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Ativan Overdose

Ativan, which is the brand name for lorazepam, is a powerful sedative doctors commonly prescribe to help treat anxiety disorders and insomnia over the short term (for two weeks or less). Ativan is a benzodiazepine medication that can have a calming effect on your brain and nerves. However, taking more than recommended or mixing it with another depressant like alcohol or opioids could lead to overdose.1 Knowing the signs and symptoms of Ativan overdose is vital for getting the medical attention you or someone you love may need.

4 Minute Read | Published Jul 26 2023 | Updated Feb 28 2024 Expert Verified
Emma Collins
Written by
Ashley Bayliss
Reviewed by
Emma Collins
Written by
Ashley Bayliss
Reviewed by

Signs of Ativan Overdose

The risk of overdosing on Ativan greatly increases when you misuse this medication. Ativan misuse is characterized by using the drug in any way other than how your doctor has explicitly directed. This may include:

  • Using higher doses of Ativan than prescribed
  • Using more frequent doses of Ativan than prescribed
  • Using Ativan without a prescription
  • Using Ativan in a way other than directed (snorting or injecting)
  • Mixing Ativan with other substances to enhance the high

Combining Ativan with other medications, like opioids, may lead to severe side effects, overdose, and death.

Here are some signs and symptoms of Ativan overdose:

 
  • Drowsiness
  • Lethargy
  • Difficulty speaking
  • Sedation
  • Unsteadiness/incoordination
  • Weak muscle tone
  • Memory problems
  • Confusion
  • Paradoxical reaction (such as aggression)
  • Disorientation
  • Low blood pressure
  • Slow heartbeat
  • Slowed or shallow breathing
  • Coma

Ativan Overdose signs

How to Treat an Ativan Overdose

If you suspect someone is experiencing an Ativan overdose, call 911 immediately to get emergency medical assistance. Provide them with as much information as you can, such as:

  • How much Ativan they used
  • When they took the Ativan
  • Whether they used any other drugs
  • Their age, sex, and weight
  • The street address/location

If you are caring for someone who has overdosed while you are waiting for medical personnel to arrive, rouse them, make sure they are breathing, and stay with them until help arrives.

To treat an Ativan overdose, medical personal may give you or your loved one medication called flumazenil via an intravenous line (IV). The medicine may reverse the adverse effects of Ativan by blocking your brain’s GABA receptors. However, flumazenil can cause seizures, especially in people who are dependent on Ativan.If you know that the person is addicted to or dependent on Ativan or any other benzos, it’s important to tell the first responders this information so they can weigh the pros and cons of using flumazenil, as well as monitor for seizures.

 

Quote 2: Flumazenil is a medication that may be used to treat an Ativan overdose.

Ativan Addiction

Preventing an Overdose with Rehab

Overdosing on Ativan may indicate an addiction to this benzodiazepine. If you or a loved one is experiencing this, know that help is available. Long-term Ativan use will put you at a higher risk for dangerous consequences, such as overdose, so the sooner you get treatment for your addiction, the better off you will be. 

There are many types of Ativan addiction treatment programs available, depending on your needs. Some common treatment interventions and program types include;

  • Detox: If you’re dependent on Ativan, you should seek a program that offers Ativan detox in which the drug is cleared from your body. At Ativan detox, a treatment team provides you with medications and supportive care to manage your Ativan withdrawal symptoms and medically stabilize you. This is just the first step on the continuum of care.
  • Inpatient treatment: You live at a treatment facility for several week to a few months while recovering from Ativan addiction. Services include group therapy, individual counseling, family therapy, drug testing, support groups, relapse-prevention education, and holistic and alternative therapies like yoga or meditation. This is the best option if you don’t have a support system at home and need a highly-structured environment.
  • Outpatient treatment: You live at home while attending treatment at an outpatient facility. These programs range in intensiveness, with some programs requiring a commitment of several hours per day while others require just a few hours per week.
  • Population-specific treatment: Some treatment programs specialize in serving the unique needs of specific populations, such as veterans, LGBTQ+ individuals, men, women, and teens.

Regardless of which Ativan treatment program you choose, it’s essential to enter treatment as soon as possible to reduce your risk of experiencing an overdose.

If you or a loved one is having trouble with any form of addiction, call our helpline at (800) 429-7690 today to speak with a recovery support specialist.

Common Questions About Ativan Overdose

The usual range of prescribed Ativan is 2 to 6 mg per day. The maximum daily dosage is 10 mg per day. The optimal dose and frequency of administration will vary by patient.

Possible side effects of taking too much Ativan can include dizziness, weakness, blurred vision, sedation, unsteadiness, difficulty breathing, jaundice, tremor, and coma.

Do not take Ativan with other benzodiazepine medications. Combining Ativan with antihistamines, opioids, sleeping medications, narcotic pain medications, or other anti-anxiety medications could cause drowsiness. Taking alcohol and using illegal drugs while taking Ativan may increase your risk of overdose.


It can be safe and effective to take Ativan as your doctor prescribes. Your healthcare provider will tell you the dose and frequency that is right for you. However, keep in mind that Ativan may also lead to physical dependence if used daily for longer than two weeks.

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