The Dangers of Mixing Ativan and Alcohol

When someone mixes benzodiazepine medications, like Ativan, with alcohol it can lead to dangerous and potentially life-threatening consequences. This page will explain the risks of mixing Ativan and alcohol, signs of polysubstance use, and how to get help if you or someone you love is struggling with addiction to drugs or alcohol.

What Is Ativan?

Lorazepam is commonly prescribed under the trade name Ativan. Ativan a benzodiazepine sedative and anti-anxiety drug. Ativan has several approved and off-label uses, including:2

  • Anxiety treatment.
  • Pre-surgical anxiety management and sedation.
  • Seizure treatment in epilepsy.
  • Managing anxiety-worsened irritable bowel syndrome.
  • Easing nausea and vomiting during cancer treatment.

As with many other benzodiazepines, Ativan can become addictive. Because of the manner in which it influences certain types of brain chemistry, it may be associated with reinforcing, euphoric effects. Especially when misused in doses that exceed prescription guidelines, Ativan can lead to a rapidly mounting tolerance, dependence, and eventually addiction.

Is it Dangerous to Mix Ativan with Alcohol?

Yes, mixing any benzodiazepine medication with alcohol is extremely dangerous and can be deadly. Whether used together inadvertently or for recreational purposes, the interaction of a benzodiazepine like Ativan with alcohol presents a significant risk.1

Why Do People Mix Ativan with Alcohol?

For people who misuse drugs or alcohol, there may come a point at which experimentation with multiple substances simultaneously (polysubstance use) becomes part of the picture. One of the most popular substances to combine with other drugs is alcohol. It’s relatively easy to get, and it can easily enhance or otherwise affect the experience of the other substance, such as Ativan. However, polysubstance use can be even more dangerous than using single drugs individually—especially when it comes to combining other sedative type drugs with alcohol.

Signs of Mixing Ativan and Alcohol

Signs that an individual is mixing alcohol with Ativan may include:1

  • Groggy feeling.
  • Inability to focus or concentrate.
  • Muscle weakness or lack of coordination.
  • Slurred speech.
  • Slowed heart rate or breathing.
  • Loss of consciousness.
  • Non-responsiveness.
  • Coma.

Again, these combined effects may be similar to those experienced after using large amounts of either drug on its own. Other signs of polysubstance use involving both alcohol and prescription drugs might include:6

  • Finding pill bottles and alcoholic beverages together.
  • Pills missing from a prescription or going through the medication at a faster-than-expected rate.
  • Increased isolation and trouble with relationships.
  • Excessive focus on getting access to both Ativan and alcohol.

Side Effects of Mixing Ativan and Alcohol

The effects of central nervous system depressants like Ativan on the body include certain cognitive deficits and slowing of physiological processes, including vital ones like breathing and heart rate. Mixing any alcohol — including beer, wine, or hard liquor — with a sedative like Ativan presents a higher risk of dangerous effects by possibly intensifying the effects of each substance, resulting in a further slowdown of physical and mental capabilities.

Other potentially dangerous effects of combining Ativan and alcohol include:1,4

  • Ataxia (a disorder where you have problems with voluntary movement, such as difficulty swallowing or walking).
  • Hypotonia (decreased muscle tone).
  • Hypotension (low blood pressure).
  • Heart arrhythmia.
  • Memory loss or blackouts.
  • Passing out while in dangerous situations, such as while driving.
  • Slowed or stopped breathing.
  • Non-responsiveness or coma.
  • Death.

Any signs or symptoms of overdose could indicate the need for immediate medical help. When high doses of Ativan are combined with large quantities of alcohol, an individual risks severe physical injury or even death.

Long-Term Effects of Mixing Ativan and Alcohol

Even if an overdose is not experienced, drinking alcohol while taking Ativan can result in deteriorating mental or physical health over time. Long-term effects that may develop in association with chronic Ativan or alcohol misuse can include:

  • Heart or circulatory disease.
  • Liver damage.
  • Hypoxia: low oxygen that can damage various parts of the brain and body.
  • Depression.
  • Increased anxiety.
  • Addiction.

These risks may arise when using either Ativan or alcohol alone at high doses for a long time.1,5 However, using Ativan and alcohol together increases the chances of developing these issues and of experiencing an extreme event, such as overdose, in the future.1

Can You Overdose on Ativan & Alcohol?

When a person uses both substances at the same time, they may be at higher risk of severe intoxication and overdose, as described above and in a Treatment Improvement Protocol from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.7 It is important to seek treatment for substance use disorders involving multiple substances to pre-empt such dangerous and potentially-devastating eventualities.

Getting Ativan or Alcohol Addiction Help

Finding the right inpatient rehab near Dallas, TX that has the knowledge and expertise to treat polysubstance use can provide the best chance for you or your loved one to get on the road to recovery.8 Greenhouse Treatment Center provides evidence-based addiction focused healthcare to help individuals undergo medical detox and safe, comfortable withdrawal management, appropriate treatment, and ongoing aftercare planning for sustained recovery from combined use of Ativan and alcohol.

Contact our helpful and compassionate admissions navigators at 24/7 to learn more about our different levels of care, including our outpatient treatment and sober living in Arlington, TX. Our knowledgeable navigators answer your questions, and give you information about paying for rehab, insurance plans that cover treatment, and help you start the admissions process.

Was this page helpful?
Thank you for your feedback.

American Addiction Centers (AAC) is committed to delivering original, truthful, accurate, unbiased, and medically current information. We strive to create content that is clear, concise, and easy to understand.

Read our full editorial policy

While we are unable to respond to your feedback directly, we'll use this information to improve our online help.

You aren't alone. You deserve to get help.
We are here to help you get clean and learn how to stay that way. Start your recovery at our spa-like facility in the Dallas-Ft. Worth area. Holistic therapies, chef-prepared meals, and LGBTQ+ support are among the many features of our premier drug and alcohol treatment program.