People that take cocaine recreationally may take it in binges to avoid the negative feelings that happen when the high wears off.
Cocaine is also highly addictive because of the dopamine reinforcement pathway that cocaine has on the brain.
Ativan is a prescription benzodiazepine that is used to treat symptoms of anxiety and panic disorders. Even when used as directed, people that take Ativan can develop a tolerance and become dependent on the drug.
Mixing a sedative drug like Ativan with a street-level upper can have dangerous results that include heart complications, sudden respiratory failure, addiction and dependence, and death.
Why Do People Mix Cocaine And Ativan?
Some people will take benzodiazepine drugs like Ativan (lorazepam) to ease some withdrawal symptoms of coming down from a cocaine high.
Other people might use Ativan as a “downer” component of a “pharmaceutical speedball”, which counteracts certain “upper” effects of cocaine.
Some people might take the long-lasting Ativan to stretch out the amount of time they can comfortably use cocaine throughout the day without experiencing a crash.
If the drugs mask the effects of the other too much, then a person may take more cocaine or Ativan to feel its effects more.
When too much of either Ativan or cocaine is ingested, it can lead to dangerous immediate overdose symptoms.
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Combined Effects Of Ativan And Cocaine
The effects of Ativan and cocaine combined are unpredictable. In general, cocaine provides:
- high energy
An Ativan high may result in:
- decreased energy
- lowered anxiety
A person might take cocaine to increase energy from an Ativan high. Conversely, they may take Ativan to lessen anxiety and amplify feelings of euphoria.
Risks Of Mixing Cocaine And Ativan
The risks associated with using cocaine and Ativan together are complicated by unreliable cocaine quality that may contain additives or impurities.
Both cocaine and Ativan have the potential for dependence, deadly overdose, and long-term mental health and physical effects.
Increased Risk Of Overdose
When taken to excess, a person that has abused Ativan can experience dangerous reactions.
Because Ativan impacts the CNS, important functions like breathing and heart activity can become compromised.
A person that overdoses on Ativan may have symptoms including:
- slowed breathing
- weak heartbeat
- low blood pressure
- slurred speech
If a person takes too much cocaine along with Ativan, they may not “feel” some effects of cocaine because of the depressant effects from Ativan. Still, a cocaine overdose can occur when used with Ativan.
Some effects of a cocaine overdose include:
- chest pain
- rapid or labored breathing
- high blood pressure
- heart arrhythmia
- heart dysrhythmia
- high body temperature
Combined, a person may experience extremes that range from heart attack and stroke from cocaine overdose to respiratory depression, low blood pressure, coma, and death from an Ativan overdose.
Long-Term Physical Damage
Both cocaine and Ativan can cause long-term damage to the body in part due to the stress placed on the cardiovascular system.
Other persistent long-term effects of combined use of uppers and downers like cocaine and Ativan include the risk of:
- permanent heart damage
- shortness of breath
- low blood pressure
- kidney failure
Long-Term Mental Health And Neurological Damage
When cocaine is taken over the course of years — with or without other drugs, it can create lasting brain damage that results in:
- memory loss
- chronic anxiety
Ativan abuse increases the possibility of permanent brain damage due to low oxygen in the brain and other effects from CNS depression.
Permanent effects can include:
- memory loss
- learning troubles
Developing A Cocaine Or Ativan Addiction
Both cocaine and benzodiazepines like Ativan are habit-forming. People that regularly take cocaine and Ativan (together or separately) can develop both Ativan and cocaine addiction.
When a person begins to rely on Ativan to ease symptoms of cocaine “comedown” it may ultimately result in dependence.
Additionally, the person may experience unpleasant withdrawal symptoms when Ativan is not in the system.
Stopping the use of both or either drug is difficult. When taken together regularly, it only makes treatment more complicated.
Getting Help For Polysubstance Abuse
Taken individually or together, cocaine and Ativan can be highly addictive and can lead to fatal results when combined or taken excessively. Recovery from benzos and cocaine can only make life better.
If you or a loved one struggle with polysubstance abuse involving cocaine, call today for help. Our treatment specialists can help you find the best inpatient or outpatient facility for every need.
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Addiction Resource aims to provide only the most current, accurate information in regards to addiction and addiction treatment, which means we only reference the most credible sources available.
These include peer-reviewed journals, government entities and academic institutions, and leaders in addiction healthcare and advocacy. Learn more about how we safeguard our content by viewing our editorial policy.
- American Heart Association — The Effects of Acute and Chronic Cocaine Use on the Heart
- Medscape – Benzodiazepine Toxicity
- Medscape — Cocaine Toxicity
- Thomas Jefferson University — Cocaine Effects on Norepinephrine in the Amygdala
- U.S. National Library of Medicine: MedlinePlus — Cocaine Intoxication