Published on 18 February 2023

Ativan Vs Xanax: Comparison, Similarity Ad Difference

Clonazepam (Klonopin) Ativan Vs Xanax Comparison Similarity Ad Difference
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Xanax and Ativan are both potential and short-acting benzodiazepines used to treat Anxiety and other psychiatric disorders. These medications also work in similar ways. However, these medications have a few subtle similarities and dissimilarities. The withdrawal symptoms of both Ativan and Xanax can be severe. This blog explains the difference between Xanax and Ativan and the side effects of Abuse, withdrawal, and efficacy of both benzo drugs.

Remember, everyone who takes these drugs needs this information, even those who take them with doctor supervision. Responsible use of medication can still lead to addiction, and you may need to withdraw from these medications even if you arent addicted, like if they stop being as effective for you and you need to change which drug youre using.

Learn about the similarities and dissimilarities between Ativan and Xanax and other pharmacological properties that will help you choose the best-suited Anxiety medication.

What is Ativan?

Ativan (Lorazepam) is a Schedule IV benzodiazepine drug used to treat Anxiety, insomnia, and seizure disorders. It can be highly addictive, especially if you take it for an extended period.

It is rarely prescribed for longer than four months due to its ability to cause addiction. However, someone who previously abused prescription drugs or had a substance use disorder may have an increased risk of developing an Ativan addiction.

The FDA originally approved Ativan in 1977, and various versions of the drug, such as injectable formulas and oral doses, have been approved since then. Ativan also has a half-life of 6-12 hours, but the dose size is 1-2 mg. Unlike Xanax, Ativan can be prescribed to people ages 12 and older. In some rare cases, Ativan is used for:

  • Mania
  • Irritability
  • Recurring seizures that are not due to epilepsy
  • Pre-surgical sedation

How Does Ativan Work?

Ativan is a benzodiazepine medication for generalized Anxiety disorder and Anxiety stemming from depression. Ativan is also a tranquilizer. Thus, Ativan can make the user feel calm and relaxed.

Ativan works by increasing the amount of GABA in the brain. It slows down the activity of the brain and nerves and affects physical functions and responses.
Additionally, Ativan can stop painful spasms in muscles. When taken correctly, it can also prevent life-threatening seizures.

Generally, this medication is safe and effective for patients who take Ativan as directed or for legitimate reasons. However, potential adverse reactions to the drug must be watched out for. These include daytime sleepiness, low energy levels, confusion, chills, and poor coordination.

What is Xanax?

Xanax (Alprazolam) is a Schedule IV prescription benzodiazepine used to treat Anxiety and panic disorders. Xanax is safe and effective for treating Anxiety and panic disorders, despite its risk of addiction. People who take Xanax medically are more likely to become addicted if they take it for a long time or consume larger or more frequent doses than were prescribed by a doctor.

The Food and Drug Administration initially approved Xanax in 1981. Currently, in both brand name and generic forms, Alprazolam is available as a liquid, orally disintegrating, and extended-release tablet.

Alprazolam has a half-life of 6-12 hours, with a 0.5 mg dose. The medication is approved for prescription in adults 18 or older.
In some cases, Alprazolam can be prescribed for:

  • Irritable bowel syndrome
  • Essential tremor
  • Premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD)
  • Tinnitus or ringing in the ears

How Does Xanax Work?

Xanax reduces Anxiety by attaching to GABA receptors in the brain and enhancing its effects. Xanax produces a calming effect in the brain after it binds to this receptor.

Often, Xanax is prescribed for Anxiety and panic disorders. It quickly alleviates symptoms of the said disorder. In addition, Xanax helps people to sleep. However, due to its calming effects, many people Abuse Xanax.

Those who excessively use Xanax develop tolerance to the drug. Due to this, they take more Xanax to feel its calming effects. Eventually, these people get addicted to Xanax.

Ativan Vs Xanax: Which Works Faster?

