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How Long Does Ativan Stay in Your System?

How long does Ativan stay in your system? This drug also goes by the generic name, Lorazepam. It is a member of the benzodiazepine drug class. If you have been using it for quite some time, you may have formed an addiction. If that is the case, you may be wondering how long you can expect it to stay in your body.

Perhaps you have a drug test coming up and you’re worried because you don’t want Lorazapam to show up. Or, it’s also possible that you have been taking it for a while – either appropriately or inappropriately – and you want to quit.

Either way, if you're thinking about stopping the use of Ativan, it's important to get this question answered. You should also know that it is not recommended to stop using any benzodiazepine drug without professional supervision.

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How Long Does Lorazepam Stay in Your Body?

How Long Does Lorazepam Stay in Your Body?

How long a drug stays in your body is determined primarily by the drug's half-life. The half-life for Ativan is about 12 hours. This means that in 12 hours' time, half the drug is eliminated from your body. This process will continue until all of the drug has been removed.

Once you calculate this, you'll see that it can take just under 3 days for Ativan to leave the body. However, there are some sources that indicate it takes a little bit longer. Some believe that it can take just over 3.5 days to excrete Lorazepam from your system.


What is Ativan?

Ativan is a medication that hit the market under the generic name Lorazepam in 1977. It is a drug that is commonly used to treat high levels of anxiety. It is a very effective option for treating this condition, but it should only be used short-term. Preferably, people should only take it when their levels of anxiety are quite high and not controlled well with other medications.

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Although doctors commonly prescribe this drug to treat anxiety, some will use it for other purposes as well. For example, it is not uncommon for Ativan to be used to treat:

Some of these are considered to be off-label use. That means that the FDA has not approved the drug for that purpose. But doctors can prescribe it if they feel it will work well for the patient.

The brain has neurotransmitters called gamma-aminobutyric acid receptors, or GABA for short. They are partially responsible for regulating things like anxiety, sleep and feelings of relaxation.

Ativan works by acting on these receptors and slowing down the central nervous system. As a result, excess agitation and excitement in the brain are reduced. People taking this drug tend to feel calmer and much more relaxed. In this way, the medication works as a CNS depressant.

The best part about Ativan is that it works quickly. This often makes it an obvious choice for doctors who need to treat patients with extreme anxiety or panic attacks. It will enter into their symptoms rapidly and the effects of it will last for a few hours.

Ativan is a controlled substance because it can become addictive. Also, it carries quite a long list of side effects as well.

Some of the more common side effects of it include:

  • Feeling drowsy or dizzy
  • Weakness in the muscles
  • Headaches
  • Blurry vision
  • Insomnia
  • Loss of coordination or balance
  • Bouts of forgetfulness or even amnesia
  • Problems with concentration
  • Nausea and/or vomiting
  • Constipation
  • Skin rash
  • Appetite fluctuations

Some of these effects may go away with continual use. But there are some that can persist for the entire time someone is taking it.

According to the latest Lorazepam dosing guide, this medication is usually started at 2-3mg per day. This is often divided among two or three doses. The maintenance dose is 1-2mg, two to three times per day.

There are times when this medication is given by IV or by injection. When it is injected, only .05mg is needed for maximum affect. By IV, 2mg is the total amount that is usually given over a span of a few hours.

Of course, the dosage of the drug you’re taking may vary. Your doctor will carefully weigh the risks and benefits before increasing or decreasing the amount. It is very important to follow the strict dosing schedule when you’re taking Ativan. It is a very potent drug, and taking too much or too little can cause serious problems.

What Determines How Long Ativan Stays in the Body?

There are several factors that dictate how long Lorazepam remains in the body. Your genetics can play a key role in this. Also, your height, weight and fat percentage may also influence how quickly it leaves your body.

Factors that influence permanence in the body

It's important to note that your dosage and how often you use Ativan will play a role as well. People who use the drug at higher doses will take longer to eliminate it. Also, if you use it frequently as a recreational drug, that will also be a factor. Using additional drugs or alcohol with it will change how quickly the body processes it too.

Let’s take a moment and look at some of these factors in greater detail.

Research has shown that your age can affect the rate Ativan is flushed from your system. People who are older have around 22% slower clearance rates than people who are younger.

Scientists really don’t know why older people process the drug at a slower rate. But there a few different theories, such as their organ functionality, various health conditions and their blood flow.

Some researchers also believe that a person’s weight and height can influence the elimination time of Ativan as well. For instance, if a shorter/lighter person takes the same amount as a taller/heavier person, it should take longer for the smaller person to process it. Being overweight can speed up the process of elimination.

The differences in people’s metabolic rates may come from genetics. There are those who have genes that are able to regulate certain liver enzymes or kidney function with more efficiency than others.

While liver impairment has not been shown to have an impact on the body’s ability to process Ativan, the same is not true for kidney functionality. Anyone who suffers from renal abnormalities or issues will probably have a slower excretion rate for this drug, as well as for its metabolites.

In general, someone who is taking only Ativan should process the drug in the average amount of time. But this changes once you consider the addition of other medications or even supplements. Taking other drugs at the same time can have a direct impact on Ativan’s rate of absorption and metabolism. Therefore, it will take longer for it to completely clear the system.

