Know the Similarities and Differences: Ativan vs. Xanax

Over the years, the medical industry has created various solutions to help people who are struggling with different conditions, whether it be physical or mental disorders. Today, to help treat anxiety and other psychiatric disorders, many medical professionals prescribe Ativan (lorazepam) and Xanax to help manage these conditions. But the question is—what are they?

These two drugs come from the same benzodiazepine family, both of which help inhibit excess nerve stimulation in the brain. This is because excess neural firing triggers the area in the brain that causes anxiety. Going back, benzodiazepine affects GABA, which is a neurotransmitter chemical that sends messages to each other in the brain. So, with these two drugs, the effects of GABA increase and reduce the activity of nerves in the brain.

While these drugs can help ease anxiety and other psychiatric conditions, unfortunately, many people abuse the drugs, potentially causing addiction. On top of that, these drugs are quite easy to obtain, making it convenient for people to get hold of the drugs. And with that said, those who abuse Ativan and Xanax may experience dangerous withdrawal symptoms, which could affect their overall well-being.

With that in mind, if you know anyone who’s battling addiction with Ativan and Xanax, it’s worth helping them find an addiction treatment that works for them.

What Makes Ativan and Xanax Different From Each Other?

While Ativan and Xanax have similar side effects, there are also several differences between the two drugs. This also comes down to several people taking these drugs for different reasons.

For example, Ativan is mainly used for managing anxiety disorders, while Xanax is primarily for treating panic disorder, social anxiety, and anxiety disorder. However, both of these drugs are commonly abused and used recreationally.

But to give you a better understanding of their differences here’s a quick rundown:

  • Xanax effects work much faster but have a shorter duration, while Ativan’s duration can last up to eight hours.
  • The sedative and performance impairing effects may occur much quicker with Xanax than Ativan.
  • Xanax can affect the race, concurrent liver or kidney disease, obesity, alcoholism, while Ativan is less likely to be affected.

How Do Ativan and Xanax Work?

Over the years, Ativan and Xanax have been used to treat a wide variety of different conditions—whether it’s anxiety disorders or panic disorders, etc. To learn more about how these drugs work, it’s best to understand how they work on the brain and nervous system.

On a basic level, both drugs affect the GABA receptors in the brain and target neurotransmitter inhibition—which is the chemical message that sends information between the cells. Both of these drugs work to reduce the overactivity of the nerve cells in the brain and calm the activity in the brain. 

Also, it’s worth noting that Ativan and Xanax are both FDA-approved for anxiety relief, unlike some of the other benzodiazepine counterparts, like diazepam or temazepam.

With that, if you understand how Xanax and Ativan work, it’s easy to understand how someone can become addicted to the use of these drugs. Many different factors can influence whether or not someone will become addicted to these types of drugs, but overall, it’s best to seek addiction treatment right away if you believe you’re struggling.

Which Drug is Stronger?

Ativan and Xanax have similar side effects, which means that both of these drugs can have addictive qualities. Therefore, taking either of these drugs can lead to substance abuse and addiction. When it comes to the question of which drug is stronger, there’s a bit of an argument between different professionals, but those who have more experience with the drugs will tell you that they’re both highly addictive.

With that being said, both drugs can trigger withdrawal and misuse, leading to harmful long-term effects. Seeing as each drug comes with its own side effects, it’s most likely that each would also provide different withdrawal symptoms.

That’s why, if you know someone struggling with Ativan or Xanax addiction, it’s best to seek professional help right away so they can get the addiction treatments that work for them.

What are the Side Effects of Ativan?

Ativan (lorazepam) helps manage anxiety disorders and provides short-term relief for anxiety symptoms and/or depressive symptoms. But as with most drugs, it can cause side effects, which may vary from person to person.

Since Ativan and Xanax are part of the same benzodiazepine class, they can experience similar side effects. As a quick reminder, benzodiazepines are a type of drug that works to cause sedation and calm the nervous system, so they can also have some undesired side effects. Below are some of the common side effects of Ativan:

  • Drowsiness
  • Tiredness
  • Dizziness
  • Headache
  • Muscle weakness
  • Sleep problems or insomnia
  • Loss of coordination and balance
  • Amnesia or forgetfulness
  • Difficulty focusing or concentrating
  • Vomiting
  • Blurred vision
  • Nausea
  • Constipation
  • Appetite issues
  • Skin rashes

It’s worth noting that some of these side effects are commonly seen before the drug is discontinued due to tolerance. If you’re experiencing any of these side effects and have been taking Ativan for a while, it’s best to consult your doctor.

ativan vs xanax what you need to know
Side effects of Ativan

What are the Side Effects of Xanax?

Just like Ativan, Xanax also manages anxiety disorders and relieves adults who experience anxiety symptoms. Not only that, it’s an effective treatment for those who experience panic and fear due to places and situations.

As mentioned previously, Xanax is from the same family as Ativan, which is the benzodiazepine family. With that, you’ll find that they’ll have similar side effects, but there are some notable side effects, too.

  • Drowsiness
  • Dizziness
  • Tiredness
  • Insomnia
  • Memory issues
  • Slurred speech
  • Difficulty concentrating or lack of focus
  • Slurred speech
  • Constipation or diarrhea
  • Mood swings and irritability
  • Headache
  • Nausea
  • Excessive sweating
  • Vomiting
  • Blurred vision
  • Upset stomach
  • Swelling of the feet and hands
  • Appetite and weight change
  • Stuffy nose
  • Dry mouth
  • Reduced sexual drive

Again, these are the most common side effects, but there can be some variation based on the person’s overall health and medical history. If you or someone you know is struggling, it’s best to talk to a medical professional as soon as possible so they can provide the right addiction treatment for their recovery.

The Bottom Line: Ativan and Xanax Are Both Highly Addictive Drugs

Struggling with drug addiction can be common, especially if you are taking drugs that treat various disorders, like Ativan and Xanax. If you have been prescribed one of these drugs to treat anxiety or other disorders, it’s important to understand that these drugs can be addictive and potentially dangerous to your health.

Seeing as Ativan and Xanax are powerful drugs, they can easily be misused or abused, leading to harmful long-term effects. Not only that, but this can easily lead to other harmful side effects, like seizures or heart arrhythmia, which can be life-threatening.

To help people overcome their addiction, it’s best to always seek professional help. With that said, countless people are struggling with addiction but don’t know how to handle it. If you know someone who has an addiction to Ativan or Xanax, it’s best to reach out to them and help them find a recovery program that works for them.