Alcohol and drugs don’t mix. Alcohol and a prescription drug like Ativan definitely don’t mix. Why? Because despite the profound intoxication these two substances deliver, death can be the result.
By themselves, alcohol and benzodiazepine medications like Ativan are two of the most dangerous substances to abuse. By themselves, and in heavy doses, they can produce significant, life-threatening sedative effects and seizures.
Table of Contents
When combined, the harmful effects they deliver are further magnified.
Having an occasional glass of wine while on Ativan may not cause immediate harm. However, benzodiazepines are habit-forming and can cause people to become dependent rather quickly. The same can be said for alcohol. So, that occasional glass of wine with Ativan can quickly morph into a daily activity, putting you at risk for ruinous effects.
Whatever the case, it is never safe to mix Ativan and alcohol. If you are engaged in this sort of polysubstance abuse, it is only a matter of time before you experience a range of harmful effects.
What Is Ativan?
Ativan is the brand name for lorazepam, a benzodiazepine medication used to treat seizures, anxiety, insomnia, and alcohol withdrawal. It also addresses nausea and vomiting from chemotherapy.
Like other drugs of its class, Ativan enhances the effects of gamma-Aminobutyric acid (GABA), a neurotransmitter that reduces fear and anxiety in the body, giving users a feeling of relaxation. Lorazepam itself is included on the World Health Organization’s List of Essential Medicines, which contains the safest, most effective medications needed in a health system.
Like other benzodiazepines, Ativan is only intended for short-term use. However, when employed as a long-term treatment, it can cause people to become dependent, where they display withdrawal symptoms. This can occur even when Ativan is taken at prescribed levels.
When abused by itself in a recreational fashion, Ativan can set an array of withdrawal symptoms.
Ativan Withdrawal Symptoms
According to VeryWell Mind, when a daily dose of Ativan is stopped or reduced abruptly, withdrawal symptoms can appear in eight to 12 hours. Benzodiazepine medications are capable of producing a number of symptoms. Plus, the heavier the dose, the more severe the effects, some of which can be life-threatening like seizures.
Ativan withdrawal symptoms include:
- Racing pulse
- Panic attacks
- Nausea or vomiting
- Memory problems
- Concentration problems
- Aches and pains
- Hypersensitivity to stimuli like light and touch
- Abnormal bodily sensations (skin-crawling, goosebumps)
- Hand tremors
- Muscle spasms
- Feelings of unreality
- Visual disturbances (flashes of light or blurred vision)
Withdrawal and the Dangers of Alcohol
As with Ativan and other benzodiazepines, a person can experience life-threatening seizures from alcohol when they are in withdrawal.
What’s more, the withdrawal symptoms from alcohol can manifest as common and severe. People with a history of heavy drinking are prone to incurring severe, highly dangerous symptoms.
The common symptoms associated with alcohol withdrawal are:
- Increased heart rate
- Sweating and chills
- Difficulty concentrating
- Feeling exhausted
- Pale skin
Severe effects can include:
- Hand tremors
- Accelerated breathing
- Rapid heartbeat
- High blood pressure
- Dilated pupils
When Alcohol Withdrawal Becomes Deadly
And if those symptoms were not enough, there are even more dangerous effects associated with alcohol. These effects are called delirium tremens (also known as DTs), which is the most severe form of alcohol withdrawal.
Individuals who have engaged in a heavy pattern of drinking for 10 years or more are at risk of developing DTs. Although, only 5 percent of people in alcohol withdrawal develop DTs, and that still accounts for thousands of cases each year given the sheer prevalence of alcohol abuse in the U.S.
Life-threatening effects associated with DTs are:
- Irregular heartbeat
- Sensitivity to light, sound, or touch
- Heavy sweating
- Sudden mood changes
- Rapid heart rate
- Bursts of energy
- Sudden severe confusion
- Body tremors
- Deep sleep lasting for a day or longer
- Sleepiness and fatigue
Any combination of those symptoms is considered a medical emergency and requires treatment as soon as possible.
The Dangers of Combining Alcohol with Other Drugs
Now imagine how dangerous alcohol and Ativan are when taken in combination. Both are central nervous system (CNS) depressants capable of producing profound sedation.