Ativan and Xanax are both potential benzodiazepines and are equally effective. However, talking about the onset of action of these benzo drugs, Xanax has an onset effect with a shorter action duration that lasts only four to six hours.

On the other hand, Ativan takes longer to work. Its duration of action lasts for at least eight hours.

The duration of time Xanax and Ativan stays in your biological system varies with the individual. However, Ativan generally stays in your system for about three days after the last dose. While Xanax usually stays in the body for about four days after the previous amount.

Ativan Vs Xanax: Which Is More Effective?

Ativan and Xanax are effective as anti-anxiety medications, and which drug is better depends on the person and their mental health.

Studies show the comparison between the efficacies of Alprazolam and Lorazepam. It was observed that both drugs demonstrated similar efficacy in reducing panic attacks and phobic behavior and a much higher effectiveness than the placebo baseline.

However, there are some situations where a doctor will prescribe one over the other. Since Xanax is faster-acting, it is often a better choice for individuals with panic attacks.

Likewise, someone with a generalized Anxiety disorder may do better on Ativan, so they dont have to take as many daily doses.

Frequently Asked Questions

Most side effects of drugs reduce with the impact of medication, i.e., usually in six to eight hours. However, if you are experiencing severe side effects or the effects do not go away within a few hours, you should seek medical attention.
Xanax is considered the preferred option when quick relief from Anxiety is needed, while Ativan is best suited for individuals who need several hours of sedation.
Both medications have similar potential, and both are prescribed in different doses based on their lasting effect on the body and how quickly they take effect.
Benzodiazepines, such as Ativan and Xanax, should be avoided in pregnancy as they can cause fetal abnormalities.

What Are The Similarities Between Ativan And Xanax?

Drug Name: Ativan Xanax
Drug class: Benzodiazepine Benzodiazepine
FDA Approval: FDA approved FDA approved
Time For Usage: Short term Short term
Withdrawal symptoms: Yes Yes
Pregnancy category: Category C Category C
Legal status: Schedule IV controlled drug Schedule IV controlled drug
Excretion: Kidney Kidney

What Are The Differences Between Ativan and Xanax?

Ativan and Xanax are the two most commonly prescribed benzo drugs. There are many similarities between these two medications, including indications for use and how they affect the body. However, there are also some key differences.

Ativan Xanax
Generic Name Lorazepam Alprazolam
Indications Anxiety, procedural anxiety, epilepsy Anxiety disorders
Dosage 0.5 mg to 2 mg every four to six hours as needed (max 10 mg/day) 0.25 mg to 4 mg every four to six hours (max 10 mg/day)
Dosage Form Available in tablet form, injection, and oral concentrate Available as both immediate-release and extended-release tablets, as well as an oral concentrate
Metabolism Liver Glucuronidation Liver, via Cytochrome P450 3A4
Elimination half-life 10 to 20 hours 12 to 15 hours
Bioavailability 85% of an oral dose 8090%

Withdrawal and Misuse: Ativan Vs. Xanax

Benzos like Ativan and Xanax are habit-forming, and the body can become dependent on them after just one or two weeks of use. It is easy to develop an addiction to benzos when using them inadequately or illegally.

Healthcare providers focus on prescribing these medications as a temporary solution. However, they are sometimes prescribed for long-term use for months or even years.
When Ativan and Xanax are taken in higher doses than prescribed, they can create a mild euphoric effect. Many people use them recreationally for this reason.

The most common withdrawal symptoms when taking benzodiazepines include:

  • Anxiety
  • Panic attacks
  • Insomnia
  • Cognitive issues
  • Diarrhea
  • Muscle twitching
  • Hallucinations
  • Craving the medication
  • Mood swings
  • Nausea and vomiting

Possible Side Effects: Ativan Vs. Xanax

Despite their effectiveness as an Anxiety treatment, benzodiazepines such as Ativan and Xanax are not without their risks. Benzodiazepines all have similar side effects. Common side effects of benzodiazepines include:

  • Constipation
  • Confusion
  • Slurred speech
  • Drowsiness or fatigue
  • Lightheadedness
  • Dry mouth
  • Increased appetite
  • Memory problems
Side effects of Ativan Side effects of Xanax
Drowsiness Drowsiness
Dizziness Depression
Weakness Increased libido or sex drive
Problems with coordination Memory problems
unsteadiness Reduced blood pressure

Ativan is more likely to impair learning and coordination than Xanax. It can also cause amnesia or memory issues for more extended periods than Xanax.

