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The Risks of Mixing Ativan with Other Substances

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Lisa W., who shares her recovery her story for Heroes in Recovery couldn’t shake alcohol and Ativan from their merciless grip on her life. After returning home from yet another shot at rehab, “My life was insane,” she says of those days, “I went back to two full-time jobs, caring for everyone I knew except myself, not working any planned recovery.”

Three months later she found herself back in rehab. “I walked into the treatment center raw. I was spent. I was done…I didn’t want to live, and I was too afraid to die…I went on to stay over 45 days in rehab, and I did everything they told me to do (this time). I didn’t care what it was. I knew what I had been doing was not working. I was reborn there.”

It is a common — and potentially deadly — practice to combine Ativan with other substances. Taken alone, Ativan (generically called lorazepam) is a fast-acting tranquilizer. It slows down brain function. This can bring on feelings ranging from deep relaxation to euphoria. Drugs that suppress central nervous system activity are particularly bad to mix with Ativan. Naturally, all prescription drugs should be taken under the guidance of a doctor.1

What Happens when Ativan and Alcohol Are Combined?

As a sedative, Ativan may help control anxiety or insomnia. However, there are people who misuse this and other types of drugs. Some take more than prescribed. Some take drugs without medical monitoring. Those who take Ativan recreationally often mix it with alcohol. They likely do this to enhance the drug’s sedative qualities. Basically, alcohol makes Ativan more accessible to the brain.

Together, Ativan and alcohol can produce these side effects:

  • Loss of motor coordination
  • Emotional depression
  • Slurred speech
  • Labored breathing
  • Confusion
  • Episodes of amnesia, or blackouts
  • Weakness
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Coma

Actually, Ativan is often prescribed for a limited time to relieve the symptoms of alcohol withdrawal. Other than under such controlled measures, alcohol should be avoided while taking Ativan.2


Mixing Ativan with Other Prescription Sedatives

Recreational drug users may abuse sedatives. Dangerous results can occur when combining Ativan with other tranquilizers, such as:

  • Barbiturates, like Seconal, Nembutal.
  • Hypnotic sleep aids, like Ambien.
  • Antipsychotics, like Zyprexa.
  • Antidepressants, like those with trazodone.
  • Anti-addiction medications, like those with buprenorphine.

Many medications — prescription and non-prescription alike — can cause sedation, dizziness, or decreased mental function. Even certain antihistamines, like Benadryl, can interact adversely with Ativan. Taking Ativan along with these other drugs can cause the user to feel dizzy, weak, and confused. There may also be problems thinking, breathing and moving. In addition, they may cause low blood pressure.3

Ativan and Opiates

Pills and OpiatesCombining Ativan with painkillers derived from opium can also be very harmful. They can intensify each other’s effects on the central nervous system (CNS). Opioid drugs include morphine and the natural or synthetic drugs that replicate its effects. Opioids include medication withoxycodone, hydrocodone, hydromorphone and fentanyl.
Heroin, a drug made from the opium poppy, is a powerful illegal opiate. It has no accepted use in the American medical community. Like benzodiazepines, opiates are CNS depressants. When taken alone, these drugs present plenty of risk. They can cause sedation, confusion, a slow heart rate, slow respiration, motor impairment, loss of consciousness, coma, and death. Taken together, benzodiazepines and opiates can cause a fatal overdose.

All drugs in the opiate family are highly addictive. Taken on a regular basis, opiate-based drugs can be addictive. Recovering from addiction to benzodiazepines and opiates requires careful medical guidance. Such care helps to minimize the withdrawal symptoms that can come with cleansing the body of these toxins.4

Deadly Drug Interactions

The first step is to avoid using Ativan without medical supervision. Tell the doctor about all drugs or herbs being used or considered. Learn more about how mixing drugs can be a health hazard. Secondly, if you’re taking Ativan or other lorazepam product, follow the prescription carefully.

Most importantly, if you have a problem with Ativan abuse, seek help from a professional treatment center.

Michael’s House is available to take your call 24 hours a day, seven days a week at 760.548.4032. We would be happy to answer any questions you may have or explain how you can personally benefit from our facility’s expert staff and extensive resources. We are equipped to help. AND we care. Rest assured, any call made to Michael’s House is totally private and confidential.


1Ativan.” Food and Drug Administration, Reference ID: 4029608, September 2016. Web. Accessed 28 July 2017.

2Harmful Interaction: Mixing Alcohol with Medicines.” National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, National Institutes of Health (NIH) Publication No. 13–5329, 2014.Web. Accessed 28 July 2017.

3FDA Warns about Serious Risks and Death when Combining Opioid Pain or Cough Medicines with Benzodiazepines; Requires Its Strongest Warning.” Drug Safety Communications, Food and Drug Administration, 31 August 2016.Web. Accessed 28 July 2017.

4Polydrug Abuse: A Review of Opioid and Benzodiazepine Combination Use.” Drug and Alcohol Dependence, Volume 125, Issue Numbers 1-2. 1 September 2012.Web. Accessed 28 July 2017.