Mixing alcohol with most drugs is likely to nearly always have a negative effect on the body. Many people are hoping to heighten the “positive” effects each drug. However, they do not realize that this also significantly heightens the negative and dangerous effects. Of course, there are ways to prevent the accidental mixing of drugs. However, it is the intentional mixing of two drugs which becomes a serious cause for concern. With the increase in anxiety disorders in the US, there is a correlating increase in the amount of drugs prescribed to treat such ailments. Ativan and Xanax are both drugs with a large number of prescriptions to patients who deal with issues such as anxiety. Further, some people use alcohol as a means to deal with anxiety. Ativan and alcohol are a common and dangerous combination.
What is Ativan?
Ativan is a benzodiazepine with use as a sedative, muscle relaxant or tranquilizer. It is also the brand name for the drug lorazepam. It is in the class of psychoactive drugs. Further, it is one of the most abused pharmaceutical drugs in the US. Other benzodiazepines (or ‘benzos’) include Xanax and Valium. Ativan may be prescribed to treat patients who suffer from:
- Nervous tension
- Psychological issues
Ativan users develop a tolerance over time. A tolerance is the body’s way of getting used to a drug. Overtime, a user will need to continually up their dosage in order to feel the same effects. Thus, because Ativan is such a potent drug, it is rarely prescribed for periods over 4 months.
Ativan, like most other benzos, works by blocking the gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) neurotransmitter to essentially slow down overactive mental processes. It is commonly sold in a tablet/pill form and takes around 45 minutes to start feeling the effects. Xanax operates much in the same way as Ativan, but Xanax is more popular in mainstream culture and on the streets. Given that Ativan is a depressant, the side effects will include drowsiness and tiredness. Some other side effects include:
- Muscle weakness
- Blurred vision
- Skin rash
Ativan Abuse and Addiction
Ativan is considered to be a Schedule IV Controlled Substance by the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA). According to the DEA, a Schedule IV substance is one which has “a low potential for abuse relative to substance in Schedule III.” DEA definitions are based on a relative scale where the drugs are essentially compared in their potential for abuse. While the definition for Schedule IV includes “low potential for abuse”, it is important to realize that it is in comparison to much more potent and dangerous drugs such as Ketamine or Codeine. So make no mistake, Ativan is still very dangerous. So, is Ativan addictive? Absolutely, because not only does Ativan create a physical dependence but it also creates a psychological one. Users who abuse Ativan will likely see the negative consequences in their life but will still continue to abuse the drug.
According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, benzo related overdoses have risen from 1,135 in 1999 to 11,537 in 2017- that is a 916% increase. As a central nervous system depressant, Ativan will slow and suppress the activity of crucial organs such as the lungs. In some cases, taking too much Ativan can completely stop your breathing.
Knowing the signs of an overdose can save your life or the life of someone else:
- Pale, cool, bluish skin or lips
- Very shallow, slow breathing
- Loss of coordination/motor skills
- Slurred speech
- Memory loss
- Loss of consciousness
- Muscle weakness
Any overdose is a serious medical emergency and requires immediate attention.
How Long Does Ativan Stay In Your System?
The half-life of Ativan is around 12 hours. A chemical half-life is the determination of how long it takes for the chemical to reduce to half of its initial ingested amount. 10mg of Ativan will take 12 hours to effectively become 5mg in the body. However, an active metabolite of Ativan, glucuronide has a half life of 18 hours. It takes around 5 days for 95% of the lorazepam to leave your body. While the drug may have left your body, traces of it and its metabolites may remain longer in the body and can be detected with various tests.
Ativan can be detected in your system by:
- Urine- up to 6-9 days after ingestion
- Blood- up to 3 days
- Saliva- around 8 hours
- Hair follicle- up to 4 weeks
While these figures can provide a good estimation of the effectiveness of drug tests, there are several other factors which must be considered when determining how long Ativan stays in your system.
- Body composition- your build/composition will play a big factor in how long traces can be detected. Everything from your height and weight, genetics, metabolic rate, age and body fat percentage.
- Frequency of use- your history with Ativan (essentially any benzodiazepine) will determine how well your body processes it. As previously mentioned, Ativan users will develop a tolerance which will then increase how long it takes for your body to process the drug.
Mixing Ativan and Alcohol
Ativan and Alcohol are both central nervous system depressants. They both release GABA which decreases and slows bodily and nerve function. The effects of both drugs are quite similar. The biggest risk of mixing the drugs is the possibility of an overdose. Slowing down bodily function will lead to a drop in blood pressure and slowed breathing. In some cases, breathing can completely stop leading to a blackout and overdose. Taking the drugs together may also lead to engaging in dangerous behavior such as driving or taking other serious risks.
How To Get Help
Dealing with alcohol or benzodiazepine addiction can be difficult. It can impact all aspects of your life and usually requires the help of trained professionals to help you along your journey to recovery. It is important to find treatment that addresses addiction issues as well as mental health. If you or a loved one needs help, please contact us today.