What Are The Dangers of Mixing Alcohol With Lorazepam?
People who abuse lorazepam may mix it with alcohol to enhance its effects. However, since both drugs depress the central nervous system, mixing these substances can result in dangerous and even life-threatening side effects, including severe intoxication, respiratory depression, loss of consciousness, and toxicity.
If you or a loved one are struggling to stop drinking and/or taking prescription drugs, Zinnia Health can help. Learn more about our treatment options here. Or call (855) 430-9439 to talk to someone about getting help.
Can You Drink on Lorazepam?
Lorazepam is the prescription name for the brand name benzodiazepine Ativan. The NIH warns that you should never mix alcohol with benzodiazepines due to the higher potential for serious side effects and overdose. Given the unique properties of Lorazepam, mixing it with alcohol can be especially dangerous.
Lorazepam is a sedative that’s commonly prescribed to treat anxiety and seizure disorders. It has a number of other approved and off-label uses, including anxiety management and sedation before surgery.
The way it works is to suppress nerve activity in the central nervous system, slowing down breathing, heart rate, and other essential functions.
When taken as prescribed, lorazepam is often safe and effective, but mixing it with another central nervous system depressant, such as alcohol, will intensify the effects of alcohol and lorazepam.
How Long After Taking Lorazepam Can You Drink Alcohol?
You should avoid alcohol consumption for at least 24 hours after taking lorazepam in order to give your body time to clear the medication out of your bloodstream.
If you mix alcohol with lorazepam, you could end up in the emergency room due to dangerous drug interactions that lead to extreme drowsiness, slowed reaction times, respiratory suppression, and a higher risk of overdose.
Why Do People Mix Alcohol With Lorazepam?
Like most drugs, people often start mixing lorazepam and alcohol through experimentation or curiosity. Since alcohol is such a commonly used — and abused — substance and is so readily available, it’s often the easiest thing to mix prescription drugs with.
Other reasons people may choose to mix lorazepam and alcohol include:
- They are looking to intensify the buzz from one of the substances
- They are looking for a deeper “escape” from reality and their problems
- A history of substance use disorders has them continually seeking more intense effects from drugs and alcohol
- They are bored or lonely
If you repeatedly take lorazepam and alcohol, it can lead to a substance use disorder, which can make quitting more difficult. Once dependence forms, you’ll have to go through a period of uncomfortable drug or alcohol withdrawal symptoms before you can get on the path to recovery.
Why Is It Dangerous to Mix Lorazepam With Alcohol?
The most detrimental side effects of mixing alcohol and lorazepam result from how the substances slow brain activity, breathing, and heart rate. This happens as both substances go to work to depress the central nervous system and impact similar areas of the brain involved in GABA production.
GABA plays an integral role in facilitating communication between neurons. When there’s not enough GABA, neurons fire quickly, increasing the risk of epilepsy in people with seizure disorders, increasing the risk of panic attacks, and decreasing the ability to fall and stay asleep.
Alcohol use and lorazepam can also lead to deteriorating mental health, physical health, employment status, and relationships. Some examples of long-term issues that can develop with chronic lorazepam and/or alcohol abuse include:
- Ataxia — a disorder that manifests as difficulty with voluntary movement, including swallowing and walking
- Hypotension (low blood pressure)
- Hypotonia (decreased muscle tone)
- Blacking out or passing out in dangerous situations, like while driving or cooking
- Liver damage and disease
- Heart disease
- Circulatory disease
- Hypoxia — low oxygen that damages parts of the body and brain
- Suicidal thoughts
Combining lorazepam and alcohol is also much more likely to lead to overdose symptoms than the use of either substance alone.
What Can Happen if You Drink on Lorazepam?
Lorazepam increases the effect of gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA), an inhibitory neurotransmitter. It does so by binding to GABA receptors in the central nervous system, which causes decreased nervous excitation in the brain.
The most common side effects of combining alcohol and lorazepam include:
- Libido changes
- Memory problems
The most serious side effects of lorazepam and alcohol can include:
- Respiratory depression and slowed breathing
- Respiratory failure
- Low blood pressure
- Loss of consciousness
- Stiff muscles
- Slurred speech
- Impaired reflexes
- Loss of coordination
- Loss of inhibition
- Impaired decision-making
- Decreased heart rate
- Memory loss
- Upset stomach, diarrhea, and vomiting
What Are the Symptoms From Drinking Alcohol with Lorazepam?
There are a few tell-tale signs that someone is abusing alcohol and lorazepam, such as:
- Feeling groggy or “low energy”
- Being unable to focus or hold a conversation
- Lack of coordination
- Slurred speech
- Slowed breathing
- Being unresponsive to touch or commands
- Finding prescription pill bottles and alcohol bottles/cans together
- Pills missing from a prescription bottle or continually going through their medication faster than they can get a refill
- Isolating themselves from their family and friends
- Neglecting all work, home, and social responsibilities to use the substances
- Spending most of their time seeking lorazepam and alcohol, consuming the substances, and recovering from the substances
Unsurprisingly, when alcohol and lorazepam are taken together, the effects they produce are more powerful than when the substances are taken alone.
This increases the chances of overdose and side effects such as:
- Unsteady gait
- Short-term memory loss
- Unusual behavior
- Coordination problems
- Decreased inhibitions
- Blurred vision
- Slurred speech
- Severe drowsiness
- Difficulty breathing
- Loss of sphincter control
- Memory loss
If you notice any of the above symptoms, you should reach out to a treatment center right away so that you can get in touch with qualified healthcare providers who are able to manage dangerous side effects and guide the detox process safely.
How to Get Help For a Lorazepam Addiction
Substance abuse and addiction are lifelong battles, but with the proper resources, your chances of making a full recovery to reclaim your life are much greater than attempting to get sober on your own.
If you’re trying to quit lorazepam, look for a rehab center with:
- A 24/7 helpline that you can call to learn about the admissions process and get addiction help
- A mix of inpatient and outpatient programs that you can choose from based on your needs and preferences
- Ongoing phone and text support to help you stay on track with your recovery plan, even on the toughest days
Zinnia Health offers a number of treatment programs, including detox, inpatient and outpatient treatment, and therapy options to help you kick your addiction to the curb. Contact us today at (855) 430-9439 or online to learn more. Help is standing by 24/7.