And that is just the start of it. The effects of mixing both are downright ruinous. Overdose is also a real and distinct possibility.
When alcohol and Ativan interact, they produce a synergistic effect, according to the University of Michigan University Health Service. This means they come together to generate magnified effects that surpass anything they would produce individually, making death a very real possibility.
If this combination doesn’t kill you, enough of it can cause you to experience dizziness, stumbling, loss of sphincter control, and memory loss.
When a user on a message board asked about the results of mixing alcohol and Ativan, one poster wrote this elegant response:
“You will be dizzy and nauseous and vomiting through your nose and mouth. Your body will sense something is up and attempt to reject anything you try to force down for the rest of the day.
Your throat will be raw, and your sinuses will bleed. You will stumble around, cause a ruckus, and bring much-unneeded attention to yourself.” Again, that would be the least of your problems.
Mixing benzodiazepines and alcohol can trigger effects that can cause permanent body and brain damage, terminal health conditions, and severe psychological distress. Those effects include:
- Brain damage
- Mouth, throat, and liver cancers
- Low blood pressure
- Breathing problems
- Mood disorders
- Suicidal thoughts and behavior
- Memory loss
How Professional Treatment Can Help You
If you are considering mixing alcohol with Ativan, don’t do it. You will only be bringing about a galaxy of trouble.
If you are already experimenting with this combination, you will need to consider professional addiction treatment. Why? Because alcohol and benzos can kill you if you attempt to quit these substances on your own. Take a look at the withdrawal symptoms of both to remind you.
In a reputable professional treatment program, you can receive the comprehensive, multilevel therapy and care that can address this kind of polysubstance abuse.
A professional program starts with acute treatment, where the Ativan and alcohol are removed from your system, along with other toxins. A medical team comprised of doctors, nurses, and other staff members will monitor you around the clock and treat any health conditions and withdrawal symptoms that arise.
Once you have been stabilized, a licensed therapist will conduct a biopsychosocial assessment that examines your biological, psychological, and sociological needs regarding your treatment plan.
For severe cases where two or more substances are being abused, it is highly recommended that you receive full-time, comprehensive therapy and counseling through clinical stabilization services.
In clinical stabilization, you will have access to an array of services that treat your entire being, mind, body, and soul. The goal of this program is to address the psychological and emotional root of your use.
The following treatment services are offered in clinical stabilization:
- Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT)
- Dialectical behavior therapy (DBT)
- Trauma-informed sessions
- Family-focused therapy
- Genetic testing
- Relapse prevention
- The 12-steps of recovery
- Emotional regulation
- Motivational enhancement
- Medical education
- Wellness skills
- Nutritional assessments
After the intense, prolonged treatment offered in clinical stabilization, you may not feel ready to fully transition back into your everyday life. This is where an outpatient program can help you.
Outpatient is designed to be a bridge between clinical stabilization and the normal world. You can live at home or in a sober living community and receive therapy and counseling on a part-time basis.
You can also receive life skills education to help you resume your normal life. You can also receive relapse prevention training to help you achieve sustained recovery.
Get Help Today
If you are taking Ativan and alcohol, you are on a collision course with permanent damage and death. A professional treatment program can literally save your life and help you regain sobriety. Let us help you locate a program that allows you to take back your life.
Delphi Behavioral Health Group. (n.d.). Mixing Alcohol with Xanax | Benzodiazepines and Alcohol. Retrieved from from https://delphihealthgroup.com/alcohol/mixing-with-benzos-overdose/
Lorazepam: MedlinePlus Drug Information. (n.d.). Retrieved from from https://medlineplus.gov/druginfo/meds/a682053.html
O, C., & Osborn, K. (2019, May 16). How Long Does Withdrawal From Ativan Last? Retrieved from from https://www.verywellmind.com/ativan-withdrawal-symptoms-4588394
Reddit. (n.d.). R/Drugs - Ativan and Alcohol. Retrieved from from https://www.reddit.com/r/Drugs/comments/7gmtgq/ativan_and_alcohol/
The University of Michigan. (n.d.). University Health Service. Retrieved from from https://uhs.umich.edu/combine