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What Does Ativan Feel Like? A Comprehensive Guide

Clinically Reviewed by: Charee Marquez, LMFT

If you’ve ever wondered about the experience of taking Ativan, you’re not alone. Ativan, also known as lorazepam, is a commonly prescribed medication for anxiety and certain other mental health conditions. Understanding what Ativan feels like is crucial for individuals who are considering its use, as well as for those who may have been prescribed it. In this comprehensive guide, we’ll delve into the sensations, effects, and risks associated with Ativan. Whether you’re seeking knowledge for yourself or a loved one, California Prime Recovery is here to provide expert guidance and support. Feel free to reach out to us 866-208-2390 if you have any questions or concerns.

What Is Ativan?

Before we explore what Ativan feels like, it’s essential to understand the drug itself. Ativan is a brand name for lorazepam, a medication classified as a benzodiazepine. Benzodiazepines are central nervous system depressants that are commonly prescribed for anxiety, insomnia, seizures, and other conditions. They work by enhancing the effects of a neurotransmitter called gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA), which has a calming effect on the brain and nervous system.


The different types of Ativan formulations include:

  1. Ativan Tablets:

    • These are oral tablets available in different strengths, typically ranging from 0.5 mg to 2 mg. The tablets are taken orally and are often prescribed for anxiety disorders.
  2. Ativan Oral Solution:

    • Ativan is also available in liquid form as an oral solution. This form can be useful for individuals who may have difficulty swallowing tablets. The liquid is typically measured with a dropper.
  3. Ativan Injection:

    • Ativan is available in injectable form for intramuscular or intravenous administration. This form is often used in hospital or emergency settings for the rapid treatment of acute anxiety or seizures.


For Ativan (lorazepam) tablets, some common imprints include:

  1. 0.5 mg Ativan: White, round tablets with “WYETH” on one side and “27” on the other.
  2. 1 mg Ativan: White, round tablets with “WYETH” on one side and “274” on the other.
  3. 2 mg Ativan: White, round tablets with “WYETH” on one side and “275” on the other.


Here are some common uses of Ativan:

  1. Anxiety Disorders:

    • Ativan is frequently prescribed to manage symptoms of generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), social anxiety disorder, and other anxiety conditions. It helps by producing a calming effect on the central nervous system.
  2. Insomnia:

    • In some cases, Ativan may be prescribed on a short-term basis to help with insomnia. It can promote sleep by inducing a sedative effect.
  3. Seizures:

    • Ativan is used as an anticonvulsant to control and prevent seizures, especially in emergency situations.
  4. Sedation Before Surgery:

    • Ativan may be administered before certain medical procedures or surgeries to induce sedation and reduce anxiety.
  5. Alcohol Withdrawal:

    • Benzodiazepines, including Ativan, are sometimes used to manage symptoms of alcohol withdrawal, such as agitation and seizures.
  6. Muscle Spasms:

    • Ativan may be prescribed to alleviate muscle spasms and discomfort associated with certain medical conditions.
  7. Chemotherapy-Induced Nausea and Vomiting (CINV):

    • Ativan may be used as part of an antiemetic regimen to help manage nausea and vomiting associated with chemotherapy.

What Does Ativan Do?

Ativan primarily affects the brain and central nervous system, resulting in various physical and psychological effects. When you take Ativan, you may experience:

  • Anxiety Relief: Ativan is known for its ability to quickly reduce feelings of anxiety and tension. It can induce a sense of calm and relaxation, making it easier to cope with stressful situations.
  • Sedation: One of the most noticeable effects of Ativan is drowsiness. It can make you feel quite sleepy, which is why it’s often prescribed for people with insomnia.
  • Muscle Relaxation: Ativan can relax your muscles, making it useful for individuals with muscle spasms or tension.
  • Reduced Inhibitions: Some users may feel more uninhibited or talkative when taking Ativan, although this effect can vary from person to person.
  • Euphoria: In some cases, Ativan may induce a mild sense of euphoria or happiness, which can be psychologically rewarding for some individuals.

It’s important to note that the sensations and effects of Ativan can vary from person to person, and they may also depend on the dosage and individual factors such as tolerance and metabolism.

What Does It Feel Like to Take Ativan?

The experience of taking Ativan can be subjective and may differ from one individual to another. However, there are some common sensations and feelings associated with its use:

  • Immediate Calm: Many people report feeling a sense of immediate calm and relief from anxiety shortly after taking Ativan. This can manifest as a reduction in racing thoughts, tension, and worries.
  • Relaxation: Ativan often induces a deep state of relaxation, both mentally and physically. Muscles may feel less tense, and individuals may find it easier to let go of stress.
  • Drowsiness: As mentioned earlier, drowsiness is a common side effect of Ativan. It can make you feel quite sleepy, which is why it’s often taken before bedtime to aid with sleep.
  • Mild Euphoria: Some users may experience a mild sense of euphoria or contentment when taking Ativan. This can be pleasurable for some, but it’s important to remember that benzodiazepines are not intended for recreational use.
  • Reduced Anxiety Symptoms: The primary purpose of Ativan is to alleviate anxiety symptoms. Users may notice a decrease in racing thoughts, heart palpitations, and other physical and psychological manifestations of anxiety.

