This question has also been asked and answered here: Ativan vs Xanax - What is the difference?
Xanax (Alprazolam) is distinctive due to its' rapid onset of action and its' short duration of action. Xanax (Alprazolam) is rapidly absorbed in the gut following administration. Peak levels in the blood are reached within 1—2 hours of taking the medication. The onset of action usually occurs within 15—30 minutes. The half life of the medication is usually put around 15 hours. A very important point to realize about Xanax (Alprazolam) is that it has active metabolites. This means that over time, the drug can accumulate in the body with continuous dosing. For this reason, it is usually not recommended in the elderly or in those that may have trouble metabolizing the medication. Xanax is typically dosed 2-4 times a day.
Ativan (Lorazepam), like Xanax (Alprazolam), has a rapid onset of action with effects occuring within 15-30 minutes after administration. The duration of action in most patients does last a little longer when compared to Xanax (Alprazolam). The half life of the medication is typically around around 18 hours. The main benefit for using Ativan (Lorzepam) over Xanax (Alprazolam) is the fact the Ativan does not have any active metabolites and is not mainly metabolized through the liver. The drug is therefore a better choice in the elderly and in those with some sort of liver dysfunction.
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