Cirque Lodge > Blog > Addiction > Mixing Ativan and Alcohol: Dangers and Effects

What is Ativan?

Ativan or lorazepam is a benzodiazepine prescription medication often used to treat anxiety disorders. It is also used to manage seizure disorders and the symptoms of cancer treatment such as nausea from chemotherapy and insomnia.

This drug, like other benzodiazepines, may be referred to colloquially as a "benzo" which is a type of "downer" drug. It may be a tablet or a liquid.

Taking Ativan depresses the central nervous system which calms the individual; they may feel relaxed due to the slowing of neural activity. Agitation of the GABA receptors (Gamma-aminobutyric acid) further inhibits nerve transmission exacerbating this relaxed feeling.

What is Alcohol?

Alcohol (ethyl alcohol) is a psychoactive depressant drug made via the process of fermentation. It is consumed recreationally. Like Ativan, drinking alcohol or "being drunk" may make someone feel relaxed because it depresses neural messaging in the central nervous system.

The national legal drinking age is twenty-one in all states of America.

Alcohol use suppresses the production of the neurotransmitter glutamate which is responsible for learning and memory whilst increasing GABA. Dopamine is also increased in the synaptic gap upon drinking alcohol. This is a "feel-good" neurotransmitter that makes a person feel happy.

Alcohol use disorder is extremely prevalent due to its accessibility and sedating effects. However, if you drink alcohol, you may experience negative emotions because alcohol is a depressant.

Abusing Ativan

Like other substances, prescription drugs may be abused. This can look like:

  • Taking too high a dose
  • Mixing alcohol or other substances with medicine against guidance
  • Taking the drug more often than recommended
  • Taking the drug via an unintended method like snorting or injecting an oral medicine

Alcohol Abuse

Misusing alcohol can lead to adverse effects like:

  • Liver damage
  • Substance use disorder
  • Erratic or risky behavior due to diminished inhibitions
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Loss of coordination
  • Slurred speech
  • Mood swings
  • Memory loss
  • Vomiting and nausea
  • Angry outbursts
  • Erectile dysfunction
  • High blood pressure
  • Stroke
  • Throat, mouth, breast, liver, esophageal, and other cancers

Side Effects of Ativan

Like other substances, Ativan may cause side effects. Examples of this include:

  • Mouth dryness
  • Constipation
  • Diarrhea
  • Changed frequency of urination
  • Memory problems
  • Nausea
  • Appetite change
  • Dizziness
  • Drowsiness
  • Tiredness and fatigue
  • Restlessness
  • Blurry vision
  • Muscle weakness
  • Sexual dysfunction

Ativan Overdose

An overdose is when a person consumes too much of a drug. It can be dangerous and result in overdose deaths. If you or a loved one experience one or more of the following symptoms, this may indicate an overdose is occurring:

  • Altered speech
  • Weakness
  • Loss of muscle control
  • Altered emotional state- excessive anxiety or irritability
  • Respiratory depression
  • Coma
  • Seizures
  • Stupor
  • Unresponsiveness
  • Collapsing

You should seek immediate medical help by calling 911 if these symptoms occur.

Alcohol Poisoning

Alcohol poisoning is when the level of alcohol in a person's blood has become toxic. This is due to alcohol misuse, especially the excessive consumption of alcohol within a short time period or "binge drinking."

This form of alcohol abuse can be life-threatening. It is important to seek urgent medical care if you or someone you love experiences one or more of the following symptoms:

  • Confusion
  • Slurring speech
  • Loss of coordination
  • Vomiting
  • Irregular or slow breathing
  • Symptoms of hypothermia like skin discoloration (paleness or bluish) or low temperature
  • Unresponsiveness whilst conscious
  • Unconsciousness

Ativan and Alcohol Withdrawal Symptoms

Withdrawal symptoms occur when the body has become used to or dependent on a substance. This dependence could be physical, psychological, or both. The brain has adapted to the elevated levels of neurotransmitters such as dopamine.

Therefore, when the desired substance is absent from the body, the base level of neurotransmitters is comparably low. This is especially true of alcohol and Ativan as they depress the central nervous system.

Ativan and alcohol share withdrawal symptoms such as:

  • Excessive sweating
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Reduced appetite which could lead to weight loss
  • Increased anxiety
  • Accelerated heartbeat
  • Increased blood pressure

These substances may be addictive because people may wish to avoid unpleasant withdrawal symptoms by continuing substance use. However, this can lead to harmful long-term side effects, and their risk of overdose increases.

Recovering from any addiction is best achieved with professional support. There are many options to explore when it comes to the treatment process.

Signs Someone May Have a Substance Use Disorder

If someone is experiencing a substance abuse problem, their behavior may be altered. If you or someone you love is experiencing a substance use disorder, they may:

  • Talk about substances excessively
  • Display withdrawal symptoms
  • Participate in criminal behavior in order to obtain drugs
  • Become withdrawn and secretive
  • Display side effects of drug abuse
  • Become disinterested in life outside of the substance (work, hobbies, relationships, etc.)
  • Display dysfunctional behavior such as tardiness or failure to attend work

Substance abuse disorder is often comorbid with other mental health issues such as depression and anxiety. Substance abuse treatment at Cirque Lodge recognizes the link between multiple mental health problems.

Dangers of Mixing Ativan and Alcohol

Is mixing alcohol and Ativan dangerous? The answer is yes, mixing these two substances can be extremely harmful because these drugs cause similar side effects, thereby worsening the effects of the substances. The potency of an overall dose is difficult to determine if several substances are mixed. This results in a higher risk of overdose deaths as the individual may be unaware of how much they have consumed.

Taking more than one drug may result in the development of a mental or physical dependency on one or more substances. An addiction may form, be reinforced or be transferred to a new substance. If you are recovering from drug abuse, abusing a new substance may lead to a relapse.

Mixing alcohol with other drugs is also dangerous for similar reasons. If you are taking any medicine, you should avoid alcohol unless advised by a health care professional.

Ativan and Alcohol Addiction Treatment at Cirque Lodge

We at Cirque Lodge provide a healing environment to recover from mental illness in an individualized and holistic manner.

Our addiction treatment options are specific to your individual needs. We offer the following opportunities within our treatment process:

  • Cognitive therapy
  • Alcohol and drug medical detox
  • Multi-systemic family therapy
  • Womens' therapy
  • Behavioral therapy
  • Experiential therapy
  • Support groups
  • The Twelve Step Program
  • Medical detox

Your recovery journey is not a one-size-fits-all situation; we tailor our approach to best suit the individual's needs. We have found adaptability has allowed our clients to feel empowered throughout their recovery, leading to long-term recovery from substance use disorders.

Contact us now if you are interested in taking the first step on the road to healing.


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