Effects & Risks Of Smoking Ativan (Lorazepam)

Some people may smoke the benzodiazepine Ativan. This form of substance abuse can lead to side effects like drowsiness and dizziness as well as increase the risk of overdose, dependence, and addiction.

Ativan, the brand name for lorazepam, is a prescription drug classified as a benzodiazepine and central nervous system (CNS) depressant. Ativan is often prescribed for the short-term treatment of medical conditions such as epilepsy, insomnia, and anxiety disorders.

Lorazepam works by binding to the receptors in the CNS and increasing the amount of gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) in the brain. This leads to lower brain activity, calmness, and sedation.

Despite its medical uses, Ativan is a Schedule IV controlled substance, which means it can be abused and lead to dependence and addiction. 

Ativan abuse includes taking higher doses of the drug than prescribed as well as snorting or smoking it. Smoking Ativan can lead to a euphoric feeling that can promote continued use and increase the risk of addiction.

Effects Of Smoking Ativan

Smoking Ativan can lead to more intensified side effects. Side effects of lorazepam that may be heightened when you smoke it include:

  • inability to concentrate
  • drowsiness 
  • fatigue 
  • impaired coordination
  • dizziness 
  • dry mouth
  • irregular heartbeat
  • muscle weakness
  • memory problems
  • loss of appetite
  • nausea
  • diarrhea or constipation
  • frequent urination or trouble urinating 
  • tremors
  • sweating
  • hallucinations

When you smoke Ativan, the drug enters the bloodstream more quickly than oral ingestion. As a result, smoking Ativan may cause a more intense high that can lead to repeated use and an increased risk of health issues.

Risks Of Smoking Ativan

Smoking Ativan increases the risk of several issues such as lung damage, overdose, addiction, and withdrawal symptoms. 

Lung Damage

Smoking Ativan over a period of time can damage your lungs, potentially leading to serious issues like depressed breathing, pneumonia, and other breathing problems. 

If you already have asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), or breathing issues, smoking Ativan is likely to make those problems even worse.

Accidental Overdose

Smoking Ativan increases your risk of overdose. It can be difficult to know how large a dose you’re smoking, and an overdose can sneak up on you because the whole dose goes right to your brain.

The risk of overdose further increases if Ativan is smoked along with other substances such as alcohol, antidepressants, other benzos like alprazolam (Xanax) and diazepam (Valium), stimulants like cocaine and Adderall, or opioids like codeine and oxycodone.

Ativan overdose symptoms can include:

  • mental confusion
  • slurred speech
  • lack of energy
  • loss of control of body movements
  • muscle weakness
  • low blood pressure
  • slow breathing
  • impaired coordination
  • slow reflexes
  • confusion 
  • respiratory depression

If you or a loved one are experiencing any of these signs and symptoms, call 911 immediately. An Ativan overdose needs to be treated by healthcare professionals as soon as possible.

Ativan Addiction

Ativan is classified as a Schedule IV controlled substance by the FDA, meaning it has potential for physical dependence and substance use disorder. 

Dependence and addiction are rare when Ativan is taken as prescribed and for a short period of time. However, when it’s taken in higher doses or in a way that’s not approved (like smoking it), the risk of dependence and addiction increases.

Intense cravings are a hallmark of psychological and physical dependence. Ativan addiction is defined by continued use despite harmful consequences, trying to stop using but unable too, and prioritizing getting or using Ativan over all else.

Withdrawal Symptoms

Physical or psychological dependence occurs when your body can no longer function properly without the drug. When this occurs, it makes quitting Ativan much more difficult due to the onset of withdrawal symptoms. 

Ativan withdrawal symptoms may occur when you stop use and can include:

  • changes in blood pressure
  • seizures 
  • nausea 
  • tremors 
  • fluctuating heart rate
  • dizziness 

If you or a loved one live with prescription drug abuse or addiction, Ohio Recovery Center is here for you. Our clinicians can help you build a customized addiction treatment plan that includes inpatient care, medical detox, behavioral therapy, and mental health counseling.

Please contact us today to learn more about how we can help.

  1. Drug and Alcohol Dependence https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6639084/
  2. National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) https://www.nami.org/About-Mental-Illness/Treatment/Mental-Health-Medications/Risks-of-Benzodiazepines
  3. National Health Service (NHS) https://www.nhs.uk/medicines/lorazepam/
  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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