Tag Archives: alcohol abuse

Ativan and Alcohol

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:

  • Anxiety
  • Nervous tension
  • Psychological issues
  • Insomnia
  • Epilepsy

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:

  • Dizziness
  • Muscle weakness
  • Headache
  • Blurred vision
  • Insomnia
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Skin rash
ativan and alcohol

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. 

ativan and alcohol

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
  • Over-sedation
  • Drowsiness
  • Loss of coordination/motor skills
  • Slurred speech
  • Memory loss
  • Confusion
  • Weakness
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Muscle weakness
  • Unresponsiveness

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
ativan and alcohol

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.

ativan and alcohol

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.

Melatonin and Alcohol

Melatonin is a naturally occurring hormone in humans. However, it is increasing in popularity as a supplement as a sleeping aid. When taken in its correct dose, melatonin is very effective. But what if you have been drinking and want to take melatonin? What are the risks? These are important questions to consider when taking any drug or combining drugs. Melatonin and alcohol are both common substances. While the combination is not deadly, there are potential risks to consider. It is important to consider this with any substances.

What is Melatonin?

Melatonin is a hormone responsible for regulating the sleep-wake cycles our bodies naturally develop. Melatonin releases during the night or evening as the light around us decreases. Long before the abundance of technology, there was no exposure to artificial light such as that produced by our cellphones and laptops. Historically, the setting sunlight and onset darkness were the only things to help the release of melatonin. Light stimulates the suprachiasmatic nucleus (SCN) which resides in the hypothalamus part of the brain. With light exosure, the SCN sends signals to the brain to release certain hormones such as cortisol, increase body temperature and prevent the release of melatonin. However, without light, the SCN essentially allows for the release of melatonin. 

Most of us know the news reports and medical journals advising us to avoid cell phone use before bed. It is because that artificial ‘blue’ light keeps the SCN active. This is preventing the release of melatonin and making sleep more difficult to achieve. Melatonin is also a very powerful antioxidant and is known to regulate fat cells in the body.

melatonin and alcohol

Melatonin is an over-the-counter drug found in most vitamin aisles in stores. There is no need for a prescription. It is usually sold in its pill form, although liquid melatonin is available.

Melatonin Abuse and Addiction

Most people use melatonin to help them fall asleep and there are no well known cases of melatonin abuse. Some individuals experience a decrease in natural melatonin production as they get older. Thus, they take melatonin pills to supplement what their body is already producing. In addition, the supplement is seen as a helpful aid in dealing with jet lag. Generally, melatonin supplements are considered to be safe for short and long term use. Currently, there is little risk of developing an addiction.

melatonin and alcohol

There are no well documented cases of melatonin abuse or addiction. There is no risk of developing a dangerous tolerance as there is with other substances. Subsequently, if you take the same dose everyday you feel essentially the same effects. Although, some feel it is less effective after long-term use. Still, anyone with a family history of addiction, or for themselves, should discuss with a doctor.

How Much Melatonin is Too Much?

While melatonin is a naturally occurring chemical, it is important to take the correct amount. Too little is not enough to help you fall asleep. Further, with too much there are potentially negative effects. It is also possible too much interferes with your sleep cycle. Melatonin does not work the same for everyone. If you are looking for ways to sleep, consider speaking with a medical professional to find solutions.

melatonin and alcohol

Can You Overdose on Melatonin?

While it is important find balance with anything, there are no known cases of melatonin overdose. It is possible that taking too much causes unwanted side-effects such as extreme drowsiness and can cause very vivid dreams. In some cases, taking excessive dosages have been reported to little effect and rather made it more difficult to fall asleep.

Other effects of melatonin include:

  • Headaches
  • Nausea
  • Dizziness
  • Tremors
  • Irritability
  • Low-blood Pressure
  • Tiredness the following day

Mixing Melatonin and Alcohol

Alcohol is a central nervous system depressant. It has sedative effects on the body after just a few drinks. Even though alcohol seems to do essentially the same job as melatonin, mixing the two substances is never recommended. For some, alcohol helps with sleeping. However, it also promotes the release of stress hormones in the body that causes restlessness during sleep. Also, some studies show that alcohol inhibits the natural release of melatonin in the body. It potentially therefore interferes with any supplementation of the hormone. If you need to take melatonin, it is recommended that you wait around 2-3 hours after your last drink to consume melatonin. It is best not to combine another sedative with alcohol, a substance with potentially deadly sedative effects.

The Bottom Line

Melatonin is a rather harmless but useful supplement. Many people rely on it to have a good night’s rest. Some also rely on alcohol to achieve the same effects. Some refer to this as a ‘nightcap’. However, they frequently find that their sleep is more restless. Mixing the two substances is not likely to have deadly consequences as seen when mixing other drugs with alcohol. However, there are still potential negative side effects. Both are sedatives which is where some of the danger is.

Generally, mixing various substance with alcohol is a bad idea. Alcohol is the most abused drug in the world. Yet, the common usage makes it difficult to recognize when it is abuse or addiction. Few also recognize the dangers of alcohol. Further, its interactions with other drugs are potentially deadly. It is always best to discuss interactions of any substances with a medical professional if possible. Someone dealing with alcohol abuse or addiction is at risk. They likely do not realize the danger though of mixing something like melatonin with alcohol. If you or a loved one struggles with alcohol abuse, please contact us today.

Resources:

Suprachiasmatic nucleus and melatonin – Neurology
Blue light has a dark side – Harvard Health Publishing
Significance and application of melatonin – NIH
Alcohol and Fatigue – Harvard Health Publishing
Alcohol and Sleep: What you need to know – Psychology Today