SUMAYYA
20 August 2022
Medically reviewed by
Kajal Jain
M. Pharm
ambien-and-alcohol-is-it-safe-together
Table of Contents

Up to 70 million US citizens are affected by sleep disorders every year. Insomnia is a widespread problem in the United States. The symptoms affect approximately 33% to 50% of the adult population, with chronic insomnia disorder associated with distress or impairment affecting 10% to 15% of the population. To treat these problems, doctors recommend the use of medications like Ambien. 

However, some people combine Alcohol with Ambien, which is dangerous and can have detrimental consequences on one's health and lead to addiction. Sadly, those who are anxious for sound sleep may go to tremendous extremes to achieve it, even if doing so endangers their health.

Mixing any sleep medications with Alcohol is always wrong. Doctors never recommend the use of Ambien and Alcohol together. Let us look into it in detail.

What is Ambien (Zolpidem)?

Ambien is a sedative-hypnotic, which is a type of medication used to help people with sleep disorders fall asleep and stay asleep throughout the night. It works by increasing gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) levels in the brain, which slows activity in the brain and central nervous system (CNS), allowing sleep to begin quickly.

Zolpidem, also known as Ambien, is available in various dosage forms. Both tablets (Ambien) and extended-release (long-acting) tablets (Ambien CR) are taken orally. Zolpidem is also an under-the-tongue tablet (Edluar, Intermezzo) and an oral spray (Zolpimist).

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What is Ambien Used For?

Ambien is a sleeping tablet that is used to treat insomnia in adults. Zolpidem belongs to the sedative-hypnotics drug class. If you are having trouble sleeping, it will help you get a night of better sleep. It works directly into your brain, which will give you a calming effect.

Dangers Of Mixing Ambien And Alcohol Together

Ambien and Alcohol are both in the depressive class of drugs. Their primary effects are sedative, lower heart rate, and drowsiness. It is common for people to use these two together to increase the effects of both drugs. Using these two together is highly unlikely as the combination of Ambien and Alcohol can result in dangerous physical and cognitive impairment and the risk of Ambien overdose. 

According to a Drug Abuse Warning Network (DAWN) report, approximately 57% of Emergency room (ER) visits and hospitalizations were caused by consuming too much. Ambien also involved other drugs in 2010. In combination with Alcohol, Ambien was responsible for 14% of those visits, or 2,851 people in total. The combination of Alcohol and Ambien increased the likelihood of the person needing to be transferred to an intensive care unit (ICU) due to an overdose.

Taking these two together can have many side effects. Let's have a look at them.

Side Effects Of Ambien And Alcohol

While adverse effects were evaluated in heavy drinkers, harmful interactions may occur when Ambien is combined with Alcohol during a single drinking episode. 

You will likely encounter the following symptoms while under the influence of Ambien plus Alcohol:

  • Sleepiness or drowsiness.
  • Disorientation.
  • Confusion.
  • Hallucinations.
  • Slowed or compromised breathing.
  • Impaired motor control.
  • Unusual behavior.
  • Memory problems.
  • Delirium.
  • Inability to concentrate.
  • Falling.
  • Loss of consciousness.
  • Slowed speech.
  • Overdose.
  • Enhanced withdrawal.

How To Treat Ambien And Alcohol Abuse?

When an individual is addicted to more than one substance, it is known as polydrug addiction. Altho, it is a common problem in America. It is hazardous to a person's life and can cause many health problems. 

It is also treatable, so if you or your loved one is addicted to Ambien and Alcohol, there can be ways to treat the addiction. You or your loved one must detox yourself from the harmful substance you have gotten by consuming Alcohol and Ambien together. But don't try to detox yourself, as it will not be that effective.

Get treatment from professionals as they can help better with the withdrawal symptoms. They offer treatment options, including inpatient rehabilitation, where you remain to undergo rigid individual and group treatment and therapy. Or outpatient rehabilitation, where you attend therapy and counseling sessions yet return home or to work every day.

The best treatment course varies between individuals and should be discussed with the doctor or healthcare providers. If you find yourself or someone you know in this situation, do not hesitate to take the necessary actions and contact addiction centers.

When Can You Take Ambien Safely After Drinking?

When you are an Alcohol drinker and want to take Ambien make sure that the Alcohol is out of your system before consuming any Alcoholic drink. It depends on your body and how fast it metabolizes the drug. Some people can break down half a glass every hour. Like if you drank 80 milliliters of Alcohol in a couple of hours, only 50 milliliters of Alcohol will be left in the system.

The time it takes to metabolize various alcoholic beverages is estimated in the table below.

Type of Alcoholic Drink

Time to Metabolise

shot of liquor

1 hour

pint of beer

2 hours

glass of wine

3 hours

a few drinks

several hours

 

Here is the proportion of Alcohol in each drink for your convenience. This will allow you to keep track of how many units you've ingested and determine when it's time to slow down.

