Xanax (alprazolam) and Ativan (lorazepam) are prescription benzodiazepines commonly used to treat symptoms of panic disorders, anxiety disorders, and insomnia.
These short-acting drugs last between five to eight hours for a typical dose, and extended-release tablets (XR) can be felt for upwards of 12 hours.
When abused, benzos like Xanax and Ativan may be combined with barbiturates for increased effect, or with opioids to ward off negative withdrawal symptoms from opioid dependence.
Serious drug interactions may occur when benzos are combined, used in higher doses for off-label treatment, and when combined with other CNS depressants like alcohol or barbiturates.
Benzos can be abused through methods like crushing and snorting pills (insufflation), plugging, and orally. Snorting prescription drugs can increase the risk of overdose, especially when snorting extended-release benzos.
When used as prescribed by a healthcare provider, Xanax and Ativan can produce uncomfortable side effects. Using these drugs together will only amplify negative effects.
Short-Term Side Effects Of Xanax And Ativan
Taking benzos like Ativan and Xanax, even as directed with medical advice, can result in uncomfortable side effects.
Many people experience one or more of the following effects in the short-term:
- decreased blood pressure
- slow breathing
- suicidal ideation
- loss of motor skills
- memory and concentration problems
- mood swings
- slurred speech
- blurry vision
- dry mouth
Risks Of Polydrug Benzo Abuse
Misusing or abusing prescription benzos carries severe short-term and long-term risks. Drugs like Xanax, Ativan, and Valium can be highly addictive when used for an extended period of time.
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Persistent polydrug benzo drug use, even when used for the treatment of anxiety disorders, may increase the risk of overdose symptoms and long-term negative mental health effects.
Benzo abuse can also increase drug tolerance and create physical dependence where the body needs the drug to function “normally.”
Xanax and Ativan dependence can cause withdrawal symptoms when a person stops using the drug, sometimes after even a short amount of time.
Over the long-term, persistent signs of benzo abuse may include symptoms like:
- long-term memory loss
- heart issues
- suicidal ideas
- trouble focusing
- memory impairment
- liver damage
Fatal Overdose Risk With Alprazolam And Lorazepam Drug Use
When benzos are taken in excess or combined with other CNS depressants, a person is at a higher risk of fatal overdose due to combined depressant effects.
Some signs that a person may be experiencing an overdose include:
- respiratory depression (can lead to pneumonia and death)
- weak heartbeat
- low blood pressure
- loss of coordination
- blurred vision and extreme dizziness
- slurred speech
- weak heartbeat
- hypnotic state
Overdoses can occur when a person uses multiple benzos at the same time, or with increased frequency or higher doses to achieve the same results.
Because Ativan and Xanax are not frequently prescribed together (Xanax is not usually prescribed for children). The use of both drugs together may be the result of theft from family or friends, or from illegal drug purchases.
Addiction And Withdrawal Symptoms
Prolonged benzo use involving Xanax and Ativan can create chemical dependency. A supervised detox tapering off both drugs is the safest way to stop using benzos.
If somebody that uses benzos regularly or intensely suddenly stops using the drug, withdrawals can begin within a day after not having the drug in the system.
Depending on the frequency and intensity of drug use, symptoms of benzo withdrawal can last upwards of a couple of months. The most intense physical effects and cravings may last for a few days without the drugs.
Side effects of Ativan and Xanax withdrawal can include symptoms that can be dangerous when unsupervised.
Withdrawal symptoms may include:
- increased body temperature
- erratic behavior
- heart palpitations
- increased heart rate and blood pressure
- strong cravings
Treatment For Xanax And Ativan Drug Abuse
If you or a loved one is misusing prescription drugs like Xanax, Ativan, Valium (diazepam), or Klonopin (clonazepam), the results could be deadly. Getting help is easy, and we’re here to facilitate your recovery.
Call us today to learn more about your treatment options from our trained addiction specialists. Don’t wait to get started.
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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.
- Medscape — Benzodiazepine Toxicity
- Medscape — Ativan
- U.S. National Library of Medicine: MedlinePlus — Alprazolam