Benzos (Ativan) during the day? Are effects noticeable to others?
June 17, 2016 10:05 AM   Subscribe

I'm currently dealing with a number of stressors - Mom's leukemia, underemployment, etc - and take Ativan at night as-needed for sleep. Relatives (Some I like, a few notsomuch) I haven't seen in a while are coming in to see Mom today, and I'm getting pukey thinking of having to deal with them while I'm barely holding myself together. I'm considering an Ativan before I meet them, but I don't want to seem loopy or zombielike. Those who take a benzo (Ativan in particular) during the day - do people notice? Can you function?

My script is for 1mg. I used to cut it in half and take .5mg when I was feeling anxious, but since shit hit the proverbial fan I upped the dose to 1mg at night.

We'll be meeting later today. Can you function relatively well in conversation on a benzo? I worry that they'll be able to tell I'm not all there.
posted by CottonCandyCapers to Human Relations (29 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Response by poster: Ah, forgot to mention. The family will be in from today till Sunday, so I would probably use it till they leave - 1 when I meet them and maybe 1 at night.
posted by CottonCandyCapers at 10:08 AM on June 17, 2016

You will be fine. They will not be able to tell unless you drink alcohol. When I take Ativan, when it's needed, it brings me to baseline. It doesn't even make me sleepy.

I'm sure you will be calm and no one will know you've taken an Ativan except you. :) Good luck, ok!? You'll do great.
posted by Dressed to Kill at 10:10 AM on June 17, 2016 [9 favorites]

If you're taking 1 mg Ativan regularly at night, a single .5mg dose during the day is unlikely to make you too woozy to function. Remember, though: absolutely no booze or other recreational substances with it.

(If you are taking 1 mg regularly for sleep, I'd go back to my doctor. Benzos have their uses, but they're really not good for long-term use except for conditions more dire than yours [e.g., epilepsy]. Habituation definitely occurs, and you can't keep escalating forever. Coming off benzos is worse than heroin and can actually kill you.)
posted by praemunire at 10:10 AM on June 17, 2016 [9 favorites]

That's weird that you take it at night, unless you have night terrors or something? It's got a short half life so it's not really doing anything when you wake up. Were you told by a doctor to do this? It can fuck with your sleep.

In any case, I think if you take it daily then you will be fine, your brain is used to it. DO NOT DRINK ALCOHOL. If they think something's off with you, tell them you think you're getting the flu, or a headache, or you took Benadryl for allergies. White lies are better than a panic attack.
posted by AFABulous at 10:12 AM on June 17, 2016 [3 favorites]

Response by poster: praemunire - I only take ativan at night when I get terrible sleep the night before (say, 4 hours or less). Otherwise, I stick to melatonin and exercise. (Just exercised, still feel pukey, meeting family in 5 hours). Also - I've heard my fair share of addiction horror stories and will NEVER go over my prescribed dose of 1mg.

AFABulous - Doc told me to take it for sleep. I've poked around on the internet and it seems to be fairly commonly prescribed for short-term insomnia.

Done threadsitting :)
posted by CottonCandyCapers at 10:13 AM on June 17, 2016 [2 favorites]

Not a doctor but I've been taking Ativan for many years. Ativan is, for the lack of a better phrase, a baby benzo. You'd have to be either drinking (which: don't) or a very skinny person with a very empty stomach for 1 mg of it to fuck you up in any sort of noticeable considerable way.
posted by griphus at 10:13 AM on June 17, 2016 [6 favorites]

(Just to be clear: by "baby benzo" I mean it's not as potent as, say, Xanax or something like that. It's still a benzo so obviously don't fuck around with it and if you find yourself taking it very regularly, talk to your doctor about other meds available for anxiety management.)
posted by griphus at 10:15 AM on June 17, 2016 [4 favorites]

I have never had anyone notice when I took 1 mg of Ativan during the day. (I have also never mixed it with drinking, though, so that's a good note - I imagine that would affect things.)
posted by Stacey at 10:23 AM on June 17, 2016

You'll be fine, especially with a tolerance. Only noticeable effect is that Ativan to me seemed to have a particularly nasty hangover.

But yes, do not drink on them.
posted by geoff. at 10:33 AM on June 17, 2016

Half a mg of Ativan for anxiety will be absolutely fine, and no one but you will notice a thing. They very likely wouldn't even notice if you took 1 mg during the day. Go ahead and take it and don't spend half a second worrying about it.

