- treat certain seizures
- make you fall asleep before surgery
- treat anxiety
- treat insomnia (trouble sleeping) due to anxiety or stress
The active ingredient in Ativan is lorazepam. (An active ingredient is what makes a drug work.) It belongs to a group of drugs called benzodiazepines.
Ativan comes as a tablet that you swallow. It also comes as a liquid solution given as an injection by your doctor. With this form, you’ll either receive your dose by intramuscular (IM) injection, which is an injection into a muscle, or by intravenous (IV) injection, which is an injection into a vein.
This article describes the dosages of Ativan, as well as its strengths and how to take it. To learn more about Ativan, see this in-depth article.
This chart highlights the basics of Ativan’s dosages. Be sure to read on for more detail.
|Ativan form||Ativan strengths||Dosage range|
|liquid solution that’s given as an injection||• 2 milligrams per milliliter (mg/mL)|
• 4 mg/mL
|depends on condition and body weight|
|tablet that you swallow||• 0.5 mg|
• 1 mg
• 2 mg
|1 mg per day to 10 mg per day|
Please keep in mind that this article covers Ativan’s standard dosage schedule, which is provided by the drug’s manufacturer. But always follow the dosing instructions your doctor prescribes.
Note: Because of Ativan’s risk of misuse, the drug is a controlled substance. This means its use is regulated by the government to prevent possible misuse. You should not share your Ativan prescription with anyone else. And be sure to take Ativan exactly as your doctor prescribes. It’s also recommended that you store Ativan in a safe place, away from children.
Read more about Ativan’s dosage in this section.
What are the forms of Ativan?
What strengths does Ativan come in?
The Ativan tablet comes in three strengths: 0.5 mg, 1 mg, and 2 mg. The liquid solution is available in two strengths: 2 milligrams per milliliter of solution (mg/mL) and 4 mg/mL.
What are the usual dosages of Ativan?
Your doctor will likely start you on a low dosage and adjust your dosage over time to reach the right amount for you. They’ll ultimately prescribe the lowest dose of Ativan that provides the desired effect. The normal dose of Ativan is different depending on the condition it’s used to treat.
The information below describes dosages that are commonly used or recommended. But be sure to take the dosage your doctor prescribes for you. They’ll determine the best dosage to fit your needs.
Dosage for sleep problems
If you have trouble sleeping because of stress or anxiety, Ativan may be used to help you sleep. For this use, you’ll take the tablet form of Ativan. The typical dosage is 2 mg to 4 mg taken daily before bed.
Dosage for certain seizures
Ativan is used to treat seizures that are caused by a condition called epilepsy. For this use, you’ll receive Ativan injections at a healthcare facility.
If you receive Ativan as an injection into a vein, the usual dosage is 4 mg given slowly (usually over about 2 minutes). If the seizure continues after 10 to 15 minutes, you may receive another 4-mg dose.
Dosage for anxiety
If you take Ativan for anxiety, you’ll be prescribed the tablet form of the drug.
Ativan’s dosage for anxiety ranges from 1 mg per day up to 10 mg per day. But the usual dosage is 2 mg or 3 mg taken daily. You’ll likely take this amount in separate doses. For example, if your daily dose is 3 mg, you may take 1 mg in the morning and 2 mg at bedtime.
Dosage for surgery
Ativan may be used to help you fall asleep before surgery and to help treat any anxiety you feel right before surgery. Your dosage will be based on your body weight.
If you receive Ativan as an injection into a vein, the usual dose is either 0.02 mg per pound of body weight or 2 mg total — whichever dose is smaller. In some cases, the highest dose you may receive before surgery is 4 mg.
If you receive Ativan as an injection into a muscle, the usual dose is 0.05 mg per kilogram (kg) of body weight. (One kg is about 2.2 pounds.) In some cases, the highest dose you could receive before surgery is 4 mg.
What’s the dosage of Ativan for children?
There isn’t an approved dose of Ativan for children. The drug isn’t approved for use in children.
Doctors sometimes prescribe Ativan off-label for children. (Off-label use is when a drug is prescribed to treat a condition it isn’t approved for.)
To learn more about Ativan’s off-label use in children, talk with your child’s doctor.
Is Ativan used long term?
No, Ativan isn’t typically used as a long-term treatment. It’s not recommended that you use Ativan for longer than 4 months in a row. Your doctor will prescribe the dosage and schedule that’s right for you.
Your Ativan dose may need to be adjusted if you’re an older adult (age 65 years or older). You may also need a lower dose if you have liver or kidney problems. Talk with your doctor or pharmacist about the dose of Ativan that is best for you.
For certain uses, Ativan has a maximum recommended dosage per day. These uses include:
Prepping for surgery. To make you fall asleep before surgery, the maximum recommended dose of Ativan in one day is 4 mg. This dose is usually given as an injection into a vein.
Treating anxiety. To treat anxiety, the highest recommended dosage of Ativan in one day is 10 mg administered via tablet form. The 10-mg daily dose is divided into two or three separate doses taken throughout the day. For example, your dose might be 4 mg in the morning and 6 mg before bed.
