What is Ativan?

Pronounced as /ˈat-i-ˌvan/

Ativan is a brand name for an anti-anxiety substance with a generic name lorazepam. This medicinal substance is under the class of benzodiazepines. This group of drugs targets a specific receptor in the brain to produce more GABA neurochemicals which relax the brain and body.

The effectivity of this prescription drug for long-term medication, approximately 4 months, has not yet been evaluated by other clinical studies. It is highly recommended that patients under this medication must be monitored at specific time intervals to assess the effect of the drug.

What does Ativan look like?

This drug is a fine white powder which is slightly water insoluble. It’s sold in the market in tablet form in varying strength: 0.5 mg, 1 mg, and 2 mg. The inactive components of this drug include lactose monohydrate, magnesium stearate, microcrystalline cellulose, and polacrilin potassium.

Here is a summary chart for the physical form of the tablet.

StrengthColorShapeImprint
0.5 mgWhite5-sidedA, BPI 63
1 mgWhite5-sidedA, BPI 64
1 mgWhite5-sidedA, 64 WYETH
2 mgWhite5-sidedA, BPI 65

What are the other names of Ativan?

This drug has a brand name “Ativan” while its generic name is “lorazepam”. It was approved by the FDA in March 1999.

What are the street names?

The drug is known in the streets by different names, depending on the area or what it is mixed with.

Here are some street names:

  • Benzos
  • Blue V
  • Candy
  • Downers
  • Sleeping pills
  • Sleepers
  • Tranks

What is Ativan used for?

This prescription drug has been used for both medical and recreational applications

The medical applications of this drug include:

  • It is used to give a short-term treatment for the symptoms of anxiety disorders.
  • It is also used to give a short relief from panic attacks.
  • Short-term and long-term medication of insomnia
  • Combined with other prescription drugs to prevent some mild side-effects of chemotherapy, specifically nausea and vomiting
  • This prescription drug is used for curing seizures.

For recreational purposes, this medication is paired with other substances such as alcohol, barbiturates, heroin, cocaine, sedatives, antidepressants, and other CNS depressants to magnify its effect.

How does Ativan work?

This prescription drug works on the central nervous system, particularly on the GABA receptor site. Among other drugs under the benzodiazepine class, this drug has the shortest half-life in the blood, so there’ll be less chance of concentration build-up which could lead to toxic effects. Likewise, this medication is more stable and has fewer interactions with other substances.

How strong is Ativan?

Despite the fact that this prescription drug has less addictive potential compared to Schedule III controlled substances, still, it poses serious side-effects. To get the right medicinal effect from this prescription drug, one has to get a customized prescription from a doctor or physician. The general dose for anxiety medication is 2 to 6 mg of this drug orally taken every 8 to 12 hours. For patients with insomnia, the dose is 2 to 4 mg before sleeping.

This drug is the least reactive among other substances under the benzodiazepine class. However, when this is taken together with loxapine (Loxitane) it gives extreme sedative effects. Likewise, this drug has also shown great potential for fetal damage and not suitable for nursing mothers as this can be detected in breast milk. In general, this drug and other substances under the same class, are only prescribed for 2 to 4 weeks of medication to prevent any dependence and high withdrawal symptoms.

How long does Ativan stay in your system, blood, urine, saliva, hair?

The average half-life of this drug is 12 hours which means after your last intake, it will stay in your system for approximately 2.75 days until fully flushed out. Further, lorazepam glucuronide, the active agent of the drug, has a half-life of 18 hours. If you are to undergo a drug test, you may be wondering how long this drug stays in your system.

  • Blood test: 6 hours after ingestion and lasts up to 3 days after
  • Urine test: up to 6 days
  • Saliva test: up to 8 hours
  • Hair test: up to 4 weeks

How does one get addicted to Ativan?

Addiction to this prescription drug occurs when one intakes more than what is prescribed by the medical personnel in order to get rapid results. Likewise, medicating with this drug for more than 2 to 4 weeks without a medical prescription can lead to a higher chance of drug dependence. People who have a history of alcoholism and substance abuse have a higher chance of developing addiction with this prescription drug.

How does Ativan use affect the brain and the body?

