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What Happens When You Mix Alcohol and Ativan?

Ativan is the brand name that dispenses lorazepam as a generic medication, and is only accessible by having a prescription from your doctor. While this drug is mainly used to combat anxiety, it has highly addictive components that can lead to substance abuse. Moreover, when intake is mixed with alcohol (which is often the substance abused with Ativan), it can be a deadly combination.

Learn about the nature of Ativan and alcohol, the dangers of mixing both substances together, and what you can do as a first-aid for someone who is exhibiting an overdose.

What is Ativan?

Ativan is an anti-anxiety prescription that falls under the benzodiazepines category. Chemically, it shares similarities with Xanax, Valium and Klonopin, but each drug serves different purposes. When taken, the following side effects may occur:

  • Drowsiness or sleepiness
  • Dizziness
  • Weakness
  • Slow breathing
  • Low blood pressure levels

Doctors prescribe Ativan to patients who have anxiety, depression-related anxiety, epilepsy and insomnia. It is also a rapid-onset drug that is meant to treat diseases quickly, because prolonged exposure can make patients develop addiction and dependence on the medicine.

a woman sleeping during the day with the curtains closed

The Similarities Between Alcohol and Ativan

Ativan and alcohol are two different substances but have the same effects when taken. Both are central nervous depressants since they produce a neurotransmitter known as gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA).

If there is not enough GABA, the brain will produce glutamate and cause stress, panic attacks and seizures. Upon taking Ativan or alcohol, the patient becomes relaxed due to the abundance of GABA in the brain.

The Dangerous Effects of Mixing Ativan and Alcohol

Doctors prohibit patients from taking Ativan and alcohol within the same time frame. Given that they are both central nervous depressants, the side effects, such as slowness of breath and lowered heart rate, will heighten. If first-aid isn’t given immediately, a person can overdose which could lead to their death.

Signs and Symptoms of an Ativan and Alcohol Overdose

Knowing the symptoms of an Ativan and alcohol overdose can save a life. To that end, here are the symptoms you need to look out for:

  • Drowsiness
  • Decreased muscle tone
  • Lack of control over muscle movements
  • Slurred speech
  • Vomiting
  • Low body temperature
  • Clammy skin
  • Low blood pressure
  • Slowed heart rate
  • Slowed breathing
  • Respiratory arrest

When someone is exhibiting these signs, the first thing you have to do is to contact emergency medical hotlines because this kind of overdose requires immediate attention. While waiting for help, however, here are some of the things you can do:

1. Regularly Check Vital Signs

Checking vital signs requires you to check the body temperature, pulse and respiration rate. When someone is having an overdose, immediately touch their skin and see if it’s cold or breaking into cold sweat. Search for a pulse and begin counting the beats per minute. Lastly, observe if the person is having difficulty in breathing.

2. Airway Maintenance

One of the symptoms of Ativan and alcohol overdose is respiratory arrest. In case you witness a person experiencing this, the best course of action is to conduct non-invasive airway management. This involves chest compressions, abdominal thrusts, back blows and CPR. Doing any of these can help clear out any obstructions in the body’s airflow.

a person administering CPR on a patient

3. Stay With the Patient Until Help Arrives

If someone is experiencing an overdose, you should keep track of their condition until help arrives. First, check if the patient is slipping into an unconscious state. If they are, provide light stimuli to hold their attention. The best way to do this is by gently speaking or calling out to them. You can ask for their name or other questions to keep their attention engaged.

Make sure they respond to you so they don’t drift into a coma. Aside from that, don’t forget to reassure the person by letting them know that help is on the way. This will help calm them down and focus on staying awake.

4. Search for Any Pills Container

Upon the arrival of medical help, make sure to give them any evidence related to the incident, such as the patient’s pills container. Even if it is empty, they can determine what caused the overdose and administer the right treatment to improve the condition of the patient.

Ativan and Alcohol Withdrawal

Continued use of dangerous substances can cause a person to develop dependence. This commonly happens in Ativan and alcohol abuse since both produce dopamine and serotonin upon intake. Once the patient associates a “light and relaxed” feeling while taking the substances, they will most likely rely on using them again to repeat the effects.

Unfortunately, this makes the body acclimate to the substance and the patient will begin to steadily function only when the substance(s) are present. Abruptly stopping the usage of either will trigger withdrawal.

When a person enters the withdrawal stage, they may exhibit the following symptoms:

  • Headache
  • Sweating
  • Difficulty in concentrating
  • Confusion
  • Increased blood pressure
  • Irritability
  • Mood swings
  • Nausea

Medically Assisted Detox

The length of the withdrawal period depends on the person and the severity of the body’s dependence on the substance. It can be as short as three days, or as long as 14 days or more.

The best way to treat this process is through medical assistance. For Ativan, going through a medical detox under the supervision of a physician at a rehab facility is the recommended route.

Getting Help for Substance Addiction

Addiction isn’t something you should go through alone. If you or or someone you know is battling alcohol or Ativan addiction, always know that help is available.

As the premier drug and alcohol addiction recovery centre in Canada, Freedom From Addiction ensures patients are treated in a trusted and non-judgmental environment.

Contact us today to transform your future.


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