If you have questions about your Ativan dosage, talk with your doctor or pharmacist.
Below are answers to some commonly asked questions about Ativan’s dosage.
What’s the Ativan dosage for anxiety attacks or alcohol withdrawal?
There isn’t a recommended dosage of Ativan for anxiety attacks or alcohol withdrawal because these are off-label uses of the drug. (Off-label use is when a drug is prescribed to treat a condition it isn’t approved for.)
Benzodiazepines, including Ativan, are currently being studied as a treatment for alcohol withdrawal. Doctors sometimes prescribe Ativan off-label for conditions such as alcohol withdrawal. If you’re prescribed Ativan for an off-label condition, your doctor will determine the dosage that’s right for you.
If you’re interested in taking Ativan off-label for anxiety attacks or alcohol withdrawal, talk with your doctor.
What’s the Ativan dosage for claustrophobia during an MRI or anxiety before a dental procedure?
Ativan is sometimes used for claustrophobia or anxiety during a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scan or anxiety during other medical procedures, such as dental work. This is an off-label use, so there isn’t a recommended dosage. If you’re prescribed Ativan for one of these purposes, your doctor will determine the dosage that’s right for you.
If you have questions about the off-label use of Ativan for claustrophobia or anxiety during medical procedures, talk with your doctor.
The dosage of Ativan you’re prescribed may depend on several factors. These include:
- the type and severity of the condition you’re using the drug to treat
- your age
- the form of Ativan you’re using
- other conditions you may have (see “Dosage adjustments” just above)
- your kidney and liver function
Ativan comes as a tablet that you swallow and as a liquid solution that’s given as an injection. The form of Ativan your doctor prescribes will depend on what it’s being used for.
You can take Ativan tablets with or without food. If you have trouble swallowing tablets, see this article for tips on how to take this form of medication. And for information on the expiration, storage, and disposal of Ativan, see this article.
If you’re prescribed the injection form of Ativan, your doctor will administer the injections into a vein or muscle. In most cases, injections are given as part of a surgical procedure or as an urgent treatment to stop a seizure.
Accessible drug containers and labels
If you find it hard to read the prescription label on your medication, tell your doctor or pharmacist. Some pharmacies provide medication labels that:
- have large print or use braille
- feature a code you can scan with a smartphone to change the text to audio
Your doctor or pharmacist may be able to recommend pharmacies that offer these accessibility features if your current pharmacy doesn’t.
If you have trouble opening medication bottles, let your pharmacist know. They may be able to supply Ativan in an easy-open container. They may also have tips to help make it simpler to open the drug’s container.
If you miss an Ativan dose, take it as soon as you remember. But if it’s almost time for your next dose, skip the missed dose and take the next one at its scheduled time. You should not take two doses of Ativan to make up for a missed dose. Doing so could raise your risk of side effects from the drug.
If you need help remembering to take your dose of Ativan on time, try using a medication reminder. This can include setting an alarm or downloading a reminder app on your phone.
Do not take more Ativan than your doctor prescribes, as this can lead to serious side effects.
Symptoms of overdose
Symptoms caused by an overdose of Ativan can include:
In some cases, Ativan overdose can even be fatal. If you’re concerned about the risk of overdose with Ativan, talk with your doctor.
What to do in case you take too much Ativan
Call your doctor right away if you think you’ve taken too much Ativan. You can also call 800-222-1222 to reach the American Association of Poison Control Centers or use its online resource. But if you have severe symptoms, call 911 (or your local emergency number) immediately or go to the nearest emergency room.
Ativan is typically used short term. Long-term use of Ativan can lead to physical and mental dependence. With dependence, your body needs the drug to function like usual.
If your body becomes dependent on Ativan, you may have withdrawal symptoms when you stop taking it. (Withdrawal symptoms are side effects that can occur when you stop taking a drug that your body has become dependent on.)
Examples of withdrawal symptoms from stopping Ativan treatment may include:
- unusual movements, such as facial tics
- fatigue (low energy)
- nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea
- hallucinations (seeing or hearing things that aren’t really there)
- sensitivity to light
- panic attack
- suicidal thoughts
In some cases, withdrawal symptoms from Ativan may last for up to 12 months. Examples include:
- prickling feeling in your hands, arms, legs, or feet
- ringing in the ears
- twitching muscles
- insomnia (trouble sleeping)
Talk with your doctor about how to safely stop your Ativan treatment. They’ll likely have you reduce your dose slowly to help avoid withdrawal symptoms.
The sections above describe the usual dosages provided by the drugmaker. If your doctor recommends Ativan for you, they’ll prescribe the dosage that’s right for you.
Remember, you should not change your dosage of Ativan without your doctor’s recommendation. Only take Ativan exactly as prescribed. Talk with your doctor if you have questions or concerns about your current dosage.
Here are some examples of questions you may want to ask your doctor:
- How should I divide my daily dose if I take Ativan for anxiety?
- Does my dosage of Ativan need to change if I’m taking other drugs along with it?
- If I notice that I feel sleepy during the day, should I decrease my Ativan dose?
- What do I need to know about a dosage taper for Ativan?
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 another 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.