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How Long Does Ativan Stay in Your System?

Ativan (lorazepam) is a benzodiazepine medication that is commonly prescribed to treat anxiety, seizures, sleep problems, and alcohol withdrawal. It may also be used as an anesthetic or preanesthetic. Lorazepam works by rapidly increasing the availability and reuptake of gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) in the brain, a neurotransmitter that helps regulate the central nervous system.

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Because of Ativan’s calming and tranquilizing effects, it has a potential for abuse and addiction. The DEA has classified lorazepam as a Schedule IV Controlled Substance, indicating medicinal uses but risk for abuse and dependence.

Ativan is a long-acting benzodiazepine that can stay in your system for several days. In fact, Ativan can be detected by a urine test for 3-6 days after the last dose.

Understanding the Effects of Ativan and How Long They Last

Ativan is usually taken orally. Ativan pills are designed to have an intermediate onset of action, producing effects in as little as 15-30 minutes. Effects reach their peak within about two hours and last for 12-24 hours.

Common effects of taking Ativan include:

  • Drowsiness
  • Dizziness
  • Weakness
  • Confusion
  • Slurred speech
  • Lack of coordination
  • Memory problems
  • Headache
  • Nausea
  • Constipation
  • Changes in appetite
  • Changes in libido
  • Skin rash
  • Respiratory depression
  • Paradoxical reactions (such as increased anxiety or aggression)

Ativan Metabolism and Half-Life

The half-life of a drug describes how long it takes the body to metabolize and eliminate half of a single dose from the system. It takes between four and five half-lives or a substance to leave the body completely.

For Ativan, the half-life is about 12 hours, so it can take up to 60 hours for Ativan to leave your system. However, as Ativan is metabolized, it is broken down into metabolites that can remain in the body longer and be detected by a drug test.

Ativan is primarily metabolized in the liver where it is broken down into a metabolite called lorazepam glucuronide which has an even longer half-life of 18 hours. As a result, lorazepam glucuronide can stay in your system for up to 90 hours.

Ativan and its metabolites are eliminated from the body through urine and feces.

Factors that Affect How Long Ativan Stays in Your System

There are many variables that may influence how long Ativan stays in the body such as:

  • Dose –  taking larger doses of Ativan or more than prescribed can cause it to build up in your system and be detectable on drug tests for longer amounts of time.
  • Frequency of use – using Ativan more frequently may cause your body to eliminate it more slowly.
  • Duration of use – Using Ativan consistently for longer periods of time will cause it to build up in your system, increasing the amount of time it takes to leave your body completely.
  • Method of administration – Ativan is usually taken orally in tablet form, but smoking, snorting, or injecting the drug can affect how long it stays in the body.
  • Kidney health – Research has shown that kidney problems are associated with a longer Ativan half-life, causing it to stay in the body longer.
  • Age, weight, and metabolism – Older individuals, people with higher amounts of body fat, and individuals with slower metabolism may require more time to eliminate Ativan from their bodies

A person’s overall health, including liver function, and whether or not they have mixed Ativan with alcohol or other drugs can also impact how long the drug stays in the body.

Ativan Detection Times on Drug Tests

Several different types of drug tests can detect Ativan in the body. Each drug test has a different detection window, and results may vary based on the individual factors listed above.

  • Urine testing – The most popular type of drug test is a urinalysis. Test subjects pee into a cup and the urine sample is tested using a screening panel. Ativan can show up on a urine test two hours after taking it and can continue being detected for 3-6 days.
  • Blood testing – Blood tests are invasive and must be administered by a healthcare professional, so they are generally only used in healthcare settings. Ativan can show up on a blood test one to six hours after taking it and for up to two days.
  • Saliva testing – Ativan can show up on a saliva test about 15 minutes after taking it and can continue being detected for about 8-12 hours, depending on the dose.
  • Hair testing – Hair testing looks for drug metabolites present in the hair follicle. Ativan can show up on a hair test for up to 90 days after the last dose, however, it doesn’t always show up in the hair follicle.

Some medications, such as an HIV drug called efavirenz or an antidepressant called sertraline, can cause false positive test results for Ativan or benzodiazepines. If you are taking one of these medications, be sure to let the test administrator know.

How to Get Ativan Out of Your System

The only way to eliminate Ativan from your body is to stop taking it. Eating a healthy diet, getting plenty of exercise, and drinking enough water can help speed up your metabolism, which may speed up the elimination timeline. However, if you have been taking Ativan for a long time, you may be physically dependent on it. As a result,  you may experience withdrawal when you suddenly stop taking Ativan.

Ativan withdrawal can be extremely uncomfortable and even life-threatening. The best way to stop taking the medication is to slowly taper off it under the guidance of a healthcare professional or drug detox program. A gradual taper will reduce the severity of withdrawal symptoms.

Get Help for Ativan Abuse and Addiction Today

If you or someone you love are struggling with Ativan addiction, please reach out to our team at Elevate Recovery Center today.

Our mission is to enable each and every patient to heal fully with an individualized addiction treatment program tailored to meet their specific needs. We know there is no “one-size-fits-all” approach to addiction treatment, which is why every patient gets specialized and undivided attention while in our care. We even go the extra mile by staying connected with our patients after they leave our rehab facility. No matter what obstacles are in your way in recovery, we’ll be there to lend a hand.

To learn more about our benzodiazepine addiction treatment programs or to discuss your options with an addiction specialist, call us now.

References:

  1. National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI): Lorazepam (Ativan), Retrieved July 2023 from https://www.nami.org/About-Mental-Illness/Treatments/Mental-Health-Medications/Types-of-Medication/Lorazepam-(Ativan)
  2. National Library of Medicine: Lorazepam, Retrieved July 2023 from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK532890/
  3. U.S Food and Drug Administration (FDA): Ativan label, Retrieved July 2023 from https://www.accessdata.fda.gov/drugsatfda_docs/label/2016/017794s044lbl.pdf
  4. Springer Journal: Clinical Pharmacokinetics of Oxazepam and Lorazepam, Retrieved July 2023 from https://link.springer.com/article/10.2165/00003088-198106020-00001

MEDICALLY REVIEWED BY

Valerie Tecci, Program Director

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