What is Ativan Used For?

What is Ativan?

Ativan is a strong and highly potent medication that is part of a group of substances called benzodiazepines. It is a white five-sided tablet form with an A imprinted on one side. The generic version for this medication is Lorazepam. Because of the effects it has on the body, it can be highly addictive and is commonly abused.

Taking Ativan for a prolonged period often leads to a physical and psychological dependence that makes it challenging to quit using it. If you or a loved one have a history of alcohol and/or drug abuse, there is a higher risk for developing an addiction to Ativan.

If you are taking Ativan and believe you or a loved one have a substance use problem, please reach out to a staff member at AToN Center. Our drug and alcohol rehab program can help to alleviate the symptoms of withdrawal and determine the underlying causes of your addiction.

Terms for the Drug Ativan (Lorazepam)

Some of the common “street names” for Ativan or Lorazepam include:

  • Heavenly blues
  • Goofballs
  • Benzos
  • Stupefy

Ativan Dosage

There are several factors that will determine the dosage of Ativan that your doctor will prescribe to you. These factors include how old you are, the type of condition and severity, form of Ativan that you are taking and other medical conditions.

General Dosage for Mg Tablets

Tablet: 0.5 mg, 1 mg, 2 mg

Solution for injection (IV): 2 mg per mL, 4 mg per mL

The usual oral dosage for Ativan (Lorazepam) tablets is 2 to 6 mg daily. This dosage amount is divided and taken two or three times daily.

What is Ativan Used For?

Ativan is prescribed by a doctor or medical care professional to treat specific health conditions such as insomnia, anxiety, panic disorder, epilepsy, or sedation during a surgery.

Prescribed Uses for Ativan

The most common reasons why doctors prescribe Ativan is for anxiety or insomnia. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approves drugs to treat certain conditions. Ativan is approved to treat several conditions. In addition, it’s sometimes used off-label for purposes that aren’t approved by the FDA. Below are the FDA-approved conditions for prescribing Ativan.


A severe type of seizure called status epilepticus is approved by the FDA to be treated with Ativan in the form of an IV.


Patients who are experiencing sleeping problems that are due to stress or anxiety can be prescribed Ativan for short-term use. It also used off-brand for other types of insomnia.

Sedation During Surgery

Ativan in an IV form has been FDA approved to be used to put patients to sleep during a surgery.


Prescribed for generalized anxiety disorder and panic attacks. It is typically used for short-term symptoms of anxiety.

Non-FDA approved Uses

Ativan can be prescribed “off-label” which means it is approved for one use but is prescribed for something different. Below are the common off label uses.


If you have severe, long-lasting pain you may be prescribed Ativan or similar medications. This may be because you have anxiety or trouble sleeping due to their pain.


Vertigo can cause adverse symptoms include nausea and vomiting. Off-label Ativan can be used to treat these symptoms for short-term use.


Ativan is not strictly prescribed just to treat depression, but if you are suffering from anxiety or insomnia that causes depression, then Ativan may be used.

Health Side Effects of Ativan Medication

Not everyone will experience side effects when taking Ativan, but some do. The side effects that you experience can range from mild to more severe. If you or a loved one find yourself experiencing severe side effects, it’s important to reach out to your doctor or medical care professional right away.

Common Side Effects

Serious side effects and their symptoms can include the following:

  • Breathing effects
  • Anxiety or panic disorder
  • Depression
  • Muscle weakness
  • Nightmares
  • Body aches
  • Sweating
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Severe rash or hives
  • Trouble breathing or swallowing
  • Swelling of your lips, tongue, or face
  • Rapid heartbeat
  • Suicidal thoughts (Ativan should be avoided by people with depression that’s not treated)

More Serious Side Effects

  • Confusion
  • Lack of muscle control
  • Blood in urine or stool
  • Stomach pain
  • Weight loss
  • Tremors
  • Overdose
  • Addiction

Long-term Health Effects

Ativan is in the benzodiazepine drug class, which is a type of substance that suppresses the central nervous system. This can result in disruptions to occur in various organs in the body including the circulatory system and the heart. Taking it can slow your heart rate down and decrease your blood pressure. How Long Does Ativan (Lorazepam) Stay in Your System?