It’s crucial to emphasize that Ativan should only be taken as prescribed by a healthcare professional. Misusing or abusing Ativan can lead to serious side effects, dependence, and addiction. Additionally, the effects of Ativan are not a long-term solution for anxiety or other mental health issues. It is typically prescribed for short-term use due to the risk of tolerance and dependence.

What Are the Risks and Side Effects of Ativan?

While Ativan can be effective in managing anxiety and other conditions, it is not without risks. It’s essential to be aware of the potential side effects and precautions associated with this medication:

Common Side Effects:

  • Drowsiness
  • Dizziness
  • Weakness
  • Headache
  • Confusion
  • Memory problems

Less Common Side Effects:

  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Blurred vision
  • Changes in appetite
  • Dry mouth
  • Sleep disturbances

Serious Side Effects:

  • Allergic reactions (rash, itching, swelling, severe dizziness, difficulty breathing)
  • Unusual changes in mood or behavior (agitation, aggression, hallucinations)
  • Thoughts of self-harm or suicide
  • Severe drowsiness or difficulty waking up

Precautions and Warnings:

  • Ativan should not be used by individuals with a history of substance abuse or addiction.
  • It can interact with other medications and substances, including alcohol, leading to dangerous effects.
  • Tolerance and dependence can develop with long-term use, and abrupt discontinuation can result in withdrawal symptoms.

It’s crucial to follow your healthcare provider’s instructions carefully when taking Ativan. If you experience any concerning side effects or have questions about its use, don’t hesitate to reach out to a medical professional.

Is Ativan Addictive?

One of the significant concerns associated with Ativan is its potential for addiction and dependence. While Ativan can be a valuable tool for managing anxiety and related conditions, it should be used with caution and under medical supervision. Here are some key points to consider:

  • Ativan is classified as a Schedule IV controlled substance in the United States due to its potential for abuse and addiction.
  • Tolerance can develop over time, meaning that you may need higher doses to achieve the same effects. This can increase the risk of dependence.
  • Withdrawal symptoms can occur when you stop taking Ativan after prolonged use. These symptoms can be uncomfortable and even dangerous, including anxiety, insomnia, tremors, and seizures.
  • Using Ativan recreationally or in larger doses than prescribed significantly increases the risk of addiction.

It’s crucial to only use Ativan as directed by a healthcare professional and to be honest about any history of substance abuse or addiction when discussing it with your doctor. If you believe you or a loved one may be struggling with Ativan addiction, seek help immediately. California Prime Recovery offers comprehensive addiction treatment programs, including benzodiazepine addiction treatment. Contact us at 866-208-2390 for guidance and support.

How to Use Ativan Safely

If you’ve been prescribed Ativan, there are several steps you can take to use it safely and minimize the risk of side effects or addiction:

  1. Follow Your Doctor’s Instructions: Take Ativan exactly as prescribed by your healthcare provider. Do not change the dosage or frequency without consulting them.
  2. Be Aware of Potential Interactions: Inform your doctor of all medications, supplements, and substances you are taking to avoid dangerous interactions.
  3. Limit Alcohol: Avoid alcohol while taking Ativan, as it can enhance the sedative effects and increase the risk of overdose.
  4. Avoid Mixing with Other Substances: Do not mix Ativan with recreational drugs or other substances, as this can be extremely dangerous.
  5. Monitor for Side Effects: Pay attention to how Ativan affects you, and report any unusual or concerning side effects to your healthcare provider.
  6. Short-Term Use: Understand that Ativan is typically prescribed for short-term use due to its potential for tolerance and dependence. It is not a long-term solution for anxiety.
  7. Seek Help If Needed: If you find that you are becoming dependent on Ativan or struggling with its use, seek help from a medical professional or addiction treatment center.

Remember that Ativan is a medication with specific therapeutic uses, and it should be used responsibly and under medical supervision.

Seeking Treatment? We Can Help!

Understanding what Ativan feels like is essential for anyone considering its use or currently prescribed it. While it can provide relief from anxiety and related conditions, it also carries risks that should not be underestimated. Always use Ativan as directed by a healthcare provider, and if you or a loved one are facing addiction or dependency issues, seek professional help. California Prime Recovery is here to assist you on your journey to recovery. Contact us at 866-208-2390 for support and guidance. Also, check out our blogs posted weekly on Medium.


No, Ativan (lorazepam) and Xanax (alprazolam) are different medications, both belonging to the benzodiazepine class. While they have similar effects, they have different chemical structures and may be prescribed for slightly different indications.

The half-life of Ativan is approximately 12 hours. It may take several days for the medication to be fully eliminated from your system. Factors such as age, liver function, and metabolism can influence how long it stays in your body.

Yes, Ativan can be prescribed to manage acute anxiety and panic attacks. It works quickly to alleviate symptoms, providing relief during high-stress situations.

Ativan is typically not recommended for long-term use due to the risk of tolerance and dependence. It is usually prescribed for short periods to manage acute symptoms.

If you’ve been taking Ativan regularly and want to stop, it’s crucial to do so under the guidance of a healthcare professional. Abruptly discontinuing the medication can lead to withdrawal symptoms, so a gradual tapering process is often recommended.

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