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Snorting Ativan (Lorazepam) | Dangers & Health Effects

Published on December 22, 2020
crushed pills Ativan Dangers Of Snorting Ativan

Ativan is the brand name for lorazepam, a benzodiazepine (benzo) and central nervous system (CNS) depressant. It is most often used to treat anxiety disorders and seizure disorders but can also be used to treat alcohol withdrawal. 

Benzos are intended for short-term treatment because of their potential for abuse and addiction. Despite this risk, many people abuse lorazepam by snorting to intensify its effects. Snorting can lead to several adverse health effects, including nasal damage, infection, addiction, and overdose. 

Snorting Ativan

Abuse of benzodiazepines has become a widespread concern in the United States, especially in combination with opioids. Even if you are prescribed lorazepam, you are abusing it if you take it in a manner that is not recommended.

Lorazepam abuse includes:

  • snorting 
  • taking a higher dose
  • combining it with other drugs to intensify the effects

Individuals snort the tablet form of lorazepam by crushing it into a powder and inhaling into the nasal passages. Snorting sends lorazepam directly into the bloodstream, resulting in rapid and intense effects. 

Effects Of Snorting Ativan

As a benzo, lorazepam slows down the CNS by increasing the effect of the neurotransmitter gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) in the brain. Increasing GABA reduces anxiety and muscle tension. In high doses or when abused by snorting, it can also cause feelings of euphoria. 

When you snort lorazepam, you increase the intensity of the following side effects:

  • drowsiness 
  • weakness
  • dizziness
  • unsteadiness
  • dry mouth
  • nausea
  • respiratory depression

Along with these side effects, you may experience other adverse effects as a result of snorting the drug. 

Health Risks Of Snorting Ativan

Lorazepam is meant to be taken orally and inhaling the tablets can cause damage to your respiratory system. 

Serious health risks from long-term snorting may include:

  • nosebleeds
  • holes in septum (cartilage in the nasal cavity) or palate (roof of the mouth) 
  • nasal inflammation
  • chronic sinus infections 
  • congestion
  • lung Infections

Viral Infections

There is a common misconception that snorting is less dangerous than intravenous (IV) drug use. However, straws and other instruments used to snort lorazepam may be contaminated with blood. 

This can contribute to the spread of viral infections, such as HIV and hepatitis C. 


Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) affects your body’s immune system, making it more difficult to fight infections. 

Hepatitis C

Hepatitis C is a viral infection that attacks the liver, causing fatigue, nausea, and jaundice (yellowing of the eyes and skin). Many people don’t have symptoms until there is severe liver damage.

Drug Interactions

Individuals who abuse other CNS depressants are at a higher risk for abusing lorazepam. Combining lorazepam with other depressant drugs can contribute to severe respiratory depression, leading to a life-threatening overdose. 

Substances that should never be combined with lorazepam include:

  • alcohol
  • opioids (such as Oxycontin or heroin)
  • hypnotic sleep-aids (such as Ambien)
  • barbiturates (such as Seconal)

Ativan Overdose

Lorazepam is meant to be taken in small doses for a short period of time. Using it long-term can result in drug tolerance, meaning your body needs higher doses to achieve the desired effect. 

Taking high doses of lorazepam could lead to a potentially life-threatening overdose. 

Signs of lorazepam overdose include:

  • respiratory depression (shallow breathing)
  • excessive drowsiness
  • coma
  • mental confusion
  • impaired coordination
  • muscle weakness

If you notice any of these warning signs in your or a loved one, seek medical attention immediately.

Learn more about Ativan Overdose

Ativan Addiction

Long-term substance abuse increases the risk of becoming addicted. Addiction is a serious and chronic disease that is characterized by compulsive drug use. 

Signs of lorazepam addiction include:

  • compulsive snorting of lorazepam, possibly in combination with other drugs
  • inability to stop using on your own, despite many efforts
  • difficulty controlling how much lorazepam you take
  • continued use of lorazepam, even if there are adverse consequences 

Ativan Addiction Treatment Options

Lorazepam addiction can have serious adverse effects on your health, relationships, and quality of life. Addiction treatment programs can help you learn to manage life without drugs and alcohol. 

Addiction treatment programs include:

Medical Detox

Detoxes are short-term inpatient programs that provide continuous medical care. You will receive support and medication, if necessary, to help you cope with withdrawal symptoms. 

Outpatient Program

Outpatient programs will create a tailored program that fits your schedule and needs. You have the benefit of traveling from home but this option is best for those with a stable foundation in recovery. 

Residential Program

You can choose to live on campus in a residential program where you will stay for long-term inpatient treatment. Staff will provide you with tools, such as behavioral therapy and healthy activities, to help you safely develop coping mechanisms for recovery.

For more information about addiction treatment, please contact Ark Behavioral Health today.

Written by Ark Behavioral Health Editorial Team
This page does not provide medical advice.
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