Ativan has a relatively long half-life and intermediate onset time, and it’s important to know how long it stays in your system, its half-life, legality, and abuse risks.
What Is Ativan?
Ativan, known by its generic name Lorazepam, is a short-term benzodiazepine drug primarily prescribed to address clinical anxiety and as an anesthetic or pre-anesthetic. Ativan can also be prescribed to help manage seizures, promote sleep, and alleviate withdrawal symptoms from alcohol or other benzodiazepines. By increasing the inhibitory effects of gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) in the brain, Ativan calms the central nervous system, tranquilizing the mind and body.
Ativan is available in different forms, such as tablets, liquid concentrate, and injections, with varying onset times. Tablets or liquids typically reach peak effects after two hours, whereas injection can take around 15 to 30 minutes to reach peak effects and can last for 12 to 24 hours.
How Long Does Ativan Stay In Your System?
Here is the average time Ativan can stay in a person’s system.
- Urine: Ativan can be detected for up to six days, but inactive metabolites can be detected for up to nine days. Ativan can also be detected for much longer if it’s regularly abused.
- Saliva: Ativan can be detected in saliva tests for up to eight hours.
- Hair: Ativan can be detected in hair tests for 30 days or longer after ingestion, but it can take a few days to actually appear.
- Blood: Ativan can be detected in blood tests for up to three days after last use.
It is possible for certain medications to cause a false positive urine screen for Ativan. For example, the antidepressant medication Zoloft (sertraline), the HIV drug Efavirenz, and the prescription non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug Daypro (oxaprozin) have been reported to cause false-positive results in urine tests for benzodiazepines. This is why we recommend disclosing any medications before taking a drug test.
Half-life Of Ativan
Ativan’s half-life, or the amount of time it takes for half of the drug’s original concentration to metabolize, is between 10 and 20 hours, with an average of 14 hours. It also has a relatively slow clearance rate, which measures how much plasma (the liquid component of blood) is cleared of the drug per minute, typically reported as milliliters per minute per kilogram of body weight (ml/min/kg).
- A higher dose take longer for the liver to clear the drug, resulting in a longer detection window.
- Additionally, the frequency of Ativan use can affect clearance time. If someone uses Ativan frequently, it may take longer for their body to clear the drug.
- Ativan can be taken orally as a tablet, liquid, or via injection, and although the drug has similar effects regardless of administration method, the body may clear it differently.
- Lastly, age can affect clearance rates, as older people tend to clear Ativan approximately 20% more slowly than younger people.
Half-life Vs. Clearance Rate
A drug’s clearance rate is not the same as its half-life. Clearance rate measures the rate of elimination of the drug from the bloodstream, while half-life measures how long it takes for the drug’s concrentration to be reduced by half. Although Ativan has a relatively slow clearance rate, its half-life provides a better estimate of how long the drug stays in the body.
Is Ativan Illegal?
No, Ativan (lorazepam) is not an illegal drug but is classified as a Schedule IV controlled substance, and it’s illegal to possess Ativan without a prescription from a licensed healthcare provider.
In California, being under the influence of any benzodiazepine drug without a valid prescription violates HS 11550, and if convicted, a person could face imprisonment, mandatory completion of a licensed drug rehabilitation program, hefty fines, probation for up to five years, or community service.
Illegal Ativan possession, sale, or use in California is also considered a wobbler crime. Wobbler crimes can either be charged as misdemeanors or felonies based on the circumstances surrounding the specific case.
Can Ativan Be Abused?
Ativan, like other benzodiazepines, such as Xanax or Valium, can be abused for its sedative and calming effects. However, Ativan is generally considered to have a lower potential for abuse and dependence because it’s less potent than other drugs in its class, and its effects are less intense and shorter-lasting. But, because Ativan’s half-life is shorter than other benzos like Valium, individuals can be tempted to take another dose to increase and extend its effects, leading to abuse and dependence. Then, when an individual tries to detox from Ativan after regularly abusing it, they can experience severe withdrawal symptoms like difficulty sleeping, hallucinations, and headaches.
Contact Launch Centers
An Ativan addiction or substance use disorder can slowly or quickly consume a person’s entire life. If this is happening to you or a loved one, contact Knoxville Recovery Center. Our addiction treatment center is equipped with the medical professionals, healing modalities, and therapy methods needed to help individuals process and recover from substance abuse. Call today to talk with one of our admissions agents and find out how you can start your path toward wellness.