Ativan (lorazepam) is a benzodiazepine that produces sedation and relaxation. These effects are caused by how the medication increases gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) in the brain. GABA is a brain chemical that calms the central nervous system.
Ativan and other benzodiazepines depress the central nervous system and are used to treat medical conditions including anxiety, seizure disorder, and alcohol withdrawal.
Heroin is an illegal, opioid drug made from morphine and is also classified as a central nervous system depressant.
People who abuse the illegal substance will experience euphoria followed by heavy drowsiness, due to heroin’s effect on slowing down the central nervous system.
When a person mixes these two substances together, it can cause dangerous combined and deadly side effects. Taking heroin and Ativan together increases the risks for overdose, adverse drug effects, addiction, loss of consciousness, and death.
Side Effects Of Mixing Heroin With Ativan
The concurrent use of Ativan and heroin, both central nervous system depressants, greatly increases an individual’s risk of adverse side effects.
Both opioids and benzodiazepines may cause physical dependence, addiction, drowsiness, sedation, fatal overdose, and death. When taken together these dangerous side effects are amplified.
Short-term effects of heroin and Ativan abuse may include:
- diarrhea, or constipation
In severe cases, side effects may include:
- mood swings
- heart attack or stroke
- vision impairment
- difficulty breathing
- muscle weakness
- sudden death
Drug Interactions Of Heroin And Ativan
The harmful drug interaction of heroin and Ativan is caused by their ability to cause respiratory depression and sedation. This is related to the combined effects of both drugs that depress the central nervous system.
Prescription opioids and benzodiazepines carry an FDA black box warning to notify people who take these substances of the dangerous drug interactions caused by mixing them together.
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Heroin is an illegal substance often obtained from distributors on the street. Ingredients may vary and may be cut with other toxic substances, and lead to other potentially lethal effects when combined with benzodiazepines.
It is important that a person who takes any prescription drugs consults with their doctor about the medications they use, including the use of alcohol, to avoid the potential risks of dangerous drug interactions.
To reduce the risks of overdose deaths, the CDC recommends physicians to avoid prescribing opioid medications with benzodiazepines to patients. Using these drugs together may result in profound sedation, respiratory depression, coma, and sudden death.
Overdose Risk When Mixing Heroin And Ativan
Since 2000, the rate of opioid-related deaths in the United States has tripled. Drug overdose deaths were at their highest recorded levels in 2015, and these rates may have risen since. Of all recorded overdoses, 60% involved heroin and opioid pain-relief medications.
When used alone, a single dose of heroin can lead to a fatal opioid overdose. People can also experience overdose from taking too much over time, or taking more doses before the last dose has left their body.
Ativan is a safe drug when taken in prescribed doses, at the recommended times. However, taking large doses of this medication puts the user at risk of an overdose.
An overdose involving Ativan could end in a coma or even death. This is especially true when the drug is combined with other drugs that suppress the activity of the brain and vital organs, such as heroin.
Treating Polydrug Abuse Of Heroin And Ativan
Addiction treatment for heroin and Ativan abuse must address the independent and combined side effects of both drugs to prevent relapse.
Further, treatment must support safe detox and management of withdrawal symptoms of each drug to prevent relapse.
Effective drug treatment programs for polydrug substance abuse are designed to medically support an individual safely towards rehabilitation.
This includes ensuring the addicted individual has access to a network of support services, mental health services, and medical support.
Due to the severe risks of heroin and Ativan abuse, people who abuse these substances together should seek treatment immediately.
If you or someone you know struggles with heroin and Ativan addiction, please connect with a specialist today. When you call our helpline, we can connect you with recovery programs that can treat these conditions. Call today to learn more.
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- National Center for Biotechnology Information — Benzodiazepines and Opioids
- U.S. Food and Drug Administration — FDA Drug Safety Communication: FDA warns about serious risks and death when combining opioid pain or cough medicines with benzodiazepines; requires its strongest warning
- National Center for Biotechnology Information — Interactions between benzodiazepines and opioids