Btw, I took Ativan for over a year at night to help me sleep, on a psychiatrist's advice. There's nothing weird about that at all.
posted by holborne at 10:35 AM on June 17, 2016 [3 favorites]

That's weird that you take it at night, unless you have night terrors or something?

My doc prescribed it when I was having trouble falling asleep because of tinnitus, it's not that unusual.

Concur: .5 mg will not be noticeable. Don't drink. You will be fine. Sorry you are dealing with this. You might want to talk to the doc about other sleeping aid options since there are other medicines that are less habit-forming than benzos but honestly that's the least of your concerns now. Take care.
posted by jessamyn at 10:46 AM on June 17, 2016 [1 favorite]

That's weird that you take it at night, unless you have night terrors or something?

No, it's not. Many people take bentos in the evening, especially if their stress and anxiety makes falling asleep hard. It's very, very common and often physician-recommended.

OP, I usually take my benzo in the evening, like you, but every once in a while take it during the day. It can make me a little sleepy/slow and nauseous, but as far as I know these side effects are not noticeable to others. Good luck!
posted by schroedingersgirl at 10:57 AM on June 17, 2016

I've found that the key to daytime benzo use is to keep moving. If I pop a Xanax and then lay on the couch, I'm done. But if I pop a Xanax and then do The Stressful Thing, whatever it is, I'm fine.
posted by xyzzy at 11:03 AM on June 17, 2016 [3 favorites]

I have taken half a mg of Ativan and gone to work - all it did was untie the anxiety knot in my stomach. I didn't feel loopy or fuzzy or anything, and didn't have any noticeable slowdown in my thoughts. Take it!
posted by superfluousm at 11:17 AM on June 17, 2016

I take .5 for anxiety attacks and it doesn't make me loopy or even noticeably mellow--it just makes me not feel like I'm going to have a heart attack or accidentally start screaming hysterically. I literally take it and forget it, because it just kind of brings me back to my normal, manageable state.
posted by looli at 11:31 AM on June 17, 2016

I take .75 mg xanax every night. Still works, and can take another .5 or .25 if I have a panic attack. Ativan has less punch. You'll be fine.

Since this is going to be a high stress period, consider asking to try Klonopin for the duration. It is longer acting, which could help mitigate the general stress. (not doctor, not medical advice, just a thought from one anxious person to another.)

Neither ativan nor klonopin is high risk for addiction. Do what you need to do to take care of yourself. Worry about stopping the medication when you don't need it anymore.
posted by monopas at 11:54 AM on June 17, 2016 [2 favorites]

You've gotten a lot of answers already, but just for another data point, I take 0.5mg of Ativan 3x/day (with a fourth dose as-needed if I wake up in the middle of the night with panic.) Usually at waking, lunchtime, evening/bedtime. I've taken it continuously for about a year and a half now and no one can ever tell that I've taken it. I notice when I take it--usually not drowsiness, but a slight disinhibition, like one beer's worth, but not as heavy; I typically think of it as my inhibition being lowered to the level a non-anxious person would have--but no one else has ever remarked on it to me.
posted by Kosh at 12:12 PM on June 17, 2016

Klonopin rather than Ativan for me, but no one's ever noticed anything as far as I know.
posted by pemberkins at 12:32 PM on June 17, 2016

I think you will be absolutely fine; the only risk (I also take Ativan) that I can imagine is that if you are a bit fatigued, the Ativan will amplify this (in which case, find some coffee). You might try taking 0.5, waiting a bit, and taking the remaining 0.5 if needed -- I do this often. Sometimes I do reach for the remaining 0.5, sometimes not.

(In my experience you can drink lightly -- go slow -- on 0.5 with no noticeable cross-over effects, but I have a high tolerance to both; YMMV.)
posted by kmennie at 12:47 PM on June 17, 2016 [1 favorite]

My understanding is that people take benzodiazepines for sleep because a common side effect of these drugs is sleepiness. Add to that the anti-anxiety properties, if anxiety is a factor in sleep onset problems, and that's why people take them before bedtime.
posted by DMelanogaster at 1:11 PM on June 17, 2016 [1 favorite]

Nthing that nobody will notice if you take that low dose during the day. I would caution, though, that in my experience the anxiety always comes back later--the drug merely postpones it. Which is fine and good if you need to get through a moment and you know you'll have time to decompress later. Just be warned that it's a postponement, not a cancellation.

