Ativan and Alcohol Substance Abuse
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.
What Are the Dangers of Mixing Alcohol With Ativan?
The primary danger of mixing alcohol with Ativan is that they bind to the same receptors, amplifying one another’s effects on the body.
This can lead to serious consequences, including slowed heart rate, respiratory depression, loss of consciousness, and even death.
Can You Drink on 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), and Klonopin (clonazepam).
You should never combine benzos with alcohol.
The NIH states that “interactions should be expected from combining alcohol with benzodiazepines” and advises against it.
How Long After Taking Ativan Can You Drink Alcohol?
You should avoid drinking alcohol for at least 24 hours after taking Ativan or any other benzodiazepine. This is to ensure the drug is out of your system. Exactly how long it takes to leave your system will depend on physical factors like your weight and the type of Ativan you take.
Ativan can be ingested in tablet form or injected in an intravenous (IV) injection. The injectable form of Ativan is absorbed into your system much faster, which puts you at an increased risk of toxicity, especially if you take too large of a dose or combine it with alcohol. Likewise, if someone misuses an Ativan tablet by crushing it up, a larger amount will be absorbed more quickly, posing similar risks.
If you have taken Ativan in any form and you are wondering about when it is safe to drink, speak to your healthcare provider for direct guidance.
Why Do People Mix Alcohol With Ativan?
Although people can abuse benzodiazepines like Ativan on their own, they most commonly use them with other substances, like opioids and alcohol.
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.
Why Is It Dangerous to Mix Ativan With 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.
What Can Happen if You Drink on Ativan?
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. Meanwhile, alcohol is a central nervous system depressant that has a different mechanism of action, but similar side effects.
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 the following:
- Severe drowsiness
- Difficulty breathing
Some of the more common side effects of mixing Ativan and alcohol include:
- Impaired motor control
- Unsteady gait
- Short-term memory loss
- Unusual behavior
- Coordination problems
- Decreased inhibitions
- Blurred vision
- Slurred speech
- Libido changes
The most serious side effects of Ativan, which typically happen when you take it in large doses, include:
- Respiratory depression and slowed breathing
- Respiratory failure
- Low blood pressure
- Loss of consciousness
- Stiff muscles
All of these side effects can be worsened due to the depressant effects of alcohol. For instance, the combined effect of respiratory depression from Ativan and alcohol can lead to a person’s breathing slowing down to dangerously low levels, potentially causing oxygen deprivation, organ damage, and even death.
If you’re experiencing a substance use disorder, remember that you’re not alone. The caring, dedicated medical professionals at Zinnia Health are ready to help you regain control of your life. Take the first step by reaching out Zinnia Health or calling (855) 430-9439 today.
What Are the Symptoms From Drinking Alcohol With Ativan?
Mixing Ativan and alcohol use can lead to a risk of overdose.
Be aware of the following signs of an Ativan and alcohol overdose and seek medical attention immediately if you or a loved one experiences them:
- Slurred speech
- Lack of control over muscle movements
- Low body temperature and clammy skin
- Slowed breathing
- Difficulty breathing
- Loss of consciousness
- Alcohol poisoning
Once your body becomes dependent on Ativan, it will produce unpleasant side effects when you stop taking the drug suddenly, such as:
- Difficulty concentrating
- Rapid heart rate
- Heart palpitations
- Mood swings
- Panic attacks
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:
- High blood pressure
- Delirium tremens
How to Get Help for an Ativan Addiction
There are several treatment options for Ativan and alcohol substance abuse. 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.
Once detox is complete, you might move into an inpatient rehab program that provides around-the-clock care, supervision, and treatment. With these programs, you live at a treatment facility and undergo detox, therapy, and other forms of treatment in a controlled environment.
Alternatively, 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.
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. After all, battling addiction and substance use disorder is a lifelong commitment.
Aftercare 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.
Whether you’re struggling with Ativan addiction, alcohol addiction, or both, help is available. Contact Zinnia Health today or call (855) 430-9439 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.