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Ativan Withdrawal and Detoxification

How Long Does Ativan (Lorazepam) Stay in Your System?

Lorazepam is a benzodiazepine prescribed by the doctors to treat anxiety and panic attacks. When used over a short-term, the drug has been found to be immensely helpful with anxiety. However, long term use of the drug has been linked to a number of issues such as loss of memory, cognitive impairment and development of dependence. Due to the problems caused by long-term usage of the drug, many abusers and addicts quit the drug and want to know for how long it lasts in the system. It may take quite some time for the drug to be completely detoxified.

Time taken to completely detoxify lorazepam from the system:

As soon as lorazepam is taken, the body starts working to detoxify it. Once the drug usage has completely been stopped, the body works to completely remove any leftovers from the system. The average half life for Ativan is estimated to be 12 hours. It means it takes 12 hours to remove half of the drug taken from the system. But it does not mean Ativan will be completely removed after 24 hours. In fact, 1/4th of the drug will still be remaining in the system. It shows that it may take over 2.75 days to completely remove it from the system.

Recent studies suggest that the half life of Ativan is around 16 hours. Considering that, it will take about 3.6 days to completely excrete it from the system.Ativan is metabolized to a compound called lorazepam glucuronide. This metabolite may take much longer to exit the body than the actual drug itself. Lorazepam glucuronide can last in the body for up to 5 days and can be detected in the urine.

Factors that influence the time Ativan stays in the system for:

Other than the half life, there are a number of factors that determine how long Ativan lasts in the body. If two people consume the same amount of this drug at the same time, it is possible that one excretes it faster than the other. The factors that influence Ativan metabolism may include:

  • Age of the user:
    Age plays an important role when it comes to the way Ativan is metabolized. Older people, usually 65+, are prescribed low amounts of the drug because they cannot metabolize it as efficiently as young people.
  • Height and weight of the user:
    Height and weight of the user influence the time taken for the drug to metabolize. Studies suggest that a smaller person takes longer to metabolize the same amount of the drug as compared to a larger person. Evidences also show that fat people excrete the drug faster.
  • Genetic disposition of the user:
    Genetics of a person determine if he will be a fast or slow metabolizer of Ativan. There are certain liver enzymes involved in Ativan metabolism, encoded by genes of a specific person.
  • Metabolic rate of the user:
    Metabolism depends upon the genetics and lifestyle of the user. A person with fast basal metabolic rate (BMR) metabolizes the drug faster than a person with slow BMR. Exercise and yoga may fasten up the metabolic system making it easier to metabolize Ativan.
  • Kidney function:
    Kidney is the major organ involved in the detoxification of Ativan. Liver impairment does not affect the process much but a healthy kidney is important since it excretes Ativan much faster than a diseased one.
  • Dosage of Ativan taken:
    The dosage amounts for Ativan ranger between 1-10mg. the time taken for the body to completely remove it depends upon the number of mgs taken. A person who has taken 1mg of Ativan is likely to get rid of the drug much earlier than the person who has taken 10mg. Studies suggest that larger doses of Ativan trigger a stronger reaction and produce long lasting effects. It is because at higher doses, the ability of the body to efficiently metabolize the drug decreases.
  • Frequency of the use:
    More frequently Ativan is taken for and the longer is the period it is taken for, the more likely it is to stay in the body for extended periods of time.

How is Ativan metabolized and excreted from the body?

Ativan is usually orally ingested. It is slowly absorbed in the body due to its poor lipid solubility. The amount of the drug in blood depends upon the amount of drug ingested. Greater the amount ingested, greater the level of drug in blood. On average, 1mg of Ativan will cause a maximum serum concentration of about 10ng/mL. In the blood, half the drug is present in the form of original compound lorazepam while the other half is in the form of an inactive metabolite ‘lorazepam glucuronide’. Lorazepam glucuronide is produced by the liver as it metabolizes lorazepam.

After reaching the peak value in the blood, the drug starts to be eliminated by the body. After 12 hours, only half the original amount of the drug remains in the body. The metabolite lorazepam glucuronide takes longer to exit the body. It is eliminated by the kidneys with urine. The rest of the metabolites are excreted via feces. It takes around 7 days to fully excrete lorazepam glucuronide from the body.

Tests which can be used to detect Ativan?

There are a number of tests that can be used to detect Ativan in the system:

  • Urine tests:

A urine test can be used to detect lorazepam in urine for up to 6 days. The period may extend to a week in case of long term users. Metabolite lorazepam glucuronide tends to stay in the system for much longer so it may be detected for up to 9 days in the urine. Urine tests are a preferable choice since they are non-invasive and easier to perform.

  • Blood tests:

Blood can also be tested for the detection of lorazepam. The drug becomes detectable in the blood within 4-6 hours of the ingestion and can be detected for up to 3 days. However, for long term and frequent users, the drug may last longer than 3 days. Due to their invasive nature, blood tests are rarely used to detect Ativan.

  • Hair tests:

A strand of hair, usually for head, is taken and tested for Ativan. The minimum length of the hair required for these types of tests is 3cm. Hair tests are effective up to 4 weeks so they can be used to find out a former Ativan user even when he has not taken the drug in weeks.

  • Saliva tests:

Saliva tests can be taken for up to 7 hours of last drug use. They are only effective for short term testing. They are non-invasive but still, they tests are seldom used.

Why there might be a need to detect Ativan in the system?

There can be a number of reasons an Ativan test maybe taken for.

  • Alertness is a requirement for many jobs so the employers may test their employees for central nervous depressants such as Ativan. If the result is positive, the employee may even be fired from the job.
  • Army personnel may be tested for drugs like Ativan to ensure that they do not handle any dangerous machinery while being under the influence of sedatives.
  • Ativan can significantly reduce athletic performance so athletes are regularly tested to make sure they are not using any illegal drugs.
  • A patient may be tested by rehabilitation center staff to determine the level of drug in the body. A recovered patient may also be tested to make sure he is maintaining the life of sobriety.

Ativan addiction is a serious condition and the drug tends to last in the body even after several days of quitting. If a loved one is struggling with Ativan addiction, make sure to get them help without any further delay.