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Generic Name:

lorazepam, Injectable solution

Ativan

Ativan

Generic Name: lorazepam, Injectable solution

All Brands

  • Ativan
SECTION 1 of 4

Highlights for Ativan

Injectable solution
1

Ativan is used to treat seizures that don’t stop (status epilepticus). This drug is also used to reduce anxiety in people who are about to have surgery. It’s given before you receive anesthesia to make you feel drowsy and decrease your ability to recall events related to your surgery or procedure.

2

Ativan comes in the form of an injection. It’s given by your doctor or nurse in a hospital or clinic. You won’t take it at home.

3

Ativan is a brand-name drug. It’s also available as a generic drug called lorazepam.

4

More common side effects of taking Ativan include drowsiness, dizziness, weakness, unsteadiness, low blood pressure, and excessive sleepiness.

5

Ativan may be habit forming. It can cause your body and brain to become dependent on the medicine. Using this drug with certain other medicines that affect your central nervous system can cause breathing problems. This may be fatal.

IMPORTANT INFORMATION

Excessive sedation

This drug can cause excessive drowsiness, especially if you receive multiple doses. This can make you feel confused. It can also increase the amount of time it takes you to wake up after surgery or a seizure that won’t stop (status epilepticus).  

Breathing problems

Using this drug with certain other medicines that affect your central nervous system can cause breathing problems. These drugs include hydrocodone, oxycodone, morphine, phenobarbital, and alcohol. This may be fatal (cause death).

What is Ativan?

This drug is a prescription drug. It’s available as a solution for injection, which is only given by a healthcare provider.

This drug may be used as part of a combination therapy. This means you may need to take it with other medications.

Why it's used

This drug is used to treat seizures that don’t stop (status epilepticus).

This drug is also used to reduce anxiety in people who are about to have surgery. It’s given before you receive anesthesia to make you feel drowsy and decrease your ability to recall events related to your surgery or procedure.

How it works

This drug belongs to a class of drugs called benzodiazepines. A class of drugs is a group of medications that work in a similar way. These drugs are often used to treat similar conditions.

This drug interacts with the GABA-benzodiazepine receptor complex in your brain. This reduces anxiety and seizure activity, and causes sedation.

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SECTION 2 of 4

Ativan Side Effects

Injectable solution

More Common Side Effects

The more common side effects that occur with use of Ativan include: 

  • drowsiness

  • dizziness

  • weakness

  • unsteadiness

  • low blood pressure

  • excessive sleepiness

If these effects are mild, they may go away within a few days or a couple of weeks. If they’re more severe or don’t go away, talk to your doctor or pharmacist.

Serious Side Effects

Call your doctor right away if you have serious side effects. Call 9-1-1 if your symptoms feel life-threatening or if you think you’re having a medical emergency. Serious side effects and their symptoms can include the following:

  • Trouble breathing (respiratory depression or failure). Symptoms can include:

    • weakness
    • shallow breathing
    • slow breathing rate
  • Opposite reaction of the effect the drug is supposed to cause (paradoxical reaction). Symptoms can include:

    • periods of intense joy or excitement (mania)
    • irritability
    • restlessness
    • agitation
    • aggression, hostility, or rage
    • psychosis (feeling like you’ve lost touch with reality)
    • hallucinations (seeing or hearing things that aren’t there) 
  • Trouble walking or with muscle coordination

  • Slurred speech

  • Lower levels of consciousness

  • Coma

Pharmacist's Advice
Clinical Associate Professor, University of Illinois at Chicago College of Pharmacy

This drug may cause drowsiness.

This drug can make you feel sleepy and drowsy for a while after you take it. You shouldn’t drive, use machinery, or do similar tasks that require alertness for 24–48 hours after you receive the injection or until the sedative effects wear off. 

If it’s been less than 8 hours since you received your injection, be extra careful when getting up from bed. You may have a higher risk of falling. Ask a nurse or a family member to help you.

Disclaimer: Our goal is to provide you with the most relevant and current information. However, because drugs affect each person differently, we cannot guarantee that this information includes all possible side effects. This information is not a substitute for medical advice. Always discuss possible side effects with a healthcare provider who knows your medical history.
SECTION 3 of 4

Ativan May Interact with Other Medications

Injectable solution

Ativan can interact with other medications, herbs, or vitamins you might be taking. An interaction is when a substance changes the way a drug works. This can be harmful or prevent the drug from working well. Your healthcare provider will look out for interactions with your current medications. Always be sure to tell your doctor about all medications, herbs, or vitamins you’re taking.

Alcohol interaction

The use of drinks that contain alcohol can increase your risk of drowsiness caused by Ativan. You shouldn’t drink alcohol for 24–48 hours after receiving your Ativan injection. This could lead to potentially fatal breathing problems. If you drink alcohol, talk to your doctor.