Xanax is far more likely to cause drowsiness than Ativan. Approximately 16% of patients with anxiety experienced drowsiness with Ativan; in comparison, 41% of patients with anxiety disorders and 77% with panic disorder experienced drowsiness on Xanax.

Warnings of Ativan And Xanax

Both Ativan and Xanax are short-term solutions for anxiety. Your healthcare provider can help you explore other options for managing your anxiety. If you suspect you are becoming dependent on these short-acting benzo drugs or taking more than you're supposed to get the desired effect, contact your healthcare provider right away.

  • Do not abruptly stop taking Xanax or Ativan. Withdrawal symptoms such as headaches and irritability can occur. Seizures can be a more severe and life-threatening withdrawal symptom.
  • Always consult your healthcare provider before reducing (or increasing) your dosage of Xanax and Ativan. They can gradually taper your dosage so you can stop taking the drug safely.
  • Some individuals taking Ativan may develop Leukopenia. Elevated Lactate dehydrogenase (LDH) might also occur.
  • While you are on Xanax or Ativan, your healthcare provider may have come in for several appointments to evaluate your dosage and to run blood tests, such as those to check white blood cell counts and LDH levels.
  • Careful monitoring is needed for those with liver disease and hepatic encephalopathy, which can appear as confusion or difficulty processing thoughts while on benzodiazepines.
  • Elderly adults and those taking Ativan for prolonged periods may also need frequent monitoring for signs of upper gastrointestinal GI problems since preliminary research suggests that Lorazepam may affect the esophagus.
  • Ativan can lead to sedation, so you should not drive or operate machinery after taking the medication.

Ativan vs Xanax: Interactions

As benzodiazepines, both Ativan and Xanax can potentially interact adversely with other drugs such as opioids, alcohol, antidepressants, prescription barbiturates, and anticonvulsants. (Ativan and alcohol, Xanax and alcohol)

Substance use while taking a benzodiazepine drug is not advised. Mixing any of the CNS depressants with Xanax or Ativan can cause severe respiratory depression that can be fatal.

They can also produce other side effects like excessive salivation, hypotension (low blood pressure), and psychosis.
If you are prescribed Xanax or Ativan, seek medical advice from your doctor before taking other medications or using substances.

Substances like alcohol, barbiturates, narcotics, and tranquilizers can combine with a benzodiazepine to magnify the sedative effect dangerously. Specifically, the combination of Ativan with the tranquilizer Loxapine (Loxitane) has caused excessive sedation, so use caution when taking these two drugs simultaneously.

Several specific drugs beyond the categories mentioned above can increase or decrease the effects of Xanax. The following may increase blood concentrations of Alprazolam, thereby exacerbating potential side effects:

  • Itraconazole (Sporanox)
  • Ketoconazole (Nizoral)
  • Fluvoxamine (Luvox)
  • Nefazodone (Serzone)
  • Cimetidine (Tagamet)

On the other hand, Carbamazepine and Rifampin speed up the liver's ability to metabolize and get rid of Alprazolam, reducing its effectiveness.

Bottom Line From Practical Anxiety Solutions

Both Xanax and Ativan are benzodiazepine medications. Often, theyre used to treat anxiety. These medications also work in similar ways. Both medicines may be habit-forming, can cause withdrawal symptoms if discontinued abruptly after prolonged use, and lead to addiction. Both have similar side effects. However, these medications have a few subtle differences.

If you or a loved one is suffering from issues related to Ativan or Xanax, reach out to a professional.