In this session, we will be discussing the consumer medication information for lorazepam, trade name AtivanTM.

What it’s for & How to take

Lorazepam acts on the brain and nerves in the brain to produce a calming effect. It does this by enhancing a chemical in the brain which decreases excitement.

Lorazepam is used to treat anxiety, short-term treatment of insomnia, and chemotherapy-related nausea and vomiting. Lorazepam is usually a tablet that is swallowed. However, it will dissolve under the tongue when someone is unable to swallow the tablet.

Lorazepam is usually prescribed to be taken not more than three times daily. Your doctor will adjust your dose based on your response to treatment. This medication may be taken with or without food.

If you forget to take a dose, take it as soon as you remember. If it is near the time of your next dose, skip it and continue with your normal dose time. Do not take a double dose to make up the missed dose.

Do not increase your dose of lorazepam or take it more often than ordered without your doctor’s approval because this drug can be habit-forming.

If you have taken this medication for a long time, you may notice that it doesn’t seem to work as well. Contact your doctor to discuss the options. If you have taken this medication for a long time or in a high dose, do not stop taking it all at once because it may cause a withdrawal reaction. Your doctor may have you decrease your dose of lorazepam over a couple weeks or months.

Most Important Warnings

  • Combining this medication with opiate pain medications, such as hydrocodone or oxycodone, may cause extreme sleepiness, significant breathing difficulties, coma, and death.

Other Warnings & Cautions

  • Smoking may decrease the effect of this medication. Tell your doctor if you smoke or have recently stopped smoking because your dose of lorazepam may need to be adjusted.
  • Do not drive or do any activity that requires focus and attention until you are sure you can do them safely. Avoid alcohol while taking lorazepam.
  • The elderly may be more sensitive to the side effects of this medication, especially the drowsiness and dizziness. The chance of loss of balance and falling is increased.
  • Caution is advised when using this medication in children. Lorazepam may affect children differently causing some restlessness and agitation instead of calming.
  • Infants born to mothers who are taking lorazepam are at risk. This medication should only be used during pregnancy when the benefit to the mother is greater than the risk to the unborn baby.
  • Lorazepam passes into breast milk. Breastfeeding is not recommended while taking this medication.

Interactions & Side Effects

  • Tell your pharmacist or doctor all your medication allergies so they may determine if lorazepam is safe for you to take.
  • Avoid dangerous drug interactions. Tell your pharmacist or doctor all the other medication you are taking, including over the counter supplements, even if you don’t take them very often.
  • Ask your doctor if this medication is safe to take with your current health conditions. Tell your doctor if you have asthma, diabetes, high blood pressure, or a history of substance abuse.
  • While taking lorazepam, you may feel drowsy, dizzy, lightheaded, constipated and maybe some blurred vision. If these or any other unwanted side effects persist, call your doctor or pharmacist to talk about it with them.
  • Call your doctor right away if you have any breathing difficulties, increased heart rate, significant mood changes or suicidal thoughts.

If you have any questions about what you have heard, contact your pharmacist or doctor. This session does not include all the potential interactions or side effects that this medication may cause. Ask your pharmacist how your medication should be stored and how you should dispose of it when you are done taking it. Do not share your medication with anyone, ever. Remember, this is not meant to replace your counseling session with your pharmacist. In case of overdose, call your local poison control center at 1-800-222-1222.

Updated 7/20