Using Ativan with Alcohol: What Are the Risks?

Pharmacists telling information to patient at pharmacy
While there are legitimate medical applications of drugs like Ativan, mixing Ativan with alcohol is extremely dangerous and is associated with potentially life-threatening side effects.

Share This Post

Benzodiazepines like Ativan are commonly referenced in pop culture due to their sedative effects, but abuse of these medications is a serious issue.

While there are legitimate medical applications of drugs like Ativan, mixing Ativan with alcohol is extremely dangerous and is associated with potentially life-threatening side effects.

The numerous risks associated with using Ativan with alcohol are outlined below.

What is Ativan?

Ativan is a brand-name prescription drug that belongs to a class of drugs called benzodiazepines.

Also sold under the generic name lorazepam, Ativan is most commonly used for the treatment of anxiety, insomnia, and certain types of seizure disorders. 

The drug is available in the form of an oral tablet and injection, but the injectable form of the drug is only available in a clinical setting and is used for the treatment of seizure disorders. 

What are the risks of using Ativan with alcohol?

Ativan and alcohol are both classified as central nervous system (CNS) depressants.

CNS depressants are a broad category of substances that include medications like tranquilizers, hypnotic, and sedatives that are designed to slow the activity of the brain. 

Most CNS depressants, including Ativan and alcohol, work to slow brain activity by increasing activity at the receptors of a neurotransmitter called gamma-aminobutyric acid, or GABA.

GABA is responsible for slowing down activity in the brain, and people with certain types of anxiety or sleep disorders may not have enough GABA activity to prevent their symptoms.

CNS depressants increase GABA activity, which helps promote a sense of calm.

When substances like Ativan and alcohol, both of which have a calming effect on the body, are combined, their effects are amplified.

Lorazepam is one of the most commonly abused prescription drugs in the United States, and benzodiazepines were reported as being a contributing factor in nearly 30 percent of overdose deaths in 2013. 

The effects of Ativan and alcohol combined can cause the body’s systems, particularly the respiratory system, to slow down so much that it stops functioning, which can be fatal. 

Common side effects of alcohol and Ativan combination include:

  • Extreme drowsiness
  • Slowed, irregular, shallow, or difficult breathing
  • Dizziness resulting from low blood pressure
  • Memory problems
  • Impaired balance and physical control
  • Unusual behaviors
  • Impaired cognition
  • Passing out

The combination of alcohol and Ativan can cause a potentially fatal overdose, so you should call 911 immediately if you or someone you know has combined the two substances and is starting to show symptoms. 

Very serious risks associated with the combination of lorazepam and alcohol include:

  • Increased levels of intoxication or more rapid intoxication
  • Increased risk of overdose caused by the similar side effects of both drugs
  • Increased risk of brain damage over time due to changes in the structure of the brain
  • Increased risk of experiencing mental illness
  • Significantly higher risk of experiencing physical dependence and increased tolerance, which increases the chance of experiencing addiction
  • Increased risk of experiencing blackouts and other unintended side effects
  • Potential to experience the challenges associated with addiction, such as financial challenges, loss of relationships with loved ones, job loss, and health problems including alcohol withdrawal
  • Symptoms of alcohol and Ativan overdose including slowed heart rate, sedation, and seizures

People who mix Ativan with alcohol repeatedly are more likely to experience damage to the stomach, heart, liver, and brain. 

While Ativan itself is not associated with liver damage, the increased intoxication that occurs from mixing the two drugs can cause increased damage.

People who regularly mix the substances can also begin to experience chronic drowsiness and depressed breathing due to oxygen deprivation.

YouTube player

Is using Ativan with alcohol ever safe?

Even if you have a documented medical need and a prescription for Ativan, you should never combine Ativan and alcohol.

People who take Ativan for seizure disorders may take the medication for an extended period of time, but those who use the drug for mental health disorders and sleep typically take Ativan for a period of just a few weeks due to the potential for Ativan abuse and drug addiction. 

Those prone to substance abuse disorders should seek medical advice from a healthcare professional before starting Ativan.

If you or a loved one has developed an Ativan addiction, alcohol abuse disorder, or other substance use disorder, both inpatient treatment programs and outpatient addiction treatment options are available.

Detoxification from Ativan and alcohol use can cause withdrawal symptoms if the detox is not done under the supervision of a medical professional. 

Patients should avoid consuming alcohol for several hours after taking Ativan. 


Using Ativan with alcohol is incredibly dangerous and is never safe. The substances are both central nervous system stimulants, and their effects are amplified when the substances are combined.

This can potentially lead to life threatening side effects like respiratory depression, impaired cognition, and chronic liver damage. 

If you have a prescription for Ativan and choose to use alcohol, make sure that the doses are separated by several hours, but it is better to avoid alcohol entirely when taking Ativan.

References, Studies and Sources:

We are committed to providing our readers with only trusted resources and science-based studies with regards to medication and health information. 

Disclaimer: This general information is not intended to diagnose any medical condition or to replace your healthcare professional. If you suspect medical problems or need medical help or advice, please talk with your healthcare professional.

Share This Post Discount Club

Get Started for $1.

  • Cheapest cash pay option at your retail pharmacy
  • 1,000s of drugs below $10.00 that can beat your co-pay
  • Start for $1 for your first month. Cancel anytime. 
  • Tell us your meds, we tell you the cheapest options.

Popular Destinations

Recent Articles

trusted pharmacists giving patient information

Does Taking Effexor Cause Weight Gain?

