Medically Reviewed

Exploring the Dangers of Snorting Ativan (Lorazepam)

- 8 sections

Medically Reviewed: September 25, 2019

Medical Reviewer

Chief Editor


All of the information on this page has been reviewed and verified by a certified addiction professional.

Benzodiazepines are a class of drugs that are prescribed to treat conditions like anxiety, panic attacks, seizures, insomnia, and even alcohol withdrawal. While they can be helpful in many circumstances, they are also known to be incredibly addictive. For this reason, doctors usually only prescribe benzodiazepines on a short-term basis.

One benzodiazepine that is commonly misused is known as Ativan (lorazepam). If you misuse Ativan, you have a high chance of becoming addicted. Unfortunately, Ativan addiction can lead to life-threatening overdoses.

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), benzodiazepines like Ativan were responsible for 10,964 overdoses in 2022.[1]

While most people swallow Ativan to experience a high, you might be tempted to snort it. Snorting the drug can increase the potency and lead to a more intense high. However, snorting Ativan also increases the risk of nasal damage, infections, respiratory issues, and overdose.

What you will learn:

  • What Ativan is and what effects it causes
  • Why do people snort Ativan
  • What are the risks of snorting lorazepam

What is Ativan?

Ativan is the brand name for a prescription benzodiazepine known as lorazepam. Doctors might prescribe it short-term to treat anxiety disorders, panic attacks, insomnia, and alcohol withdrawal. It works to treat these conditions by decreasing activity in the central nervous system and affecting gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA).

The effects of Ativan might include:[2]

  • Dizziness and drowsiness
  • Feelings of euphoria
  • Coordination issues
  • Headaches and blurry vision
  • Nausea
  • Changes in appetite and weight
  • Memory issues and forgetfulness
  • Fatigue and sleepiness
  • Changes in sex drive and ability

If you misuse Ativan, you are probably doing so to experience a euphoric and drowsy high. Unfortunately, abusing Ativan long-term will lead to an addiction. If you suffer from an addiction to Ativan, you can experience withdrawal symptoms, intense cravings, and a myriad of physical and mental health issues.

Why Do People Snort Ativan?

If someone you love is snorting Ativan, you might be wondering why. While snorting lorazepam is more dangerous, it also causes a more intense high. This is because snorting causes your brain to release more GABA.

Additionally, snorting a drug causes it to enter the bloodstream faster. Snorting Ativan causes it to bypass the digestive tract, so the high comes on quickly and feels more intense.

Your loved one might begin snorting Ativan for two different reasons. First, they might be curious about the effects it causes. The second reason could be because they have developed a tolerance to swallowing Ativan and they are trying to chase the original high they experienced.

If your loved one suffers from an Ativan dependency, it’s time to seek professional help. Addiction treatment programs can help your loved one overcome their substance use disorder before they experience an Ativan overdose.

What are the Risks of Snorting Ativan?

Instead of swallowing Ativan in tablet form, you might be tempted to crush it up and snort it. Unfortunately, this will only increase your risk of experiencing a variety of health issues.

The risks of snorting Ativan include:

Nasal Damage

When you are snorting a drug, pieces of the pill are traveling through your nasal passages. Some of these pieces might be sharp, leading to irritation and damage.

Examples of ways snorting Ativan can damage your nose include:

  • Irritation and swelling of membranes
  • Nasal blockage and inflammation
  • Losing nasal hairs
  • Crusting from small scrapes and cuts in the nasal passage
  • Nosebleeds
  • Increased risk of infections in the nose
  • Chronic sinusitis
  • Significant damage leading to holes in the septum

Increased Risk of Infections

Snorting drugs creates small cuts and openings in your nasal passages. If you are sharing straws or dollar bills with other people, you are putting yourself at risk of developing infections or contracting diseases.[3]

You could develop serious infections like Hepatitis or even HIV from sharing snorting tools with other people.

Respiratory Issues

Snorting Ativan can lead to the loss of nasal hairs which can increase the risk of respiratory infections. Nose hairs prevent bacteria from traveling into your respiratory tract. When they are not present, it is easier for you to contract infections in your respiratory system.


Snorting causes drugs to affect you quicker and it is also difficult to determine what dose of Ativan you are consuming when you are snorting the powder of crushed-up pills. As a result, snorting Ativan increases your risk of experiencing a life-threatening overdose.

The signs and symptoms of an Ativan overdose include:[4]

  • Drowsiness or loss of consciousness
  • Confusion and cognitive issues
  • Slurred speech
  • Impaired coordination
  • Muscle weakness
  • Shallow or slowed breathing
  • Blurry or double-vision
  • Dilated pupils
  • Rapid or irregular heartbeat
  • Excessive sweating
  • Low blood pressure
  • Vomiting
  • Seizures

If you or a loved one displays the signs of a lorazepam overdose, contact 911 immediately. Without medical intervention, benzodiazepine overdoses can become fatal.

Finding Help for Ativan Abuse and Addiction

If you or a loved one suffers from Ativan addiction, it’s time to take a look at your treatment options. PAX Memphis can connect you with a highly-rated substance abuse treatment center that specializes in benzodiazepine addiction.

Contact us today for more information on Ativan addiction treatment.


  1. The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA): Drug Overdose Death Rates
  2. Medline Plus: Lorazepam
  3. Catie.CA: Safer Snorting
  4. The National Library of Medicine (NLM): Benzodiazepine Toxicity