How Long Does Ativan Stay in Your System?
Ativan is the brand name for lorazepam, a type of benzodiazepine drug. Lorazepam is predominantly used for anesthesia or to treat mental health conditions like anxiety. However, it is also used in treating seizures and withdrawal symptoms from alcohol or other prescription drugs.
Make sure to adhere to the prescription when taking Ativan. If you are struggling with addictive urges, look into professional mental health treatment options.
What are Benzodiazepines?
Benzodiazepines are a type of prescription drug developed to replace barbiturates. Barbiturates were previously used to treat anxiety and seizures, but are now discontinued due to their addictive nature. Benzodiazepines were introduced as a less addictive alternative to barbiturates, hoping they would have less potential for abuse.
According to the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA), benzodiazepines are listed as having a moderate potential to be addictive. Physical dependence on the drug may occur if used consistently. Benzodiazepines should not be a long-term solution to anxiety or withdrawal symptoms. The drug should be taken while learning healthy coping mechanisms.
Long-term use of Ativan or other benzodiazepines may lead to serious health complications such as impaired cognitive functions. Side effects include memory loss and dementia in older adults. When paired with other depressants such as alcohol, the results of benzodiazepines can be fatal. If you have more questions about alcohol, please reach out to our alcohol rehab in Kokomo, Indiana.
What are Benzodiazepines Used For?
Benzodiazepines are a class of drugs that slow down activity in the central nervous system. They are mainly used to treat anxiety and other conditions that cause excitability and restlessness in the brain. Because of their addictive nature and potential to be abused, benzodiazepines are only available by prescription.
Benzodiazepines send messages to your brain to release a neurotransmitter called gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA). This neurotransmitter makes your nervous system less active. Benzodiazepines are used to reduce the amount of excitability in your brain by having a sedating effect. Uses for benzodiazepines include
- Anxiolytic- treating anxiety and panic disorders
- Amnestic- general anesthesia before surgeries and other procedures
- Hypnotic- sleep disorders including insomnia
- Sedative- treating conditions such as muscle spasms and seizures
Benzodiazepines are commonly prescribed and are generally safe to use. However, they should not be used as a long-term solution. If used consistently, users may develop an addiction to the drug. If you have more questions, please reach out to our center for anxiety counseling in Indiana.
Why is Ativan Prescribed?
Ativan is a drug used to alleviate symptoms of mental health conditions like anxiety. The active drug in Ativan, lorazepam, acts on the central nervous system and has a tranquilizing effect on the brain. When taken appropriately, Ativan can relieve symptoms of anxiety, including
- Panic attacks
In addition to treating symptoms of anxiety, Ativan is also used to treat seizures, withdrawal, spasms, and insomnia. However, Ativan can cause unwanted side effects, especially when it is misused or paired with a co-occurring substance use disorder, highlighting the importance of dual diagnosis treatment in such cases.
Ativan Effects on the Body
Ativan affects the central nervous system by slowing down the activity of the brain and nerves. As a result, physical functions and responses are relaxed as well. This can help prevent seizures and spasms if used correctly. Ativan is usually effective and safe when used responsibly, but all users must be wary of potentially harmful side effects such as
- Loss of balance
- Decreased energy levels
- Weight loss
- Tremors or shaking
- Blurred vision
- Skin color fluctuation
- Bloody stool
- Stomach pain
Because Ativan impairs motor functions, it can cause an increased risk of traffic accidents. The symptoms of benzodiazepines can resemble alcohol intoxication, making it extremely dangerous for users to drive while under the influence of the drug. Do not attempt to operate a vehicle while under the influence of Ativan or other intoxicating substances.
Ativan Effects on the Mind
Ativan is used to alleviate the symptoms of anxiety, but many users experience “rebound” side effects. Rebound side effects occur when the symptoms you are treating become from using Ativan. The side effects of Ativan on the mind include
- Rebound anxiety
- Loss of interest in pleasurable activities
- Memory problems
- Difficulty processing or retaining information
The active drug in Ativan, lorazepam, is designed to ease anxious thoughts and feelings. It reduces the excitability of the brain and nerves and soothes emotional responses that create anxiety. However, Ativan can numb emotional responses and cause users to enter a depressive state. They may lose interest in things that they had previously enjoyed and isolate themselves.
