FRENY MENEZES
By Freny Menezes

Pharm. D

26 September 2022
Medically reviewed by
Kajal Jain
M. Pharm
ambien-withdrawal
Table of Contents

Sleep is a natural substance that occurs in the state of body and mind; every individual needs at least 7 hours of peaceful sleep daily. When it is affected, it will cause severe issues to the body and side effects. Thus, most of us already suffer from insomnia and lack of sleep. 

When a person is affected, they may develop symptoms like lack of sleep, waking up during the night, waking up too early in the morning, irritability, and staying awake throughout the night. 

If these symptoms worsen daily,n you should consult your doctor immediately and get treatment. 
One of the most effective drugs for insomnia is zolpidem(ambien). It is widely used by many people and helps in treating sleeping issues. 

Let us discuss and understand this in detail.

What Is Ambien?

Ambien (zolpidem tartrate) is a psychoactive prescription drug widely used to combat sleeplessness (insomnia) and other sleep disorders affecting millions of adults yearly. This drug is designed to create a hypnotic-like state that allows those dealing with insomnia to fall asleep easier.

Its extended-release formulation releases the medication slowly, which helps patients to fall asleep and have a better sleep through the night. 

Though majorly it is used as a sleep aid, some use Ambien recreationally, crushing and snorting it to experience the feeling of euphoria. This sedative is quite addictive; one can become addicted to it in as little as a couple of weeks.

When abused, Ambien can cause

  • Dependence
  • Addiction
  • Withdrawal symptoms
  • Overdose

Z-drug Ambien was created as a less addictive and safer alternative to benzodiazepines, but doctors rarely prescribe it for more than ten days at a time, and it is viewed as a short-term solution. Although Ambien was designed to be less addictive, it produces hypnosis, making it a risky drug and causing drug dependence.

How Does Ambien Work?

Ambien is a central nervous system depressant. It can slow down brain activity. Most central nervous system depressants affect the brain; on the other hand, they enhance the activity of gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA), a natural chemical in the brain which passes messages between cells.

GABA works by slowing down brain activity. Ambien belongs to a group of Non- benzodiazepines, a sedative drug effect; it will relax your brain and produce a calming effect that makes you feel drowsy and fall asleep quickly.  

What Is Ambien Withdrawal?

Medical professionals consider Ambien less habit-forming than other sedatives, such as benzodiazepines. Some people take this as a sign of Ambien being non-addictive. This may lead to drug abuse, misuse, and potential addiction. A person who takes Ambien as prescribed can develop tolerance to this drug in a shorter time of two weeks. 

Dependence on Ambien occurs when the body has become so used to Ambien's presence that it can no longer function "normally" without it. If the user discontinues taking Ambien or reduces their dose without any medical supervision, their body may react adversely, and withdrawal symptoms may appear. This can turn potentially dangerous, as Ambien withdrawal symptoms can be very severe and even fatal. 

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Ambien Withdrawal Symptoms

Ambien withdrawal symptoms can vary from mild to severe and depends on factors such as:

  • How long have you used Ambien
  • The dosage you're taking
  • The forms you've taken (i.e., swallowed as a pill vs. snorting or injection)

The signs and symptoms of withdrawal may occur when the user suddenly stops taking Ambien or if its dose is rapidly decreased. Ambien withdrawal symptoms may include:

  •   Insomnia
  •   Anxiety
  •   Nausea or vomiting
  •   Hand tremor
  •   Rapid heart rate and breathing
  •   Sweating
  •   Stomach cramps
  •   Fatigue
  •   Delirium
  •   Hallucinations
  •   Nervousness
  •   Flushing
  •   Panic attack
  •   Lightheadedness
  •   Uncontrolled crying
  •   Seizures in rare cases

Ambien Withdrawal Timeline

Rebound insomnia is when people find extreme difficulty falling or maintaining sleep. Most people will experience rebound insomnia after discontinuing sleeping pills like Ambien. At the same time, some may notice that their insomnia gets significantly worse than before taking sleeping pills. 


Typically, the range of Ambien withdrawal symptoms varies from person to person depending on factors like:

  • Type of formulation of Ambien
  • Dosage of Ambien
  • How long has one been using the drug
  • Were other drugs involved
  • Genetics

While some people experience mild withdrawal symptoms 6-8 hours after the last dose, most people start to fully experience symptoms two days after taking the last dose, which can persist for 1-2 weeks. 

Generally, after 4-5 days, the symptoms begin to improve. It should be noted that polysubstance abuse may enhance the severity and duration of the withdrawal symptoms, especially alcohol, so the recovery time might exceed the. 

People taking ambien will cause adverse effects of nausea, headache, and dizziness. But the clinical rate of memory loss is infrequent; some people experience memory impairment due to more extended usage.
You should take the Ambien recommended dosage for treating insomnia; if you take a lesser dosage, it will be less effective and worsen your condition. So always don't overdose or underdose the drug.
Taking Ambien soon after the food will delay the sleep pattern; for better results, Don't use a drug before or after the food is eaten.

