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Lorazepam

Generic Name: lorazepam (oral) (lor A ze pam)
Brand Name: Ativan

Medically reviewed by Sophia Entringer, PharmD. Last updated on Jun 5, 2020.

What is lorazepam?

Lorazepam belongs to a group of drugs called benzodiazepines. It is thought that lorazepam works by enhancing the activity of certain neurotransmitters in the brain.

Lorazepam is used to treat anxiety disorders and seizure disorders.

It is dangerous to purchase lorazepam on the Internet or outside the United States. The sale and distribution of medicines outside the U.S. does not comply with safe-use regulations of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). These medications may contain dangerous ingredients, or may not be distributed by a licensed pharmacy.

Important Information

You should not use lorazepam if you have narrow-angle glaucoma, severe respiratory insufficiency, myasthenia gravis, or if you are allergic to Valium or a similar medicine.

Do not use lorazepam if you are pregnant. This medicine can cause birth defects or life-threatening withdrawal symptoms in a newborn.

Lorazepam may be habit-forming and should be used only by the person it was prescribed for. Misuse of habit-forming medicine can cause addiction, overdose, or death. This medicine should never be shared with another person, especially someone who has a history of drug abuse or addiction. Keep the medication in a secure place where others cannot get to it.

Fatal side effects can occur if you take lorazepam with alcohol, opioid medicine, or other drugs that cause drowsiness or slow your breathing.

Before taking this medicine

You should not take lorazepam if you have:

To make sure lorazepam is safe for you, tell your doctor if you have:

If you use lorazepam while you are pregnant, your baby could become dependent on the drug. This can cause life-threatening withdrawal symptoms in the baby after it is born. Babies born dependent on habit-forming medicine may need medical treatment for several weeks.

You should not breastfeed while using lorazepam.

Lorazepam is not approved for use by anyone younger than 12 years old.

How should I take lorazepam?

Take lorazepam exactly as it was prescribed for you. Follow the directions on your prescription label and read all medication guides. Never use lorazepam in larger amounts, or for longer than prescribed. Tell your doctor if you feel an increased urge to use more of this medicine.

Lorazepam may be habit-forming. Misuse can cause addiction, overdose, or death. Keep the medication in a place where others cannot get to it. Selling or giving away this medicine is against the law.

Measure liquid medicine carefully. Use the dosing syringe provided, or use a medicine dose-measuring device (not a kitchen spoon).

Do not take lorazepam for longer than 4 months unless your doctor tells you to. Call your doctor if your symptoms do not improve, or if they get worse.

If you use this medicine long-term, you may need frequent medical tests.

Do not stop using this medicine suddenly, or you could have unpleasant withdrawal symptoms. Ask your doctor how to safely stop using this medicine.

Store at room temperature away from moisture and heat.

Store the liquid form of lorazepam in the refrigerator. Throw away any liquid not used within 90 days.

Keep track of your medicine. You should be aware if anyone is using it improperly or without a prescription.

Lorazepam dosing information

Usual Adult Dose for Anxiety:

Initial dose: 2 to 3 mg orally per day, given 2 to 3 times per day
Maintenance dose: 1 to 2 mg orally 2 to 3 times a day

Comments:
-The daily dosage may vary from 1 to 10 mg per day.
-The dosage should be increased gradually when needed to help avoid adverse effects.
-When higher dosage is indicated, the evening dose should be increased before the daytime doses.

Usual Adult Dose for Insomnia:

2 to 4 mg orally administered once a day at bedtime

Comment: The dosage should be increased gradually when needed to help avoid adverse effects.

Usual Geriatric Dose for Anxiety:

Elderly or debilitated patients: 1 to 2 mg orally per day in divided doses

Comment: The dosage should be increased gradually when needed to help avoid adverse effects.

Usual Pediatric Dose for Anxiety:

12 years or older:
-Initial dose: 2 to 3 mg orally per day, given 2 to 3 times per day
-Maintenance dose: 1 to 2 mg orally 2 to 3 times a day

Usual Pediatric Dose for Insomnia:

12 years or older: 2 to 4 mg orally administered at bedtime

Comments:
-For debilitated patients, an initial dosage of 1 to 2 mg/day in divided doses is recommended.
-The dosage should be increased gradually when needed to help avoid adverse effects.

What happens if I miss a dose?

Take the medicine as soon as you can, but skip the missed dose if it is almost time for your next dose. Do not take two doses at one time.

What happens if I overdose?

Seek emergency medical attention or call the Poison Help line at 1-800-222-1222. An overdose of lorazepam can be fatal.

Overdose symptoms may include extreme drowsiness, confusion, slurred speech, feeling restless, muscle weakness, loss of balance or coordination, feeling light-headed, slow heartbeats, weak or shallow breathing, or coma.

What should I avoid while taking lorazepam?

Avoid drinking alcohol. Dangerous side effects or death could occur.

Avoid driving or hazardous activity until you know how lorazepam will affect you. Dizziness or drowsiness can cause falls, accidents, or severe injuries.

Lorazepam side effects

Get emergency medical help if you have signs of an allergic reaction to lorazepam: hives; difficulty breathing; swelling of your face, lips, tongue, or throat.

Call your doctor at once if you have:

  • severe drowsiness;

  • unusual changes in mood or behavior;

  • sudden restless feeling or excitement;

  • thoughts of suicide or hurting yourself;

  • confusion, aggression, hallucinations;

  • worsened sleep problems;

  • vision changes; or

  • dark urine, or jaundice (yellowing of the skin or eyes).

The sedative effects of lorazepam may last longer in older adults. Accidental falls are common in elderly patients who take benzodiazepines. Use caution to avoid falling or accidental injury.

Common lorazepam side effects may include:

  • dizziness, drowsiness;

  • weakness; or

  • feeling unsteady.

This is not a complete list of side effects and others may occur. Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects. You may report side effects to FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088.

What other drugs will affect lorazepam?

Taking lorazepam with other drugs that make you sleepy or slow your breathing can cause dangerous side effects or death. Ask your doctor before using opioid medication, a sleeping pill, a muscle relaxer, prescription cough medicine, or medicine for depression or seizures.

Tell your doctor about all your other medicines, especially:

  • probenecid, aminophylline, or theophylline;

  • any other medicines to treat anxiety;

  • medicine to treat mental illness;

  • seizure medicine; or

  • medicine that contains an antihistamine (such as sleep medicine, cold or allergy medicine).

This list is not complete. Other drugs may interact with lorazepam, including prescription and over-the-counter medicines, vitamins, and herbal products. Not all possible drug interactions are listed here.

Further information

Remember, keep this and all other medicines out of the reach of children, never share your medicines with others, and use lorazepam only for the indication prescribed.

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.

Frequently Asked Questions

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