Skip to content

What is Ativan?

Ativan (lorazepam) is a prescription tranquilizing drug. You might also hear it as a sedative-hypnotic or anxiolytic medication. Ativan is used for anxiety treatment [1]. It is in a class of medications called benzodiazepines. It works by slowing activity in the brain to allow for relaxation. Many have succumbed to Ativan addiction and require Ativan detox to function normally again and avoid Ativan side effects that bring health risks.

Ativan is the brand name available in the US for lorazepam. Loraz, another brand name for lorazepam, has been terminated in the US. Ativan is obtainable in generic form; however, you need a prescript from your doctor. Despite its legitimate medical uses, Ativan has known addictive and drug dependence liability.

Ativan vs Xanax
Once an individual becomes psychologically or physically addicted to benzos, the safest way to stop using the drug is to enter a medically managed detox program.

This is one reason why Ativan is prescribed for relatively short-term use. However, people should be careful to adhere to prescription guidelines. If not, if an individual exceeds the recommended dosage, it may increase the likelihood of drug addiction development.

Ativan is a DEA-controlled drug. The active ingredient lorazepam is a DEA Schedule IV controlled substance. Given that, substances in the DEA Schedule IV have a low potential for abuse relative to substances in Schedule III. The DEA also classifies Ativan as Depressants. Moreover, the street names for Benzodiazepines, including Ativan, are Benzos, Downers, Nerve Pills, and Tranks. [2] 

Get Your Life Back

Find Hope & Recovery. Get Safe Comfortable Detox, Addiction Rehab & Dual Diagnosis High-Quality Care.

Hotline (877) 378-4154

What is Xanax?

Xanax, a brand name for alprazolam, is a potent and the most commonly prescribed benzodiazepine (benzos) that is only recommended for use for up to six weeks [3]. It is a prescription drug used for anxiety treatment. Xanax is also prescribed for panic attack treatment. Taking Xanax use can lead to physical dependence and addiction. In addition, withdrawal is one of the most common Xanax side effects. It is experienced when someone reduces or stops using this prescription drug, which can lead to complications such as panic attacks, insomnia, and seizures. Withdrawing from Xanax under an inpatient drug rehab specializing in Xanax detox reduces the risk of complications and helps the individual experience a safer, more comfortable recovery.

Xanax works by decreasing abnormal excitement in the brain [4]. Xanax slows down the movement of brain chemicals that may have become unbalanced, resulting in a reduction in nervous tension and anxiety. Xanax works by boosting the effects of a natural chemical called gamma-aminobutyric acid, which is made in the brain.

Similarities Between Ativan and Xanax 

Ativan (lorazepam) and Xanax (alprazolam) are two prescription drugs indicated for the treatment of anxiety. Both drugs are available in brand or generic. They are classified in a group of medications called benzodiazepines, which work in the CNS (central nervous system). They work by increasing activity at receptors for a neurotransmitter called gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA). By doing this, benzodiazepines produce a relaxing and calming effect and help promote sleep when taken at bedtime.

Ativan starts working within an hour, and the effects last for up to eight hours. Xanax starts working within an hour, and the effects last for about five hours (the extended-release version lasts up to about 11 hours). Both drugs have a half-life (the time it takes for the amount of drug to decrease by half) of about 12 hours. Both medications are therapeutically known as benzodiazepines; however, they do have some notable differences, as outlined below. Both drugs are controlled substances and classified as Schedule IV drugs.

Differences Between Xanax and Ativan 

The generic of Ativan is lorazepam, and the generic of Xanax is alprazolam. Ativan is available in tablet form, injection, and oral concentrate. Xanax is available as both immediate-release and extended-release tablets, as well as an oral concentrate. Ativan is used in children 12 years and older; Xanax is used in adults. Both drugs are intended to be used for a short period of time, but often, patients continue long-term based on the doctor’s instruction, and with careful monitoring.

When either drug is being used, the dosage should be increased slowly, and when the drug is discontinued, it should be done by tapering slowly.

