How Long Does Ativan (Lorazepam) Last? High & Effects

Medically Reviewed by Johnelle Smith, M.D. on March 22, 2023

Ativan is a prescription medication that is typically prescribed to treat anxiety and insomnia. Some people may feel the effects of Ativan for several hours. Due to its neurological effects, Ativan can be addictive with chronic use.

How Long Ativan Lasts

Lorazepam, also known by the brand name Ativan, is a benzodiazepine drug that can produce feelings of relaxation, sedation, and a mildly euphoric high for hours at a time.

Currently, lorazepam is considered a Schedule IV controlled substance. This means that there’s a low risk of developing a substance use disorder while taking the drug as directed.

When misused over a period of time, sedative-hypnotic drugs such as lorazepam can quickly lead to physical dependence and addiction, which comes with an array of harmful side effects.

How long a drug high lasts will differ between people based on a variety of factors, including the method of abuse, frequency of use, dosage, and more.

How Long An Ativan High Lasts

Ativan is used to treat anxiety and related sleeping problems. It is usually prescribed in the form of a tablet or a liquid intended to be swallowed.

When ingested, lorazepam starts to work within 20 to 30 minutes. Once the sedating effect or “high” has begun, it lasts between six to eight hours before tapering off.

What An Ativan High Feels Like

Taken as intended, lorazepam is a highly effective drug that can treat anxiety.

People who take Ativan in high doses without a prescription will feel euphoric sensations that peak around one hour after use. The amplified sedation effect can last up to eight hours in total.

It is unadvised to continue to take Ativan over long periods, as it can cause an array of cognitive issues and mental health problems, including dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.

Factors That Contribute To How Long Ativan Lasts

Below are some of the factors that may influence how long Ativan lasts.

Frequency Of Use

When a person begins to take more Ativan than was originally prescribed to them, they will likely develop drug tolerance.

The more tolerant a person is to lorazepam, the higher the dose they’ll have to ingest to feel the pleasurable effects.

Method Of Administration

People with an Ativan addiction may start to take the drugs in increasingly reckless ways to achieve a faster and more long-lasting high.

The most common method of abuse is snorting Ativan. This is accomplished by crushing tablets into a powder and inhaling them through the nasal passageway.

Polysubstance Abuse

Polysubstance abuse refers to using Ativan in conjunction with other substances to heighten the effects of one or both drugs.

One of the most common and dangerous mixtures is the ingestion of Ativan and alcohol together. Side effects of mixing these two substances include confusion, loss of muscle control, and unconsciousness.

Other Contributing Factors

There are a number of other factors that may influence how long an Ativan high lasts.

Other factors include:

  • weight
  • height
  • age (younger people may stay high longer than older people)
  • metabolism
  • kidney function
  • genetics

How Long Ativan Stays In A Person’s System

If you suspect that someone you care about is misusing lorazepam, there are several ways to test for the approximate last use of the drug.

Types of drug tests include:

  • hair tests
  • urine tests
  • saliva tests
  • blood tests

Drug detection times will vary depending on the type of drug screening, as the half-life of Ativan may not leave detectable metabolites in the blood or saliva for more than a couple of days.

Common Side Effects Of Ativan Addiction

Central nervous system depressants, such as Ativan, work by enhancing gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) neurotransmitter activity in the brain.

While exciting GABA transmitters helps reduce stress and anxiety, it can also cause a surge of the hormone dopamine, which is responsible for feelings of well-being.

Over time, lorazepam abuse may lead to several side effects, including:

  • mouth sores
  • disorientation
  • confusion
  • fatigue
  • insomnia
  • loss of appetite
  • kidney problems
  • headaches
  • legal issues, including incarceration
  • relationship problems
  • sedation and drowsiness

Ativan Withdrawal Symptoms

People addicted to Ativan or other benzos are likely to experience withdrawal symptoms if they abruptly stop taking the drug.

Initial withdrawal symptoms associated with Ativan can include stomach cramps, sweating, weight loss, confusion, intense cravings, increased heart rate, mood swings, and more.

Some people may have more severe, even life-threatening symptoms following their last dose. Possibilities include seizures and hallucinations.

To prevent a serious health emergency, medical professionals recommend that those who wish to quit Ativan use should enroll in an inpatient or outpatient lorazepam detox program.

A medical detox center is often preferred, as these programs can slowly taper a person off the medication with smaller doses of Ativan over time, reducing the risk of dangerous withdrawal.

Treatment Options For Ativan Abuse

If you or a loved one are facing benzodiazepine or illicit drug addiction, help is available in the form of evidence-based or holistic therapy at a rehab center.

Addiction treatment programs may offer:

  • medication-assisted treatment (MAT)
  • detoxification
  • residential rehab programs
  • intensive outpatient programs (IOP)
  • behavioral therapy for prescription drug
  • addiction
  • aftercare services
  • general healthcare services
  • dual diagnosis treatment
  • mental health services

Find A Substance Use Treatment Center Today

Call our helpline today for more information on Ativan addiction and substance abuse recovery programs in your area. Our team can assist you in achieving lasting sobriety.

This page does not provide medical advice. See more

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Medically Reviewed by
Johnelle Smith, M.D. on March 22, 2023
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