Ativan (lorazepam) is a prescription brand-name medication. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved it to:
- treat sleep problems caused by anxiety or stress
- treat certain seizures
- treat anxiety
- make you fall asleep before surgery
Ativan contains the active drug lorazepam and belongs to a drug class called benzodiazepines. Lorazepam is also the name of the generic form of Ativan.
Ativan comes as oral tablets and injections.
For information about the dosage of Ativan, including its forms, strengths, and how to take the medication, keep reading. For a comprehensive look at Ativan, see this article.
This article describes typical dosages for Ativan provided by the drug’s manufacturer. When taking Ativan, always follow the dosage prescribed by your doctor.
If your doctor prescribes Ativan, you may have questions about the drug’s dosage, such as:
- What’s Ativan’s dosage range?
- What are the usual dosage amounts of Ativan?
- What’s considered a safe dose of Ativan?
Below is a basic dosage chart for Ativan (“mg” refers to milligrams).
|Usual dosage range||Safe dosage|
|2 mg to 6 mg total, divided into two or three doses||Up to 10 mg total per day|
Ativan forms and strengths
Here are the strengths for each form of Ativan:
- Oral tablets: 0.5 mg, 1 mg, 2 mg
- Liquid solution for injection: 2 mg per 1 milliliter (mL) of liquid solution (2 mg/mL), 4 mg/mL
Depending on what you’re taking Ativan to treat and the dosage form your doctor prescribes, they may start you on a low dosage. Then they may adjust it over time to reach the amount that’s right for you. Your doctor will ultimately prescribe the smallest dosage that provides the desired effect.
The following information describes dosages that are commonly taken or recommended. However, be sure to take the dosage your doctor prescribes for you. Your doctor will determine the best dosage to fit your needs.
Dosage for sleep problems caused by anxiety or stress
Dosage for certain seizures
To treat certain seizures, a healthcare professional will typically give you Ativan as an IV injection. In some cases, they may give you an IM injection.
The usual dosage is 4 mg given slowly (about 2 minutes). If the seizures continue after 10 to 15 minutes, you may be given another 4-mg dose.
Dosage for anxiety
To treat anxiety, your doctor will prescribe Ativan tablets. The dosage range for this use is 1 mg to 10 mg, which is usually split into two or three doses per day.
The typical dose is 2 mg to 6 mg, divided into two or three doses per day. For example, if your daily dosage is 4 mg, you would take 2 mg once in the morning and once in the evening.
Dosage for surgery
To make you sleep before surgery, a healthcare professional will typically give you an IM injection of Ativan.
For this use, Ativan is dosed based on body weight. You’ll likely receive an IM injection of 0.05 mg per kilogram (kg) of body weight, up to a maximum dose of 4 mg. (One kilogram equals about 2.2 pounds.)
Ativan may also be given by IV injection to make you sleep before surgery. The recommended dose for this use is either 2 mg or 0.02 mg per pound (0.044 mg/kg) of body weight, whichever is smaller.
The healthcare professional will determine what dose is right for you.
Using Ativan for more than 4 months in a row hasn’t been studied. Ativan is not meant to be taken as a long-term treatment. Your doctor will typically check from time to time whether you still need to take Ativan.
Ativan is not approved for children to take. The drug has not proven to be safe and effective to treat conditions in this group.
The maximum dose of Ativan in 24 hours is 10 milligrams (mg). This dose is typically taken for conditions that are treated with Ativan tablets, such as anxiety.
The 10-mg maximum dose is usually divided into two or three doses. For example, you may take 2 mg in the morning, 2 mg in the afternoon, and 6 mg before bed.
For making you sleep before surgery, the maximum dose of Ativan is 4 mg.
For more information about Ativan dosages, including what’s a safe dose of Ativan, see the “Ativan dosage” section just above.
Below are answers to some frequently asked questions about Ativan dosages.
What’s considered a ‘normal’ dosage of Ativan?
The “normal” (usual) dosage of Ativan is 2 milligrams (mg) to 6 mg total, divided into two or three doses. For example, to treat anxiety, you may take Ativan tablets at a dosage of 2 mg twice per day, for a total daily dosage of 4 mg.
For more information about Ativan dosages, including what’s a safe dose of Ativan, see the “Ativan dosage” section above. You can also speak with your doctor or pharmacist.
What’s the Ativan dosage for panic and anxiety attacks?
Ativan is not approved to treat panic or anxiety attacks. But the drug may be prescribed off-label for this use. Off-label use is when a drug is prescribed to treat a condition it isn’t approved to treat.
To learn more about using Ativan for panic or anxiety attacks and what the dosage would be, talk with your doctor or pharmacist.
