Ativan is the brand name of a benzodiazepine medication called “Lorazepam”, which is a substance used to treat anxiety in addition to other psychological disorders.
When patients are prescribed Ativan for the first time, the most common question they have is “how does Ativan make you feel?”
Ativan is an anxiolytic drug, which means it’s used mainly to treat anxiety. Lorazepam induces a feeling of relaxation and calmness by stimulating the inhibitory receptors in the brain responsible for feeling at ease.
In today’s article, we’ll walk you through a brief guide with everything you need to know about Ativan and concerns regarding its use. Let’s dive in!
Table of Contents
- 1 What Is Ativan Used for?
- 2 How Does Ativan Work?
- 3 How Does Ativan Make You Feel?
- 4 How Long Does It Take Ativan to Kick In?
- 5 Is Ativan Addictive?
- 6 What Happens If I Take Ativan Without Prescription?
- 7 Final Thoughts
What Is Ativan Used for?
The effect of Lorazepam makes Ativan a commonly prescribed treatment for a wide variety of disorders.
Of course, the most common reason for prescribing Ativan is anxiety. The drug helps in reducing the symptoms associated with the conditions, such as:
- Excessive tension and restlessness
- Inability to proceed with daily objectives because of feeling unsettled
- Panic attacks associated with anxiety
In addition to anxiety, Ativan may also be taken for other conditions, especially in combination with other treatments. These conditions include
- Short-term anxiety: Another type of acute anxiety, mostly associated with depression and psychological disorders.
- Insomnia: Ativan is approved as a treatment for the lack of ability to sleep due to stress and anxiety.
- Seizures: Like other benzodiazepine drugs, Ativan may also be prescribed to control/prevent seizures and status epilepticus.
- Spasms: Ativan may be prescribed as a muscle relaxant, especially in combination with other treatments to treat jerky movements and tremors.
How Does Ativan Work?
Our brains contain certain chemicals known as neurotransmitters, which are part of a complex system responsible for controlling our psychological state and hormones.
One of these neurotransmitters is known as gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA). When GABA binds to its receptors in our brain, it induces a relaxed effect on both the mind and body, and that’s where Ativan comes into play!
Ativan’s active ingredient is Lorazepam, which belongs to the Benzodiazepine family. Like other drugs from this group, it works by stimulating GABA to bind to GABA-A receptors.
This enhances the sedative and tranquilizing effect of the brain chemical, which generates its effects on the body.
How Does Ativan Make You Feel?
As previously established, Ativan has a potent calming effect on the body and mind. However, it also has other effects associated with stimulating GABA receptors.
The most popular effect of taking Ativan is that you’ll feel a bit sleepy or drowsy/dizzy, which is why some doctors prescribe it for anxiety-induced insomnia.
Side Effects of Ativan
Ativan can also have various adverse or unwanted side effects associated with how it works. These typically include
- Blurred vision and Loss of coordination (which is why you shouldn’t drive or operate heavy machines while under the influence of Lorazepam)
- Feeling weak and clumsy
- Nausea and headache
- Heartburn or acid reflux
- Dry mouth
- Constipation with a change in appetite
- Impairment/changes if sexual abilities
Factors That Affect the Severity of Ativan Effects
As you can see, most of the side effects are associated with Lorazepam’s nervous system-slowing effects. The side effects’ intensity is also impacted by several factors, such as:
- The amount of Ativan taken
- The frequency of use
- Your overall physical and mental health
If these side effects worsen with time or become unbearable, you should let your doctor know immediately.
Taking Ativan with other drugs or substances can also increase the side effect’s severity. For example, alcohol and opioids increase the severity of Ativan’s side effects and can cause life-threatening reactions, such as cardiac arrests or collapsed lungs.
How Long Does It Take Ativan to Kick In?
Lorazepam is a fast-acting Benzodiazepine drug. This means that the effects of Ativan can be felt in as little as a few minutes. This doesn’t only apply to medicinal effects, but also the side effects.
Keep in mind that the onset of action can vary depending on how you take the treatment. Ativan is available in the form of tablets and liquid injections. The latter takes as little as 20 to 30 minutes to kick in.
How Long Does Ativan Stay in Your System?
A normal dose of Ativan should last in effect for about 6 to 8 hours. But just because the effects have worn off, doesn’t mean that the drug is completely eliminated from your system.
Lorazepam has an average half-life of around 12 hours. This means that the majority of Ativan will be out of your system after 5 days of taking it.
Ativan is metabolized in the liver and excreted by the kidney. However, some metabolites might stay in your system for a lot longer (more than 3 weeks).
Also, abusers with high tolerance might take a lot longer to completely eliminate Ativan from their system.
Is Ativan Addictive?
Although it’s not a narcotic, Ativan is listed under Schedule IV of the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act.
Ativan must be prescribed by a physician and is only used for short-term treatment if the doctor finds the benefits to outweigh the risks.
Long-term use and misuse of Ativan can lead to drug dependence or even addiction. For that reason, you should always follow the doctor’s dosage and never take Ativan on your own.
What Happens If I Take Ativan Without Prescription?
As previously established, Ativan can develop dependence and addiction. Ir can also put you at great risk of drug abuse or serious adverse reactions due to inadequate or high dosage.
Stopping Ativan immediately may cause intense drug withdrawal effects, including
- Breathing difficulties
- Increased heart rate
- Sweating and high body temperature
- Tremors and vertigo
- Body aches
- Muscle tension
- Painful headaches
If you have been taking Ativan on your own, you should seek immediate medical help to help you with the detox stage.
This wraps it up for today’s guide which walks you through everything you need to know about Ativan and how it makes you feel.
As you can see, Ativan’s primary effect is sedation and relaxation. However, it can also have several side effects that vary in severity depending on how you use the drug, so make sure that you always abide by the prescription and never take it on your own.