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Abusing Ativan with Adderall

Brenda Munnerlyn, RN, BSN

Medically reviewed by

Brenda Munnerlyn, RN, BSN

January 23, 2019

Mixing Ativan and Adderall has several adverse health effects that, given enough time, can lead to long-term psychological damage. Anytime an individual mixes multiple drugs without a physicians consent, they risk exposing themselves to a polysubstance use disorder that may give the user an increased risk of addiction or other negative side-effects.

Ativan is a central nervous system depressant used to treat anxiety, insomnia, epilepsy, and the side effects of cancer treatment. It can make a person feel drowsy and calm, and therefore abuse is common. Adderall is a central nervous system stimulant for treating ADHD and narcolepsy. Students abuse Adderall for cognitive enhancement, and to help stay focused. Some people use Ativan with Adderall to take the edge off, or to get sleep, but mixing these drugs is dangerous and often has unwanted results.

Let’s say you have a friend over and you find them rummaging through your medicine cabinet, what do you do? Well first it can be helpful if you understand what might be happening here… There’s a mainstream concern among teens (and adults) of prescription drug abuse. Some people might even mix prescription drugs like opioids with benzodiazepines, or benzodiazepines with amphetamines with the goal of an intensified euphoria.

One specific case of blending prescription drugs is Ativan with Adderall. This mixture is not only dangerous, but the results are often unpredictable and can result in polysubstance use disorders, intense withdrawals, and even overdose.

It can be confusing to watch a person you care about battle against drug abuse, and if you’re anything like the rest of us, you don’t know who to turn to. For some people, treatment at a rehab center will be the best way to get a fresh start and a leg up against addiction.

Defining Ativan And Adderall

Ativan (lorazepam) is a benzodiazepine central nervous system depressant that’s used to treat anxiety, irritable bowel syndrome, epilepsy, insomnia, or nausea as a result of cancer treatments. Ativan can also be used as a medication-assisted treatment of alcohol withdrawals.

Ativan can also be abused for the calming effect it produces. Whether used illicitly or not, it can be habit forming and result in a higher tolerance, physical dependence, and other dangerous side-effects. The fact of the matter is that Ativan should not be taken for longer than four months, because of how addictive it is. Furthermore, “stopping the drug suddenly can worsen your condition and cause withdrawal symptoms” (U.S. National Library of Medicine).

Adderall (amphetamine and dextroamphetamine) is a central nervous system stimulant used to treat narcolepsy and attention deficit hyperactivity disorders. It can be used to help a person focus, stay alert, or awake. Unfortunately, Adderall is a highly popular drug among students. They use it to stay awake to complete assignments or cram for finals and Adderall has become more familiarly abused as a “study drug.”

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In an article by The New York Times, Adderall has “become to college what steroids are to baseball: an illicit performance enhancer for a fiercely competitive environment.” Some students may go for several days to weeks with little to no sleep from taking the drug. In the realm of illicit drug abuse, students are using more than a safe amount of Adderall for the so-called cognitive enhancement. It’s truly a heartbreaking matter for our nation’s youth.

Dangers Of Mixing Ativan And Adderall

Even though it seems logical that mixing depressants and stimulants wouldn’t have a terrible effect on someone, because the drugs just cancel each other out right? Not necessarily. Actually, mixing Ativan with Adderall can cause polysubstance use disorders, and even long-term psychological damage.

It may help to think about this in terms of what each drug does to a person’s body and mind on its own. To better understand this, it can help to look at these side-effects from Ativan and Adderall:

Side-Effects of Adderall

  • Fast or pounding heartbeat
  • Shortness of breath
  • Chest pain
  • Excessive tiredness
  • Slow or difficult speech
  • Dizziness or faintness
  • Weakness or numbness of an arm or leg
  • Seizures
  • Motor or verbal tics
  • Believing things that are not true
  • Feeling unusually suspicious of others
  • Hallucinating
  • Mania
  • Aggressive or hostile behavior
  • Changes in vision or blurred vision
  • Paleness or blue color of fingers or toes
  • Pain, numbness, burning, or tingling in the hands or feet
  • Unexplained wounds appearing on fingers or toes
  • Blistering or peeling skin
  • Rash
  • Hives
  • Itching
  • Swelling of the eyes, face, tongue, or throat
  • Difficulty breathing or swallowing
  • Hoarseness
  • Other side-effects include: agitation, fever, sweating, confusion, fast heartbeat, shivering, severe muscle stiffness or twitching, loss of coordination, nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea

Side-Effects of Ativan

  • Drowsiness
  • Dizziness
  • Tiredness
  • Weakness
  • Dry mouth
  • Diarrhea
  • Nausea
  • Changes in appetite
  • Restlessness or excitement
  • Constipation
  • Difficulty urinating
  • Frequent urination
  • Blurred vision
  • Changes in sex drive or ability
  • Shuffling walk
  • Persistent, fine tremor or inability to sit still
  • Fever
  • Difficulty breathing or swallowing
  • Severe skin rash
  • Yellowing of the skin or eyes
  • Irregular heartbeat

Now think about those side effects when they’re crossed with one another. You’ll probably conclude that “mixing Ativan and Adderall can’t be good.” Well, you’d absolutely be right. It’s a dangerous duo that can actually cause a person to use more of one or the other to achieve the desired euphoria—and high doses of either Ativan or Adderall can be life-threatening.

Why Do People Mix Prescription Drugs?

Prescription drugs definitely have a purpose in medicine, and they can be used to treat disease, pain, depression, anxiety, and other disorders. In the streets, people abuse prescription drugs for a collection of reasons as well. Sometimes they’re mixed to treat the symptoms caused by another drug, and other times it’s to intensify the euphoria from one or more drugs. There’s also the case that someone mixes two drugs by mistake, and that can be just as dangerous.

Some people use Ativan to take the edge off of Adderall. In this case, they use the depressive effects from Ativan to ease the stimulating effects from Adderall, but it’s the potentially dangerous results that make it a gamble.

Treatment Programs For Addiction

Nobody likes to have to face defeat and admit that they’re powerless over drugs. Though admitting there’s a problem is often the first step of recovery, and sometimes this comes through the caring tone offered by an intervention.

It helps to remember while conducting an intervention, that when a person has an addiction, they need your full understanding, compassion, and support. It’s also important to know that the symptoms from benzodiazepine abuse can be dangerous to go alone, and therefore detoxification may be required to treat the physical addiction and withdrawal.

You’re not completely out of the woods after detoxification, but you’re moving in the right direction. After detox, an evidence-based treatment program offered by an inpatient rehab can be one of the best ways to get rid of the other unhealthy behaviors learned, while overcoming the mental addiction.

Here are a couple of the most commonly used addiction treatment programs:

  • Professional Intervention
  • Medical Detoxification
  • Medication-Assisted Therapy
  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
  • Dialectical Behavior Therapy
  • Recreational, Art, and Adventure Therapy
  • Mindfulness and Stress Management
  • Group Therapy
  • Aftercare Support

Finding A Rehab Center Based On Your Needs

If you’re interested in learning more about Adderall and Ativan abuse, or how to get into rehab, contact us today at Our treatment specialists are here to help you get the help you need.

The New York Times - The Competition Drug

U.S. National Library of Medicine - Dextroamphetamine and Amphetamine

U.S. National Library of Medicine - Lorazepam

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