.


Battling addiction and substance use disorder is a lifelong commitment. This is why aftercare programs are so important for continued sobriety. These programs hold you accountable, provide resources to support your mental health and fight urges, and offer a community of people to lean on who know exactly what you’re going through.

After spending your time in detox, inpatient rehab, and/or outpatient rehab, committing to an aftercare program is highly recommended to help you deal with the challenges of staying sober in everyday life.

At Zinnia Healing, we know that rehab is just the first step in sobriety. That’s why we work closely with our clients to create personalized aftercare programs that fit the unique needs of each individual. Learn more about our aftercare programs here.

Zinnia Healing Can Help

Whether you’re struggling with Ativan addiction, alcohol addiction, or both, help is available. Contact Zinnia Healing today to learn more about our addiction treatment options and how our dedicated and empathetic team of addiction and behavioral health specialists can help you overcome your addictions and reclaim your life.

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