Ativan (Lorazepam) Side Effects, Drug Interactions, & Warnings

Ativan is a benzodiazepine with various side effects like drowsiness and weight gain. In addition, this prescription drug can interact negatively with other central nervous system depressants, and warnings include the risk of overdose and addiction.

Lorazepam (brand name Ativan) is a benzodiazepine prescription drug used to treat panic attacks in those with an anxiety disorder. Additionally, Ativan may be used to help treat those suffering from alcohol withdrawal.

Ativan is a central nervous system (CNS) depressant and a Schedule IV controlled substance, which means it has abuse potential. 

Ativan abuse leads to side effects such as sedation due to how the drug depresses the CNS and increases gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) in the brain, resulting in relaxation of the body.

Side Effects Of Ativan

Lorazepam may cause side effects that can range in severity. Those who abuse benzodiazepines may snort, inject, or smoke the drug. Any side effects may be heightened if this type of substance abuse takes place.

Common Side Effects

Short-term side effects of lorazepam may consist of:

  • drowsiness
  • constipation
  • difficulty urinating
  • weight gain
  • dry mouth
  • tiredness
  • nausea
  • sedation
  • blurred vision
  • diarrhea
  • lightheadedness
  • changes in sex drive
  • unsteadiness

Long-term use of Ativan may lead to more severe side effects or more pronounced common effects. Some of the more serious side effects of Ativan include physical dependence, withdrawal symptoms, and severe cognitive impairment.

Ativan Withdrawal Symptoms

Those who abruptly stop taking Ativan may experience certain withdrawal symptoms. As stated by the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA), some of these consist of:

  • blood pressure fluctuations
  • mental health problems such as anxiety or depression
  • tremors
  • memory problems
  • weakness
  • difficulty concentrating
  • suicidal ideations
  • muscle aches
  • trouble breathing
  • sleep problems

Ativan Drug Interactions 

Ativan is a CNS depressant which, when combined with similar substances, can lead to adverse reactions and serious side effects such as respiratory depression. Some of the substances to avoid while on Ativan include:

  • antihistamines
  • supplements or vitamins
  • muscle relaxants
  • illicit drugs such as fentanyl
  • alcohol
  • over-the-counter painkillers
  • antipsychotics such as clozapine (Versacloz) or quetiapine (Seroquel)
  • opioid medications
  • certain antidepressants

In addition, other benzodiazepines such as alprazolam (Xanax), diazepam (Valium), and clonazepam (Klonopin) should not be taken with Ativan.

Ativan Warnings

To avoid adverse effects, Ativan must be kept at room temperature. Additionally, there are other warnings you should know when taking Ativan.

Those With Certain Medical Conditions

There are warnings associated with Ativan and those who have certain medical conditions. Women who are breastfeeding should avoid Ativan, as the medication may be passed from mother to child via breast milk.

Older adults should be aware of the drowsiness and unsteadiness which may occur. Those with breathing problems, such as sleep apnea, should avoid Ativan due to the risk of respiratory distress.

If you have narrow-angle glaucoma, you should not use Ativan. Other adverse effects, including allergic reactions, may take place in those with a sensitivity to the medication or if certain drugs are combined.

Ativan Addiction

Those who take high doses of Ativan may achieve tolerance to the drug, resulting in a person taking higher doses. Taking higher doses than prescribed of the drug can increase the risk of benzodiazepine use disorder or addiction.

Ativan Overdose

If you abuse Ativan in high doses or mix it with other drugs, a life-threatening overdose can occur.

If an Ativan overdose occurs, seek medical attention immediately and contact 911 if a person experiences any of the following symptoms:

  • yellowing of the skin or eyes
  • extreme sleepiness
  • disorientation
  • seizures
  • breathing problems such as respiratory depression
  • coma

If you or a loved one deal with prescription drug abuse substance abuse, Ohio Recovery Center can help. At our inpatient treatment center, certified healthcare professionals provide treatment options such as medical detox, behavioral therapy, mental health counseling, and more.

To learn about our individualized treatment plans, please contact us today.

  1. Drug Enforcement Administration https://www.dea.gov/sites/default/files/2020-06/Benzodiazepenes-2020_1.pdf
  2. Food and Drug Administration https://www.accessdata.fda.gov/drugsatfda_docs/label/2021/017794s048lbl.pdf
  3. National Alliance on Mental Illness https://www.nami.org/About-Mental-Illness/Treatments/Mental-Health-Medications/Types-of-Medication/Lorazepam-(Ativan)
  4. National Library of Medicine: MedlinePlus https://medlineplus.gov/druginfo/meds/a682053.html

Written by Ohio Recovery Center Editorial Team

Published on: August 18, 2023

© 2024 Ohio Recovery Center | All Rights Reserved

* This page does not provide medical advice.

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