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How and when to take lorazepam - Brand name: Ativan

Always take lorazepam exactly as a doctor or pharmacist has told you.

Dosage and strength

Lorazepam comes as 0.5mg, 1mg and 2.5mg tablets. The liquid contains 1mg of lorazepam in each 1ml.

The usual dose is:

  • anxiety in adults – 1mg to 4mg each day. Your doctor will tell you how often you need to take it
  • sleeping problems in adults – 1mg to 2mg before bedtime (lorazepam will start to work in around 20 to 30 minutes)
  • a pre-med for adults – 2mg to 3mg the night before the procedure and then 2mg to 4mg about 1 to 2 hours before your procedure
  • a pre-med for children aged 5 years to 11 years – the dose will depend on the child's weight
  • a pre-med for children aged 12 to 17 years – 1mg to 4mg either the night before the procedure or at least 1 hour before the procedure, or both

For older people or people with liver or kidney problems, a doctor may recommend a lower dose.

Changes to your dose

Lorazepam is usually prescribed for a short time, from a few days to 4 weeks. Your dose may go up or down until your doctor is sure you're on the right dose.

Your doctor may gradually reduce your dose at the end of the course of treatment before you stop completely.

How to take it

Take lorazepam tablets with a drink of water. You can take them with or without food.

If you're taking lorazepam as a liquid, the medicine will come with a plastic syringe or spoon to help you measure out the right dose. If you do not have a syringe or spoon, ask your pharmacist for one. Do not use a kitchen teaspoon as it will not measure the right amount.

How long to take it for

How long you take lorazepam for depends on why you're taking it.

For anxiety and sleep problems, it's usually only recommended for up to 4 weeks. Your dose may be reduced gradually to prevent withdrawal symptoms.

Before an operation or procedure, you'll usually only need a maximum of 2 doses.

If you're having a seizure or fit, you'll only be given a lorazepam injection while you're in hospital.

If a doctor prescribes lorazepam for more than 4 weeks, they'll tell you how long to take it for.

If you forget to take it

If you forget to take your lorazepam:

  • for anxiety – if it's less than 3 hours since your missed dose, take it as soon as you remember. If more than 3 hours have passed, skip the missed dose and take your next dose at the usual time
  • for sleeping problems – leave out the missed dose if you have not taken it by bedtime, and take your usual dose the next night
  • before an operation or procedure (pre-med) – read any information the hospital has given you about your procedure, which may have advice about missed doses. If it does not, call the hospital to ask what to do next

Never take 2 doses to make up for a forgotten dose.

If you often forget doses, it may help to set an alarm to remind you. You could also ask a pharmacist for advice on other ways to remember to take your medicine.

If you take too much

If you take more than your prescribed dose of lorazepam you may get symptoms including:

  • poor co-ordination or trouble speaking
  • feeling sleepy
  • a slow or irregular heartbeat
  • uncontrolled eye movements
  • muscle weakness
  • feeling overexcited

The amount of lorazepam that can lead to an overdose varies from person to person.

Urgent advice: Contact 111 for advice now if:

  • you take more than your prescribed dose of lorazepam

Go to or call 111

If you need to go to A&E, do not drive yourself. Get someone else to drive you or call for an ambulance.

Take the lorazepam packet or leaflet inside it, plus any remaining medicine, with you.

Page last reviewed: 14 February 2023
Next review due: 14 February 2026