Combining Ativan and alcohol at the same time can intensify side effects like slowed breathing, which can lead to life-threatening consequences.

The risks for combining lorazepam and alcohol are very severe. It’s important to take precautions when taking lorazepam (the generic drug of the brand name Ativan), especially if you drink any form of alcohol, be it wine, beer, or liquor.

Article at a Glance:

  • Ativan (lorazepam) is a benzodiazepine and central nervous system depressant.
  • Mixing alcohol and Ativan can intensify side effects like slowed breathing, which can be deadly.
  • It takes the body up to five days to clear a dose of lorazepam from its system, and it is best to avoid alcohol during that time.

Ativan and Alcohol (Video)

The video below provides an overview of the symptoms that can occur when combining Ativan and alcohol.

Mixing Ativan (Lorazepam) and Alcohol

Ativan and alcohol are both central nervous system depressants that cause an increase in GABA (gamma-aminobutyric acid) in the brain. Taken together, alcohol and Ativan can slow down the brain’s functioning and make it much easier to overdose.

A person who has overdosed on Ativan and alcohol may be confused and have slurred speech, movement difficulties and slowed breathing.

Drug overdoses can be fatal. If you suspect someone is experiencing alcohol poisoning, call 911 immediately. Do NOT be afraid to seek help. If you do not have access to a phone, contact Web Poison Control Services for online assistance.


How long after taking 1 mg Ativan can I drink?

The half-life of a drug is how long it takes half of it to leave your body, and it takes about five half-lives for a drug to leave your system. Because Ativan’s half-life is 10 to 20 hours, Ativan remains in your system for up to 100 hours (five days) after you have taken the drug. It is not completely safe to drink until that time has passed.

Is it safe to mix 0.5 mg Ativan and alcohol?

It is not safe to mix any dose of Ativan with alcohol. Mixing Ativan and alcohol can intensify the side effects of both and lead to slowed breathing, which can be fatal.

Is it okay to take lorazepam after drinking?

It is not safe to take lorazepam while alcohol is still in your system. Drinking while taking lorazepam can lead to slowed breathing, a potentially deadly consequence.

Related Topic: The Dangers of Misusing Lorazepam 

Effects of Drinking on Ativan

You should avoid drinking while taking Ativan. Mixing alcohol and Ativan can cause the Ativan to have increased and potentially life-threatening side effects. For example, the risk for serious side effects like slowed breathing rises if a person has been drinking while taking Ativan. In people who drink chronically, mixing lorazepam with alcohol can also impact cognitive abilities.

How Long After Taking Ativan (Lorazepam) Before You Can Drink?

If you take Ativan, you should wait to drink until the drug has been cleared from your system.

The half-life of a drug is how long it takes your system to remove half of it, and it takes around five half-lives for a drug to leave your body. Since the half-life of Ativan is 10 to 20 hours, Ativan can remain in your body for up to 100 hours after the last dose. It is not completely safe to drink until that time has passed.

See: How Long Does Ativan Stay in Your System? 

How Long After Drinking Can You Take Ativan (Lorazepam)?

You should wait until alcohol is fully removed from your system before taking Ativan. In general, your body can process one standard drink per hour. A standard drink is defined as:

  • 12 ounces of beer
  • 5 ounces of wine
  • 1.5 ounces of distilled spirits

For example, if you had 24 ounces of beer, you should wait at least two hours before taking a central nervous system depressant like Ativan.

What Is Ativan?

Ativan, a brand-name version of lorazepam, is a benzodiazepine drug that is categorized as a Schedule IV controlled substance. It is a depressant, meaning it calms excessive electrical nerve activity in the brain. Specifically, lorazepam affects GABA receptors and enhances GABA neurotransmitters in the brain.

GABA neurotransmitters induce a feeling of sleepiness and reduce anxiety. These effects are why Ativan is sometimes used to calm repeated epileptic fits, or as a sedative to help with anxiety.

Drug PropertiesAtivan (lorazepam)
Medical UsesAnxiety, sedation, seizures, chemotherapy-related nausea, delirium
Drug TypeBenzodiazepine
Controlled substance statusSchedule IV
Common side effectsSedation, dizziness, weakness, unsteadiness

Other Ativan Drug Interactions (Benadryl and More)

It’s not just alcohol that can cause problems with Ativan. Some people may have an extreme allergic reaction to Ativan, leading them to take a drug like Benadryl in an attempt to combat the swelling. However, Benadryl and other antihistamines are tranquilizers that can actually increase the depressant effects of Ativan. Similarly, you should avoid opioid painkillers and sleeping aids. Always check with a doctor before taking any medications with Ativan.

If you or someone you love is struggling with Ativan or alcohol use, help is available at The Recovery Village. Contact us today to learn more about addiction treatment programs that can work well for your needs.

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Editor – Jonathan Strum
Jonathan Strum graduated from the University of Nebraska Omaha with a Bachelor's in Communication in 2017 and has been writing professionally ever since. Read more
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Medically Reviewed By – Dr. Jessica Pyhtila, PharmD
Dr. Jessica Pyhtila is a Clinical Pharmacy Specialist based in Baltimore, Maryland with practice sites in inpatient palliative care and outpatient primary care at the Department of Veteran Affairs. Read more

Wallner, M., Olsen, R.W. “Physiology and pharmacology of alcohol: […]or drug development?” British Journal of Pharmacology, May 2008. Accessed October 31, 2021.

Kang, Michael; Galuska, Michael A.; Ghassemzadeh, Sassan. “Benzodiazepine Toxicity.” StatPearls, July 26, 2021. Accessed October 31, 2021.

Hallare, Jericho; Gerriets, Valerie. “Half Life.” StatPearls, August 23, 2021. Accessed October 31, 2021.

National Alliance on Mental Illness. “Lorazepam.” September 2021. Accessed October 31, 2021. “Lorazepam.” November 9, 2020. Accessed October 31, 2021. “Drug Interaction Report.” Accessed October 31, 2021.

University of California Santa Cruz. “Alcohol and Your Body.” December 20, 2019. Accessed October 31, 2021.

National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. “What is a Standard Drink?” Accessed October 31, 2021.

Medical Disclaimer

The Recovery Village aims to improve the quality of life for people struggling with substance use or mental health disorder with fact-based content about the nature of behavioral health conditions, treatment options and their related outcomes. We publish material that is researched, cited, edited and reviewed by licensed medical professionals. The information we provide is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. It should not be used in place of the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare providers.