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Ativan (Lorazepam) Detection Time — How Long Does Ativan Stay In Your System?

Dr. Alan Weiner MD

Medically reviewed by

Dr. Alan Weiner, MD

February 25, 2019

Ativan (lorazepam) detection times can vary from one person to the next. Generally speaking, however, Ativan is detectable up to five days after consumption.

How long Ativan (lorazepam) can be detected can differ from person to person. Many things factor into how long Ativan will be detectable by a drug test. However, traces of Ativan (lorazepam) are usually detectable up to five days after consumption, according to the Mayo Clinic.

The rate at which someone can metabolize Ativan (lorazepam) can significantly influence how long the drug remains detectable. When someone consumes Ativan orally, it is processed, or metabolized, by the liver. The liver then breaks it down into other substances called metabolites, which then cause the chemical reactions that produce the effects of the drug.

Ativan can be consumed by tablet, liquid concentrate, or injection. Depending on which route of administration is used, the amount of time Ativan remains detectable can vary. The half-life of Ativan is about 12 hours, while the half-life of its metabolites is about 18 hours. In general, it takes five or six half-lives for most drugs to be eliminated from the body.

Variables That Can Affect How Long Ativan (Lorazepam) Stays In Your System

A handful of different things can affect how long Ativan stays in someone’s system. Because each individual is unique, the rate at which medications such as Ativan are detectable can be influenced by:

Dose And Frequency

Depending on the amount and how often someone takes Ativan, the rate at which it is eliminated from the body can differ. It will take more time for Ativan to be reduced in people who abuse the drug in large amounts because the drug has had time to build up in their fatty tissues.

The liver can only process so much Ativan at one time. Once that limit has been reached, the remainder of the dose will circulate throughout the body. Because large more frequent doses take more time to break down, it will take more time for people who abuse the drug to eliminate it, compared to people who take it as prescribed.

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Body Function And Body Mass Index (BMI)

An individual’s overall health also plays a part in how quickly Ativan and other substances are removed from their body. Liver function is a crucial component to how well someone can process a drug like Ativan.

Individuals with poor liver function are likely to experience a two-to-a five-fold increase in the amount of time it takes for the liver to process Ativan, compared to people with healthy liver function, according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

Like other benzodiazepines, Ativan is highly fat-soluble. So, individuals with higher body mass index or more body fat are likely to eliminate Ativan more slowly than those with less body fat. Taking multiple large doses of the drug can cause it to build up in excess body fat.

Presence Of Other Substances

Taking other substances in combination with Ativan can affect how long the drug lasts. Depending on what the other substance is, whether it interacts with Ativan or not, the elimination time of Ativan can be affected.

In some cases, the body may prioritize the elimination of the other substance, which can use up the liver enzymes that would also be used to break down Ativan. If this occurs and the limited number of enzymes are used then, Ativan will continue to circulate throughout the body until it can be processed, significantly slowing down the time it takes to remove it.

Ativan (Lorazepam) Detection Time: Blood, Hair Saliva, And Urine Tests

Will Ativan (lorazepam) show up on a drug test? Depending on the type of drug test, Ativan and its metabolites can be detected. There are several different types of drug tests. However, a urine test is the most common.

Ativan (lorazepam) detection times by drug testing method:

  • Urine Test — between six and ten days after consumption
  • Blood Test — from six hours to three days, depending on the frequency of use
  • Saliva Test — roughly six to eight hours after ingestion, however, saliva tests are rarely used to detect benzodiazepine use
  • Hair Test — hair follicles can be examined for any substance used in the last 90 days

Why Someone May Be Tested For Ativan (Lorazepam)

In most cases, individuals will likely undergo a drug test for Ativan as part of a pre-employment agreement. This is done so that employers can identify drug use issues before hiring. However, others may be subject to a drug screening for Ativan by their doctor before being prescribed another medication or as a routine test for judicial court purposes.

Factors That Can Impact Ativan (Lorazepam) Drug Test Results

Most of the time drug tests results are relatively reliable. However, there is potential for false results. A urine test may be more common, but blood testing tends to be more accurate because it is less likely for someone to tamper with the sample.

At-home drug testing kits are also more likely to be subject to human error, as the individuals who administer the test may not follow the strict sample collection guidelines. Also, at-home kits are usually not the same quality as lab tests.

Other factors that can affect the result of an Ativan drug screening, include:

  • how the test was administered
  • the way the sample was stored
  • food, beverages, and other substances that may have been consumed before the test
  • other prescription or over-the-counter medications are taken before testing

The Dangers Of Having Too Much Ativan (Lorazepam) In Your System

Individuals with too much Ativan in their system can experience a range of effects. Ativan works to slow down the central nervous system to reduce brain activity and decrease anxiety. Excessive amounts of the drug may also result in an overdose. Lorazepam can be habit-forming, particularly if it is abused or taken for a longer time than intended.

Symptoms of too much Ativan (lorazepam) can include drowsiness, mental confusion, dysarthria, and lethargy. In more severe cases, or when other substances are used in combination with Ativan, individuals may also experience the loss of full control of bodily movements (ataxia), reduced muscle strength, abnormally low blood pressure, cardiovascular depression, respiratory depression, hypnotic state, coma, and death.

Steps To Take After A Positive Ativan (Lorazepam) Detection Test

If a positive drug test is keeping someone from employment, it can be frustrating. A positive drug test result usually is followed up by a second screening to confirm the presence of the drug. Those who abuse Ativan are more likely to test positive for the drug. Quitting Ativan can be challenging to do by yourself.

However, with the help of a formal addiction program, it is possible to stop abusing Ativan (lorazepam). The longer someone abuses the substance, the more likely they will need help to discontinue the drug. Inpatient programs can be an effective solution because they can provide a new, drug-free environment to support individuals on their path to a substance-free life.

Mayo Clinic: Drug Testing - An Overview of Mayo Clinic Tests Designed for Detecting Drug Abuse

National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI): PubMed - Windows of detection of lorazepam in urine, oral fluid and hair, with a special focus on drug-facilitated crimes.

U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) - ATIVAN (lorazepam)

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