The same is true for someone who drinks alcohol while taking this drug. Scientists have found that drinking at the same time can reduce clearance rates by as much as 18%.

Ativan in urine, blood, saliva, or hair tests

Additional Ativan Questions:

Research shows that Lorazepam will remain detectable in urine for more than 144 hours. This means urine tests will remain positive for 6 days after the last use of the drug.

For people who use Ativan frequently, the drug can be detected in urine for a week or more. Some, more sensitive drug tests will show a positive result for as long as 9 days.

Lorazepam is detectable in blood tests approximately 6 hours after the last dose. Blood tests will remain positive for about 3 days after ingestion. Again, higher doses of Ativan may yield positive results for a little bit longer.

While they do have their uses, blood tests aren't usually used to check for Ativan use. They are quite invasive, and not nearly as reliable as urine tests.

Saliva tests for Lorazepam are even less reliable than blood or urine tests. Still, they are used on occasion.

Ativan will not show up on a saliva test until about 8 hours after the last dose. Once it is positive, it will only remain so for eight more hours.

Long-term Ativan detection is sometimes needed in certain situations. This type of test is the least reliable, but it can be good for checking drug use history.

A hair test for Lorazepam will take at least a few weeks to show a positive result. However, it will remain positive for up to one month afterwards.

Long Term Effects

As we previously mentioned, taking Ativan for a longer period of time is not recommended. Still, there are doctors who continue to write prescriptions for this drug for their patients for years. When they do, they are likely to experience many of the same side effects that are listed above, but to a greater degree.

This is a drug that is known to cause mild sedation. But someone who is taking it long-term may find themselves sleeping most of the day away. When they are awake, they may have little to no motivation to do anything. Excessive confusion may also be quite typical, and some people may start to experience delirium.

Additional long-term effects include cognitive impairment, a growing tolerance and eventually, dependence upon the drug. This can lead doctors to continually increase the dosage because it may appear that it is no longer working properly.

Words of Caution for the Elderly and Ativan Use

Insomnia and anxiety are problems that typically apply to elderly people. It should come as no surprise that a lot of them are taking benzodiazepine drugs to treat these issues. Some of the medications they may take include Klonopin, Valium, Xanax, and of course, Ativan.

The problem is that the elderly population is particularly sensitive to the ill effects that these medications can produce. Although they are only recommended for short-term use, it is not uncommon to find senior citizens who have been taking them for years.

In addition, doctors are also prescribing opioid painkillers for seniors; even though these drugs are contraindicated when someone is taking a benzo.

Opioids carry a long list of warnings all on their own. They can stop people from breathing when they take too much. But even in regular doses, when they are combined with a benzodiazepine like Ativan, the possibility of that is even higher.

The side effects that Ativan can cause are dangerous for the elderly population. These individuals are already at a higher risk of falls and fractures. Adding benzos into the mix does not help this problem. These drugs can have a profound negative impact on memory and other issues, and some seniors have even reported having hallucinations with prolonged use.

Precautions and What to Avoid

If you currently take Ativan – either by prescription or recreationally – please stop as soon as you can. There are so many risks involved, including serious breathing problems or even a coma when this drug is mixed with other substances or medications.

Please pay close attention to the following precautions:

  • Ativan should never be used with alcohol or any street drugs. This may depress your breathing.
  • Please let your doctor know you are taking Ativan before accepting a prescription for an opioid pain reliever. Taking them together can be life threatening.
  • If you are taking any other medications, supplements or vitamins, discuss them with your doctor. You may need to have your dosages changed.
  • Ativan will pass through breast milk, and it can affect nursing infants. Use special care if you take this drug and plan to breastfeed.
  • Ativan should be avoided by anyone who has depression or suicidal thoughts.
  • Senior citizens should use special care before deciding to take Ativan; especially on a long-term basis.
  • The use of any tobacco product while taking this medication can reduce the drug’s effects considerably.

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Recovering from Ativan

Lorazepam Rehab Can Help with Addiction Recovery

Ativan is a very serious drug that can have devastating consequences. You may know that you have an addiction. You may be concerned about withdrawal, which is why you have asked this question.

It may be necessary for you to go through drug detox prior to starting any other type of Ativan treatment. Detoxifying your body from Lorazepam is a step that you shouldn't skip. It will help make your recovery much easier. An IOP program (intensive outpatient treatment) might be the next option you consider. This type of treatment offers you a high level of care on a flexible schedule.

Getting Help for Ativan Addiction

At The Evergreen at Northpoint, we understand that it is difficult to admit you have become addicted to a drug. You may not have meant for this to happen, and the fact that it has really bothers you. Regardless of the reasons behind your Ativan use, the help you need is available to stop this drug safely.

Now that you know how long Ativan stays in your system, please make the right decision. You can recover from an Ativan addiction.

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Our admissions coordinators are here to help you get started with treatment the right way. They'll verify your health insurance, help set up travel arrangements, and make sure your transition into treatment is smooth and hassle-free.

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How Long Ativan Stays in Your System Infographic