Lorazepam (brand-name Ativan) is a highly addictive sedative that belongs to the benzodiazepine class of medications. It is used to treat anxiety, epilepsy, and also in some cases preoperatively. Lorazepam works on the central nervous system by enhancing the effects of GABA, a natural chemical in the body, to produce a calming effect. According to the National Institutes of Health:
Approximately 75 million prescriptions for BZDs were written in the United States in 2008. The prevalence of BZD use in the general population is 4% to 5%. Usage increases with age, and women are prescribed BZDs twice as often as men. Individuals prescribed opioids are considerably more likely to be prescribed a BZD. (NIH)
Benzodiazepines should only be prescribed and taken on a short-term basis due to the high potential for abuse. The DEA lists benzodiazepines as a Class IV Controlled Substance meaning that they have a moderate abuse potential that may result in physical dependence if they are taken consistently.
How Long Do the Effects of Lorazepam Last?
Lorazepam tablets take effect half an hour after they are taken, peak in about 2 hours, and a standard single dose lasts between 6 to 8 hours. However, if someone is taking the medication to get high, the euphoric effects can sometimes last for up to 10 hours. Also, some therapeutic doses can last for up to 72 hours. Lorazepam has an intermediate half-life of about 12 hours, but it has been estimated to be 10 to 20 hours for most people. This means that half of the amount of the drug that was taken is out of one’s system in about 12 hours. For most people, a standard or regular dose of Lorazepam will be eliminated in about 5 days. If the individual is abusing the drug by taking large doses over longer periods, of course, it will take longer for it to be eliminated. Small amounts can be detected in the system for weeks with heavy Ativan or lorazepam abusers. In the end, it’s an individualized situation that varies on a person-to-person basis, but we can make educated conclusions based on the drug’s half-life.
Factors That Can Affect Lorazepam Duration
Several factors can affect how long Lorazepam stays in an individual’s body. Some of these can include, but are not limited to:
- A person’s metabolism – Heavier individuals appear to eliminate Lorazepam a lot quicker than a smaller individual. Also, an older person will have a much slower elimination time than younger individuals due to their slower metabolism.
- The amount and frequency of Lorazepam use – A standard dose is taken one time will be eliminated much faster than someone who takes an excessive amount several times a day or over several days.
- The health of a person’s liver and kidneys – Someone that has kidney or liver disease will likely metabolize and eliminate Ativan a lot slower than a healthy individual.
- Diet and hydration factors – A well-hydrated individual that eats healthy will likely eliminate Lorazepam a lot quicker.
- Other drugs taken with lorazepam – drinking or taking other drugs with Lorazepam will slow down the elimination time as well.
In summary, a younger, healthy individual who takes a standard dose of Lorazepam will be able to eliminate the drug much faster than either an older person, someone with kidney or liver disease, or someone that abuses the medication and takes other substances along with it.
Medical Treatment for Lorazepam Addiction
If you or someone you love is struggling with an addiction issue, our addiction specialists are available around the clock to assist you. Evoke Wellness at Cohasset offers evidence-based treatment programs to cater to the individual needs of each person. We provide solution-focused addiction treatment to help you develop a long-lasting recovery. You don’t have to suffer any longer with lorazepam or Ativan dependence.