What is Ativan?
Ativan (lorazepam) is in a group of drugs called benzodiazepines (ben-zoe-dye-AZE-eh-peens). It affects chemicals in the brain that may become unbalanced and cause anxiety.
Ativan is used to treat anxiety disorders.
Ativan may also be used for other purposes not listed in this medication guide.
Important information about Ativan
Do not use Ativan if you are allergic to lorazepam or to other benzodiazepines, such as alprazolam (Xanax), chlordiazepoxide (Librium), clorazepate (Tranxene), diazepam (Valium), or oxazepam (Serax). This medication can cause birth defects in an unborn baby. Do not use this medicine if you are pregnant.
Before taking Ativan, tell your doctor if you have any breathing problems, glaucoma, kidney or liver disease, or a history of depression, suicidal thoughts, or addiction to drugs or alcohol.
Do not drink alcohol while taking Ativan. This medication can increase the effects of alcohol.
Avoid using other medicines that make you sleepy. They can add to sleepiness caused by lorazepam.
Ativan may be habit-forming and should be used only by the person it was prescribed for. Ativan should never be shared with another person, especially someone who has a history of drug abuse or addiction. Keep the medication in a secure place where others cannot get to it.
Before taking Ativan
It is dangerous to try and purchase Ativan on the Internet or from vendors outside of the United States. Medications distributed from Internet sales may contain dangerous ingredients, or may not be distributed by a licensed pharmacy. Samples purchased on the Internet have been found to contain haloperidol (Haldol), a potent antipsychotic drug with dangerous side effects. For more information, contact the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) or visit www.fda.gov/buyonlineguide.
Do not use Ativan if you have narrow-angle glaucoma, or if you are allergic to lorazepam or to other benzodiazepines, such as alprazolam (Xanax), chlordiazepoxide (Librium), clorazepate (Tranxene), diazepam (Valium), or oxazepam (Serax).
Before taking Ativan, tell your doctor if you are allergic to any drugs, or if you have:
- asthma, emphysema, bronchitis, chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder (COPD), or other breathing problems;
- kidney or liver disease;
- a history of depression or suicidal thoughts or behavior; or
- a history of drug or alcohol addiction.
If you have any of these conditions, you may need a dose adjustment or special tests to safely take this medicine.
FDA pregnancy category D. Ativan can cause birth defects in an unborn baby. Do not use Ativan without your doctor's consent if you are pregnant. Tell your doctor if you become pregnant during treatment. Use an effective form of birth control while you are using this medicine. It is not known whether lorazepam passes into breast milk or if it could harm a nursing baby. Do not use this medication without telling your doctor if you are breast-feeding a baby.
The sedative effects of Ativan may last longer in older adults. Accidental falls are common in elderly patients who take benzodiazepines. Use caution to avoid falling or accidental injury while you are taking Ativan. Do not give this medication to a child younger than 12 years old.
How should I take Ativan?
Take Ativan exactly as it was prescribed for you. Do not take the medication in larger amounts, or take it for longer than recommended by your doctor. Follow the directions on your prescription label.
Your doctor may occasionally change your dose to make sure you get the best results from this medication.
Measure the liquid form of Ativan with a special dose-measuring spoon or cup, not a regular table spoon. If you do not have a dose-measuring device, ask your pharmacist for one.
Ativan should be used for only a short time. Do not take this medication for longer than 4 months without your doctor's advice. Ativan may be habit-forming and should be used only by the person it was prescribed for. Ativan should never be shared with another person, especially someone who has a history of drug abuse or addiction. Keep the medication in a secure place where others cannot get to it. Contact your doctor if this medicine seems to stop working as well in treating your symptoms. Do not stop using this medicine suddenly without first talking to your doctor. You may need to use less and less before you stop the medication completely.
Your symptoms may return when you stop using Ativan after using it over a long period of time. You may also have seizures or withdrawal symptoms when you stop using this medicine. Withdrawal symptoms may include tremor, sweating, muscle cramps, stomach pain, vomiting, unusual thoughts or behavior, and seizure (convulsions).
