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Xanax vs. Ativan: What's the Difference?

Edited by Huma Saeed || By Sumera Saeed || Updated on October 30, 2023
Xanax (alprazolam) and Ativan (lorazepam) are both benzodiazepines, but Xanax is primarily used for anxiety disorders while Ativan is used for anxiety, insomnia, and as a premedication for procedures.

Key Differences

Xanax and Ativan are both benzodiazepines, a class of medications primarily used to treat anxiety and panic disorders. They work by enhancing the effects of a neurotransmitter called gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) in the brain, which reduces excitability and results in a calming effect. While both drugs serve similar therapeutic purposes, they differ in their pharmacokinetics and specific applications.
Sumera Saeed
Oct 28, 2023
The active ingredient in Xanax is alprazolam, while Ativan contains lorazepam. Both alprazolam and lorazepam are short-acting benzodiazepines, but their duration of action differs slightly. Generally, Ativan might have a slightly longer duration of action compared to Xanax, which means that its effects might last longer in the body.
Sumera Saeed
Oct 28, 2023
In terms of potency, Xanax (alprazolam) is often considered to be more potent than Ativan (lorazepam) on a milligram-per-milligram basis. This implies that a smaller dose of Xanax may achieve the same therapeutic effect as a larger dose of Ativan. Therefore, dosing considerations are essential when switching between these medications.
Sumera Saeed
Oct 28, 2023
Xanax is not only prescribed for anxiety and panic disorders but also for certain forms of depression and, at times, to manage the symptoms of premenstrual syndrome (PMS). On the other hand, Ativan is also used as a sedative before surgical procedures or to treat insomnia, in addition to its use for anxiety disorders.
Janet White
Oct 28, 2023
Side effects associated with both Xanax and Ativan include drowsiness, dizziness, memory problems, and potential dependence when taken for extended periods. Both drugs have a risk of withdrawal if discontinued abruptly. However, the specific side effect profile and intensity can vary between Xanax and Ativan, making it crucial for patients to discuss any concerns with their healthcare providers.
Sumera Saeed
Oct 28, 2023
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Comparison Chart

Generic Name

Alprazolam
Lorazepam
Sumera Saeed
Oct 28, 2023

Primary Uses

Anxiety and panic disorders
Anxiety, insomnia, premedication
Sumera Saeed
Oct 28, 2023

Class

Benzodiazepine
Benzodiazepine
Sumera Saeed
Oct 28, 2023

Duration of Effect

Shorter duration
Longer duration
Sumera Saeed
Oct 28, 2023

Potential for Dependence

Yes
Yes
Janet White
Oct 28, 2023
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Xanax and Ativan Definitions

Xanax

A medication with sedative effects.
After taking Xanax, he felt drowsy.
Sumera Saeed
Oct 28, 2023

Ativan

A member of the benzodiazepine class.
Ativan, like Xanax, is a benzodiazepine.
Sumera Saeed
Oct 28, 2023

Xanax

A benzodiazepine drug.
She took Xanax to calm her nerves.
Huma Saeed
Oct 28, 2023

Ativan

A prescription drug for anxiety and insomnia.
She takes Ativan to help her sleep at night.
Huma Saeed
Oct 28, 2023

Xanax

A tablet to manage panic disorders.
Xanax has helped many with severe anxiety.
Sumera Saeed
Oct 28, 2023
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Ativan

Known by the generic name lorazepam.
Lorazepam, often referred to as Ativan, can be prescribed for various conditions.
Sara Rehman
Oct 28, 2023

Xanax

A prescription medication for anxiety.
I was prescribed Xanax for my panic attacks.
Sumera Saeed
Oct 28, 2023

Ativan

A medication with tranquilizing properties.
He felt relaxed after his dose of Ativan.
Sara Rehman
Oct 28, 2023

Xanax

A drug known by the generic name alprazolam.
Alprazolam, commonly known as Xanax, is often prescribed by doctors.
Sara Rehman
Oct 28, 2023

Ativan

Used as premedication before procedures.
Before her surgery, she was given Ativan to calm her nerves.
Aimie Carlson
Oct 28, 2023

Xanax

An antianxiety agent (trade name Xanax) of the benzodiazepine class
Sumera Saeed
Oct 29, 2015

Ativan

Tranquilizer (trade name Ativan) used to treat anxiety and tension and insomnia
Sumera Saeed
Oct 29, 2015

FAQs

Which has a quicker onset, Xanax or Ativan?