Disclaimer: Our goal is to provide you with the most relevant and current information. However, because drugs interact differently in each person, we cannot guarantee that this information includes all possible interactions. This information is not a substitute for medical advice. Always speak with your healthcare provider about possible interactions with all prescription drugs, vitamins, herbs and supplements, and over-the-counter drugs that you are taking.
Drug warnings
glaucoma
People with acute narrow angle glaucoma

You shouldn’t take this drug if you have acute narrow angle glaucoma. This drug can worsen your condition. 

depression
People with depression

You shouldn’t take this drug if you have depression or psychosis. This drug can make your condition worse.

breathing problems
People with breathing problems

You shouldn’t take this drug if you have breathing problems, such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and sleep apnea. This drug can worsen your breathing. This could be fatal.

liver problems
People with liver problems

This drug is broken down by your liver. If you have liver problems, this drug can worsen your condition. Your doctor may give you a lower dose if you have severe liver damage.

kidney problems
People with kidney problems

This drug is cleared from your body by your kidneys. If you have kidney problems, your body might not be able to clear the medicine as well as it should. This could lead to more side effects.

Pregnant women
Pregnant women

This drug is a category D pregnancy drug. That means two things:

  1. Research in humans has shown adverse effects to the fetus when the mother takes the drug.
  2. This drug should only be used during pregnancy in serious cases where it's needed to treat a dangerous condition in the mother. 

Talk to your doctor if you’re pregnant or planning to become pregnant. Ask your doctor to tell you about the specific harm that may be done to the fetus. This drug should be only used if the potential risk to the fetus is acceptable given the drug’s potential benefit.

breast-feeding
Women who are breast-feeding

This drug may pass into breast milk and may cause side effects in a child who is breast-fed.

Talk to your doctor if you breast-feed your baby. You may need to decide whether to stop breast-feeding or stop taking this medication.

seniors
For seniors

The kidneys of older adults may not work as well as they used to. This can cause your body to process drugs more slowly. As a result, more of a drug stays in your body for a longer time. This raises your risk of side effects. 

Seniors may be more sensitive to the sedative effects of this drug. Your doctor may monitor you closely while you take this medication.

children
For children

This medication hasn’t been studied in children. It shouldn’t be used in people younger than 12 years. 

allergies
Allergies

This drug can cause a severe allergic reaction. Symptoms can include:

  • hives
  • rash
  • swelling of your tongue, lips, face, or throat
  • trouble breathing 

If you have an allergic reaction, call your doctor or local poison control center right away. If your symptoms are severe, call 9-1-1 or go to the nearest emergency room.

Taking this drug again if you’ve ever had an allergic reaction to it could be fatal (cause death). Be sure to tell your doctor if you’ve ever had an allergic reaction to this drug.

SECTION 4 of 4

How to Take Ativan (Dosage)

Injectable solution

Your doctor will determine a dosage that’s right for you based on your individual needs. Your general health may affect your dosage. Tell your doctor about all health conditions you have before your healthcare provider administers the drug to you.

Disclaimer: Our goal is to provide you with the most relevant and current information. However, because drugs affect each person differently, we cannot guarantee that this list includes all possible dosages. This information is not a substitute for medical advice. Always to speak with your doctor or pharmacist about dosages that are right for you.
Pharmacist's Advice
Clinical Associate Professor, University of Illinois at Chicago College of Pharmacy

This drug comes with risks if you don’t take it as prescribed.

If you don’t take it at all

If you don’t receive your dose, your seizures might not be controlled. This can lead to permanent neurological problems.

If you don’t take this medicine before surgery, you may not feel as relaxed and may remember details of your procedure.

If you take too much

This drug will be given to you by a healthcare provider. If you’re given too much you may have the following symptoms:

  • slowed or shallowed breathing 
  • confusion
  • slurred speech
  • extreme drowsiness
  • coma

Taking too much may even be fatal (cause death). If you think you’ve taken too much of this drug, call your doctor or local poison control center. If your symptoms are severe, call 9-1-1 or go to the nearest emergency room right away.

How to tell if the drug is working

You may be able to tell this drug is working if your seizures are controlled.

You may be able to tell this drug is working if you feel sleepy or drowsy before surgery and are unable to remember the events of your procedure.

This drug is used for short-term treatment. 

How long does it take?

You would likely be in the hospital overnight due to your surgery or status epilepticus. 

Can I drive home after?

This drug can make you feel sleepy and drowsy for a while after you take it. You should have someone drive you home after your appointment. You shouldn’t drive, use machinery, or do similar tasks that require alertness for 24–48 hours after you receive the injection or until the sedative effects wear off. 

If it’s been less than 8 hours since you received your injection, be extra careful when getting up from bed. You may have a higher risk of falling. Ask a nurse or a family member to help you.

Travel

Talk to your doctor about how you will receive your medication when you travel.

Clinical monitoring

If you’re taking this drug for a long time, your doctor may monitor the following:

  • blood counts
  • liver function

Show Sources

Content developed in collaboration with University of Illinois-Chicago, Drug Information Group

Medically reviewed by Creighton University, Center for Drug Information and Evidence-Based Practice on October 10, 2015

Disclaimer: Healthline has made every effort to make certain that all information is factually correct, comprehensive, and up-to-date. However, this article should not be used as a substitute for the knowledge and expertise of a licensed healthcare professional. You should always consult your doctor or other healthcare professional before taking any medication. The drug information contained herein is subject to change and is not intended to cover all possible uses, directions, precautions, warnings, drug interactions, allergic reactions, or adverse effects. The absence of warnings or other information for a given drug does not indicate that the drug or drug combination is safe, effective, or appropriate for all patients or all specific uses.
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