Lorazepam is a medication that, when used correctly, is successful in treating many symptoms of anxiety. It works by enhancing the effects on the central nervous system caused by the chemical neurotransmitter GABA (Gamma Aminobutyric Acid) in the body. When this attaches to its corresponding receptor, it blocks certain brain signals and reduces the nervous system’s activity.
Unfortunately, lorazepam is also a drug that does not mix well with alcohol, leading to numerous unwanted effects, especially when users accidentally forget that they’ve had the medication before having a drink! Some people also choose to abuse this drug by purposefully mixing it with alcohol to achieve even more intense effects. Drinking while taking lorazepam may cause negative effects such as slowed heart rate, trouble breathing, or even lead to collapsing and death.
Understanding how this combination of drugs can lead to addiction can help you identify and help someone you know who has been affected by misusing lorazepam and alcohol. To find out more about the interaction of these two substances, continue reading on below.
Dangers of Mixing Lorazepam and Alcohol
Lorazepam is a benzodiazepine used to relieve anxiety and is more commonly known under the brand names Xanax, Klonopin, and Ativan.
It can also regulate symptoms that come with alcohol withdrawal in individuals who have developed a dependence. The prescription of this drug and the cautionary measures against alcohol consumption are very strict—and for a good reason too. The side effects of consuming both anxiety medication and alcohol can include dizziness and extreme drowsiness, difficulty breathing, sluggishness, clammy skin, slowed heart rate, and seizures, among others. If the combination of these two depressants is severe enough, then it can even lead to death!
People mix drugs with alcohol to experiment and achieve a heightened effect or a new sensation. Polydrug use is often done with alcohol because it is relatively inexpensive and easy to acquire. It also significantly affects the experience of other substances, such as lorazepam, in this case. While using prescription drugs individually come with a set of risks, mixing them with other drugs is even more dangerous, particularly with something like alcohol. Too much of any one substance can lead to an overdose—which is undoubtedly something that can be deadly for anyone to undergo.
Avoiding an overdose is possible by abstaining from alcohol when taking Xanax or other variations of lorazepam. By consciously practicing this, one can prevent possibly fatal consequences.
Overdosing on lorazepam is possible when taken on its own, but it is rarely fatal.
Toxicity levels aren’t typically the cause of death in the event of an overdose on this substance. More often than not, it is the life-threatening symptoms that aren’t treated in time that lead to dire consequences, the most common of which being respiratory depression.
The likelihood of an overdose depends on a combination of factors outlined below:
One of the main determinants of the likelihood of an overdose for any particular substance depends on the person’s tolerance to the drug. Anxiety medications are easy to build a tolerance to, even after just a few doses. An individual’s tolerance level builds depending on metabolic rate, weight, age, and history of benzodiazepine usage.
Lorazepam does not mix well with other substances, especially with alcohol and opioids, which are known to accelerate the overdose effects of benzodiazepines. All these substances are depressants, and when combined together in enough quantities, they can cause the central nervous system to slow down and stop altogether.
How the drug is used or misused also increases the risk of overdose. Experiencing a high requires more of the drug than is typically prescribed to patients—and they are usually crushed and snorted or dissolved in the mouth to reach that high. Consistent use of too much of the drug can lead to drug addiction, especially if one rapidly builds a tolerance to it.
It’s important to understand that Xanax or Ativan isn’t dangerous when taken properly. When used as directed with the proper amounts, it’s a very effective drug that treats symptoms of anxiety. Maximum daily dosages for healthy adults typically cap off at 10 mg, while 6 mg is the most common limit for most prescribing doctors.
An overdose may occur when the individual taking lorazepam ingests 10 mg a day or any higher than the amount prescribed by their doctor. Some individuals may need more than the standard 10 mg for their condition, thereby raising the amount of the drug that will trigger an overdose. Physicians take into account their patient’s gender, weight, genetics, and other health conditions to determine the safest possible dose.
Lorazepam Side Effects
If you know someone who has been prescribed lorazepam, then it is especially important to recognize the side effects of mixing this drug with alcohol. Knowing when to call 911 based on the symptoms you observe might just save a person’s life!
These side effects include the following:
- Weight Loss
- Reduced muscle control
- Tolerance to lorazepam
- Memory loss
- Emotional blunting
These are symptoms typical of incorrect usage of the drug, especially when combined with alcohol and opioids. When taken properly, this medication produces positive side effects that combat the negative symptoms of anxiety, such as reducing panic attacks, unjustified fears, sleeplessness, restlessness, and severe agitation. It can also help with seizures and spasms, insomnia, and alcohol withdrawal.
Since lorazepam slows brain and nerve activity and acts as a sort of tranquilizer, it also reduces control of physical functions. Those taking the drug should be wary of possible effects, such as drowsiness, disorientation, and clumsiness—all of which may lead to accidental injuries if you aren’t careful. Driving under the influence of lorazepam or other activities that require hand-eye coordination can be dangerous, even more so if the user consumed alcohol or other sedatives.
Aside from physical effects, lorazepam also causes powerful effects on the brain and nerves. Sometimes patients experience a worsening of their anxiety—an effect called rebound side effects. These often include increased anxiety, depression, memory and learning difficulties, and restlessness. The positive effects of lorazepam can reduce the excess excitability of the brain and nerves that cause anxiety and stress. However, lorazepam can also cause negative effects on the brain, such as numbing users’ emotions and their experience of the world. This can lead to a loss of interest in daily responsibilities.
How Long Does Lorazepam Last
Lorazepam can be felt anywhere between fifteen to thirty minutes, with its effects peaking after two hours. It has a half-life of about twelve hours, though this can range between ten to twenty for most individuals. Those who abuse lorazepam will need much more time to completely eliminate the drug from their system.
The most common screening process to test for the drug’s presence in the body is the urinalysis test, which can detect lorazepam in the body for up to six days.
Combining drugs and alcohol might lead to some positive experiences in the short term—but it can often lead to dependencies that require addiction treatment to avoid fatal consequences. Prescription medications like lorazepam are tightly regulated for a reason, especially depressants that can be very dangerous when mixed with other depressant substances, like alcohol. By understanding these risks, you can keep yourself safe or intervene with a loved one who might be showing signs of addiction to their prescribed lorazepam. With the right alcohol and drug rehabs, people dealing with anxiety can continue to recover safely without risking their lives.