Mixing Ativan (Lorazepam) & Alcohol | Effects & Dangers
Lorazepam (brand name Ativan) is a benzodiazepine that can treat anxiety disorders and depressive symptoms. Along with diazepam (Valium), alprazolam (Xanax), and clonazepam (Klonopin), millions of these benzodiazepines are given out as prescription drugs each year.
Healthcare providers may be taught to warn patients against any alcohol use while on a benzodiazepine prescription. Some patients may not be able to quit alcohol due to long-term alcohol addiction, or they may simply be unaware of the danger.
Effects Of Mixing Lorazepam & Alcohol
Benzodiazepines and alcohol are both central nervous system depressants. Common side effects of benzodiazepines include sedation and drowsiness, while common side effects of alcohol include impairment and mood changes.
Drinking alcohol and taking benzodiazepines can cause side effects from both substances, including:
- dry mouth
- loss of coordination
- lowered inhibitions
Benzodiazepines like lorazepam can also reduce the body’s tolerance to alcohol. You may feel stronger effects of alcohol even if you drink the same amount of alcohol. This can lead to more intense intoxication, but also more dangerous side effects.
Dangers Of Mixing Alcohol & Lorazepam
One study showed that people who abused alcohol were more likely to take benzos than those who did not abuse alcohol. Long-term alcohol abuse can be dangerous on its own, but it can be even more dangerous when combined with benzodiazepines.
Benzodiazepine use can lower your body’s alcohol tolerance. If you drink a high amount of alcohol regularly, your body may be able to handle large amounts without feeling too intoxicated. Benzodiazepines can affect this tolerance without you knowing.
If your tolerance is lowered, you may be at a higher risk for alcohol poisoning. Alcohol poisoning happens when you drink too much alcohol in one sitting, and your body starts to shut down.
Symptoms of alcohol poisoning include slurred speech, loss of consciousness, blackouts, vomiting, seizure, slowed heart rate, and other serious effects.
Benzodiazepines like lorazepam are not likely to cause overdoses on their own. Polysubstance use of benzodiazepines and other substances is more likely to cause overdoses.
Substances that are likely to cause overdoses along with benzodiazepines include alcohol and benzodiazepine receptor agonists, or BZRAs. In 2010, about 34 percent of emergency room visits due to benzodiazepine use also involved alcohol.
Patients may have experienced adverse effects from both alcohol and benzodiazepines, including sedation, low blood pressure, difficulty breathing, and severe sleepiness. These statistics may also suggest high-risk benzodiazepine and alcohol abuse is likely to happen together.
Treatment Options For Alcohol & Benzodiazepine Abuse
Mixing lorazepam and alcohol is not a safe form of substance use. Not taking lorazepam as directed can put your health at greater risk. Mixing lorazepam with alcohol can also hurt your long-term health.
If you know the risks but still cannot stop taking lorazepam or alcohol, you may be struggling with drug or alcohol addiction. Severe alcohol and drug addiction treatment can include an inpatient stay at a rehab center and intensive counseling.
To find a treatment program that can help you or your loved one, please contact our helpline today.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention - Alcohol Involvement in Opioid Pain Reliever and Benzodiazepine Drug Abuse–Related Emergency Department Visits and Drug-Related Deaths
Food and Drug Administration (FDA) - Ativan Label
National Institute on Drug Abuse - Prescription CNS Depressants DrugFacts
National Library of Medicine: PubMed Central - Benzodiazepine Toxicity - StatPearls - NCBI Bookshelf
National Library of Medicine: PubMed Central - Emergency department visits involving benzodiazepines and non-benzodiazepine receptor agonists
Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration - The DAWN Report: Benzodiazepines in Combination with Opioid Pain Relievers or Alcohol: Greater Risk of More Serious ED Visit Outcomes
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