If Ativan is taken for a long period, there can be serious health consequences to your heart which may include changes in your heart rate, cardiac arrest, hypotension (chronic low blood pressure) and heart rhythm problems.

Ativan Interactions with Drugs or Medications

When taking Ativan, it’s important to speak with your doctor before taking any other medications or supplements. There are different interactions that can occur, for example, when mixing Ativan with other medications, it can cause the mediation to not work as effectively. Others may cause an increase in side effects.

Be sure to speak with your doctor or physician about all the prescriptions you are taking including over-the-counter medications, before beginning to take Ativan. Also mention any vitamins, herbs, and supplements you use. Sharing this information can help you avoid potential interactions.

Mixing Ativan with Alcohol

It can be dangerous for Ativan to be used with alcohol. It can increase the risk of serious side effects to occur including respiratory failure, breathing problems, sedation or excessive sleepiness, coma, or memory problems.

Ativan Withdrawals

One of the most extreme side effects of taking Ativan is the withdrawals that can occur when you stop taking it, causing you to likely become addicted. The most common instances of substance use disorder happen when you take too much of the medication and if you use it for non-medical reasons.

Signs and Symptoms of Withdrawal

Withdrawal symptoms can include panic attacks, headache, depression, tremors, irritability, anxiety, or trouble sleeping.

Ativan Overdose

When taken at the proper dose and for the prescribed amount of time, Ativan can be safe to take. Taking a large amount in a short period can put you at risk for an overdose. This can lead to life-threatening consequences including coma or even death.

Ativan Overdose Symptoms

Symptoms of overdose can include coma, trouble breathing, low blood pressure, lethargy, drowsiness, or confusion.

Addiction to Ativan

Ativan is in the class of benzodiazepines, which can be extremely addictive if not taken at the proper dose or for medical purposes. If you take Ativan as directed and only for the duration of time that it is recommended by your doctor, your risk for substance use disorder is much lower. When you find yourself using the medication when it is no longer needed, it may indicate that you are beginning to have a problem.

Symptoms of Ativan Addiction

  • A deterioration in the quality of one’s work on the job or at school
  • Restlessness, irritability, or depression when the user can’t get the medication
  • A decline in physical appearance and grooming
  • A loss of control over how much Ativan the user takes at any given time
  • An obsessive interest in getting and using more of the medication, in spite of the harmful effects on personal health or relationships
  • Isolation from friends, family, or social events because of drug use

Treating Ativan Addiction at AToN Center

AToN Center in San Diego, is a luxury drug and alcohol addiction treatment center that specializes in treating many types of drug addictions, including opioids and benzodiazepines. When someone is using prescription drugs and becomes addicted, it can be extremely uncomfortable to stop, due to the intense withdrawal symptoms. Our therapy program focuses on the needs of each client, ensuring you are as comfortable as possible through the whole treatment process.

We understand the difficulty with discontinuing drug use, and we take pride in our low staff to client ratios, allowing us to provide individualized care to all our clients. There are many treatment methods that can be used for addiction treatment, and we don’t use a “one size fits all” method at our facility. We believe in the importance of getting to know our clients and allowing them to make decisions around their drug and alcohol treatment. We want to be there for our clients to help them make the best choice for their addiction treatment.

The first step in getting addiction treatment is to contact one of our admission coordinators to be medically reviewed based on your circumstances. Our staff can assist you with determining your insurance eligibility and financial aid options.

If you are interested in learning more about how AToN Center’s San Diego rehab center (holistic treatment, non-12 Step rehab programs, SMART Recovery etc.) can facilitate your recovery from addiction, please contact us today.