Ativan is a prescription benzodiazepine used to treat anxiety and a variety of other health conditions. The average half-life of Ativan is around 12 hours. Half-life refers to the time it takes for half of a dose of a drug to eliminate from a person’s system. Moreover, after ingesting the last dose, it can take approximately 2.75 days for the drug to be fully cleared from the body.
An active metabolite of lorazepam, known as glucuronide, has a longer half-life of 18 hours. For this reason, the full elimination of this metabolite will take longer than the Ativan itself. Glucuronide can remain in a person’s system and be detected in urine for as long as four days after the last use of Ativan.
Drug Screening for Ativan
Several types of tests can detect the presence of Ativan, such as:
Urine tests will show Ativan for up to six days after the last dose, or one week in frequent users. If a urinalysis test detects glucuronide, it may be identified for up to nine days.
Blood tests can find Ativan in the bloodstream within six hours of ingestion and up to 72 hours after. For frequent users, however, it may take a bit longer than this to fully clear Ativan and its metabolites from the bloodstream.
Hair tests are able to detect Ativan over a prolonged period. A correctly performed hair test can determine if a person has used Ativan for up to one month after exposure. However, this is not commonly performed due to expense.
The detection for Ativan in the saliva is only about eight hours.
Factors that Affect How Long Ativan Stays in the System
Individual factors can influence how long Ativan remains in a person’s system and how rapidly it is eliminated. These include:
Older adults, on average, may exhibit a 22% slower clearance rate of Ativan when compared to younger individuals. Theories as to why younger people eliminate Ativan more efficiently than older people include co-existing health conditions, blood flow, metabolic rate, and organ functionality.
Body Height and Weight
A person’s height and weight relative to the dosage of Ativan may impact how long it remains in the system. There is some evidence that being overweight can actually accelerate Ativan clearance, while a shorter or lighter person may take longer to eliminate the drug than a taller or heavier person who has used the same amount.
Genetic factors such as the presence of liver enzymes and kidney function can both play a role in how the body breaks down Ativan. People who do not metabolize Ativan well may take longer to expel it from their system.
Studies have shown that, while liver impairment does not appear to have a significant effect on the body’s ability to eliminate Ativan, kidney function could, in fact, impact how rapidly the drug is cleared. What’s more, renal issues could impede the excretion of Ativan from the body.
As with all substances, people with a relatively rapid metabolic rate will likely process and eliminate Ativan faster than those with slower rates.
Frequency and Duration of Use
A person who takes several doses of Ativan each day will take longer to eliminate the drug than say, others who only use it once per day. Frequent and/or long-term users of Ativan are more likely to develop a tolerance to the drug’s effects and, as a result, continue to increase their dosage.
Use of Other Substances
The use of other medications, illicit drugs, or alcohol, in combination with Ativan, can influence its absorption, metabolism, and rate of clearance from a person’s system. For example, consuming alcohol can reduce clearance speed by 18%.
How Ativan Affects the Body
The majority of CNS depressants act on the brain by increasing activity at GABA (gamma-aminobutyric acid) receptors. GABA is an inhibitory neurochemical and decreases activity in the brain and body, thereby inducing relaxation and calm. In doing this, Ativan helps relieve symptoms of anxiety, such as tension, irrational thoughts, fears, and nervousness.
Ativan does not impact the liver as much as most other benzodiazepines, which may be an important consideration for those who are taking birth control pills, anti-abuse drugs, ulcer medications, and other substances that affect the liver.
Side effects of Ativan use may include:
- Impaired coordination
- Blurred vision
- Changes in libido
- Changes in appetite
Dependence, Tolerance, and Addiction
When Ativan is abused or used for a prolonged period, both tolerance and dependence can occur. People with a high tolerance of Ativan, or other such substances, may be at a higher risk for addiction and overdose.
Dependence develops over time. The body and brain become accustomed to the substance’s presence, adapt accordingly, and become unable to function with it. As a result, attempts to discontinue use are met with uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms and often rebound effects (e.g., anxiety or insomnia). This reaction often encourages people to re-engage in use to feel better.
Getting Help for Drug Dependence
At Harmony Treatment and Wellness, we urge you to take dependence on Ativan very seriously. If you or a loved one are suffering, please seek help as soon as possible. We offer comprehensive treatment programs intended to address all aspects of a person’s physical and emotional well-being. In doing so, we evaluate and treat co-occurring mental health conditions, such as depression and anxiety.
If you want to become drug-free and experience the life you deserve, contact us today. We are here to help!