The differences are:

  • Xanax has a quicker onset of effect, but a shorter duration of action (4 to 6 hours) compared with Ativan’s 8 hours.
  • Sedative and performance-impairing effects may occur sooner with Xanax, but dissipate quicker than with Ativan.
  • Activity of Xanax is more likely to be affected by race (people of Asian descent achieve higher concentrations and activity of Xanax lasts longer), concurrent liver or kidney disease, alcoholism and obesity, whereas Ativan is less likely to be influenced by race or age.

Get Help. Get Better. Get Your Life Back.

Searching for an Accredited Drug and Alcohol Rehab Centers in Near You?

Even if you have failed previously and relapsed, or are in the middle of a difficult crisis, we stand ready to support you. Our trusted behavioral health specialists will not give up on you. When you feel ready or just want someone to speak to about therapy alternatives to change your life call us. Even if we cannot assist you, we will lead you to wherever you can get support. There is no obligation. Call our hotline today.

FREE Addiction Hotline – Call 24/7
Ativan vs Xanax
Ativan and Xanax are usually not prescribed together.

Which drug is more effective for anxiety? 

A placebo-controlled, double-blind study compared Ativan and Xanax in the treatment of patients with severe anxiety. Both drugs were found to be more effective than placebo, with Xanax being slightly more effective in the latter weeks of the study. However, another study of the two drugs for anxiety showed both drugs to be effective, with Ativan being slightly more effective.

Another study compared the two drugs in the treatment of panic disorder and found Ativan and Xanax to be equally effective.

The most effective medication for you should only be determined by your doctor, who will take into account your medical condition(s), history, and other medications you take.

Which drug is more addictive? 

Both Ativan and Xanax should only be used short-term due to the risk of addiction and dependence. Generally speaking, benzodiazepines with shorter half-life (such as Ativan and Xanax) are harder to stop than those with a longer half-life (such as diazepam). Both Ativan and Xanax readily enter brain tissue which reinforces drug-taking and is generally associated with more severe withdrawal symptoms. Therefore, Ativan and Xanax are both at high risk of abuse. Research directly comparing Ativan with Xanax is not available; however, many experts have particularly advised that Xanax be used with caution as it has been associated with particularly severe withdrawal symptoms.

Ativan vs Xanax for Sleep 

If you are wondering about which of the two drugs, Xanax or Ativan, works better for sleep, you may be interested to know that there are other benzodiazepines that have FDA approval for use as sleeping aids. There are Restoril and Halcion, for example. Xanax is typically not prescribed for sleep. Ativan is sometimes prescribed for sleeping problems, but it would definitely not be the doctor’s first choice of drugs. Also, because of the side effects and long-term risks of these drugs, doctors recommend that you do not take them for long as sleeping aids. Typically, a short-term treatment of two weeks or less is a common length of therapy.

Xanax vs Ativan Which is Stronger

Benzodiazepine equivalency tables state that 0.5mg of alprazolam (Xanax) is approximately equivalent to 1mg lorazepam (Ativan). However, people of Asian descent metabolize Xanax differently to people of other races, and certain disease states such as alcoholism, liver and kidney disease, obesity and even old age can affect how Xanax behaves in the body; so benzodiazepine equivalency tables should be used as a guide only as they do not reflect individual variation. Both Ativan and Xanax should only be used short-term.

Ativan vs Xanax Withdrawal

Statistics make it clear that there is a high use of benzodiazepine abuse. Millions of Americans have gone to the emergency room for recreational benzo use. People are abusing the drug in combination with other substances that can cause adverse effects.

When you chronically take any benzodiazepine, the risk of dependency and addiction is there. Both Ativan and Xanax are no exception. To avoid uncomfortable or painful withdrawal, you’ll want to taper off the drugs over a period of time. One of the Xanax side effects is that it has a greater potential to be abused in comparison to other benzos.

