How Long Does Ativan Stay in Your System?

Ativan pills

Ativan, also known by its generic name lorazepam, is a commonly prescribed sedative. It is in the benzodiazepine family, and like many other benzos, is used for its calming properties. If you or a loved one are taking Ativan, you may wonder how long it takes to wear off. Knowing how Ativan works can help you understand how long it stays in your system.

Duration of Effects of Ativan

When taken as a tablet, Ativan’s most dramatic effects on physical function occur between 20 minutes and 3 hours after use. The drug reaches its max level in the body about 2 hours after being taken as a tablet. After this point, the effects slowly start to wear off.

Ativan is also available as an injection. When injected, effects start in about 15 minutes and reach their peak in about 3 hours. The drug usually lasts between 6 and 8 hours when injected. However, there are some cases of effects lasting more than 24 hours.

Because Ativan slows down the central nervous system, its effects include:

  • Sedation
  • Dizziness
  • Weakness
  • Feeling unsteady
  • Being tired

Ativan Half-Life

Ativan has a half-life of about 12 hours. Because five half-lives are required before the drug is removed from the body, this means that it takes about 60 hours for Ativan to leave your body. However, when the liver breaks down Ativan, another breakdown substance is formed. This chemical has a half-life of 18 hours, meaning that it can stay in your body for about 90 hours.

Taking Ativan with certain other drugs can change the length of the half-life. For example, probenecid, used to treat gout, can increase the half-life of Ativan. Conversely, the asthma drug theophylline can shorten the half-life of Ativan.

How Long Will Ativan Show in Drug Tests?

Ativan can show up on drug tests for different amounts of time, depending on what body substance is being tested.


Ativan starts to show up in the urine about 2 hours after use. It can be found in the urine for about three days. However, some studies have found the drug in urine after as long as six days. One study showed that the detection rate of Ativan in urine is higher than in saliva. Possibly for this reason, urine tests are the most common way to test for Ativan.


Ativan shows up in saliva about 15 minutes after use. The amount of the drug peaks in saliva around this time. It can continue to show up in saliva for about 8 hours.


In blood, Ativan levels start to peak within 1 to 6 hours after use. The drug may show up in blood for several days after being taken.


Studies have shown that Ativan does not always show up in hair. When the drug does show up in hair, it tends to be at very low concentrations.

Factors Affecting How Long Ativan Stays in Your System

Several factors can impact how long Ativan stays in your body.

  • Amount used: The more Ativan you use, the longer it may take to leave the body.
  • Frequency of use: The more often you use Ativan, the longer it may take for the drug to work its way out of your body.
  • Method of use: Ativan is most often swallowed, but it can also be injected. Although the drug acts similarly whether you are taking it by mouth or by injection, there may be differences in how quickly your body gets rid of the drug.
  • Age: Some research has shown that the rate of Ativan clearance in older people goes down by about 20% compared with younger people. However, data is inconsistent about how much age matters in terms of how long the drug stays in your body.
  • Overall health: Someone in good health may be able to clear the drug quicker than someone in poor health.

False Positives for Ativan

A few prescription drugs are known to give false positives on Ativan and benzo drug tests. These drugs are:

How Ativan Is Broken Down in the Body

After being swallowed and getting into the stomach, Ativan quickly reaches the bloodstream. Enzymes in the liver then convert Ativan to an inactive substance. In turn, this inactive substance is removed from the body, mainly in the urine.

How to Get Ativan Out of Your System

Ativan needs to be processed by the liver before it leaves the body. The drug cannot leave the body without being turned into an inactive substance inside the liver. After the liver completes this process, you can pass the drug in your urine. Therefore, there is no way to speed up the process of getting the drug out of your system.

Key Points: How Long Does Ativan Stay in Your System?

Points to remember about how long Ativan stays in your body include:

  • Ativan reaches its peak effect in the body within a few hours, then starts to wear off
  • Some drugs can increase the half-life of Ativan, while other drugs can shorten it
  • Ativan’s breakdown products usually stay in the body for about 90 hours
  • Urine tests are the most common way of testing for Ativan and can detect the drug for several days

If you or a loved one struggle with Ativan or other benzodiazepines, our experts at The Recovery Village Ridgefield are here to help. Call today to learn more about treatment for Ativan addiction and co-occurring disorders.

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Medical Disclaimer: The Recovery Village aims to improve the quality of life for people struggling with a substance use or mental health disorder with fact-based content about the nature of behavioral health conditions, treatment options and their related outcomes. We publish material that is researched, cited, edited and reviewed by licensed medical professionals. The information we provide is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. It should not be used in place of the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare provider.