To be sure Ativan is not causing harmful effects, your doctor may need to check your progress on a regular basis. Do not miss any scheduled visits to your doctor.
Store at room temperature away from moisture, heat, and light. Store the liquid form of this medicine in the refrigerator.
Keep track of how many pills have been used from each new bottle of this medicine. Benzodiazepines are drugs of abuse and you should be aware if any person in the household is using this medicine improperly or without a prescription.
What happens if I miss a dose?
Take the missed dose as soon as you remember. If it is almost time for your next dose, skip the missed dose and take the medicine at your next regularly scheduled time. Do not take extra medicine to make up the missed dose.
What happens if I overdose?
Seek emergency medical attention if you think you have used too much of this medicine. An overdose of Ativan can be fatal.
Overdose symptoms may include extreme drowsiness, confusion, muscle weakness, fainting, or coma.
What should I avoid while taking Ativan?
Do not drink alcohol while taking Ativan. This medication can increase the effects of alcohol. Ativan can cause side effects that may impair your thinking or reactions. Be careful if you drive or do anything that requires you to be awake and alert. Cold or allergy medicine, narcotic pain medicine, sleeping pills, muscle relaxers, and medicine for seizures, depression or anxiety can add to sleepiness caused by this medicine. Tell your doctor if you regularly use any of these other medicines.
Ativan side effects
Get emergency medical help if you have any of these signs of an allergic reaction to Ativan: hives; difficulty breathing; swelling of your face, lips, tongue, or throat. Call your doctor at once if you have any of these serious side effects:
- confusion, depressed mood, thoughts of suicide or hurting yourself;
- hyperactivity, agitation, hostility;
- hallucinations; or
- feeling light-headed, fainting.
Less serious Ativan side effects may include:
- drowsiness, dizziness, tiredness;
- blurred vision;
- sleep problems (insomnia);
- muscle weakness, lack of balance or coordination;
- amnesia or forgetfulness, trouble concentrating;
- nausea, vomiting, constipation;
- appetite changes; or
- skin rash.
This is not a complete list of side effects and others may occur. Tell your doctor about any unusual or bothersome side effect. You may report side effects to FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088.
What other drugs will affect Ativan?
Before taking Ativan, tell your doctor if you are using any of the following drugs:
- a barbiturate such as amobarbital (Amytal), butabarbital (Butisol), mephobarbital (Mebaral), secobarbital (Seconal), or phenobarbital (Luminal, Solfoton);
- an MAO inhibitor such as isocarboxazid (Marplan), phenelzine (Nardil), rasagiline (Azilect), selegiline (Eldepryl, Emsam), or tranylcypromine (Parnate);
- medicines to treat psychiatric disorders, such as chlorpromazine (Thorazine), haloperidol (Haldol), mesoridazine (Serentil), pimozide (Orap), or thioridazine (Mellaril);
- narcotic medications such as butorphanol (Stadol), codeine, hydrocodone (Lortab, Vicodin), levorphanol (Levo-Dromoran), meperidine (Demerol), methadone (Dolophine, Methadose), morphine (Kadian, MS Contin, Oramorph), naloxone (Narcan), oxycodone (OxyContin), propoxyphene (Darvon, Darvocet); or
- antidepressants such as amitriptyline (Elavil, Etrafon), amoxapine (Asendin), citalopram (Celexa), clomipramine (Anafranil), desipramine (Norpramin), doxepin (Sinequan), escitalopram (Lexapro), fluoxetine (Prozac, Sarafem), fluvoxamine (Luvox), imipramine (Janimine, Tofranil), nortriptyline (Pamelor), paroxetine (Paxil), protriptyline (Vivactil), sertraline (Zoloft), or trimipramine (Surmontil).
This list is not complete and there may be other drugs that can interact with Ativan. Tell your doctor about all the prescription and over-the-counter medications you use. This includes vitamins, minerals, herbal products, and drugs prescribed by other doctors. Do not start using a new medication without telling your doctor.