Managing Withdrawal Symptoms of Ambien

Treatment of Ambien withdrawal symptoms requires a detailed plan of action to prevent severe withdrawal effects and to ensure safety. Safety supervision and monitoring are essential in every case. 

This treatment includes tapering off the drug, i.e., a gradual decrease in the dosage of Ambien, using other medications to ease tapering, or serving as a temporary and less harmful substitute. The reason is that abruptly quitting Ambien without consultation with medical professionals can be dangerous or even deadly. Monitoring withdrawal effects and emotional and psychological support is vital to the safe and successful completion of the withdrawal.

Detoxing from the drug Ambien is best done under the medical supervision of substance abuse professionals, preferably in a detox or treatment center. This hit even psychologically as coming off Ambien can cause emotions like depression, resulting in suicidal thoughts. Because of this, a network of professional social support is necessary to monitor and regulate sleep.

Therapies, such as individual or group counseling, self-help groups, inpatient and outpatient rehabilitation, and Education Education ease the fear and anxiety most have about withdrawing from Ambien. They help facilitate coping strategies, an understanding of the process, and a collaborative effort with caregivers.

How to Detox From Ambien Withdrawal?

Detoxification is the initial step toward getting rid of Ambien abuse, ad abuse, and withdrawal. A medical setting like a detox or treatment center is the best place for someone to detox. Going through detox can be challenging and dangerous, so it is helpful to have medical professionals monitor the person and treat withdrawal symptoms.

Ambien detox treatment might not suit all individuals as this process is not easy. Some might experience post-acute withdrawal symptoms, which can last on and off for months or even years. Various programs, like PCTD, are designed to ensure the Safety of Safety through medical surveillance and the detox process and help to ease the symptoms people go through. 

He is also recommended to continue treatment after the initial detox and withdrawal period to reduce the potential for relapse months later.

Continued detox treatment options may include:

  1. One-on-one counseling sessions
  2. Relapse prevention tools
  3. Implementation of daily meditation
  4. Coping strategies for dealing with Anxiety, triggers, and depression
  5. Mindfulness practices
  6. Group therapy with people who are going through the same process

Side Effects Of Ambien 

  Some of the severe side impacts of the drug are,

  • headache
  • drowsiness
  • dizziness
  • Nausea
  • constipation 
  • diarrhea
  • heartburn 
  • gas 
  • muscle pain 
  • menstrual bleeding
  • rashes
  • vomiting 

Usually, some side effects will go on their own, but some need medical attention. If you find any unusual while consuming the drug, inform your doctor immediately and seek help.

Precautions To Be Taken 

Each drug has its protection, which will help you avoid unwanted side effects. So before starting any new drug, you should go through the Safety measures and know about the warnings of the particular drug. 

Precaution of Ambien

Inform your doctor if you are allergic to any medication you are currently using 
Inform your doctor what the medications, like prescription or non-prescription drugs, w, are using vitamin and nutritional supplements and herbal products.

Please do not take more than one sleeping pill daily because it will make you drowsy.
Inform your doctor if you are pregnant or planning to get pregnant because it may affect your unborn baby
avoid alcohol while taking this drug. Older adults should take lower dosages of the drug because it increases symptoms of drowsiness and dizziness.

It may lead to changes in your behavior, like agitation, hallucination, and some mental confusion.
Do not stop the drug without a doctor's consultation. It will develop withdrawal symptoms and lead to severe side effects.

Drug Interactions Of Ambien

While interacting with a drug, it will change the particular drug effects and delay the drug's development, which enhances delayed absorption to your body. This can lead to the potential side effects of the drug. Before interacting, get a consultation from your doctor. 

Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors

Ambien can interact with the SSRIs group of drugs but will increase the risk of Ambien causing side effects.

Benzodiazepines

While interacting with Ambien. You may have a higher risk of side effects from both drugs; taking Ambien and benzodiazepine can increase the CNS side effects and show some symptoms.

Interacting with herbs and supplements

Before interacting with certain herbs and supplements, inform your doctor to avoid side effects.

Bottom Line From Practical Anxiety Solutions

Sleep disorder is widely spread all over individuals due to lifestyle changes or certain health conditions. As for treating insomnia conditions, a variety of sleeping pills are available.

If you are taking a therapeutic dose of Ambien regularly, it is uncertain that you will experience any withdrawal symptoms. However, you might face difficulty sleeping without it.

To practice your body falling asleep without any sleep aid, you may choose to taper your dose for one to two weeks.
Under the medical guidance of your healthcare practitioner, you can use a pill cutter to chop your pill into halves or quarters, which you can get at any pharmacy. Always consult your doctor before making changes to your medications.

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