How Long Does Lorazepam Stay in Your System?
How long does lorazepam stay in your system? Physical, genetic, and other factors can heavily impact how long it stays in your system.
What is Lorazepam?
Lorazepam, also commonly known under the brand name Ativan, is a prescription medication in the category of drugs known as benzodiazepines. It is commonly used to treat anxiety. At least fifteen types of benzodiazepines are prescribed in the U.S. This class of drugs can quickly lead to dependence and is typically prescribed for only short periods.
Lorazepam uses include treating anxiety, seizure disorders, addressing sleep problems, easing irritable bowel syndrome, decreasing nausea from chemotherapy, and assisting with alcohol withdrawal. This usually depends on the dosage amount – in low doses, lorazepam has sedative effects, while in moderate doses, it reduces anxiety symptoms. In larger doses, it induces sleep.
Lorazepam depresses the central nervous system and should not be combined with other depressant medications or substances, such as alcohol. Misusing this medication could cause health problems, including fatal respiratory depression.1
Benzodiazepines work by increasing the natural effects of an amino acid known as GABA (gamma-aminobutyric acid). GABA lessens neuron activity, which reduces stress and increases relaxation. Additionally, GABA plays an important role in balancing mood and managing pain naturally.2
How Long Does Lorazepam Take to Start Working?
Lorazepam takes effect relatively quickly. It can be taken as a liquid concentrate, an injection, or tablets. Exactly how swiftly the medication works depends on its form. Injections are the fastest-acting method.
Most people will begin to feel the effects of Lorazepam anywhere from fifteen to twenty minutes after injection. With liquid concentrates and tablets, the full effect may take up to two hours to manifest.
Symptoms and Side Effects of Lorazepam Overdose
People who abuse lorazepam by taking larger or more frequent doses than prescribed usually develop a tolerance relatively quickly. Taking high doses of this medication can lead to changes in personality, adverse health issues, and cognitive problems.
Signs of lorazepam overuse include:
- Poor balance
- Blurred vision
- Amnesia, forgetfulness
- Anger and irritability
- Poor coordination
- Impaired judgment
- Disturbing dreams
In older people, the side effects of lorazepam may mimic dementia. Lorazepam users may also appear withdrawn and detached from people and projects they once cared about.
Signs of lorazepam overdose include severe drowsiness, lack of coordination, fainting, and muscle weakness. Withdrawal from lorazepam can also pose serious health risks such as seizures, hallucinations, and delirium.
Lorazepam Drug Testing
Drug testing looks for the presence of lorazepam or other prescription or illegal drugs in the body. Drug testing is also known as a “drug screen” or “tox screen.” A health care provider may order drug testing if a patient shows signs of lorazepam addiction or abuse.3
Lorazepam can be detected through:
- Urine tests
- Blood tests
- Hair tests
- Saliva tests
False-positive tests are rare but can happen. Mistakes in sample collection or testing are possible. Some common substances, such as cough suppressants or tonic water, can also affect the testing results.
What Causes False Positives?
Other medications can also cause a false positive test. Specifically, the medications Oxaprozin, Sertraline, and some HIV medications can cause a false positive for benzodiazepines. Medical specialists should ask you before testing if you use any of these substances that may cause the false positive so they can accurately detect what may be in your system. Hair tests generally allow for detection over a much longer period of time and urine or saliva tests as well.
How Long Does Lorazepam Stay in Your System?
Like most medications, lorazepam is metabolized in the liver and eliminated through the kidneys and urination. Even in its slowest form, lorazepam is a fast-acting drug, and its half-life is around twelve hours.
The half-life is the point at which the concentration of the drug in your body begins to decrease. Users will begin to feel the effects within a few minutes to a few hours after taking the drug. Lorazepam may remain present for up to nine days in the body.5
However, when the substance is detectable within the body depends on the type of test. Elimination of the drug through urine continues for up to six weeks, depending on the dosage and duration. Urine tests can detect lorazepam up to six days after usage cessation. In blood tests, lorazepam can be detected up to three days after the last use.
This window may be longer for people taking high doses of the substance. Hair samples retain substances longer than other testing materials. Lorazepam may be present for up to 30 days in a hair test.
Saliva tests are rarely used for detecting benzodiazepines because the substance does not remain present in saliva for very long. It can only be reliably identified from eight to ten hours after the last use. In addition, saliva testing is the least reliable, as saliva is easily contaminated by other substances such as food or bacteria.6
Factors that Affect How Long Lorazepam Stays in Your System
There is no foolproof way to predict how long lorazepam or other substances will stay in your system or pinpoint the exact half-life of lorazepam for every person. Several factors affect how substances are metabolized and how long lorazepam stays in each person’s system, including:
- Amount taken
- Frequency of use
- Kidney function
The Effects on Metabolization
Generally, the older a person is, the longer it takes for the body to metabolize and process lorazepam, meaning it will stay in the system longer. The frequency of use and amount taken can also impact this, as the more someone takes it, the more the body gets used to it. This means that the body will need more of the drug to have the same effect as when it first started receiving lorazepam.
If you are concerned about lorazepam withdrawal or how long it can take to metabolize in your body, it may be an indication that you are developing a dependence on the substance. Lorazepam’s side effects and dependence on the drug are reasons for concern and should be taken seriously.
Treatment for Lorazepam Addiction
Lorazepam is an extremely addictive substance. It is not considered appropriate for long-term use and is usually prescribed for only three to four months at a time. Because of the way it interacts with natural sources of GABA, the body can quickly develop a psychological and physical dependence on the substance.
Contact Stillwater Behavioral Health
Continuing to use lorazepam despite negative consequences or having overwhelming cravings for the substance are signs of lorazepam addiction. At Stillwater Behavioral Health, we understand that facing a substance use disorder is frightening. If you or a loved one have become dependent on lorazepam, recovering can seem like a scary step, especially if the body has come to rely on the drug.
But with the right help and support, not only can you survive, but you can thrive in a healthy new lifestyle. Get help for lorazepam addiction and other substance use disorders at Stillwater Behavioral Health. Contact us today – we will be here every step of the way to help.