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Zolpidem, otherwise known by its brand name Ambien, is a type of sleeping pill that can put people into Ambien withdrawal if they grow addicted to the substance and decide to suddenly quit. Symptoms can include chronic depression, intense panic attacks, seizures, increased heart rate, and other life-threatening health risks, especially if left untreated.

While Ambien is said to be less habit-forming than other sedatives due to not having benzodiazepines, Ambien (zolpidem) still acts as an addictive substance and can be abused even without the user realizing it. Because Ambien is regarded as a sleeping aid, many people do not take Ambien addiction or zolpidem withdrawal seriously. But the reality is that people who are addicted to the drug will tend to discover this by going through severe withdrawal.

Quitting Ambien Can Be Difficult

In 2015, approximately 425,000 people aged 12 or older misused sedatives for the first time within the past year, which includes the misuse of Ambien and zolpidem products. About 20,793 people were sent to the emergency room due to zolpidem-related emergencies, as recorded by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.

Because of the nature of the drug, many people find quitting Ambien or zolpidem incredibly difficult, especially if they’re engaging in dangerous substance combination behaviors (e.g. mixing Ambien with alcohol). Having to overcome rebound insomnia and other symptoms triggers relapses for many people who didn’t realize how high of a tolerance they built with Ambien.

Danger in Building Fast Tolerance with Ambien

While some people may think there isn’t much harm in relying on a pill to go to sleep better, the opposite is true. Ambien is not a glass of warm milk before bed; it is not a harmless sleeping pill that you can buy over the counter at your local pharmacy. Ambien is a prescription sedative-hypnotic that does have side effects if used long-term and at high dosages.

One of the major Ambien side effects includes memory loss or short-term amnesia. Though it is stated clearly on Ambien prescription labels, many people are unaware that zolpidem substances can cause people to “wake up” during their sleep and perform actions they will not recall the next morning. These actions include sleepwalking, sleep-talking, sleep-driving, having sex, and other abnormal behavior performed while the user is asleep. Depending on the dosage, users may even begin to affect their memory of actions committed during the day while off the substance, which is a sign that brain damage is beginning to occur to the user.


Heroin Signs

Withdrawal symptoms of Ambien or zolpidem vary by person, based on how long he has been using the sleeping pill or how high his dosages have grown to. However, there are some early withdrawal symptoms that indicate an Ambien addiction, no matter how strong.

Some early symptoms are:

  • Insomnia
  • Anxiety
  • Dizziness
  • Headaches
  • Nausea

Long-term Ambien Usage Raises Tolerance Levels

It is generally recommended by physicians to take Ambien sleeping pills no longer than two to three weeks to avoid developing a physical dependence on the drug. Though Ambien is said to be less habit-forming than sleeping aids with benzodiazepines, the effect of zolpidem within a person’s body loses its strength after a couple of weeks, around the time when tolerance levels begin to rise. Higher tolerances require higher dosages to achieve the same effect and in a matter of time, a person can find themselves building both a physical and psychological dependence on Ambien in order to sleep well at night.

The danger with building a high tolerance or physical dependence on Ambien is that it can turn into an Ambien addiction and long-lasting side effects will begin to occur. People who misuse Ambien long-term are more prone to memory loss, seizures, shaky motor functions, and abnormal sleeping behavior—all of which is a sign that a person’s health is at risk. Users who develop an Ambien addiction are also setting themselves up for severe withdrawal whenever the drug begins to leave their system a few hours after use.

Complete Ambien (Zolpidem) Withdrawal Symptoms

Zolpidem withdrawal can sprout several side effects, depending on the user. Should any zolpidem withdrawal symptoms begin to worsen to an intense degree, it may be necessary to seek drug treatment as soon as possible or dial 911 for immediate medical attention.

  • Anxiety
  • Headaches
  • Dizziness
  • Nervousness
  • Stomach cramps
  • Dry mouth
  • Night sweats
  • Agitation and irritability
  • Depression
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Nightmares
  • Back pain
  • High blood pressure
  • Panic attacks
  • Fever
  • Uncontrollable crying
  • Chest pains
  • Rebound insomnia
  • Seizures
  • Shakiness
  • Convulsions
  • Hallucinations
  • Suicidal thoughts
  • Death

Heroin Timeline

Ambien (zolpidem) is known to have a short half-life, which is the amount of time a drug takes to leave the body. Some users have experienced early symptoms within four hours after their last zolpidem dosage. Those with milder addictions may feel certain Ambien withdrawal side effects later on in the day, but will be prone to irritability.

The effects of Ambien withdrawal will begin to set in within the first 24 to 48 hours after the last dose. During the first night, users will experience an intense “rebound insomnia,” as in the insomnia they intended to cure with Ambien will come back even stronger now that they’re off the drug. Other symptoms may include memory loss, confusion and delirium, and increased irritability that develops into mood swings.

