You’ve undoubtedly heard of opioids, the family of drugs that includes oxycodone, hydrocodone, and fentanyl. These drugs have received a lot of negative attention recently due to their widespread use as prescription painkillers and an epidemic of opioid addiction and overdoses in the U.S.
Lorazepam is a benzodiazepine that is commonly prescribed for anxiety, insomnia, seizures, and alcohol withdrawal. Many people with addictions also take benzodiazepines to manage cravings or reduce symptoms of withdrawal.
To find out if lorazepam is safe to use with suboxone and other substances, read on.
What Is Lorazepam?
Lorazepam, also known by its brand name Ativan, is a benzodiazepine medication that can be used to treat anxiety disorders, insomnia, and symptoms of alcohol withdrawal. It works by binding to receptors in the brain that are involved in regulating anxiety and stress responses.
Benzodiazepines are central nervous system depressants, which means they can reduce anxiety, insomnia, and symptoms of alcohol withdrawal by slowing down the activity of the central nervous system.
Lorazepam is a long-acting benzodiazepine, which means it stays in your system longer than some of the other, shorter-acting benzodiazepines such as alprazolam (Xanax) or diazepam (Valium). When someone takes lorazepam for anxiety, for example, the effects of the medication will last for about six hours.
How Does It Work?
Side effects of lorazepam include drowsiness, dizziness, unsteadiness, and confusion.
These effects occur because lorazepam affects the central nervous system. The benzodiazepines, including lorazepam, are agonists, which means they bind to receptors and activate their function. The receptors activated by the benzodiazepines include GABAa receptors. These receptors are associated with anxiety.
The GABAa receptors are ion channels that are activated by the neurotransmitter GABA.
When GABAa receptors are activated by GABA, they open and allow negatively charged ions to flow through the cell. This flow causes an influx of chloride ions and a decrease in the flow of sodium ions into the cell. This influx of negatively charged ions causes the cell to become less excitable.
LORAZEPAM With Suboxone
Lorazepam and Suboxone are both long-acting drugs that are used to manage anxiety, so it’s understandable that people might wonder about mixing the two drugs. It’s important to note that lorazepam is metabolized by the cytochrome P450 system, which is also involved in metabolizing Suboxone.
In a study of six patients who were taking Suboxone, the blood levels of lorazepam remained consistent throughout the day, while the level of its active metabolite, desmethyl lorazepam, was significantly lower than the levels observed in patients who were not taking Suboxone.
Because the metabolite of lorazepam is reduced when it’s combined with Suboxone, it would appear that lorazepam and Suboxone can be safely taken together.
Why Is It Prescribed?
Lorazepam is often used as a short-term treatment for anxiety, insomnia, and alcohol withdrawal. It can also be used as a long-term treatment for patients who have chronic anxiety disorders and don’t respond well to other treatment options.
Some people take lorazepam on a long-term basis to manage panic attacks or anxiety that does not respond to other treatment options. However, using lorazepam for long periods of time is not recommended because it can cause physical dependence. For this reason, doctors usually recommend that patients take lorazepam for no more than six weeks at a time.
Side Effects of Lorazepam
The side effects of lorazepam can include dizziness, drowsiness, unsteadiness, and confusion. Some patients experience blurred vision, visual impairment, or an inability to focus their eyes. Patients can also experience weakness in their muscles, a lack of coordination, and slurred speech.
Other side effects of lorazepam include dry mouth, nausea, vomiting, stomach cramps, diarrhea, and increased sweating. Patients may also experience headache and changes in their breathing pattern, including wheezing and shortness of breath.
Benzodiazepines are a helpful and sometimes necessary treatment for anxiety and alcohol withdrawal. However, these drugs can also cause physical dependence, which means that when a person stops taking them, they may experience uncomfortable symptoms of withdrawal.
It’s important for people who are taking lorazepam to know that it can cause physical dependence and that they may experience withdrawal symptoms when they attempt to stop taking the drug. The use of lorazepam is frequent among people who are trying to break their opioid addictions, and it can be helpful in managing cravings and symptoms of withdrawal.
However, it’s important to note that lorazepam can be dangerous when it’s used with certain substances such as Suboxone.