The main function of this prescription drug is the relaxation of the brain and body. The drug targets the GABA receptor sites in the brain and stimulates the secretion of the GABA neurotransmitter which slows down the nerve activities inside the brain. A slow down in the brain’s neural activity also induces relaxation on all parts of the body.

What are the short and long-term effects of Ativan?

Aside from relaxing the brain and body of the patient, there are other short-term and long-term effects associated with the use of this drug.

Short-term effects:

  • Relaxant effect
  • A feeling of lightheadedness
  • Muscle weakness
  • Disorientation
  • Loss of appetite

Long-term effects:

  • Suicidal behavior
  • Ataxia or low coordination and unsteadiness of the body
  • Asthenia or low body strength
  • Vertigo
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Jaundice
  • Dysarthria or difficulty in speaking
  • Hypersensitivity to light and noise

Why is Ativan dangerous?

This prescription drug is dangerous for two reasons: (1) higher detrimental effects along with higher doses and (2) interactions with other substances.

When this substance is abused at higher doses, some of its severe adverse effects include dementia, suicidal behavior, coma, respiratory depression, thrombocytopenia or low platelet count, and agranulocytosis or decrease of granulocytes white blood cells.

Aside from that, the brain relaxant effect of this drug is magnified when combined with other neural depressants such as alcohol, antipsychotics, barbiturates, sedatives, narcotics, analgesics, antihistamines, anticonvulsants and anesthetics. Moreover, this drug causes fetal damage for pregnant women and is not suitable for nursing mothers.

What causes Ativan overdose?

Overdose with this prescription medicine occurs when one intakes more than what is prescribed or above the general dose of 2 to 10 mg a day. Likewise, excessive intakes in order to get quick results or for recreational purposes causes an overdose of this substance.

What are the signs of an overdose?

Here are some of the common signs and symptoms for the overdose with this medication drug.

  • Confusion
  • Slow reflexes
  • Disorientation
  • Experiencing deep sleep
  • Sudden unconsciousness
  • Uncontrolled muscle contractions
  • Involuntary eye movements
  • Bleary eyesight

How do you treat Ativan overdose?

The severity of the impact for the overdose of this medication depends on the patient’s present health condition, the presence of other abused substances, and the duration of overdose. Below are some of the treatments you can apply to alleviate overdose.

  • Dialysis
  • Washing out of the stomach
  • Administer intravenous fluids and monitor vital signs
  • Let the patient ingest activated charcoal to absorb some of the substances inside the body.
  • The patient can take flumazenil or romazicon to counteract the effect of the prescription drug.

What are the withdrawal symptoms from Ativan?

A person who overdoses with this prescription drug for more than 2 to 4 weeks becomes dependent on the substance. Sudden cessation from taking this drug, experiences the following withdrawal symptoms:

  • Irregular sleeping patterns
  • Irritability
  • Increased anxiety level
  • Panic attacks
  • uncontrolled sweating
  • inability to focus
  • frequent headaches
  • muscle spasms
  • insomnia
  • Unstable mood swings

How can you treat Ativan addiction?

Abuse of this drug is treatable. Treatment must be done step-by-step for complete recovery. You can consider the following steps for your treatment process:

  • Consult your medical personnel or clinician for a comprehensive guideline in order to recover from drug dependence.
  • Below are some of the drug medications to treat substance addiction:
    o Klonopin (Clonazepam): Minimize symptoms for short-acting substances. It is used to cure seizures, panic attacks, and anxiety. Intake should be controlled.
    o Phenobarbital: This drug is under the class known as “barbiturates”. It is used to minimize seizures and anxiety.
    o Buspirone (Buspar): It is an anxiolytic drug for it stimulates the production of serotonin in the brain.
    o Tegretol (Carbamazepine): This calms the brain and reduces anxiety.
    o Tofranil (Imipramine): This drug is under the tricyclic antidepressant group. It is used to cure depression and anxiety as a result of the addiction.
  • Reward System: A contingency management plan where sets of rewards will be given to the patients who avoid using this substance.
  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT): A treatment process seeking to determine the variables causing drug abuse, risk reduction methods, and enhancing coping mechanisms.
  • Recovery Group: A community-based plan which allows the patient to meet other victims and have a sharing about their experiences and success.