For many that start using Ativan and Xanax, there will be withdrawal symptoms. It’s not always easy to get off these prescription drugs. The body gets a tolerance to them quickly and dependence sets in even if a person follows the doctor’s instructions. When it comes to Ativan vs. Xanax, they share characteristics that are similar. They both have the ability to be abused, are highly addictive, and come with the same risks. It’s a matter of what type of anxiety the person has and whether it includes panic attacks.

First-class Facilities & Amenities

World-class High-Quality Addiction & Mental Health Rehabilitation Treatment

Rehab Centers Tour

Renowned Addiction Centers. Serene Private Facilities. Inpatient rehab programs vary.

Addiction Helpline (877) 378-4154

Proven recovery success experience, backed by a Team w/ History of:

  • 15+ Years Experience
  • 100s of 5-Star Reviews
  • 10K+ Recovery Successes
  • Low Patient to Therapist Ratio
  • Onsite Medical Detox Center
  • Comprehensive Dual-Diagnosis Treatment
  • Complimentary Family & Alumni Programs
  • Coaching, Recovery & Personal Development Events

Ativan Side Effects 

The cumulative effects of Ativan use or abuse can cause health problems. It can have an impact on a person’s memory. Ativan can be habit-forming so using it as long-term treatment isn’t advised. Ativan is one of the more challenging benzodiazepines to withdraw from. Taking it for long periods of time is especially risky, potentially causing addiction. Those with alcohol or substance abuse problems, should not be prescribed Ativan. It can cause serious health problems, which include falling into a coma or death. People who have taken Ativan for long periods of time say that it gets less effective over time. This can cause people to abuse the drug to obtain benefits.

Ativan comes with side effects such as

  • Temporary drowsiness, dizziness, and confusion
  • Physical and mental exhaustion
  • Temporary drowsiness, dizziness, and confusion
  • Physical and mental exhaustion

Serious Ativan Side Effects

Serious Ativan side effects can put people at risk. If a person experiences the following, they should call their doctor immediately:

  • They become confused
  • As benzodiazepines are a depressant to the CNS, they may become depressed
  • The depressive feelings can lead to thoughts of suicide or hurting oneself
  • They may experience hyperactivity
  • They may become agitated which can turn to hostility
  • They may experience hallucinations
  • They may become light-headed which can lead to fainting

Xanax Side Effects

When taking Xanax, the body produces far less GABA. This is the body’s natural calming capabilities. The dependency is swift and it’s not particularly safe to withdraw from benzodiazepines alone. The Xanax high comes with its own risks as well. As with any benzodiazepine, it can offer a nice, sedative high that people are drawn to. Overdose of Xanax is possible when someone takes more than the recommended dose. It may also occur when someone stops and then restarts using Xanax. Mixing Xanax with other depressants like alcohol or other benzos can be extremely risky, causing death.

Common Xanax side effects include:

  • Potential tolerance and habit forming tendencies
  • Can cause slurred speech
  • Fatigue
  • A change in sex drive
  • Respiratory depression that leads to shortness of breath

Regardless of whether a person follows their Xanax dosage or not, these serious side effects may occur. If someone experiences these symptoms, they should seek out medical assistance:

  • Chronic headaches
  • Exhaustion
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Dry mouth or an increase in salivation
  • Inability to sexually perform
  • Rapid changes in weight
  • A problem urinating
  • Skin rashes
  • Seizures may occur
  • Depression
  • Rapid, extreme mood changes

World-class, Accredited, 5-Star Reviewed, Effective Addiction & Mental Health Programs. Complete Behavioral Health Inpatient Rehab, Detox plus Co-occuring Disorders Therapy.

CALL (877) 378-4154

End the Addiction Pain. End the Emotional Rollercoaster. Get Your Life Back. Start Drug, Alcohol & Dual Diagnosis Mental Health Treatment Now. Get Free No-obligation Guidance by Substance Abuse Specialists Who Understand Addiction & Mental Health Recovery & Know How to Help.

