Ativan, also known as a benzodiazepine, is a mild tranquilizer often used prescribed as treatment for anxiety, schizophrenia or as a sleeping aid because of the effect the medication has on the depressant effect it has on the central nervous system depressants. Alcohol is also a depressant that effects the central nervous system so a combination of ativan and alcohol can have a serious life threatening effect when the combination of the two depressants are working to slow down brain activity. Although ativan is often prescribed for someone who may be withdrawing from alcohol, a combination of the two together can have devastating results.
Ativan alone or alcohol alone can cause drowsiness, problems with coordination, dizziness, memory problems and unusual behavior, however, when ativan and alcohol are combined, it increases the risk of the side effects being dramatically increased. The combination can slow the central nervous system down so quickly that it may result in the heart and/or breathing slowing down, which can cause you to either pass out or have breathing difficulties and in some cases, it can lead to death. The alcohol can increase the side effects that are typically associated with ativan and the ativan can increase the side effects typically associated with alcohol, the combination can basically shut down your central nervous system and relax the brain to the point where it may be difficult to regain full function.
It is common for ativan to be prescribed as treatment or partial treatment for those with a mental illness, such as anxiety, however, many people with a mental illness also consume alcohol and may not understand the risk of combining the ativan and alcohol together. Alcohol is often used as a form of “self medicating” for someone with a mental illness, however, in most cases the alcohol may worsen the symptoms of mental illness, resulting in them taking the ativan prescription and often times taking more than is prescribed. Initially the person who is taking the ativan and alcohol together may only suffer with nausea, vomiting, fainting or headaches, however, eventually the side effects will drastically increase, often resulting in an overdose.
If someone is withdrawing from alcohol, prescribed ativan for the withdrawal symptoms, then consumes alcohol, there is a high risk of the opposite effect occurring. The person may experience an overwhelming panic attack, outbursts of anger and become uncontrollable. This will not only contradict all efforts to quit drinking alcohol, but will also increase the chance of suffering with withdrawal symptoms for the use of the ativan as well.
Ativan and alcohol both slow your body down and make you feel tired. Alcohol relaxes all of the muscles, while ativan relaxes your nervous system, a combination of the two will result in the body being so relaxed that it may induce obstructive sleep apnea. Obstructive sleep apnea means that during sleep, there are several periods of time, some which may be several minutes, where there is no breathing. The combination of alcohol and ativan may cause you to experience obstructive sleep apnea to the point where there is such a large lack of air going into the body, it will affect the organ performance, eventually shut the organs down, put you in a coma or die due to a lack of oxygen.