Ativan (Lorazepam) and Alcohol: Risks, Interactions & Treatment
Last Updated: November 1, 2023
Ativan (Lorazepam) and alcohol are central nervous system depressants, and combining them can have dangerous consequences.
Combining alcohol and Ativan can enhance the effects of either substance, but it also has the potential for serious interactions that can be deadly.
What Is Ativan (Lorazepam)?
Ativan (lorazepam) belongs to a class of medications known as benzodiazepines — commonly called “benzos.” Ativan, along with other benzodiazepines, increases the activity of a chemical in the brain known as gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA). As a result, it can decrease anxiety. However, Ativan is also a Schedule IV controlled substance due to its misuse potential.
Lorazepam and Alcohol Interactions
Ativan (lorazepam) and alcohol are central nervous system depressants. This means both drugs can make you feel calmer and have additive effects when combined. However, central nervous system depressants can also slow down breathing and heart rate, which can be dangerous.
Can You Drink Alcohol on Ativan?
Drinking alcohol while taking Ativan can be dangerous. 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.
How Long After Taking Ativan Can You Drink?
The half-life — or time it takes for roughly one-half of a substance to be cleared from the body — of Ativan is about 14 hours. Drugs are considered “cleared” after about four to five half-lives; thus, it is best to wait about three days after taking Ativan to drink alcohol. However, everyone’s body is different — so check with your doctor or pharmacist about your specific situation.
How Long After Drinking Can You Take Lorazepam?
Many different factors influence how quickly it takes a person to clear alcohol from their body, such as their size/weight, body fat and the speed at which they drank. On average, a person clears alcohol from their body at around one drink per hour. However, given the many personal differences with alcohol clearance, it’s best to avoid drinking on medications like lorazepam and check with your doctor or pharmacist.
Dangers of Mixing Ativan and Alcohol
Mixing Ativan and alcohol can be dangerous since they both depress — or “slow”— the central nervous system. In one national study, half of drug-related emergency department visits involved benzodiazepines like Ativan and 1 in 5 involved drugs combined with alcohol.
Blackouts — or when you forget events that happened while intoxicated — typically happen when alcohol levels are high and rise quickly. However, since drugs like Ativan work similarly to alcohol, blackouts can happen at a much lower alcohol concentration when combined. In one review, blackouts have been associated with depression and future alcohol-related injuries.
Increased Risk of Injury
Alcohol intoxication is associated with injury and is present in up to half of people admitted to the hospital with serious injuries. This risk can dramatically increase when combining alcohol with drugs such as Ativan. In one study, consuming alcohol alone was associated with a 29-fold increase in the risk of a car accident; this risk increased to over 100-fold when alcohol was combined with other drugs.
Slowed Breathing and Heart Rate
Central nervous system depressants slow down breathing and heart rate. Taken on its own, Ativan has a relatively low rate of slowed breathing and heart rate; however, this can dramatically increase when combined with alcohol. In severe cases, this can be deadly.
Combining alcohol with Ativan can increase the likelihood of an overdose. When Ativan is taken with alcohol, it dramatically increases the chance of slowed breathing and heart rate. In fact, alcohol was involved in 16% of deaths in the U.S. related to benzodiazepines such as Ativan between 2000 and 2019.
Help for Ativan and Alcohol Addiction
If you or a loved one is struggling with a substance use disorder, we can help. The Recovery Village Atlanta offers medical detox and several rehab programs, including residential rehab, partial hospitalization and intensive outpatient programs. We believe in a patient-centered approach to recovery with personalized treatment plans.
Our team is led by highly experienced, board-certified addiction medicine physicians who are ready to assist in your recovery journey. Our facility includes sports and recreational amenities to help you recover and develop healthy habits for long-term success. We also believe it is important to address the root causes of addiction and offer treatment specializing in co-occurring mental health and substance use disorders (dual diagnosis). Contact a Recovery Advocate today to find out how The Recovery Village Atlanta can help you with your substance use disorder.
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