How this works IRL for me is something like I'll take 0.5 mg of Xanax if I'm flying on an airplane. The flight is fine and I make it without panic. But later that night, at dinner, I might have to excuse myself to go get some fresh air because a large wave of anxiety is coming over me. Then I return to the table, a little shaky, and enjoy the rest of the evening. Another thing that's happened is if I'm traveling with someone (most of my anxiety is travel-related, can you tell?) I may get really, really irritable and not be good company for a bit after the benzo wears off.

TL;DR don't worry about the drug, but give yourself some space afterward if it's possible.
posted by witchen at 1:23 PM on June 17, 2016

I function almost too well. It's subtle, but I get more talkative and less discreet. I think you'll be fine, but if you think these people are likely to pump you for information that you may not be comfortable giving, you might want to make sure you know what your boundaries are beforehand.
posted by phantom powered at 1:29 PM on June 17, 2016 [3 favorites]

I take .25mg of Ativan (half of a .5 pill) on a semi regular basis to deal with anxiety and health issues (things that cause vertigo and/or racing heart stuff.) I am one of those skinny people that meds affect really strongly. When I first started using Ativan I felt a little groggy or out of it for a few minutes to an hour after it kicked in. Now that my body has adjusted I notice no problems unless I'm otherwise not feeling well due to my health stuff. (I switched from Xanax which would make me a total weird zombie.)

I also take it to help me sleep as I get weird sleep related vertigo/heart racing things (working with my doctor on all this) but I am sometimes able to get away with as little as a 1/4 tablet on a good night which is barely anything.

Anyway, the only way to know is to take it for a test drive. Of course this and any mediation should be used with caution and with your doctor's advice - but try taking half your normal dose on a regular day when you may be feeling a bit anxious. If you're not anxious enough it may make you groggy - but I've never felt "loopy" or out of it. I just feel more relaxed, less vertigo/nausea, less heart racing.

If you do get that "coming down" feeling then maybe try splitting that dose across a couple hours. I find taking the dose in two parts extends the effect and I don't get any sort of crash. So sometimes if I'm feeling off -enough to take something I'll take a 1/4 tablet and if it doesn't do the trick I'll take the other 1/4 tablet after about an hour or so.

I'm also .. not super into taking meds in general and am really careful and cautious about something becoming habit forming. I've had days where I had to take a bit do deal with symptoms but I don't feel a need to do it the next day if I'm feeling okay. So a short-term increase in use didn't affect me in terms of increased anxiety, etc.
posted by Crystalinne at 1:50 PM on June 17, 2016

I can only speak for my experience with a tiny bit of xanax, which I took regularly during a short but intensely stressful period years ago. I recently asked a very trustworthy friend if it had been noticeable, and he said it was 'definitely obvious' that I was 'on something' at that time. I do think you should do whatever you need to get through this period, but I wanted to share this because it's a valid concern, and there could be some very legitimate reasons for needing to appear crystal clear and non-intoxicated in certain contexts, and personally I did not appear that way during my benzo experience.
posted by thegreatfleecircus at 1:57 PM on June 17, 2016

And in contrast to thegreatfleecircus's story, I take Xanax occasionally as needed and it's impossible for anyone to tell.
posted by MsMolly at 2:49 PM on June 17, 2016

protip: tomorrow, take it a half hour or so before you even speak to anyone so it's already working when you do.
posted by listen, lady at 4:05 PM on June 17, 2016

consider asking to try Klonopin for the duration

0.25mg Clonazepam == 0.5mg Alprazolam == 1mg Lorazepam
This is data, not medical advice
posted by meehawl at 8:48 PM on June 17, 2016

My friend takes an Ativan before she flies. I drive her to the airport so I see her each time, and I've never noticed a difference in her on these days. If she didn't tell me she'd taken it, I'd never guess.
posted by Puddle Jumper at 7:30 PM on June 18, 2016

I've taken xanax and I doubt anyone could ever tell.

The only time I think anyone could tell is when I was taking a large dose during a VERY stressful time and my roommate would sometimes find me asleep on the couch haha. But 1mg of Xanax is quite a lot, and if you're just sitting there watching TV it's lights out pretty quick. But I don't think I ever felt loopy or weird or that anyone could tell when I was taking small doses during the day.

In fact, I think it helped me appear MORE NORMAL because I wasn't so stressed and anxious (which are emotions that I kind of wear on my sleeve).
posted by christiehawk at 1:53 PM on June 19, 2016

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