Ativan vs. Xanax
An Overview: Ativan vs. Xanax
Ativan and Xanax are two prescription medications that fall into the same category: benzodiazepines. Both of these benzodiazepines have several approved medical uses, but they also come with a high potential for abuse and addiction. With this in mind, we’ll look at Ativan vs. Xanax with respect to a variety of different factors.
The high rates of benzodiazepine addictions in this country are due, in part, to the false belief that prescription medications can’t be bad for you. Another concern is the alarming rate at which they are prescribed.
From 2009 to 2014, prescriptions for benzodiazepines rose by 226%. Lax attitudes toward prescriptions and a lack of information both contribute to the cycle of abuse and addiction. Understanding how benzodiazepines affect our brains and bodies can help end it.
What Are Benzodiazepines?
Benzodiazepines are some of the most frequently abused prescription drugs. They are psychoactive drugs, meaning that they change your mental state. They alter how the brain works and cause changes in your behaviors, moods, and thoughts.
This makes them useful in treating or managing several different mental health disorders. Benzodiazepines are psychoactive depressants that decrease the activity of our nerve impulses, slowing down our brain activity.
Ativan vs. Xanax – Prescription Uses
Ativan is the brand name for lorazepam, which is often used to treat anxiety disorders and insomnia. It is also used off-label to treat seizures and induce pre-surgical sedation. Ativan increases the amount of an important inhibitory neurotransmitter in the brain.
This increase produces a sedative or calming effect. Similarly, Xanax, or alprazolam, is prescribed to patients with anxiety disorders, panic disorders, and high levels of stress. Approval in anxiety treatments is one of their biggest similarities.
Ativan vs. Xanax – Long-Term Use
Typically, Xanax is recommended for short-term use because it is highly addictive. Ativan is also a potent benzodiazepine, and long-term use presents many of the same problems. Both start working relatively quickly and are administered in low doses because of their high potency.
So, is Ativan better than Xanax? Or is Xanax better than Ativan? Unfortunately, there is no blanket answer to this question. Different medications are simply better for different people. The right medication for you will depend on the type and severity of your disorder and your overall health.
Other Differences Between Ativan and Xanax
Aside from the different conditions they treat, one of the biggest differences between Ativan and Xanax is age requirements. Each is FDA-approved for different age groups. Patients 12 and over may be given Ativan. But doctors won’t prescribe Xanax to patients under the age of 18.
Another difference is the amount of time each benzodiazepine stays in the body. Ativan and Xanax are both short-acting benzodiazepines, which means that they both kick in quickly. But Ativan stays in the body for longer.
One dose of Ativan reaches its peak effects between one and six hours after ingestion. Its average half-life is roughly 14 – 15 hours. Xanax, on the other hand, reaches its peak effects between one and two hours after ingestion. Its average half-life is 11 – 12 hours.
Because Ativan has a more prolonged effect, it is often considered to have a lower potential for misuse and addiction. Generally, Xanax users are more prone to addiction than Ativan users. But when someone abuses any benzodiazepine or takes it for longer than they are supposed to, the potential for dependency and addiction is there.
Ativan vs. Xanax – Side Effects
Some of the most common side effects of Xanax abuse include:
- Drowsiness or exhaustion
- Trouble concentrating
- Joint pains
- Weight fluctuations
Because they fall into the same drug category, Ativan and Xanax have many overlapping side effects. Drowsiness, dizziness, nausea, constipation, and weight fluctuations due to appetite changes overlap.
But Ativan is still a different drug with different components and different effects. While there is a lot of overlap, not all of their side effects will be the same. Some additional Ativan side effects include:
- Dry mouth
- Difficulty urinating or an increase
- Blurred vision
- Changes in sex drive
It’s important to note that while the side effects listed throughout this section are the most common, they are not the only ones. Everyone experiences addiction differently. And with high doses or long-term abuse, these side effects may progress into more troubling ones.
Mixing benzodiazepines with alcohol or other substances can also alter the type and severity of your side effects. Following your doctor’s instructions can help mitigate these risks. If there is a warning against mixing your medication with alcohol, it is there for a reason.
Choosing the Right Medication
Everyone is different. And every disorder is different, too. Your doctor can help you choose the appropriate medication and dosage for your unique disorder, symptoms, and other needs. Both have proven effective in the short-term treatment of anxiety disorders.
And they have each proven effective in the treatment of other disorders, including the ones listed above. You should not self-medicate, attempt to diagnose your condition on your own, or stop taking your medications abruptly. Doing so can prompt troubling withdrawal symptoms.
Withdrawal Symptoms for Benzodiazepines
Benzodiazepine withdrawal symptoms can vary depending on the medication, dosage, your health, other substances in the body, and other individual factors. But some of the most common include headaches, muscle pains, light sensitivity, and insomnia.
Mood changes, like anxiety, irritability, paranoia, and panic are some of the most common emotional side effects. Tremors, sweats, and heart palpitations are also common. In higher doses and long-term abuse, more severe side effects become likely.
Most individuals who become addicted to benzodiazepines will need professional help to rid their bodies of the substance and begin to recover. This is due, in part, to the likelihood of experiencing intense withdrawal symptoms like seizures or anxiety.
These and other withdrawal symptoms can be hard to recover from at home. Medically-assisted detox may be necessary. This type of detox involves the cautious use of approved medications to ease your withdrawal symptoms and make this early stage more bearable.
Another reason that we often recommend professional treatments for benzodiazepine addictions is that benzodiazepines are involved in one-third of intentional overdoses or suicide attempts. These medications change our brain chemistry, which can be and often is dangerous.
Treatment for Benzodiazepine Addiction
Treatment for benzodiazepine addiction starts with detox. Whether it is a traditional detox or a medical one, you will benefit from round-the-clock care, support, and guidance in the comfort and safety of our facility.
Our medical team will monitor your progress and help you work through withdrawals, building your strength and confidence for the stages that come next. After the withdrawal stage, we offer a wide range of customizable addiction treatment programs to help you build a new life.
These treatment programs include inpatient or residential care, outpatient care, or both. Whether you need full-time guidance, part-time support, or something in between, we are here to help. Why wait another day to get the help that you need and deserve?
Benzodiazepine Addiction Treatments at The Discovery House
Whether you are battling an addiction to Ativan, Xanax, or another benzodiazepine, our addiction experts can help. No matter the medication, ongoing treatment is critical to your success. We have helped many people overcome their addictions and regain control. Today, it is your turn. Call us today at 818-452-1676 to get started.