Ativan, the brand name for lorazepam, is a prescription benzodiazepine drug that is used to treat anxiety. Like other benzodiazepines, Ativan can be addictive when it is abused. How long Ativan stays in your system can vary based on how long you’ve been taking it, what dose you are taking, and individual health-related factors.

Ativan Metabolism and Half-Life

Ativan is intended to be taken orally and as an intermediate action of onset. People feel the effects 15-30 minutes after taking it, with peak effects occurring within two hours of ingestion. Common side effects of Ativan are:

  • Drowsiness
  • Dizziness
  • Headache
  • Nausea
  • Poor coordination
  • Blurry vision
  • Reduced anxiety
  • Sleepiness

After it is swallowed, Ativan is metabolized by the liver and eliminated from the body through the kidneys via urine.

The half-life of Ativan is about 12 hours. The half-life is how long it takes the body to metabolize and eliminate half of a single dose of a substance. It takes about 4-5 half-lives for a substance to leave the body, so it takes around 60 hours for the body to clear a single dose of Ativan.

Although Ativan leaves your system in just a few days, the liver breaks it down into metabolites. One of the metabolites has a half-life of 18 hours, meaning it can stay in the body for about 90 hours, and be detected by a drug test during this time.

Factors that Influence How Long Ativan Stays in Your System

Several variables can affect exactly how long Ativan stays in your system and the amount of time it can be detected on a drug test. These include:

  • Amount taken – Taking high doses of Ativan will cause it to build up in the body’s tissues leading to longer detection times on drug tests.
  • Frequency of use – Taking Ativan more frequently can cause it to stay in the body longer.
  • Length of use – Using Ativan for extended periods allows it to build up in the body’s tissues and be detected in the system longer.
  • Method of administration – Ativan is usually swallowed as either a pill or a liquid, but when abused, people may inject it or snort it. While it produces similar effects regardless of the way it is taken, the method of administration can affect how long it lasts.
  • Age – In general, older people eliminate Ativan from their bodies about 20% more slowly than younger people.
  • Metabolism – People with slower metabolisms may take longer to clear the drug.
  • Health – Overall health, including kidney and liver health, heavily impacts how long drugs like Ativan stay in your body.
  • Polysubstance use Taking Ativan alongside other prescription drugs can affect how quickly it leaves the body. For example, Probenecid, a common gout medication, can increase the half-life, while Theophylline, an asthma medication, can reduce it.

Body weight, hydration, and diet can also impact how quickly the body metabolizes and eliminates drugs.

Drug Test Detection Times for Ativan

Four types of drug tests can be used to screen for substance abuse. Each one can detect recent lorazepam use. While various factors affect how long it stays in your system, the following are average Ativan detection times.

How Long Does Ativan Stay in Urine?

As the most popular and widely used type of drug test, urine tests may be used for pre-employment screenings and more. Urine tests are cheap, easy to administer, and highly accurate. Urinalysis tests can detect Ativan in urine for around three to six days after the last dose.

How Long Does Ativan Stay in Blood?

Blood tests are invasive and require a medical professional. They also have a very brief detection window. As a result, blood tests are typically only used to confirm intoxication in medical settings. Blood tests can detect Ativan for up to three days after the last dose.

How Long Does Ativan Stay in Saliva?

Saliva tests are becoming more popular because of their ease of use, however, like blood tests, they have a very short detection window. Ativan can be detected in saliva 15 minutes after use and for up to eight hours.

How Long Does Ativan Stay in Hair?

Hair tests use hair samples to look for traces of drugs and they have an exceptionally long detection window. They can detect Ativan and other drugs in the body for up to 90 days. However, lorazepam tends to only be present in very low concentrations in hair, so it is not always picked up by this type of test.

False Positive Drug Testing

False positive results are possible when it comes to testing for Ativan. Efavirenz, an HIV medication, sertraline, a mood disorder drug, and oxaprozin, a pain medication, are all known to cause false positives for benzodiazepine drugs.

How to Detox From Ativan

Abruptly stopping taking Ativan can result in mild to severe withdrawal symptoms. Like other benzodiazepines, Ativan affects neurotransmitter activity related to gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA). GABA is an inhibitory neurotransmitter that, when stimulated, slows down the functioning of the central nervous system and decreases anxiety.

As Ativan binds to GABA receptors in the brain, it enhances GABA’s inhibitory effects, calming overactive neural activity and reducing anxiety. However, with prolonged use, the brain adapts to the presence of Ativan by downregulating its own production of GABA and adjusting the sensitivity of GABA receptors.

When Ativan is suddenly discontinued, the brain is left in a state of imbalance, as it struggles to restore normal neurotransmitter functioning. This imbalance manifests as withdrawal symptoms. Common symptoms of Ativan withdrawal include:

  • Anxiety
  • Insomnia
  • Tremors
  • Sweating
  • Panic attacks
  • Increased heart rate
  • Gastrointestinal upset
  • Seizures

The severity and duration of withdrawal symptoms can vary depending on factors such as the duration of Ativan use, dosage, individual physiology, and whether tapering methods are employed. Gradual tapering under medical supervision is often recommended to minimize the intensity of withdrawal symptoms and facilitate a smoother transition to sobriety.

The best way to detox from Ativan is to seek help from a medical detox program. These programs can prescribe medications to alleviate your symptoms and provide you with the support you need to move forward with your recovery.

Find Detox and Treatment for Ativan Addiction Today

1st Step Behavioral Health is a licensed dual-diagnosis long-term addiction treatment facility that is accredited by the Joint Commission. We focus on the physiological rebalancing of the individual through medical, physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual care. Clients who need medical detox services start treatment within our supervised detox program where they have access to 24-hour support.

No matter how far you’ve fallen, we can help you get back up. By providing each patient with tailored care on an individual basis, we help patients discover the steps they need to take to achieve lasting change.
To learn more about your Ativan addiction treatment options or to get started with a confidential, risk-free assessment, please contact us today.

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