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How Long Does Ativan Stay in Your System?

Ativan can stay in your system from anywhere between a few days to a month or more following discontinuation. Various factors influence this timeline.

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When taken orally, Ativan is absorbed slowly and has an intermediate onset time of approximately 15 to 30 minutes. A peak effect occurs for most people within approximately 2 hours. 

Various factors can determine how long Ativan remains with your system, and this is ultimately determined by the drug’s clearance rate. The clearance rate of Ativan is approximately 0.9 to 2.0 ml/min/kg. 

Factors that can influence this rate include the following:

  • Size
  • Weight
  • How much of the drug you have taken
  • Genetic factors, such as metabolism

Ativan Basics

Ativan is a benzodiazepine, so it works by increasing the availability of the neurotransmitter, gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA). The effect is a calming of the central nervous system, which can help to alleviate symptoms of anxiety, panic, insomnia, and muscle spasms. 

Ativan may also be used to treat seizures in some cases.

Quick Facts About Ativan’s Half-Life

A half-life of a drug refers to the amount of time the drug’s active substance in the body is reduced by half. This rate is used in order to determine the frequency of dosage on your prescription and can also be used to estimate how long the drug will remain within your system. 

The half-life of a drug will depend on your body’s ability to process and clear the substance. 

The half-life of Ativan is approximately 12 hours for an average-sized adult, though it can range from 10 to 20 hours for most people. However, there are several factors that can influence this rate. It is best to speak with your doctor in order to determine a proper dosage of Ativan based on your body mass, age, and genetic history.

Approximately five to six half-lives are necessary for a medicinal dose of Ativan to be completely eliminated from a person’s system. Therefore, a typical adult can most likely expect Ativan to be completely eliminated from their system within three to four days following consumption.

How Long Can Ativan Be Detected on Different Types of Drug Tests?

Different types of drug tests can detect Ativan in the body for varying lengths of time. 

  • Urine screening test: A urine test is used to detect Ativan that has passed through the kidneys. Ativan is detectable within urine for up to six days following the most recent dose in most people. This timeframe may be longer for individuals who consume heavy doses or have been using Ativan for extended periods of time.
  • Hair test: A hair test involves the extraction of a small amount of hair from your head, which is then sent to a laboratory for analysis. Ativan can be detected in samples of hair for longer periods of time than it can with any other common form of drug test. The timeframe for detection of Ativan in hair can be up to 30 days or more.
  • Saliva test: This test is not common for Ativan detection because of its inability to identify the presence of the drug for longer periods of time. However, a saliva test may be able to detect Ativan for up to eight hours following the most recent ingestion.
  • Blood test: A blood test is a sampling of the concentration of Ativan within the bloodstream following consumption. This type of test can detect Ativan within six hours after ingesting the drug for up to approximately three days for most individuals. This timeframe may be larger for people who consume high doses of Ativan or have been consuming the drug for more than three days. 

Here is a quick breakdown of how long Ativan can be detected on each type of drug test:

TestDetection Time
UrineApproximately 1 week
Hair30 days or more
SalivaUp to 8 hours
BloodApproximately 3 days

Facts That Affect Ativan’s Duration in Your Body

Several factors can influence how long Ativan remains in your body, including these:

  • Amount taken: Consuming larger amounts increases the length of time that Ativan or any benzodiazepine remains in your system.
  • Duration of consumption: If you have been consuming Ativan for an extended period of time (such as three days or longer), Ativan will most likely remain in your system for a longer duration than the average person.
  • Body mass: In general, a larger body mass (such as being taller, heavier, or a denser body) will result in Ativan remaining in the system for longer periods of time.
  • Age: Metabolism declines with age, and Ativan will remain within your system for longer durations as you grow older. Younger individuals tend to metabolize the drug faster.
  • Genetic factors: Genetics influence all aspects of your health and physical functioning, including your metabolism and the ability for your organs to process and clear Ativan from your system. A family history of Ativan consumption, metabolic disorders, and/or genetic factors influencing metabolism (like obesity or diabetes) can impact your body’s ability to process and eliminate benzodiazepines and increase the amount of time these drugs remain in your system. 

Breaking Down Ativan in the Body

When consumed orally, Ativan is digested and then enters the bloodstream via the stomach and small intestine. Within approximately 15 to 30 minutes, it penetrates the blood-brain barrier, where it begins to produce a psychoactive effect by stimulating brain and spinal cord nerve cells. 

Ativan specifically acts on GABA, which is an inhibitory neurotransmitter. It increases the spread of impulses between nerve cells and calms the central nervous system. 

Ativan is broken down in the body by the liver into metabolites. It is then eliminated from the body by the kidneys in the form of urine. 

One seminal study showed that approximately 95 percent of a dose of Ativan is excreted via urine and feces within five days, with approximately 75 percent being excreted specifically through urine as glucuronide, and 14 percent as minor metabolites. The excretory half-life of Ativan was approximately 12 hours. 

Updated July 21, 2023
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  2. The Dependence Potential of Short Half-Life Benzodiazepines: A Meta-Analysis. (October 2011). American Journal of Public Health.
  3. Metabolism of Lorazepam. (October 1976). British Journal of Anaesthesia.
  4. Benzodiazepine Pharmacology and Central Nervous System–Mediated Effects. (Summer 2013). The Ochsner Journal.
  5. Benzodiazepines Drug Profile. European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction.
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