What is Ativan and How Long Does It Stay in Your System

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The medications listed on this website are provided for informational purposes only. Their inclusion does not guarantee that they will be prescribed to any individual, as treatment decisions are ultimately at the discretion of healthcare providers. This list is not exhaustive, and healthcare providers may prescribe other medications, including non-stimulant options, based on the patient's unique health circumstances and needs.

Ativan medication is a benzodiazepine (benzo) commonly prescribed for generalized anxiety disorder and other neurological and mental health conditions. It’s one of the many brand names of the generic drug lorazepam.

While Ativan can help reduce symptoms of anxiety and seizures, it can also be habit-forming and dangerous when used for too long or in excess. Among the other concerns patients have when they take Ativan is how long it will take before the body clears it out. Some may argue that it takes too long, while others may be concerned about the lingering effects. From this post, you’ll know the facts about this medication that will answer the most important questions you might have wanted to ask.

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What is Ativan and How Does It Work

Ativan is a drug in the benzodiazepine family, a prescription sedative that primarily treats anxiety and can also be used to manage insomnia, panic disorder, delirium, agitation, and seizures. As a benzodiazepine, Ativan works by affecting specific neurotransmitters that can be imbalanced due to stress or other conditions: it binds to GABA receptors [5*]  in the brain and increases their activity. That has a calming effect on the nervous system, reducing anxiety and controlling seizures.

Along with sedation, Ativan also has muscle relaxant properties that can help with insomnia and muscle spasms. It can help relieve symptoms making life more manageable.

How to Use Ativan

Ativan is taken orally and should always be taken exactly as prescribed by your doctor.
It’s important to remember that Ativan is a powerful drug and can become habit-forming if used for too long or in excess. The drug may be taken with or without food, and it’s best to take it at the same time each day.

Ativan Dosage

The recommended dosage of Ativan [6*]  for anxiety is 2-3 mg daily, divided into two or three doses. The dosage can vary depending on the individual’s medical condition and other factors such as age, weight, and other medications taken.
As with any Lorazepam dosage, it’s vital never to take more than prescribed. For safety reasons, patients should not take more than 10 mg of the drug per day.

Ativan Half-life and Elimination

The half-life of lorazepam, the active ingredient in Ativan, ranges from 12 to 15 hours. That means it takes an average of 12-15 hours for half of the dose taken to be eliminated from the body. Ativan’s half-life doesn’t vary too far from this range, taking an average of 12 hours for half of the dose to be eliminated.

It also helps to know that it takes about six half-lives [7*]  in most cases before the drug is completely eliminated from your system. That translates to about 60 to 72 hours of having Ativan in your blood after the last dose.

However, people who have built up a tolerance may find that it takes longer to eliminate the drug from their system since their body processes it slower.

Research shows a major portion of Ativan is first metabolized [8*]  in the liver before it’s eliminated in the kidney. Ativan can remain in the body for up to a week since the last dose. However, for most individuals, it should be completely gone within five days.

So, how long does Ativan stay in your system?

  • Urine: generally, Ativan can be detected in urine up to 6 days after the patient takes the last dose.
  • Blood: a blood test can detect Ativan in the system 3 days after the last dose.
  • Saliva: Ativan can be detected in saliva for up to 8 hours after the last dose.
  • Hair: traces of Ativan may remain in hair follicles for 30 days or longer.

Tell your doctor about any concerns you may have about taking Ativan. We are always here to answer your questions.

Factors that Influence How Long Ativan Stays in Your System

How long does Ativan last in your system? While the above-mentioned time frames provide an estimated range, the actual amount of time depends on several factors, such as:

  • Age. Older individuals usually have slower metabolisms, which affects how quickly drugs are eliminated from the body.
  • Weight. For people with a higher body weight, it tends to take longer for drugs to be eliminated from their system.
  • Amount taken. The amount taken affects the elimination rate. Generally, higher doses take longer to be eliminated than lower doses.
  • Kidney and liver health. Any underlying kidney or liver disease can affect how quickly drugs are metabolized and eliminated.
  • Frequency of use. The more often someone uses Ativan, the longer it will take the body to clear it from its system.

Overdose Symptoms

An Ativan overdose is commonly seen when taken with alcoholic substances or opioids. This combination can lead to serious side effects and can even be deadly.

Common overdose symptoms include extreme sleepiness, confusion, shallow breathing, slow heart rate, and fainting. If any of these symptoms occur, seek emergency medical attention right away. Be sure to consider the correct dosage of lorazepam and do not exceed the daily dosage of 10 mg.


You risk developing tolerance, dependence, and addiction if you take Ativan medication for more than a few weeks. Because of this, it’s important to talk to your doctor about the potential risks before starting the medication. Also, to avoid accidental overdose, you might want to observe the following:

  • Do not take it with other substances, especially alcohol.
  • Do not take more than the prescribed dosage.
  • Do not take it for longer than your doctor directed.
  • Do not buy it from the streets as it might contain contaminants.
  • Do not crush or break the tablets, as it can alter their effects.
  • Pregnant or breastfeeding women should talk to their doctor before taking this medication.
  • Do not take the drug if you’re having suicidal thoughts.
  • Do not take it if you’re allergic to benzodiazepines.
  • Do not use it if you’ve been diagnosed with acute narrow-angle glaucoma.


Precaution is essential before and after starting any medication, especially in the case of drugs with a potential for dependence and addiction. That’s why anyone taking Ativan should be extra careful and follow their doctor’s instructions. A lot could go wrong if the medication is misused or abused.

If you’re struggling with Ativan use or experiencing withdrawal symptoms, don’t hesitate to contact EZCare doctors for help. With their guidance, you can find the right treatment plan and get the help you need to stay safe.


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