The Ativan dosage your doctor prescribes will depend on several factors. These include:
- the type and severity of the condition you’re using Ativan to treat
- the form of Ativan you take
- your age
- your body weight, depending on the form of the drug and what it’s treating
Other medical conditions you have can also affect your Ativan dosage.
If you’re an older adult, you may need a lower dose of Ativan than usual. This is because Ativan affects your body differently as you age.
Your doctor or pharmacist can tell you more about Ativan dosage adjustments.
How you take Ativan depends on the form of the drug you’re prescribed.
One form is oral tablets that you swallow. You can take them with or without food.
Be sure to take Ativan exactly as your doctor prescribes. You should not take more or less Ativan than prescribed without first speaking with them.
If you miss a dose of Ativan, take it as soon as you remember. But if it’s almost time for your next dose, skip the missed dose. Then take your next dose at your regular scheduled time.
You should not take more than one dose to try and make up for the missed dose. This can increase your risk for side effects from Ativan. (For more about Ativan’s side effects, see this article.)
To help make sure that you do not miss a dose, try using a medication reminder. This can include setting an alarm or timer on your phone or downloading a reminder app. A kitchen timer can work, too.
Ativan has a
Taking Ativan can lead to misuse and addiction, even when you take an approved dosage. Misusing Ativan can cause serious side effects such as trouble breathing or coma. This risk increases if you take Ativan with certain other drugs or substances, including alcohol. Although rare, misusing Ativan can be fatal.
Misusing Ativan can also increase your risk for overdose. (To learn more, see the “Ativan and overdose” section below.
Because of the risk for misuse, Ativan is a controlled substance. This means its use is regulated by the government to prevent possible misuse. You should not share your Ativan prescription with anyone else. Be sure to take Ativan exactly as your doctor prescribes.
Also, it’s recommended that you store Ativan in a safe place, away from children.
If you take more Ativan than your doctor prescribes, you may develop serious side effects.
It’s important that you do not take more Ativan than your doctor advises.
Symptoms of an overdose
Overdose symptoms of Ativan can include:
- low blood pressure
- problems with coordination or balance
- slowed reflexes
- in rare cases, death
If you take more than the recommended amount of Ativan
Call your doctor right away if you believe you’ve taken too much Ativan. Another option is to call the American Association of Poison Control Centers at 800-222-1222 or use its online tool. If you have severe symptoms, immediately call 911 or your local emergency number, or go to the nearest emergency room.
Ativan has a
Using Ativan can lead to physical dependence. This could lead to withdrawal if you suddenly stop taking the drug, even if you take an approved dosage.
You should not suddenly stop taking Ativan. Doing so could cause serious or, rarely, life-threatening side effects that can include:
- unusual movements, expressions, or responses
- hallucinations (seeing or hearing things that aren’t there)
- losing touch with reality
In some people, withdrawal symptoms from benzodiazepines such as Ativan can cause symptoms that last for up to 12 months, such as:
- trouble remembering or concentrating
- trouble sleeping
- feeling like insects are crawling under your skin
- muscle weakness or twitching
- tinnitus (ringing in your ears)
Instead of suddenly stopping Ativan treatment, your doctor will help you with a drug taper. This involves gradually lowering the dosage of the medication over time. A drug taper can help decrease your risk for withdrawal symptoms or make them less severe.
If you’re interested in stopping treatment with Ativan, be sure to talk with your doctor first. You should not suddenly stop taking the drug on your own.
The dosages in this article are typical dosages provided by the drug manufacturer. If your doctor recommends Ativan for you, they will prescribe the dosage that’s right for you. Always follow the dosage that your doctor prescribes for you.
As with any drug, never change your dosage of Ativan without your doctor’s recommendation. If you have questions about the dosage of Ativan that’s right for you, talk with your doctor.
Besides learning about dosage, you may want other information about Ativan. These additional articles might be helpful:
- More about Ativan. For information about other aspects of Ativan, refer to this article.
- Drug comparison. To find out how Ativan compares with Xanax, read this article.
- Details about your condition. For details about sleep problems, refer to our sleep hub and list of sleep articles. For more information about mental health and anxiety, see our mental health hub and list of anxiety articles. To learn more about the other conditions Ativan is prescribed for, talk with your doctor.
Disclaimer: Medical News Today has made every effort to make certain that all information is factually correct, comprehensive, and up to date. However, this article should not be used as a substitute for the knowledge and expertise of a licensed healthcare professional. You should always consult your doctor or another healthcare professional before taking any medication. The drug information contained herein is subject to change and is not intended to cover all possible uses, directions, precautions, warnings, drug interactions, allergic reactions, or adverse effects. The absence of warnings or other information for a given drug does not indicate that the drug or drug combination is safe, effective, or appropriate for all patients or all specific uses.