Ativan users may seem sluggish, drowsy, or dazed while under the influence. If you or a loved one is taking Ativan, be cautious of the side effects of the drug, including the possibility of depressive symptoms. In such cases, seeking appropriate depression treatment is advisable.
Ativan Effect Timeline
Ativan is absorbed slowly when taken by mouth. The effects of the drug are onset between 15-30 minutes. Typically, the peak effect of Ativan will occur around 2 hours after use. If you are wondering, “How long does Ativan stay in your system?”, you may come up with different answers. Depending on the user, the half-life and elimination of the drug varies.
Ativan Half-Life and Elimination
The half-life of Ativan is stated to be around 12 hours. The half-life of a substance is the length of time it takes for the body to metabolize a drug to half its original toxicity level. For most individuals, a better estimate of the half-life for Ativan is 10 to 20 hours.
For the prescribed dose of Ativan, it takes about 5 to 6 half-lives to fully eliminate the drug from the system. For heavy drug misusers who consume high levels of the drug, it may take longer for the drug to be fully eliminated.
Research shows that Ativan is processed and metabolized in the liver and then excreted through the kidneys in the form of urine. The majority of the drug is eliminated within 5 days but it can take more than a week to fully eliminate it.
How Long Does Ativan Stay in Your System?
Most traditional drug tests do not screen for benzodiazepines. However, there is an estimated window for how long Ativan can be detected on a drug test. So how long does Ativan stay in your system? Lorazepam may show up on a drug test for up to 6 days after use. For heavy misusers, urine tests may show the drug in your system after a week or longer.
Blood tests may show lorazepam up to 3 days after use and hair tests can detect the drug up to 30 days after use. However, blood tests are usually considered too invasive to use as a test, and hair tests are too expensive.
Factors That Determine How Long Ativan Stays in Your System
The detection time for any drug, including Ativan, depends on certain factors of each individual. Factors that influence drug detection include
- Differences in kidney function, metabolism, and health may influence how any drug is processed and removed from the system. Those who have impaired kidney functions or health complications will have difficulty metabolizing and eliminating the drug from their body.
- Older adults who are at higher risk of having health complications such as kidney damage may process and remove drugs more slowly than others.
- Research shows that body weight may play a role in metabolization and elimination. Heavier individuals are shown to eliminate the drug faster than lighter individuals.
- Eating disorders are also proven to slow down the elimination time of Ativan. Maintaining a healthy diet can help remove the drug from your body more quickly.
- Those who heavily use Ativan will eliminate the drug at a slower pace than those who have not developed a high tolerance. Ativan also stays in the system of frequent users for a longer period.
- Combining Ativan with other depressants can slow down the elimination time and cause serious health problems. Drinking alcohol while taking Ativan can cause the liver to be overworked. Pairing Ativan with other benzos and stimulants can also slow down the metabolization process.
- Eliminating Ativan through urine can slightly affect how fast the drug is eliminated from the body. Those who are hydrated may increase the speed at which lorazepam is eliminated.
When prescribed Ativan, make sure to adhere to the prescription provided by your doctor. Consuming larger amounts of this drug can lead to serious health problems. In addition, avoid using other intoxicating substances such as alcohol while on Ativan.
Receive Treatment for Prescription Drug Addiction at First Recovery Center in Indiana
The first step in recovery is accepting that you have a problem. There is hope for you and anyone else looking to achieve sobriety. Here at First Recovery Center, we want to help you overcome prescription drug addiction and take control of your life once again.
The effects of mental health conditions such as anxiety can feel overwhelming and may require medication. If you do not adhere to the prescription, it can be easy to develop a physical dependence on the drug. Addiction is a disease that can affect anyone at any point in their life. Do not feel ashamed or embarrassed about seeking treatment for your condition.
If you or a loved one is interested in our prescription drug addiction treatment program, contact us today!
Dr. Vahid Osman, MD is a psychiatry specialist in Indianapolis, IN.
Dr. Osman completed a residency at Austin State Hospital. He has over 32 years of experience in Psychiatry & Behavioral Health. He is board certified by the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology.