Ativan vs Xanax – Similarities & Differences

Ativan Vs Xanax- Similarities & Differences

Written by :

Arooj Anjum

Arooj Anjum

Biomedical Engineer


Ativan and Xanax are controlled psychotic prescription drugs used for treating panic attack disorders, seizure disorders, Anxiety, and insomnia. Both belong to a class of drugs called benzodiazepine medications and are categorized as Schedule IV controlled substances, meaning they are highly addictive and can easily cause dependence and misuse.


Ativan vs Xanax are both highly effective, yet long-term use can lead to abuse. They are believed to work by increasing the activity of gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA neurons) in the central nervous system, thus leading to a calming effect. However, how it works and shows visible results has yet to be studied. Pharmacologically, all benzos are labeled as sedative-hypnotics, minor tranquilizers, and GABAergic agents.


Benzodiazepines initiate different effects like;


  • Sedative
  • Anticonvulsant
  • Anxiolytic
  • And muscle relaxant


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Key Differences- Ativan vs Xanax


The generic names for Ativan and Xanax are lorazepam and alprazolam, respectively. Ativan vs Xanax are the brand names.

Although the mechanism of action is similar, some notable differences are mentioned below.


Duration of Effect


Xanax wins the race because of its rapid-acting capacity. You can feel the medicine showing effect within 30 minutes. In comparison, the peak time for Ativian is 2 hours. If you want quicker action, use Ativan injection as it shows results in 1 to 3 minutes only if injected in the vein and 15 to 30 minutes if injected in the muscle. Follow the medical advice of the healthcare professionals.


Half-Life of Ativan vs Xanax


The half-life of Ativan is 12 to 18 hours, and Xanax’s half-life is 11.2 hours. Half-life is the time taken for half of the active substance to reduce in the body in the mentioned time. As the half-life of Ativan is longer, it shows effectiveness for a long period in comparison to Xanax.


Safety Profile


Among Xanaz vs Ativian, the latter is considered safer because of fewer chances of withdrawal symptoms and rebound Anxiety. As the onset of Ativan is slow and the duration of action is greater, the chances of it being misused are lesser than Xanax. Follow the precise treatment plan, as higher doses of prescription medications are harmful and can lead to the risk of addiction.




Xanax is available in the form of;

  • Extended-release tablets
  • Disintegrating tablets
  • Oral tablets


The different options offer more flexibility in terms of dosing.


Ativan is available in;

  • Injections
  • Oral (making it ideal for seizures)


Side Effects- Ativan vs Xanax

Both Xanax and Ativan belong to a fast-acting class of drugs offering faster relief from the symptoms. Both have similar side effects.


  • Dizziness
  • Impaired coordination
  • Drowsiness


Risks Associated with Ativan and Xanax


As mentioned earlier, benzodiazepine imposes a risk of potential misuse and addiction. Do not stop the drug abruptly, as it can lead to withdrawal symptoms.

If you think you or a loved one are experiencing the following symptoms and finding it hard to come off the medicine, please get in touch with your medical professionals immediately.


  • Cravings
  • Compromised social activities or occupational work
  • Finding it hard to quit despite adverse reactions
  • symptoms of Anxiety
  • Diarrhea
  • Insomnia
  • Panic
  • Agitation
  • Hallucinations
  • Cognitive deficits
  • Tingling sensations
  • Muscle twitching
  • And mood swings


Note– Do not exceed the dose, and do not use Ativan or Xanax for longer durations. Consult with your healthcare provider in case of adverse effects or possible addiction.


Do not drive or operate heavy machinery in case of dizziness or drowsiness. Do not use any other controlled medicine (anxiety medications) or/and alcohol with Ativan vs Xanax due to the extreme sedative effect. Provide the complete medical history to your doctor.


When Should I not use Ativan vs Xanax?


There are many things you need to consider before using any benzodiazepine. Some of them are summarised below:




If you are pregnant or plan to be a mom soon, inform your healthcare provider. Using benzos can lead to premature birth or low birth weight. Your doctor can provide better treatment options.



Tell the prescribing doctor if you suffer from low blood pressure and have respiratory depression because Ativan and Xanax can worsen these conditions, especially when you are taking meds for these conditions. Discuss the list of all the medicines you regularly use, including OTCs, herbs, and vitamins.


Do not combine the following with Ativan and Xanax;


  • Alcohol
  • Barbiturates
  • Antidepressants
  • Antipsychotics
  • Anxiolytics
  • Antipsychotics
  • Anesthetics
  • Anticonvulsants
  • Antihistamines with sedative effect


Black Box Warning– Ativan vs Xanax


Keep a close eye on the patient for sedation and respiratory depression symptoms.


  1. High potential risks of combining benzos with opioids
  2. Simultaneous use of benzos with opioids leads to extensive sedation, coma, respiratory depression, and, in some cases, death.
  3. Limit the dosing and durations if necessary.


Dosage Guideline of Xanax


Let’s learn about how much Xanax is too much

Xanax Immediate-release Tablet


Doses are as under;


  • For treatment of anxiety disorders- the initial dose was 0.25-0.5mg 3 times daily, titrated to 4 mg maximum, three times daily in severe cases.
  • For panic disorder– the initial dose of 0.5 mg three times increased to 10mg max/day for a few weeks. 


 Xanax Tablets


  • Panic disorders– clinical trials had 1 to 10 mg daily, but individuals responded differently. Discuss the correct dosing with your doctor.


Xanax Extended-Release tablets


  • Anxiety & panic disorders– 3 to 6 mg/daily, in the morning


Dosage Guideline of Ativan


Lets now learn about ativan dosage;

Ativan Tablets


  • For Anxiety, the dose is 2 to 6 mg divided equally per day.


Ativan Injections


  • For Epilepsy- a 4 mg injection is given by a doctor, and if required, another 4 mg infection 10 to 20 minutes later.
  • Preanetheisia– 0.05mg/kg, max of 4 mg, injected by a doctor.


Cost of Ativan vs Xanax


The final costs depend on the insurance company. However, the prices are listed below;

  1. 1 mg of Ativan- $5.66/30 tablets
  2. 0.5mg of Xanax- $4.05/30 tablets
  3. 1mg of Xanax extended-release-$16.81/30 tablets


Bottom Line


Ativan and Xanaz are effective benzodiazepines commonly prescribed for treating Anxiety, muscle spasms, insomnia, seizures, and panic disorders. Both belong to the same class of medicines; both have sedative effects but differ in their safety profile and action time.


Xanax has a higher chance of drug abuse, and Ativan is, in contrast, a safe option. If you suffer from insomnia or Anxiety, visit a healthcare provider, as they can assess your health condition and prescribe the right drug for you.

If you have any queries or questions, contact us.


Medical Disclaimer:


At TherapyFleet, we strive to enhance the quality of life for those dealing with mental health issues. Our licensed medical professionals meticulously research, edit, and review all content before publication. Nonetheless, this information should not replace professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. For medical guidance, please consult your physician or reach out to TherapyFleet’s qualified staff.


Both Ativan and Xanax are highly effective medications for managing anxiety, with each offering unique benefits tailored to individual needs. Their quick onset of action and proven efficacy make them trusted choices among healthcare providers.

FAQS that Further Solve the Queries Regarding Ativan and Xanax Differences


1. Ativan vs Xanax- are they the same?


Both belong to benzodiazepine but differ in onset duration, half-life, and dose.


2. Which is stronger – Ativan vs Xanax?


Both lorazepam and alprazolam are effective, yet they come in different strengths. Xanax is the stronger one of the two.


3. Any tips before I start Xanax or Ativan?


Yes, do not exceed the recommended dose, use the med as directed by your doctor, and avoid other sedatives, opioids, and alcohol when on these medicines. And finally, do not abruptly stop either Xanax or Ativan. Talk to your doctor, as they will taper the med off.


4. How to store Ativan and Xanax?


Keep all medicines out of reach of children. These are controlled drugs; keep them locked in a cabinet.


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