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The Dangers of Mixing Ativan and Alcohol

by | Last updated Jul 23, 2021 at 10:29AM | Published on Sep 22, 2020 | Benzodiazepine Addiction, Drug Addiction

Mixing Ativan and Alcohol

As we closely look at the different alcohol and benzodiazepine combinations, we focus on mixing Ativan and alcohol. This dangerous combination can lead to several disastrous outcomes. The ingestion of multiple drugs and alcohol is a leading cause of visits to the emergency room and death caused by overdose.

What is Ativan?

Lorazepam (Ativan) is a potent, immediate-duration benzodiazepine. This means it’s in the same chemical family as Xanax, Valium, and Klonopin. Ativan is most commonly used to treat anxiety and seizure disorders.

It works by suppressing the central nervous system enough to relax the person taking it altogether. In other words, they’re both central nervous system depressants that slow down our system. Side effects include dizziness, drowsiness, and disorientation. Ativan and alcohol both affect the same neurotransmitter, gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA).

This rapid onset of action is due to Ativan’s short half-life. It’s metabolized by the body very quickly and achieves peak blood levels within an hour. Therefore, Ativan is one of the fastest-acting oral benzo around and arguably more addictive than its counterparts.

How Dangerous is Mixing Ativan and Alcohol?

When mixing Ativan and alcohol, the effects of both substances magnify incredibly. Alcohol works to increase Ativan’s effects and can ultimately impair judgment, rational thinking, and common sense.

Mixing these two substances can lead to a potentially deadly blackout episode. Both substances release GABA neurotransmitters at a rapid pace, putting too much strain on the body. Because these are depressants, they work by slowing down our system, including critical functions like breathing.

The effects of mixing Ativan and alcohol include:

  • Extreme drowsiness
  • Dizziness due to low blood pressure
  • Slowed, irregular, shallow, or difficult breathing
  • Impaired cognition
  • Impaired balance and physical control
  • Memory problems
  • Unusual behaviors
  • Overdose
  • Passing out

The amount of alcohol someone consumes will affect the severity of these symptoms.

Ativan and Alcohol Overdose

Another pitfall of mixing these substances is that there is a high chance of overdosing. The greatest danger comes because there is no specific amount known to cause overdose – it all depends on the individual’s body, what else they ingested that day, and their chemical composition. Contrary to popular belief, overdose doesn’t only happen after taking too much of a substance. It also occurs when someone takes the wrong combination and creates a chemical reaction that their own body can’t tolerate.

Essentially, mixing Ativan and alcohol causes the nervous system to suppress and slowed breathing and heart rate. Combined with drowsiness, it’s easy to see how someone could easily fall asleep and slowly stop breathing. If they are alone, there is a possibility they may never wake up.

What Would Overdose Look Like?

In studies, 3% to 41% of alcoholics in the United States state that they abuse benzodiazepines to heighten alcohol or lessen withdrawal effects. An Ativan overdose can result in shallow breathing, loss of voluntary muscle control, sensory hallucinations, impaired thinking, and more.

Ativan and Alcohol Withdrawal

When someone is dependent on a drug like Ativan or a substance like alcohol, they’re likely to experience withdrawal symptoms when they stop using one or the other. Also, abusing Ativan and alcohol can increase tolerance, cravings, and, consequently, withdrawal symptoms. The most common symptoms of alcohol and Ativan withdrawal include:

  • Sweating
  • Irritability
  • Anxiety
  • Insomnia
  • Depression
  • Rapid heart rate
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Tremors
  • Hallucinations
  • Seizures

Attempting to detox from these substances without proper medical assistance can be dangerous. It’s best to go to a medically supervised detox facility to start the detoxification process safely. Otherwise, when someone experiences withdrawal symptoms, they’re likely to go back to using the same substances, often at higher doses, to satisfy their cravings. When someone does this, it significantly increases the risk of overdose.

Substance Abuse Treatment

When someone develops a physical dependence on mixing Ativan and alcohol, they need to seek help from a dual diagnosis program. If someone has a valid prescription for Ativan, odds are they have an existing condition that requires further treatment. Not to mention, most people won’t be on an Ativan prescription for too long as these are usually very short-term prescriptions to treat a specific issue.

At Lighthouse Recovery Institute, we believe in creating a comprehensive Ativan addiction treatment plan that addresses every aspect of our patient’s addiction.

Drug and Alcohol Detox

The first step to recover from drug abuse is detox. When people start mixing Ativan and alcohol, attempting to quit independently, they can experience side effects that can be life-threatening. To avoid overdose and fatal withdrawal symptoms like seizures, checking into a detox rehab center is paramount. With supervision from a medical professional, recovering drug addicts can have a better chance of sobriety.

Drug and Alcohol Abuse Rehab

After detox, most patients will move to an inpatient treatment program that offers structure and support 24/7. Others, mainly those with less severe addictions, might be able to choose an intensive outpatient program that provides more flexibility so that they can continue daily responsibilities like work, school, and family.

Also, since most people struggling with polysubstance abuse struggle with mental illness. A dual diagnosis program is best suited to treat both conditions simultaneously and prepare them for a long-lasting recovery journey.

Group Therapy

Part of most drug and alcohol rehab programs incorporate group therapy sessions. The setting encourages a sober-friendly network and offers a safe space to voice struggles, concerns, and hopes. Through group therapies, patients also attend 12-step programs to continue their path to sobriety.

Aftercare Recovery Programs

Unfortunately, addiction is a life-long condition. Aftercare recovery programs offer continuing support once people leave a rehab facility. Here, patients focus on building life development skills that help them integrate back into society. Most people keep working on relapse prevention coping mechanisms that allow them to sustain long-term sobriety.

Seeking Addiction Help Today

If you or someone you know is struggling with substance abuse disorders, please contact us today. Whether that involves a complete drug and alcohol detox process, intensive outpatient treatment, or continuous aftercare support, we’ll do everything in our power to help you beat this chronic disease.

If you know someone who’s mixing alcohol and Ativan or other prescription drugs, reach out to them and see if they’re ready to get help for their addiction. If you need help setting up an intervention, our addiction specialists can offer counsel and guidance.

At Lighthouse Recovery Institute, our addiction specialists can help you find the best treatment program for your unique needs. We don’t believe in cookie-cutter substance abuse treatment plans, which is why we look at each case on an individual basis and do our absolute best to accommodate your needs to help your recovery journey.

Jessica

Jessica

Jessica is Lighthouse Recovery Institute’s Clinical Director. She has a Master’s Level Certified Addiction Professional, Licensed Mental Health Counselor, and has a Masters in Behavioral Science. Jessica’s education allows her to elaborate in-depth on Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and Narrative Therapy approaches to addiction treatment.
Medical Disclaimer:

Lighthouse Recovery Institute aims to improve the quality of life for anyone struggling with substance use or mental health disorder. We provide fact-based content about the nature of behavioral health conditions, treatment options, and their outcomes. The material we publish is researched, cited, edited, and reviewed by licensed medical professionals. The information we provide in our posts is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. It should never be used in place of the advice of your physician or another qualified healthcare provider.

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