Addiction Treatment 

There is a strong link between mental health and substance abuse. Individuals who struggle with mood disorders like depression and anxiety are more susceptible to developing an addiction to drugs or alcohol, often to self-medicate symptoms of their underlying mental health condition. These co-occurring disorders can make each other worse without proper treatment.

To determine the most effective ways of Xanax addiction treatment, Ativan addiction treatment, or even polysubstance abuse treatment, it’s crucial to first get an accurate assessment of all the symptoms. When the symptoms have been evaluated by a mental health professional, it may be determined that another form of mental condition is present and needs a particular type of treatment. Very often, some combination of psychotherapy, medication, and/or lifestyle changes are effective for coping with functional.

Medically-Assisted Detox

Detox is often considered the first stage of treatment. It will help you navigate the complicated process of withdrawal, but it doesn’t address patterns of thought and behavior that contribute to drug abuse. Various treatment approaches and settings can help provide the ongoing support necessary to maintain long-term sobriety after you complete detox.

Cravings are very common during detox and can be challenging to overcome. This often leads to relapse. Constant medical care provided during inpatient treatment helps prevent relapse. Clinicians can provide necessary medication and medical expertise to lessen cravings and the effects of withdrawals.

Psychotherapy for Depression and Anxiety

Several different modalities of psychotherapy have been used in the treatment of depression including:

  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) – is an effective treatment that involves making changes in both the patterns of negative thoughts and the behavioral routines which are affecting the daily life of the depressed person for various forms of depression.
  • Person-Centered Therapy – is a strategy that allows and encourages clients to understand and resolve their concerns in a safe, supportive environment.
  • Solution Focused Therapy – is an approach interested in solutions that can be quickly implemented with a simple first step leading to further positive consequences.


Dual Diagnosis Treatment

Substance abuse and mental health disorders often co-occur. In many cases, traumatic experiences can result in a mental health disorder and substance abuse. Dual diagnosis rehabilitation treats both of these issues together. The best approach for the treatment of dual diagnosis is an integrated system. In this strategy, both the substance abuse problem and the mental disorder are treated simultaneously. Regardless of which diagnosis (mental health or substance abuse problem) came first, long-term recovery will depend largely on the treatment for both disorders done by the same team or provider.

Medication-Assisted Treatments

Medication-Assisted Treatments (MAT) for substance use disorders and mental health disorders are commonly used in conjunction with one another. This includes the use of medications and other medical procedures. During your rehab, the staff from your treatment facility will help you identify what caused your addiction and teach you skills that will help you change your behavior patterns and challenge the negative thoughts that led to your addiction. Sometimes, the pressures and problems in your life lead you to rely on substances to help you forget about them momentarily.

Someone with a Xanax addiction may take up to 20 or 30 pills per day. If the user decides to stop the Xanax dosages, they may experience withdrawal effects such as anxiety, restlessness, insomnia, and tremors. The development of tolerance and withdrawal are indications of addiction. Learning more about Ativan vs Xanax is a good first step toward recovery, but it doesn’t have to end there. If you or a loved one are struggling with long-term substance abuse and a co-occurring mental health condition such as anxiety and depression, contact one of our helpful treatment specialists today. We Level Up NJ can provide information on dual diagnosis and detox programs that may fit your specific needs.

Ativan vs Xanax
Recovering from Xanax and Ativan addiction may be challenging but we’re here to help and want to see you get back to living a happier and healthier life of sobriety.

Start a New Life

Begin with a free call to an addiction & behavioral health treatment advisor. Learn more about our dual-diagnosis programs. The We Level Up treatment center network delivers recovery programs that vary by each treatment facility. Call to learn more.

>> Personalized Care

>> Caring Accountable Staff

>> World-class Amenities

>> Licensed & Accredited

>> Renowned w/ 100s 5-Star Reviews

Rehab centers for alcohol & drug addiction

We’ll Call You


[1] NIH –

[2] NCBI –

[3] NCBI –

[4] CDC –