Is Ativan dangerous when combined with alcohol?
Ativan is a benzodiazepine with many uses. Lorazepam is the generic name for Ativan. It is believed to work by acting on a receptor in the brain known as the GABA receptor. The most common use is as an anti-anxiety treatment. Ativan use often goes hand-in-hand with alcohol abuse. This is because many people who drink too much are self-treating an anxiety disorder. If you have taken Ativan for a long time, stopping it suddenly can lead to significant withdrawal symptoms. You should not drink alcohol during the time that you are taking Ativan.
The dangers of mixing Ativan with alcohol and drugs.
Ativan, or lorazepam, is a central nervous system depressant. This means that it reduces and slows down activity in the brain. This central nervous system calming effect can be a good thing for someone who has severe anxiety, slowing the heart rate, lowering blood pressure, and generally reducing anxiety. Or, for someone who is at risk of having a seizure, Ativan can lower that risk. However, multiple CNS depressant drugs combined to create a serious risk for slowing down and stopping a person’s breathing. Additionally, the risk of serious accidents goes up dramatically. Other CNS depressing drugs, such as alcohol or opioid medications, combined with Ativan, can be deadly, leading to Ativan overdose.
What are the side effects associated with Ativan abuse?
If you take too much Ativan, you are at risk for serious side effects. These include poor balance and difficulty walking. Also, you will have trouble performing basic tasks due to overall slowed and diminished reflexes. Your memory will be affected by excess Ativan. In fact, you may experience blackouts. If you have a blackout, you may become aware at some point that you do not remember where you have been or what you were doing for a period of hours or even days. During a blackout, you may have appeared to be acting normally to other people, going about your life activities. However, you will have no memory of these activities. You could find yourself in jail or a stranger’s bed with no memory of how you got there. I once spoke to a man who told me a story about how he bought a brand-new car during a blackout!
Are the withdrawal symptoms from stopping Ativan dangerous?
While opioid withdrawal symptoms are not considered to be dangerous, lorazepam withdrawal can be dangerous. It is possible when stopping a benzodiazepine, such as Ativan, suddenly, to have a life-threatening seizure.
What are the side effects of mixing Ativan with alcohol?
Using two or more drugs together is known as polydrug use. This is can be the most dangerous form of substance abuse when multiple substances are combined. Any side effects of either drug alone can be magnified. If you take alcohol with Ativan, you risk overdose with lower amounts of Ativan and Alcohol than would normally lead to overdose. If four drinks are too much for you, but you can normally handle two drinks, when you take an Ativan with the two drinks, you may find that you cannot handle the effects.
If I drink, would it be a good idea to ask my doctor to change Ativan to Xanax?
Xanax is another benzodiazepine that is used for treating anxiety. In fact, Xanax is very similar to lorazepam. Most of the benzos work similarly. Switching from Ativan to Xanax would not help if you are currently drinking alcohol regularly. You should let your doctor know about your drinking habits. Consider seeking alternative treatments for anxiety other than benzos. A psychologist can help by providing therapy instead of medications. If you already take lorazepam, Valium (diazepam), or another benzodiazepine, ask your doctor about how to safely detox.