Snorting Ativan: Assessing the Dangers and Risks

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Ativan is the brand name for a prescription benzodiazepine medication called lorazepam. It is most commonly prescribed to treat anxiety disorders and insomnia caused by situational stress.[1] Ativan works by slowing down activity in your central nervous system that is abnormal due to high levels of anxiety.

While Ativan is effective in managing anxiety and insomnia, it is only intended for short-term use. This is because lorazepam is known for being habit-forming and addictive. Many people misuse Ativan for its sedative and euphoric effects.

Most people who abuse Ativan swallow it in pill form, however, some individuals may begin crushing it and snorting it to produce a faster and more intense effect. While any type of Ativan abuse is dangerous, snorting it could cause addiction to develop faster and increase your risk of nasal damage, respiratory illness, and life-threatening overdoses.

What are the Effects of Ativan (Lorazepam)?

Ativan slows down activity in the central nervous system, which reduces the physical effects of anxiety. Since Ativan acts as a tranquilizer, it makes people feel calm and physically relaxed. Additionally, by slowing down activity in your nerves it can reduce muscle spasms or seizures.

The side effects of lorazepam include:[1]

  • Drowsiness and dizziness
  • Tiredness and sedation
  • Weakness
  • Unsteadiness
  • Nausea
  • Diarrhea
  • Changes in appetite
  • Restlessness or excitement
  • Constipation
  • Blurry vision
  • Changes in sex drive

When abused, Ativan can cause a rush of euphoria, an overall sense of well-being, and feelings of extreme drowsiness. All of these effects can be incredibly addictive, as lorazepam also increases the amount of serotonin and dopamine in your brain. This reinforces your pleasure and reward system, making your brain associate Ativan with happiness.

Why Do People Snort Ativan?

When someone starts abusing Ativan, they are most likely just swallowing the pills. Typically, they will take more than the recommended dose to experience a high. However, their tolerance for the drug builds over time, causing them to seek out new ways to increase the effects.

One of the ways people attempt to overcome tolerance to Ativan is by crushing the pills and snorting them. Snorting Ativan causes the substance to reach your brain and bloodstream faster, leading to a quicker onset of effects. Additionally, people believe that snorting lorazepam makes the high more intense.

While most people snort Ativan to increase the effects, others might begin doing so out of simple curiosity. Either way, snorting Ativan is incredibly dangerous, leading to a myriad of adverse health problems.

The Dangers of Snorting Ativan

Any type of Ativan abuse can lead to unwanted side effects, however, snorting it comes with its own host of risks.

When you snort Ativan, the substance goes directly into your brain and bloodstream. This can cause you to become addicted to it much faster than if you were simply swallowing it and increase your likelihood of experiencing an overdose. Additionally, snorting any substance can lead to nasal damage and respiratory illnesses.

The main risks of snorting Ativan include:


Snorting Ativan can cause the effects to begin more rapidly and increase in intensity. Because of this, you could become addicted to it faster than if you were to swallow the pills. With that being said, addiction to Ativan can be incredibly dangerous, putting you at risk of developing a variety of long-term health effects like cognitive impairment and life-threatening overdoses.[2]

Nasal Damage

When someone snorts Ativan, they crush up the pill into a powder. Even though it is in powder form, there will be small pieces of the pill left over that can cause damage to the nasal cavities.

Snorting Ativan can cause the following types of nasal damage:

  • Blockages in nasal airways and respiratory tracts
  • Infections from small cuts
  • Nasal inflammation
  • Nose bleeds
  • Sores in the nasal membranes

Respiratory Illness

Because the nasal cavities are connected to your respiratory tract and lungs, you can experience respiratory illnesses. To explain, snorting Ativan can cause damage to nose hairs that are meant to filter microorganisms and bacteria that could be harmful to you. As a result, small amounts of Ativan can reach your lungs and irritate, eventually leading to respiratory failure and breathing difficulties.


When you are snorting Ativan, it can be difficult to keep track of how much you are using at once. As a result, you could snort too much lorazepam at once and experience a life-threatening overdose.

The symptoms of an Ativan overdose include:[3]

  • Lethargy and fatigue
  • Uncoordinated behavior and loss of motor functioning
  • Excessive sweating or clammy skin
  • Memory loss
  • Breathing issues and respiratory failure
  • Heart attack
  • Coma
  • Death

If you believe someone is overdosing on Ativan, contact 9-1-1 immediately. Without medical assistance, an Ativan overdose can become fatal.

Understanding Ativan Addiction and Withdrawal

If you or a loved one snorts Ativan, you are most likely suffering from an addiction. Ativan addiction causes you to be unable to control how much Ativan you use, experience severe cravings for it, and struggle with withdrawal symptoms when you are not consuming it.

When you are addicted to snorting lorazepam, suddenly stopping the use of it will result in withdrawal symptoms. Watching for symptoms of withdrawal is the easiest way to tell if you are addicted to Ativan.

The common symptoms of Ativan withdrawal include:[4]

  • Sleep disturbances
  • Anxiety and restlessness
  • Irritability and tension
  • Hand tremors
  • Excessive sweating
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Dry heaving and nausea
  • Seizures

Ativan withdrawal can cause seizures, so you should never attempt to detox by yourself. Instead, attend a medical detox program that can slowly taper you off of the substance to ensure you do not experience life-threatening withdrawal symptoms.

Find Help for Ativan Abuse and Addiction

If you or a loved one snorts Ativan, you might be struggling with addiction. Ativan addiction must be treated with the assistance of a professional drug rehab program. Thankfully, New Jersey Interventions can help you find an Ativan addiction treatment center that suits your needs. By working with some of the most trusted rehab centers in New Jersey, we help clients locate the resources they need to reclaim their lives. Call now to get started.


  1. Medline Plus: Lorazepam, Retrieved December 2023 From
  2. The American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP): Risks Associated with Long-Term Benzodiazepine Use, Retrieved December 2023 From
  3. The National Library of Medicine (NLM): Benzodiazepine Toxicity, Retrieved December 2023 From
  4. The National Library of Medicine (NLM): The benzodiazepine withdrawal syndrome, Retrieved December 2023 From

Medically Reviewed: December 11, 2023

Dr Ashley

Medical Reviewer

Chief Editor


All of the information on this page has been reviewed and verified by a certified addiction professional.

Dr Ashley Murray obtained her MBBCh Cum Laude in 2016. She currently practices in the public domain in South Africa. She has an interest in medical writing and has a keen interest in evidence-based medicine.

All of the information on this page has been reviewed and verified by a certified addiction professional.

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