How Long Does Ativan Stay in Your System: Time Line and Side Effects

how long does ativan last

“Firsts” can be nerve-wracking—scary even! It’s normal to be a bit uneasy on your first day of school, first night away from home, first date, and the first job; what you feel is your nervous system’s reaction to the unfamiliar. Besides your firsts, many other situations will cause you varying amounts of anxiety, which is definitely normal.

Life’s not meant to be full of sunshine and roses all of the time; you will find yourself on many occasions wherein you will feel discomfort or worry. Feeling this way isn’t to be ashamed of—anxiety about a presentation or a speech is something everyone experiences at least once in their lives. At times, a manageable amount of stress may even prove beneficial, as it can help you feel more motivated and prepared, or even alert and aware!

How Long It Stays In Your Body

Ativan’s half-life is about 12 hours, so it will take five half-lives or 60 hours for the body to clear a dose of it. Several factors may also affect how long it stays in your system, which are:

  • Amount taken – the higher the dose, the longer it will take to leave the body
  • Frequency of use – the more often it is taken, the longer your body will clear Ativan
  • Method of administration – your body will clear it differently, depending on if it was swallowed as a tablet or ingested as a liquid
  • Age – older people will clear Ativan 20% more slowly

Testing for Ativan in the Body

Ativan is metabolized primarily by the liver then eliminated by the kidneys through urine. 

Many tests can be administered to test the presence of Ativan in your body. You may be tested for Ativan if it is detected in your:


The Ativan levels will start to peak one to six hours after use. Blood tests will still be able to detect it up to six days after the last use.


Ativan will show up in urine screening tests two hours after use and can be detected until three to six days after. However, the detection may take place up to nine days after the last use if you have been using it regularly or at higher doses.


Compared to other tests, this drug could be detected with a hair test for up to 30 days after the last use. Hair tests are not always reliable when it comes to detecting Ativan; however, and when it does show up, it tends to be at very low concentrations. 


Ativan may show up in saliva about 15 minutes after use and can remain for up to eight hours, but saliva tests are rarely used to screen for this drug.

Knowing When to Recognize “Bad” Anxiety

Every person has felt uneasy, scared, or worried at least once in their lives, caused by specific events and situations. Anxiety is a normal human experience brought about by unfamiliar or difficult circumstances from time to time—this is what is called “casual” or normal anxiety. What becomes a bit problematic is when it overwhelms you and renders you incapable of handling your day-to-day activities. Remember, while feeling anxious is nothing to be worried about, you should learn to recognize when your anxiety is starting to affect your daily life!

A few situations often trigger normal anxiety, but those uncomfortable feelings should also pass once it’s over. On the other hand, an anxiety disorder can create an overwhelming fear and panic that disrupts your daily life, even after the situation has concluded. It’s normal to feel stressed, but you should reach out to a mental health professional if you experience the symptoms below:

  • Excessive worrying;
  • Agitation;
  • Restlessness;
  • Fatigue;
  • Irritability;
  • Panic attacks;
  • Trouble sleeping;
  • Difficulty eating; or
  • Irrational fears.

Dealing with Anxiety Disorder

Anxiety is no longer considered a normal human reaction when it becomes overwhelming and unmanageable, and especially when it comes up unexpectedly. 

Having an anxiety disorder can have a significant impact on your life. You may no longer be able to complete your daily tasks or go on about your usual activities to avoid anxiety, therefore affecting your relationships, self-confidence, and physical health.

However, just because you’re suffering from an anxiety disorder doesn’t mean that your life is over! Thanks to modern medicine, there are many available treatments to help you deal with your anxiety and eventually heal from it to have a better life.

Anxiety Treatments

The treatments for anxiety often depend on the person, but they usually involve psychotherapy or medications—or a combination of the two. Psychotherapy or psychological counseling is known to be an effective treatment of anxiety disorder. It involves working with a therapist to reduce your anxiety symptoms and learn how to deal with anxiety attacks.

Besides therapy, you may also be prescribed drugs if your anxiety has gotten severe to the point that it’s interfering with your ability to function. Your doctor may prescribe you some antidepressants like Lexapro, Cymbalta, buspirone, or benzodiazepines, such as Ativan.

What Is Ativan?

Ativan is an anti-anxiety medication that belongs to a class of drugs called benzodiazepines. Also called “benzos,” these psychoactive drugs appear to work by raising the level of gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA—a neurotransmitter in the brain that blocks or inhibits specific brain signals and decreases your nervous system’s activity. The benzos enhance the effects of GABA to calm or sedate a person.

The Uses of Ativan

While Ativan is primarily used to treat anxiety disorder, it is also effective in treating other conditions. This drug is FDA-approved for the short-term treatment of anxiety symptoms and insomnia. At the same time, the FDA also approves its IV form to treat seizures or for it to be used as a sedative before surgery or medical procedures.

Ativan’s Half-Life

The half-life of a drug refers to the estimated time it takes for the drug’s active substance to reduce in half. After one half-life, the concentration of the drug in the body should be half of the starting dose. Knowing about your drug’s half-life matter because it helps determine how long it will take for the drug to be excreted from your body and when it’s time to stop taking it!

Drugs with a longer half-life take longer to work, but they also take less time to leave your bloodstream, while those with a shorter half-life will become effective much more quickly but are more challenging to come off of. Taking a drug with a shorter half-life can lead to dependency and problems with withdrawal.

Ativan is a Schedule IV drug, so it has a lower potential for misuse and a lower risk of dependence. While it is a fast-acting drug, it has a relatively long half-life of 12 hours—but it usually lasts between 10 and 20 hours for most. It will mostly take five days for Ativan to be fully eliminated, but some metabolites may remain for longer than a week. 

You don’t have to worry about growing dependent on Ativan since it has a long half-life, but you do have a chance of developing an addiction to it, especially if you have a history of alcoholism or drug abuse.


Benzodiazepines such as Ativan have been a significant help to those suffering from an anxiety disorder, but you should be responsible and cautious when taking them. Even when it’s prescribed, you have a high possibility of developing a tolerance to it, leading to high addiction potential. Always stay alert for the warning signs of addiction and to talk to your doctor about it before starting to take this medicine.