Mixing Cocaine And Ativan: Effects And Risks

Medically Reviewed by Johnelle Smith, M.D. on October 11, 2021

Some people combine cocaine and benzodiazepines like Ativan to alter their desired high or ease unpleasant side effects of the cocaine “comedown”. People that abuse Valium with cocaine can experience life-threatening effects including addiction and overdose.

Dangers Of Mixing Cocaine And Ativan

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.

Learn more about the dangers of mixing cocaine and benzodiazepines

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
  • euphoria
  • paranoia/anxiety

An Ativan high may result in:

  • decreased energy
  • drowsiness
  • 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
  • coma
  • tremors
  • confusion
  • lethargy
  • slurred speech
  • death

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
  • seizures
  • 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:

  • stroke
  • seizures
  • 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:

  • psychosis
  • depression
  • 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
  • confusion
  • anxiety
  • disorientation
  • 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.

Call today to get started on a better path. We’re here to help.

This page does not provide medical advice. See more

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Medically Reviewed by
Johnelle Smith, M.D. on October 11, 2021
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