Taking Effexor may cause weight gain in some patients. Weight gain is a common side effect of Effexor and other antidepressant medications, and more than half of patients on newer classes of antidepressants report experiencing weight gain.

Read More »

Cerebral Review: Online Depression & Anxiety Treatment

Today, we’re deep diving with a Cerebral review to give you some insider info to help you narrow down your choices.

We review and include products we think are useful for our community. If you buy through links on this page, we may earn a commission. For more info, please read our ad policy, content principles and vetting policy.

Read More »

Share On:

More To Explore

Does Taking Effexor Cause Weight Gain?

Taking Effexor may cause weight gain in some patients. Weight gain is a common side effect of Effexor and other antidepressant medications, and more

How Long Does Lexapro Take To Work?

If you are considering taking Lexapro for your depression or anxiety, you might be wondering how long it takes to work.

Zoloft and Weight Loss: Everything You Need To Know

When it comes to Zoloft and weight loss, here’s everything you need to know.

Cerebral Review: Online Depression & Anxiety Treatment

Today, we’re deep diving with a Cerebral review to give you some insider info to help you narrow down your choices.

We review and include

What are the signs of Depression?

In this article, we will discuss the signs and symptoms of depression as well as some treatment options for this condition.

Can You Use Gabapentin For Anxiety?

While Neurontin is the most common brand name for gabapentin, other forms (such as Horizant and Gralise) may be prescribed depending on the specific

What is Zoloft?

If you have been recently diagnosed with depression and are given Zoloft, you may want to know how the medication works, what common side

What is Venlafaxine HCL ER?

The prescription drug belongs to a class of drugs called selective serotonin norepinephrine reuptake inhibitor antidepressants (SNRIs), which are commonly used to treat mental

Using Prozac With Alcohol: What Are the Risks?

Prozac can be used to treat many different mental health conditions, is associated with a relatively low risk of side effects, and causes the

How Long Does Clonazepam Stay in Your System?

This fast-acting medication is known for being effective at panic attacks, but how long does clonazepam stay in your system?

What is Sertraline and What are the Side Effects?

Sertraline is the generic form of Zoloft, a medication that belongs to a class of drugs called selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs). SSRIs like

Turn On, Tune In, and…. Heal Your Brain? Psychedelics Return as Potential Therapy for Mental Health Disorders

Before they fell out of favor over half a century ago, psychedelic drugs, like psilocybin and LSD, were studied for various psychiatric diseases such

How Long Does Alprazolam Stay in Your System?

Alprazolam is a fast-acting medication, but exactly how long alprazolam stays in your body varies tremendously based on the form of the medication taken,

Paxil vs Zoloft: Differences, Similarities and Which is Better

When it comes to Paxil vs. Zoloft, which is better?

A Supplement for Stress? The Science Behind Adaptogens

Stress is part of all our lives. Adaptogens are a group of herbal supplements studied throughout history as a way to improve the body’s

Does Buspirone Cause Weight Gain?

Many antidepressants can cause weight gain as a side effect. Buspirone may cause an altered appetite as a side effect, which can lead to

Duloxetine Withdrawal: Symptoms, Timeline, and Treatment

Duloxetine withdrawal is very common and well documented, affecting nearly half of all patients. Common withdrawal symptoms include dizziness, headaches, and nausea, and symptoms

Cymbalta vs. Prozac: Comparison Guide

Cymbalta and Prozac are commonly prescribed medications to treat mental health conditions such as major depressive disorder. The medications are similarly effective, although one

How Long Does Ativan Stay in Your System?

If you use Ativan to manage your health but are curious about how long Ativan lasts in your system, we have all the information

Why is Mental Health Important?

As the saying goes, “There is no health without mental health,” but why is mental health so important? The reality is that although we

What is BuSpar? Uses, Costs, Benefits, and Doses

If you’re one of 40 million American adults suffering from an anxiety disorder or experiencing symptoms of anxiety, you might think that your battle

What are Long-Acting Injectable Antipsychotics? 

Long-acting injectable (LAI) antipsychotics have been shown to prevent psychosis relapse in patients with schizophrenia. To combat poor medication adherence, LAIs are a great

Cymbalta vs Effexor: Differences and Side Effects

Effexor and Cymbalta are antidepressants used for the treatment of major depressive disorder and generalized anxiety disorder. Although both medications are FDA-approved, Effexor and

Celexa vs Lexapro: Which is Better For Depression?

Both are regarded as equally effective drugs for treating depression. Find out the core difference between Celexa vs. Lexpro now!

What is Ativan? Uses, Costs, Benefits, Doses

More than 40 million adults in the United States are diagnosed with an anxiety disorder, making it the most common mental illness in the

Lexapro Overdose: Signs, Symptoms, and Precautions

We’ve put together a list of the signs and symptoms to look out for when it comes to Lexapro overdose and some of the

Panic Attacks: The Story of an Overpowering Fear

Panic attacks are when you experience a sudden feeling of intense fear with no apparent threat or danger.  This triggers a "fight or flight"

Using Lorazepam with Alcohol: What Are the Risks?

Using lorazepam with alcohol is incredibly dangerous but can be a common occurrence, and is associated with potentially life-threatening side effects, which are outlined

Using Citalopram with Alcohol: What Are the Risks?

Mixing antidepressants with alcohol is always potentially dangerous, but using citalopram with alcohol is particularly unsafe due to the high potential for life-threatening side

Brightside Health Review: Is This Depression & Anxiety Care Useful?

Brightside is an online mental healthcare company that provides treatment services for a range of issues related to anxiety and depression. These conditions include