HeadMeds gives young people in the United Kingdom general information about medication. HeadMeds does not give you medical advice. Please talk to your Doctor or anyone else who is supporting you about your own situation because everyone is different. Please read more important details about our site.

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Return to Lorazepam overview
  1. Use and Action
  2. Warnings and side effects
  3. Sex, drink, weight and everything else
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Taking Venlafaxine
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Lorazepam can be used to treat the following conditions

Headmeds fills the medicines information gaps for young people - things you might want to know about meds like will it affect my sex life? Can I still study?  Can I drink?
Headmeds does not give medical advice so this is just general information.
Each medicine has a balance of good and bad effects, and each person gets their own individual effects.
You might want to know just one thing about your medicine, but on each page we have given you the ‘safety headlines’. Please read them as they are important.
We have included lots of information about each medicine - but if you want all the details, please look at the patient information leaflet - which is inside every pack. These leaflets are also at www.medicines.org.uk - where there will be the most up-to-date information.

Safety headlines

  • If you have taken more lorazepam than it said on the label, you must see a doctor quickly – even if you do not feel any different.
  • Whilst taking lorazepam some people may think about hurting themselves or committing suicide. You must go straight to hospital with your tablets if you have any of these thoughts.
  • Lorazepam can cause serious side-effects: allergic reactions (difficulty breathing, swelling of your face or throat, itching skin lumps), and other serious symptoms that you can find here. Go to a hospital if you get any of these symptoms, with your medicine.
  • Stopping lorazepam suddenly can cause serious side-effects – go to your doctor if you want to stop, or if you are having these effects.
  • You might feel sleepy or dizzy in the first few days after taking lorazepam– do not drive a car, ride a bike or operate machines until you see how this affects you.
  • If you take lorazepam while you are pregnant, it may affect the developing baby. Use good contraception while you are taking lorazepam. It can also cause symptoms in newborn babies if you take it at the end of pregnancy. Talk to your doctor or midwife about this and get their help.

Basic details

Lorazepam is a benzodiazepine medicine

A benzodiazepine medicine helps to calm people if they are anxious or finding it difficult to sleep. It can also be called an anxiolytic medicine. Anxiolytic is a word used to refer to any medicine that treats anxiety.

Lorazepam can be used to help a range of conditions that involve anxiety.

Lorazepam works by binding to a receptor in the brain for a chemical messenger called GABA

  • Gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) is one of many chemical messengers in your brain, and overall it has a ‘calming effect’.
  • GABA usually binds to a receptor called GABA-A, found on nerve cells in the brain.
  • When this happens, this inhibits the nerve cell from sending messages to other nerve cells.
  • Lorazepam, like other benzodiazepines, also binds to the GABA-A receptor, but in a different position to GABA itself.
  • When lorazepam binds to the GABA-A receptor, this makes it easier for GABA to do its job.
  • The result of this is to increase the calming effect of GABA, which helps to relieve anxiety.

You can take lorazepam as a tablet or it can be given by injection

The tablets contain lactose, and the injection contains a very small amount of benzyl alcohol. The oral liquid contains a small amount of alcohol

  • The tablets may not be suitable for you if you have problems eating some sugars or dairy (milk-based) foods.
  • The yellow 2.5mg tablets also contain tartrazine (E102), a food additive that can cause allergic reactions.
  • The lorazepam oral solution contains a small amount of alcohol but not enough to alter blood alcohol levels
  • The injection contains a very small amount of an alcohol; this is benzyl alcohol and it does not affect your blood alcohol levels. 

Lorazepam is a controlled drug

  • A prescription for lorazepam has to be dispensed within 28 days (you can keep most other prescriptions for 6 months)
  • This is all because lorazepam is misused and some people might try to get it without a prescription.
  • If you have to take it to school, it might have to be locked in a safe place.
  • Give yourself plenty of time to get the prescription from the doctor and to the pharmacy – controlled drug prescriptions may take more time to check.

Reference sources

Search www.medicines.org.uk to find patient information leaflets and prescribing information on lorazepam. Tablets, liquid and injection are listed separately. The SmPC lists all the inactive ingredients in the product so you can check against any allergies. If you are still unsure about this then speak to your pharmacist.

  • British National Formulary (BNF) and British National Formulary for children. Download the BNF/BNFC app (blue background) on to your mobile device. No longer available for public access via the web 
  • Taylor D, Barnes T, Young A. Maudsley Prescribing Guidelines in Psychiatry, 13th edition. Oxford: John Wiley & Sons, May 2018. ISBN: 978-1-119-44260-8
  • Royal Pharmaceutical Society. Medicines Ethics and Practice (42nd edition). London: RPS, 2018. Standards for pharmacists to work to. It is not a free publication
  • World Anti Doping Agency WADA Prohibited List https://www.wada-ama.org/en/resources/science-medicine/prohibited-list-documents 
  • Choiceandmedication; an independent source of information on many mental health conditions and their medicines with easy to read fact sheets www.choiceandmedication.org Personal subscriptions to download the app available for £1 per month (with proportionate discounts for longer periods) but your local mental health Trust may subscribe and provide information sheets for free.
  • Best Use of Medicines in Pregnancy (BUMPS). Information sheets on drugs in pregnancy http://www.medicinesinpregnancy.org/ 
  • Drugs and Lactation Database (LactMed). Information on drugs in breastfeeding https://toxnet.nlm.nih.gov/newtoxnet/lactmed.htm