I'm not drunk officer... I was just at the dentist!
June 14, 2011 8:02 AM   Subscribe

How long does Ativan impair one's ability to drive?

I've got a oh-so-fun dental procedure this week, and my very nice dentist has prescribed me some ativan to alleviate the anxiety and to help get my through a couple hours of him hacking at my gums. Along with the ativan comes the standard warning to make sure I have a ride to and from my appointment. But how long do I need to avoid driving for? I'll be taking 2mg ativan around 2:30pm, with the possibility of another 1mg later if needed. Will I be okay to drive by 9pm?

Yes, I know you are not a doctor, my doctor, a dentist, my dentist, or anything other than a random internet stranger. But metafilter has the best internet strangers, including some who occasionally know what they are talking about and/or have better googling abilities than I :)
posted by cgg to Health & Fitness (19 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I had Ativan when I had a procedure done. I was not ready to drive a car seven hours later. Seven hours post-Ativan, I was on a couch, giggling to myself and drawing what I thought were awesome doodles. By the next morning, I discovered to my horror that my "awesome doodles" were actually barely recognizable tornado-spider things.

Get a taxi to and fro.
posted by Sticherbeast at 8:07 AM on June 14, 2011 [1 favorite]

Half-life is 9-16 hours. .5 mg is a fairly potent dose, personally. It's within the realm of possibility that you'll be fine, but with 3 mg? Your first time taking it? I would have backup plans, if I were you. Chances are you will be too asleep to want to go anywhere.
posted by acidic at 8:09 AM on June 14, 2011 [1 favorite]

Ativan affects people differently. If you have never taken it, make sure to have a backup plan for getting back from the appointment.
posted by TheBones at 8:13 AM on June 14, 2011

You will probably not be okay to drive, and in fact, you will probably not even be awake.
posted by elsietheeel at 8:17 AM on June 14, 2011

Ativan is a pretty interesting drug that can effect people differently.
Seeing as you are posing this question, my two cents is that 2mg is a pretty hefty dose.
I would perhaps take 1mg to start, and if necessary take a half a mg later.

To answer your question about driving, you should be fine by 9pm, and if you had a tolerance, or past experience with the chemical a small dose of. 5mg may not impaire you much at all.
posted by handbanana at 8:20 AM on June 14, 2011

I happen to fall in the category that 6 hours later, depending on your size and tolerance for medication that you will be able to drive. The thing that strikes me as odd is that you plan on driving somewhere, anywhere, at 9pm after having what sounds like significant dental work. I just don't think you will be in the mood or in good enough spirits to want to go anywhere at 9pm.
posted by JohnnyGunn at 8:23 AM on June 14, 2011 [1 favorite]

2mg of Ativan is a hefty dose. I occasionally take .5mg and that sometimes makes me a little drowsy - I'd imagine 2mg would knock me right the hell on out. If you've never taken Ativan before and do not know your reaction to it, I would not chance it (and in fact I would not take the full 2mg at first, either). Get a ride.
posted by bedhead at 8:24 AM on June 14, 2011

Also whatever the hell you do, don't have any booze with that medication in your system. It will greatly compound the effects.
posted by handbanana at 8:25 AM on June 14, 2011

Hmmm.. interesting. I guess I'd be chancing it assuming I could drive. I have taken Ativan a couple times, but not recently. 0.5mg didn't really affect me 5 years ago. I've had higher dosages for medical procedures that knocked me out good, but I have no idea how much they gave me, just that I asked for more.

The reason I was asking about driving is that I'll be going to my appointment straight from work, taking the ativan and hanging out at the dentist for an hour until it kicks in. Someone will pick me up after, but my car will be in a lot that closes at 10pm. If I don't move it by then it'll be towed. Guess I should make another plan...
posted by cgg at 8:28 AM on June 14, 2011

In that case, take a taxi and leave your car at work :)
posted by acidic at 8:43 AM on June 14, 2011

I guess this must be a pretty long and major procedure? I ask because my dentist routinely gives me a Valium before he starts work, no prescription (wow, I hope I'm not getting him in trouble here), he just gives me one before we get started, and three or so hours later after we're done and I've gone to get a coffee, I'm ok to drive - maybe not 100%, but I'm conservative about driving when I might be impaired, and I feel ok with this.

I guess this is a long winded way of asking if there's an alternative sedative with a shorter half-life you could take instead?
posted by crabintheocean at 8:47 AM on June 14, 2011

Probably not awake...giggling, many hours later...0.5 a potent dose...