  • Vodka: 40-95%
  • Gin: 36-50%
  • Rum: 36-50%
  • Whiskey: 36-50%
  • Tequila: 50-51%
  • Liqueurs: 15%
  • Fortified Wine: 16-24%
  • Unfortified Wine: 14-16%
  • Beer: 4-8%
  • Malt Beverage: 15%

Still, medical professionals never suggest mixing Ambien, its other name, Zolpidem, and Alcohol. This can lead to an overdose of the drug and can cause serious side effects.

Is Ambien Addictive On Its Own?

Ambien is used to treat insomnia. It is a federally controlled substance (C-IV). It has two forms: immediate release and extended release. Both can lead to Ambien addiction. This non-benzodiazepine "Z-Drug" was created to have the same medicinal uses as benzodiazepines like Xanax but without the same dangerous and habit-forming qualities. The makers of Ambien marketed this medication as a less addictive alternative to benzos for treating acute insomnia.

However, while it takes users longer to establish an addiction to Ambien than it does to Benzos, and withdrawal from Ambien is often less severe and deadly than withdrawal from Benzos, Ambien is still an addictive medication. It is now acknowledged that Ambien, like Benzos, has a high potential for misuse.

Addiction to Ambien is harmful to your life. Take necessary precautions if you or your loved one is addicted to Ambien. Contact an Addiction center to treat your addiction safely.

Safer Ways To Manage Sleep Problems

Various healthy and natural practices can treat sleeplessness. Many techniques are taught in addiction programs to get a night of better sleep.

Although these approaches and practices are not unique to addiction therapy, they are especially crucial for persons in recovery who want to avoid triggering medicines or addictive prescriptions. Here are some strategies for good sleep hygiene:

  • Maintain a consistent sleep routine. Maintain a consistent bedtime and waking time daily, even on weekends.
  • Continue to be active. Regular physical activity promotes a restful night's sleep. Exercise should be done at least a few hours before night, and stimulating activities should be avoided.
  • Examine your meds. If you use drugs regularly, consult your doctor to determine if they contribute to your sleeplessness. Check the labels of over-the-counter products to determine if they include caffeine or other stimulants like pseudoephedrine.
  • Large meals and Alcohol should be avoided before going to bed. A small snack is OK and may help prevent heartburn. Drink fewer fluids before sleep to reduce the frequency you must urinate.
  • Find methods to relax. Try to put your problems and plans aside when you go to bed. A warm bath or a massage before night will help you sleep better. Make a sleep routine that includes a hot bath, reading, gentle music, breathing exercises, yoga, or prayer.

Bottom Line Form Practical Anxiety  Solutions

Ambien and Alcohol are sedatives; using both can increase side effects and cause abuse and addiction. Long-term Ambien abuse combined with Alcohol can be dangerous and even lethal. It might be challenging to deal with addiction to drug-alcohol combinations like Ambien.

The initial stage of recovery is medical detox. Patients might experience withdrawal symptoms under the care and guidance of doctors and professionals during medically assisted detox. Medication can help patients with drug detox in the least painful, distressing, and uncomfortable way possible. Patients need to participate in inpatient or outpatient rehab after detox and withdrawal.

If you find yourself addicted to Ambien or any of your loved ones, contact an addiction center and get treatment as soon as possible. Your healthcare provider will suggest which type of treatment is best for you, inpatient or outpatient rehabilitation. You don't necessarily need medications to sleep. You can treat your sleeplessness in natural and healthy ways.

  • Neubauer, David N. "New and emerging pharmacotherapeutic approaches for insomnia." International Review of Psychiatry 26.2 (2014): 214-224. From  https://doi.org/10.3109/09540261.2014.888990 Obatain on 19/08/2022
  • Kurta, Denise L., Lanita B. Myers, and Edward P. Krenzelok. "Zolpidem (Ambien): a pediatric case series." Journal of Toxicology: Clinical Toxicology 35.5 (1997): 453-457. From https://doi.org/10.1385/FSMP:1:2:081 Obtain on 19/08/2022
  • Reidy, L., et al. "Zolpidem urine excretion profiles and cross-reactivity with ELISA® kits in subjects using zolpidem or ambien® CR as a prescription sleep aid." Journal of analytical toxicology 35.5 (2011): 294-301. From  https://doi.org/10.1093/jat/21.7.567 Obtain on 19/08/2022
  • Victorri-Vigneau, Caroline, et al. "An update on zolpidem abuse and dependence." Journal of addictive diseases 33.1 (2014): 15-23. From https://doi.org/10.1080/10550887.2014.882725  Obtain on 19/08/2022 
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