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Mixing Ativan (Lorazepam) and Alcohol: Interactions and Risks

Last Updated: September 22, 2023

Combining lorazepam and alcohol can cause dangerous interactions and increase your risk of side effects, including overdose.

Ativan is a common benzodiazepine drug sometimes prescribed to treat conditions like anxiety. If you take Ativan, you might wonder when it is safe to have a drink — if at all. Due to how long Ativan lasts in your body, it is important to understand the risks of drinking if you take this medication.

What Is Ativan (Lorazepam)?

Ativan is the brand name for the benzodiazepine lorazepam. The drug works by enhancing the effect of gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) in the brain, likely because of its actions on GABA and benzodiazepine receptors. GABA is the brain’s inhibitory neurotransmitter that slows down brain activity. Ativan is prescribed for different medical conditions, including:

  • Anxiety
  • Epilepsy
  • Schizophrenia
  • Nausea and vomiting from chemotherapy
  • Delirium
  • Cardiovascular emergencies

Lorazepam and Alcohol Interactions

Ativan and alcohol are central nervous system depressants that experts believe enhance the activity of GABA in the brain. Doctors think Ativan works on a multi-molecule complex in the brain that includes GABA and benzodiazepine receptors. Meanwhile, alcohol increases the amount of GABA released and enhances activity at GABA receptors. As such, combining them can lead to synergistic side effects, where the effects of mixing them are worse than each of the drugs individually.

Can You Drink Alcohol on Ativan?

You should avoid drinking while taking Ativan due to the increased risk of dangerous side effects, including overdose.

How Long After Taking Ativan Can You Drink?

You should avoid alcohol for at least 48 hours after taking Ativan. Although this has only been studied with the drug’s injectable form, Ativan works similarly when taken by mouth.

Doctors can specify this time frame based on Ativan’s half-life. The half-life of a drug refers to how long it takes for a single dose to leave your system entirely. Ativan’s half-life ranges from 10–20 hours. Because it takes around five half-lives for a drug to leave your system completely, the soonest Ativan will leave your body is about 48 hours after taking it.

How Long After Drinking Can You Take Lorazepam? 

You should wait until the alcohol is out of your system before taking Ativan, and you should never drink and take Ativan simultaneously. After you drink, the alcohol can remain in your system for many hours, peaking in your blood within 45 minutes and slowly wearing off in the following hours.

The amount of alcohol in your system can be measured by tests like a breathalyzer, which shows your blood alcohol content (BAC). The BAC shows how much alcohol is in your body, and this number can depend on factors like how much you had to drink, your body composition and your sex. 

Once your BAC reaches its peak around 45 minutes after a drink, it decreases by around 0.015 an hour. Therefore, if your BAC peaks at the legal driving limit of 0.08 in most states, it would take more than five hours for that alcohol to leave your system. 

If you have specific questions about when it is safe to take Ativan after drinking, ask your doctor or pharmacist for their recommendations based on your specific medical history.

Dangers of Mixing Ativan and Alcohol

Mixing Ativan and alcohol can lead to many serious health consequences. These include the risk of a life-threatening overdose and long-term physical damage to your body.


When you mix alcohol and Ativan, you have an increased risk of memory impairment. This includes blackouts, where you may not remember chunks of time after combining the substances.

Increased Risk of Injury

You have an increased risk of accidents after mixing alcohol and Ativan. This is because both agents have sedative effects and can impair your balance, reaction time and coordination. This can lead to an increased risk of falls and motor vehicle accidents.

Slowed Breathing and Heart Rate

Because alcohol and Ativan are central nervous system depressants, combining them increases your risk of unintentionally slowing down your central nervous system too much. This can suppress your heart rate and breathing. It is even possible for your breathing and heart to stop when mixing alcohol and Ativan.


Combining alcohol and Ativan increases your risk of overdose, partly because benzodiazepines like Ativan may lower the danger threshold for alcohol. Overall, alcohol is involved in 18.5% of benzodiazepine overdose deaths.

Help for Ativan and Alcohol Addiction

If you struggle with Ativan and alcohol, quitting can seem impossible. Polysubstance abuse is hard to overcome on your own, but Orlando Recovery Center can help. Our medical detox center can wean you off alcohol and Ativan, and our rehab center can teach you the skills to remain substance-free for life. Don’t wait: contact a Recovery Advocate today to learn more.


National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. “Alcohol-Medication Interactions: Potentially Dangerous Mixes.” May 6, 2022. Accessed April 16, 2023.

Drugs.com. “Lorazepam Monograph for Professionals.” September 28, 2022. Accessed April 16, 2023.

Rege, Sanil; Graham, James. “The Impact of Alcohol on the Brain – Neurobiology of Brain Involvement.” Psych Scene Hub, July 23, 2020. Accessed April 16, 2023.

Hallare, Jericho; Gerriets, Valerie. “Half Life.” StatPearls, June 23, 2022. Accessed April 16, 2023.

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