Those all seem bizarre to me, and I would say you would be feeling totally normal by 9pm. Clearly there're a wide variety of reactions possible; I think this is so "YMMV" as to be unanswerable.
posted by kmennie at 9:09 AM on June 14, 2011

I've driven with .5mg and 1mg, but in full disclosure I started with .5 and built up a tolerance to it. But anything more than that, I ask someone else. It makes you TOO RELAXED. Your reflexes and attention span aren't what they should be for operating a car. I remember taking 2mg and sitting on the couch for a long time pondering the cartoon aardvark Arthur.
posted by jerseygirl at 9:25 AM on June 14, 2011

According to this table, lorazepam has a 10-20 hour half-life in the body. Effects do not always correlate with the rate of metabolism of a drug, but it does hang around for a while. you might also note from the same table that lorazepam is about 10 times as potent as diazepam (Valium) so you are potentially getting the equivalent of 30 mg of Valium. If it were me, I wouldn't drive (or sign important papers or operate power tools...) until the next day. Although different people react differently to drugs, why risk a problem?
posted by TedW at 9:34 AM on June 14, 2011 [1 favorite]

I'm with Johnny Gunn, 2 mg, even 3 mg of Ativan 6 hours after it's taken would be fine for me. At least for me, the effects of Ativan wear of pretty quickly, and as such, that's why it's considered a highly addictive drug (that, and it gives you a quite pleasurable high). But even so, I'd say you'd be fine to drive but YMMV.
posted by Sal and Richard at 10:09 AM on June 14, 2011

Everybody is different. If I take .5 mg of Ativan, I'll be out for 8 to 10 hours. If you've never taken it before, don't take the chance of driving.
posted by chez shoes at 10:39 AM on June 14, 2011 [1 favorite]

I take Ativan for anxiety sometimes, and I absolutely could drive just fine on 1mg. I don't, mind, but I also don't drive after having even one drink, even though I'm not at all impaired by that point. Just a personal Thing. However, I've been taking it every few days for the last month or so, so I'm a lot more used to it than I was. And I think 2mg might give me pause. You might be even higher-tolerance than me, but better not to chance it.

Generally, it's a good idea not to drive when impaired. I say take a taxi. Car accidents are an area where I strongly feel it's better to be safe than sorry.
posted by Because at 4:58 PM on June 14, 2011

Your question has already been answered, but I joined specifically to tell you my Ativan/dentist story. So here goes.

I am terrified of the dentist. My first visit was when I was 20, for a root canal. Recently, an abscess started growing under that tooth, so I had to go back. My nice endodontist gave me a prescription for Ativan. She said she really likes to knock out her patients, so I should take 3 pills (1.5mg). Mind you, I weigh about 100lbs. No big deal - I lived two blocks from her at the time, so I was sure I'd be able to make it home.

Well, the first round didn't go so well - I was only able to tolerate about an hour of the procedure. She sent me home, and said to take 4 pills the next time. I decided I'd walk another two blocks to Walgreens to pick up the antibiotics she prescribed. Now, I don't remember too much of the trip, but I remember the entire right side of my face was numb, including my ears, and I enjoyed telling this to the pharmacist. I also remember stopping to get an egg sandwich, and thinking that it was totally fine to chew even though I couldn't feel my tongue or cheeks.

I left the dentist about 9am. I woke up at 5pm, on the couch, with an array of purchases around me. I am by no means a girly-girl, but while at Walgreens I apparently decided I needed a curling iron, about six bottles of nail polish (which I had tried, messily), and a vast collection of hair clips. The inside of my mouth was a bloody mess from the attempt to eat. I returned the curling iron and the hair clips the next day, apologizing to the clerk.

Weeks later, I'm uploading pictures from my camera. I discover a bunch of photos that I have absolutely no memory of taking. I mean, clearly, that's me in the picture, but what the hell - I have about sixty hair clips in my hair, and I look drunk off my ass, and I'm wearing my winter coat, out on my front porch, while it's snowing, posing in my pretty hair clips. Which are not really that pretty at all. I even held the camera above my head to get the top-down view. Apparently I was capable enough to return the clips to their packaging so I would not notice that they had been used.

I have NO memory of this at all.

Be careful with the Ativan.

(After the return visit, I also made ridiculous purchases, but only in that they were expensive - I actually liked them! I also woke up six hours later on my couch with my coat on, with an entire large coffee spilled all down my front. I don't drink coffee. I guess I was trying to balance out the sleepiness).
posted by lastofthelost at 8:02 PM on June 14, 2011 [5 favorites]

Just to pile on my own thread... wow, is YMMV ever true with the Ativan.

Took 2mg an hour before my appointment. Felt nothing at the time of the appointment. Nada. I could've driven (I wouldn't, but I didn't feel impaired at all). Of course, I was anxious at the appointment, but my dentist talked me down off the edge with some deep breathing. Then came the freezing. I forgot I was totally susceptible to the adrenaline that is in the freezing (apparently it affects 5-7% of the population) and basically just felt like I had been shot, without a bullet wound. I was so very tense, shaking, tears streaming (for no reason) - I was a mess. That feeling does pass, though, and we got through the procedure.

We were doing a crown lengthening on a root-canalled tooth that had broken off below the gum line, and the fact the entire tooth broke with no pain to myself the week before was way more helpful in relieving the anxiety than the ativan was. In fact, in this case, the ativan was pretty useless.

A good friend picked me up, and was disappointed - he was hoping I'd be a zombie, and it was more like I'd had a couple redbulls. I was wired, alert, and drooling :)

Until about 3 hours after the appointment had ended, when I passed out cold asleep, and I have no recollection of actually going to bed (fully dressed!). At some point the next morning I apparently woke up to feed the cats and email my boss to call in sick (I dont really remember this), but then didn't move again until after 12. I spent most of that next day in a haze.
posted by cgg at 10:06 AM on June 18, 2011

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