Xanax has a quicker onset compared to Ativan.
Harlon Moss
Oct 28, 2023

What is Xanax commonly used for?

Xanax is primarily used for anxiety and panic disorders.
Sumera Saeed
Oct 28, 2023

How does Ativan differ from Xanax?

Ativan is also used for anxiety but has applications for insomnia and as premedication.
Huma Saeed
Oct 28, 2023

Are both Xanax and Ativan benzodiazepines?

Yes, both are benzodiazepines and affect the central nervous system.
Sumera Saeed
Oct 28, 2023

How about Ativan? Is it addictive?

Yes, Ativan also has the potential for dependence.
Harlon Moss
Oct 28, 2023

Can I drink alcohol with Xanax?

Combining alcohol with Xanax can enhance sedative effects and is not recommended.
Janet White
Oct 28, 2023

Can I use Ativan for sleep?

Yes, Ativan is sometimes prescribed for insomnia.
Aimie Carlson
Oct 28, 2023

How are Xanax and Ativan metabolized?

They are metabolized differently, affecting their onset and duration of action.
Sumera Saeed
Oct 28, 2023

Are there generics available for Xanax and Ativan?

Yes, alprazolam for Xanax and lorazepam for Ativan.
Aimie Carlson
Oct 28, 2023

How should I store Xanax and Ativan?

Both should be stored in a cool, dry place, away from light and out of reach of children.
Sumera Saeed
Oct 28, 2023

How long does the effect of Xanax last?

Xanax has a shorter duration of effect compared to Ativan.
Sumera Saeed
Oct 28, 2023

Can I take Ativan before a surgical procedure?

Ativan is sometimes used as a premedication before surgical procedures.
Aimie Carlson
Oct 28, 2023

Does Ativan have the same withdrawal concerns?

Yes, Ativan also has withdrawal concerns if discontinued suddenly.
Sumera Saeed
Oct 28, 2023

What's the generic name for Xanax?

The generic name for Xanax is alprazolam.
Aimie Carlson
Oct 28, 2023

Is dependence a concern with Xanax?

Yes, Xanax has the potential for dependence.
Aimie Carlson
Oct 28, 2023

Can I use Xanax for sleep?

While primarily for anxiety, some people might feel drowsy with Xanax.
Aimie Carlson
Oct 28, 2023

Can pregnant women take Xanax or Ativan?

Both should be avoided in pregnancy unless benefits outweigh risks and only under a doctor's guidance.
Sumera Saeed
Oct 28, 2023

And for Ativan?

The generic name for Ativan is lorazepam.
Aimie Carlson
Oct 28, 2023

Is it the same for Ativan?

Yes, combining alcohol with Ativan can also be dangerous.
Janet White
Oct 28, 2023

Are there withdrawal symptoms with Xanax?

Yes, discontinuing Xanax suddenly after prolonged use can lead to withdrawal symptoms.
Harlon Moss
Oct 28, 2023
About Author
Written by
Sumera Saeed
Sumera is an experienced content writer and editor with a niche in comparative analysis. At Diffeence Wiki, she crafts clear and unbiased comparisons to guide readers in making informed decisions. With a dedication to thorough research and quality, Sumera's work stands out in the digital realm. Off the clock, she enjoys reading and exploring diverse cultures.
Edited by
Huma Saeed
Huma is a renowned researcher acclaimed for her innovative work in Difference Wiki. Her dedication has led to key breakthroughs, establishing her prominence in academia. Her contributions continually inspire and guide her field.

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