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How Long Does Ativan Stay in Your System?

Does Ativan Stay In Your System For A Long Time?

You’re wondering how long Ativan stays in your system. You likely have other questions about Ativan as well. Its chemical name is lorazepam. And it belongs to a class of drugs called benzodiazepines. A single dose takes effect quickly and can last for an entire day. It can be taken by mouth or via injection. How long Ativan stays in your system depends on what exactly you measure.

In this article, NYC Addiction Resources explores the following:

  • Explaining benzodiazepines like Ativan
  • Ativan addiction
  • Benzodiazepine withdrawal syndrome
  • Potential treatments for Ativan addiction
  • How to get help for a person with Ativan in their system for a long time

Explaining Benzodiazepines Like Ativan

Ativan is a benzodiazepine. You may also see the terms “benzo” or “BZD.” Benzodiazepines produce fast results. A person will usually notice a difference with just a single dose. Like other benzos, Ativan treats anxiety. But it has other uses as well, such as:

  • Easing alcohol withdrawal
  • Epilepsy
  • To help with nausea during cancer treatment
  • Insomnia
  • Irritable bowel syndrome

How Do Benzos Like Ativan Work?

Our brain sends messages that influence our bodies. These messages are called neurotransmitters. Neurotransmitters help regulate us. When we crave food or water, neurotransmitters are involved. Neurotransmitters signal for us to sleep or to wake up. Anything our bodies do has neurotransmitters involved.

Benzodiazepines, like Ativan, primarily effect one particular neurotransmitter. It’s called gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA). Research refers to GABA as an inhibitory neurotransmitter. This means that it decreases communication between neurons. Therefore, the messaging process of neurotransmitters goes much slower.

Benzos And GABA

Benzodiazepines increase the amount of GABA in the brain. In this way, benzos help to reduce anxiety. Benzos like Ativan take effect almost immediately. So, one will likely experience relief from anxiety after only a single dose. As an inhibitory neurotransmitter, GABA keeps us from feeling so afraid.

Ativan Addiction

Unlike SSRIS, which build gradually, benzos hit instantly. They work – and they work very well. So, we should not feel surprised when addiction sets in. Anyone would seek out a fast-acting form of relief from their pain.

Benzos like Ativan work best when used short-term. Treatment protocols define short-term as 3-4 weeks. Anyone who takes benzos for even this brief period risks withdrawal. If you have been taking benzos within this time frame, do not abruptly stop. Speak to your treatment provider. Tapering off of benzos helps offset withdrawal symptoms.

Benzodiazepine Withdrawal Syndrome

How can we tell if someone suffers from Ativan addiction? One way is to look for withdrawal symptoms. Benzos can easily become addictive. Consequently, they have a marked set of withdrawal symptoms. We call these symptoms benzodiazepine withdrawal syndrome (BWS).

Symptoms Of BWS

BWS can be excruciating for the sufferer. Symptoms of BWS can range from mild to moderate. Common examples include disturbances in sleep health, weight loss, tremors, muscle pain and stiffness, and sweating. Mental illness symptoms can also rebound during BWS. This means that the initial reasons that one took the benzo can return. When BWS strikes, rebound anxiety and insomnia often feel even worse. BWS typically lasts 10-14 days.

Potential Treatments For Ativan Addiction

Getting off benzos is hard. Quitting cold turkey can do much more harm than good. If we do that, we risk our anxiety and insomnia coming back. And, they usually come back worse than before we started our benzo treatment. Thankfully, treatment options for benzos are available.


We briefly covered tapering above. Tapering is a much safer alternative to quitting cold turkey. It involves systematically lowering your dose. You do this over an extended period of time. Little-by-little, you lower the amount that you take. This helps wean your brain (and body) from needing the benzodiazepine. Doing this helps minimize rebound anxiety and rebound insomnia.


For decades, medication-assisted treatment (MAT) has helped people suffering from opioid use disorder (OUD). MAT involves substituting a medication for the substance of abuse. Buprenorphine and methadone are two examples. The FDA encouraged treatment providers to consider these medications for BWS also.

Therapy Options

Non-medicinal options are out there too. Cognitive behavior therapy (CBT) has shown effective in treating BWS. CBT involves conducting audits of what we think. We needn’t let our thoughts run away with us. Our thoughts do not tell us who we are. They’re just things that happen in our minds. Yes, they’re powerful. But they do not have to control us. CBT helps us disrupt this process of feeling buried by our thoughts. Dialogue with your treatment provider about other therapy options that may help you.

How To Get Help For A Person With Ativan In Their System For A Long Time

Now, you know how long Ativan can remain in one’s system. Benzodiazepines can be hard to let go of. If you need help, call or contact NYC Addiction Resources today.