Ativan and Alcohol

by on April 21, 2012

In general, taking Ativan along with alcohol can be dangerous. Ativan and alcohol are both central nervous system (CNS) depressants. These substances slow down brain activity by affecting the brain chemicals or neurotransmitters. When used together, they can potentiate the CNS depressant effect of each other thereby increasing risk for serious side effects.

As a matter of fact, the manufacturer of Ativan specifically indicates alcohol as a contraindicated substance. Your healthcare provider may even warn you against drinking alcohol while on Ativan.

Aside from thedepressant effects of alcohol, some patients who are taking Ativan may have other psychological conditions that require avoiding alcohol. Alcohol can potentially worsen certain mental illness. For instance, some patients with anxiety disorders have a history of drug or alcohol addiction. Taking alcohol along with Ativan results in their desired psychological effect, usually the feeling of “being high” or “drunk”. This definitely increases the risk for substance abuse relapse. Caution must be taken when using this drug in patients with history of substance abuse.

There are also some patients with underlying medical conditions such as liver and kidney problems. These patients are advised to avoid alcohol to prevent any potential drug interaction that can worsen their underlying medical condition.

Ativan and Alcohol Interactions

Mixing Ativan with other depressants (including alcohol, cannabis, medications and heroin) can result in impaired thinking, loss of coordination and balance and even result in serious breathing problems.

It also increases the risk for side effects and interactions that include:

  • Dizziness
  • Drowsiness
  • Changes in mood and behavior
  • Loss of balance and coordination
  • Memory problems

In severe cases, patients can experience severe breathing problems, changes in heart rate and rhythm and can even lead to death.

Your tolerance of alcohol may also be reduced such that you may develop unwanted side effects after drinking just a bottle or two. This means that it may not be safe for you to consume your usual amount of alcohol.

If you have consumed alcohol while taking Ativan, you may also experience decreased mental alertness and focus. Make sure that you do not engage in activities that require focus and concentration such as driving and operating heavy equipment. If you experience any of the side effects mentioned above, particularly difficulty of breathing, seek medical help right away.

Lastly, although drinking alcohol while on Ativan is contraindicated, feel free to discuss with your healthcare provider any question concerning your alcohol consumption. Your healthcare provider knows your situation well and can give you recommendations regarding this issue.