Ativan vs Xanax: What’s the Difference?
Ativan and Xanax are both benzodiazepines used for the treatment of anxiety, and both are equally effective for this use. However, there are some differences between the two drugs that are worth noting.
Onset and Duration of Action
Xanax has a quicker onset of effect, but a shorter duration of action (4 to 6 hours) compared with Ativan’s 8 hours. Sedative and performance-impairing effects may occur sooner with Xanax, but dissipate quicker than with Ativan.
Activity of Xanax is more likely to be affected by race (people of Asian descent achieve higher concentrations and activity of Xanax lasts longer), concurrent liver or kidney disease, alcoholism and obesity, whereas Ativan is less likely to be influenced by race or age. Ativan and Xanax are usually not prescribed together.
What are Ativan and Xanax?
Ativan is the brand name for lorazepam and Xanax is the brand name for alprazolam. Although both drugs belong to the class of drugs known as benzodiazepines, so have a similar mechanism of action, there are structural differences between them that affect their activity in the body.
Which one works quicker?
Xanax is usually more quickly absorbed than Ativan with peak concentrations occurring within 1-2 hours following administration, compared to 2 hours for Ativan. Effects of Xanax last on average 4 to 6 hours although there are wide variations between individuals. Effects of Ativan last approximately 8 hours, although may persist for longer in some people.
How much Xanax equals 1mg of Ativan?
Benzodiazepine equivalency tables state that 0.5mg of alprazolam (Xanax) is approximately equivalent to 1mg lorazepam (Ativan). However, people of Asian descent metabolize Xanax differently to people of other races, and certain disease states such as alcoholism, liver and kidney disease, obesity and even old age can affect how Xanax behaves in the body; so benzodiazepine equivalency tables should be used as a guide only as they do not reflect individual variation. Both Ativan and Xanax should only be used short-term.
How do Ativan and Xanax work?
Both Ativan and Xanax, like all benzodiazepines, enhance the actions of a neurotransmitter in the brain called GABA (gamma-aminobutyric acid). This neurotransmitter can reduce the activity of nerve cells, so enhancing it has a calming effect which can improve symptoms of anxiety, reduce muscle tension, stop seizures, and induce sleep.
Which drug is more effective for anxiety?
Trials that directly compared Ativan and Xanax for the treatment of anxiety have reported no significant differences in their effect, and few differences in their side effects, although mental confusion may be less with Xanax.
Which drug is more addictive?
Both Ativan and Xanax should only be used short-term due to risk of addiction and dependence. Generally speaking, benzodiazepines with a shorter half life (such as Ativan and Xanax) are harder to stop than those with a longer half life (such as diazepam). Both Ativan and Xanax readily enter brain tissue which reinforces drug taking and is generally associated with more severe withdrawal symptoms. Therefore, Ativan and Xanax are both at high risk of abuse.