Xanax (alprazolam) and Ativan (lorazepam) are two drugs used to treat anxiety and other severe psychiatric disorders that interfere with a person’s life. They both fall under the category of benzodiazepine drugs, helping to inhibit excess nerve stimulation in the human brain. Researchers have found that excessive neural firing in our brain is the cause of anxiety.
Benzodiazepines are responsible for affecting gamma-aminobutyric acid GABA), which is a neurotransmitter chemical that the brain uses to send messages. Scientists are still unsure of how it works, but they believe Xanax, Ativan, and other benzodiazepines act by enhancing the effects of the neurotransmitter in our brain. By influencing GABA, benzos work to reduce the activity of nerves in the brain.
Both Ativan and Xanax can be extremely addictive, and stopping either Xanax or Ativan abruptly can lead to dangerous withdrawal symptoms, depending on how long the individual has been using the drug(s). The primary difference between the two is that Ativan leaves a person’s system faster and reduces the chance of side effects or toxicity. Some side effects of the medications include weakness, dizziness, sedation, memory problems, or unsteadiness.
When compared to Xanax, Ativan also has unfavorable interactions with other prescription or OTC medications. However, both drugs can increase dangerous side effects like sedation, especially when consumed with other depressants, alcohol, or anti-anxiety medications.
Potential Side Effects of Ativan
The most adverse reactions to benzos include central nervous system (CNS) effects and respiratory depression. This depends on the dose, with more severe effects occurring after higher doses. The most common Ativan side effects include:
- Muscle weakness
- Blurred vision
- Sleep problems (Insomnia)
- Loss of balance or coordination
- Forgetfulness or amnesia
- Changes in appetite
- Skin rash
Potential Side Effects of Xanax
As was mentioned above, the higher the dose, the more likely you’ll experience respiratory depression of central nervous system effects. The most common Xanax side effects include:
- Memory problems
- Sleep problems (insomnia)
- Increased sweating
- Slurred speech
- Poor balance and coordination
- Upset stomach
- Appetite or weight changes
- Blurred vision
- Swelling in the hands or feet
- Dry mouth
- Muscle weakness
- Stuffy nose
- Loss of sexual desire
What is Ativan?
Ativan (lorazepam) is used to manage anxiety disorders or for the short-term relief of anxiety associated with depressive symptoms and symptoms of anxiety. Tension or anxiety related to the stresses of daily life is not typically treated with an anxiolytic. Drugs like Ativan are used to treat conditions that are persistent and affect the quality of your life.
What is Xanax?
Xanax (alprazolam) is used in the management of anxiety disorders and short-term relief for anxiety that adults might experience. Xanax is also used for panic disorders in adults with or without a fear of situations or places that may cause helplessness, panic, or agoraphobia.
What Drugs Interact With Ativan?
Ativan is responsible for increasing central nervous system (CNS) effects when combined with other CNS depressants. These include barbiturates, alcohol, antipsychotics, anxiolytics, sedative-hypnotics, narcotic analgesics, antidepressants, sedative antihistamines, anticonvulsants, and anesthetics.
The use of lorazepam and clozapine may produce excessive salivation, sedation, ataxia, hypotension, and respiratory arrest. If you ever experience adverse side effects caused by pharmaceuticals, you should contact your treating physician immediately. If you believe they are severe, you should call 911.
What Drug Interact with Xanax?
If you’re allergic to alprazolam, you should avoid using Xanax or other benzos or any of the ingredients in the medication. If you are using antifungal medicines such as itraconazole or ketoconazole, avoid using the drug.
How to Use Ativan?
Ativan (lorazepam) should only be taken orally. For the best results, your frequency of administration, dose, and therapy duration must be tailored to your specific needs. To make this happen, 0.5 mg, 1 mg, and 2 mg tablets are available with a prescription.
The most common dose is between 2 and 6 milligrams a day, which is given in divided doses. The largest dose should be consumed before bed, but the daily dosage can range from 1 to 10 milligrams. For anxiety, a patient will require an initial 2 to 3 mg a day taken two to three times a day.
For insomnia due to transient situational stress or anxiety, a single dose of 2 to 4 mg may be provided, typically at bedtime. For the elderly or disabled, an initial dose of 1 to 2 mg a day will be divided into doses as recommended and will be adjusted as tolerated and needed.
The dosage of Ativan must be increased gradually when necessary to avoid adverse effects. When a doctor approves a higher dose, the evening dose must be raised before the daytime dosage.
How to Use Xanax?
You must use Xanax exactly as it’s given by your primary physician. Your healthcare provider will explain to you how much you should take and when. If you take too much Xanax, you must contact the treating physician or call emergency services. A Xanax overdose can be fatal, so you must get help immediately.
Since Xanax is a benzodiazepine, using it with opioids, alcohol, or other central nervous system depressants will lead to severe drowsiness, coma, breathing problems (respiratory depression), or death. It can make you feel dizzy, sleepy, and slow your thinking and motor skills.
You should never operate heavy machinery or drive while under the influence of Xanax. Do not drink alcohol or other drugs that may cause sleepiness or dizziness without talking to your doctor. Xanax has the potential to increase these side effects. Never use more Xanax than prescribed.
How to Get Help
Benzodiazepines are notoriously dangerous during withdrawal, and if you’ve developed a problem with Xanax or Ativan, you must seek help. Abrupt cessation or skipping a dose can cause seizures, which are fatal without proper treatment. If you’ve been using the medication for extended periods, you should speak to a doctor to find ways to stop.
Your doctor may wean you off the drugs, but if you’ve been using large doses, it may be in your best interest to seek professional treatment. Going through medical detox could be the difference between mild or severe withdrawal symptoms. During detox, medical professionals will provide you with medication and supervision while you overcome this challenging period.
If you’ve developed an addiction to benzos, you should consider the next step in the treatment process. It could mean residential or outpatient treatment to deal with the root of the issue. You must speak to a medical professional to determine what’s right for you.