Most users will experience the full effects of Ambien withdrawal within the first week, when withdrawal symptoms peak, but some users may not peak until the second week or later. Harsher symptoms may be felt at this time, such as panic attacks, seizures, nausea and vomiting, hallucinations and nightmares, and other physical and mental ailments. Rebound insomnia may still not subside until after this point, which may trigger bouts of uncontrollable crying, chronic depression, and high stress levels.

While many users do not need more than a few weeks to go through Ambien withdrawal, people with severe zolpidem addictions may experience withdrawal symptoms a few months to even a year or more later. This may be due to a psychological dependence that needs to be addressed in drug treatment, where users will have to gradually taper off Ambien and adjust their sleep cycles to function without the drug. Professional psychiatric help is required in these cases.


Heroin Treatment

Drug Treatment Center Finder highly advises people with Ambien addictions to seek drug treatment in order to safely go through zolpidem withdrawal.

By enrolling into a drug rehab, Ambien users can safely taper off the drug while being monitored by a trained medical staff. The process varies by individual and also by drug rehab, but generally involves a controlled weaning off the drug by reducing the dosage over the treatment duration period until users can sleep without the drug. This process should not be done alone, but with the guidance of licensed doctors and clinical staff.

Self-Detox and Treatment Can Prove Deadly

From increased heart rates to alarming levels (risking cardiac arrest) to delirium and mental instability (which can lead a user to engage in dangerous behavior), people going through withdrawal by themselves gamble with their lives. There is no need to endanger yourself (or others) as there is always help. Find a drug rehab near you and allow people who care about you to guide you toward recovery in a safe environment and at your own pace.


Heroin FAQ

Withdrawing from Ambien does not cause brain damage. Ambien addiction; however, does. Ambien, or zolpidem, may have various side effects on a person that may cause both short-term and long-term memory loss, depression, anxiety, hallucinations, sluggishness, and shakiness, among other symptoms of abuse. People who continuously increase their dosage for Ambien may also run the risk of overdosing, which can cause brain damage and turn fatal.

Yes. It is most likely that Ambien withdrawal will cause insomnia. Some people may feel the insomnia has returned worse or stronger than before, which is a common side-effect referred to as “rebound insomnia.” This can trigger drug relapse, which is why users are advised to enroll in a drug treatment program to help them overcome this difficult stage in the process.

Headaches as a result of Ambien withdrawal may be due to increases in blood pressure, anxiety, and stress, but you will need to consult your personal physician or a doctor in your drug treatment center for a proper diagnosis.

People who are in withdrawal from a drug may have trouble falling or staying asleep as they recover. It is recommended that people who are finding it difficult to sleep see a doctor who can address their condition and suggest a suitable treatment.

Ambien addiction may cause increased weight gain by inducing irregular eating habits, so when a user stops taking Ambien, they can lose weight, especially if they are enrolled at a drug rehab center, where a nutritional diet and schedule is implemented into their daily activities. Weight loss from Ambien withdrawal may also be a side effect of increased anxiety, stress, or depression. Users may also experience other weight fluctuations during withdrawal, such as weight gain or bouncing back and forth between gaining and losing weight. Consult your personal physician or discuss this with the drug treatment center’s medical staff if your weight loss/gain begins to pose a significant health problem.

Ambien and other zolpidem products act on the GABA-A receptors in the brain (as does benzodiazepines), which if suddenly discontinued, will trigger seizures. This is a potential side effect for people who consume high doses of zolpidem, so it is advised that users seek drug treatment to help them gradually taper off the drug. Do not stop using Ambien cold turkey-style or attempt to reduce your dosage yourself as you can trigger severe withdrawal symptoms that will need medical attention. If you start noticing severe withdrawal symptoms of Ambien, please consult a doctor immediately or call 911.

Though rare, there are cases where people begin to have suicidal thoughts as a result of Ambien addiction and withdrawal, whether or not the person was prone to suicidal thoughts before taking the substance or developing a zolpidem addiction. Zolpidem, or Ambien, act on GABA-A receptors in the brain, which affects the relationship between sleep and neurological functions. Should a person take a high dosage, they might cause a neurological imbalance that may trigger suicidal thoughts, depression, anxiety, and other negative mental responses. This goes the same when withdrawing from Ambien. For people who used Ambien for a euphoric effect, going into withdrawal will cause neurological reactions to set off mental side effects, such as panic attacks, chronic depression, and suicidal thoughts.

The half-life for zolpidem can be very quick, with some users feeling symptoms as early as 4 to 8 hours after quitting the substance. People who use Ambien CR (controlled release) may feel the effects of Ambien withdrawal symptoms later because the drug stays in the body longer. Depending on the person, it can take two weeks or more for Ambien to completely leave a person’s body system. This does not factor in psychological addictions to Ambien, so clients are still encouraged to fulfill their drug rehab programs to effectively enter recovery after treatment.

How long withdrawal lasts for a person depends on the conditions of their zolpidem addiction. Some people can gradually taper off Ambien or zolpidem in as little as 14 to 18 days while other people need longer, extensive treatment plans that last a few months to a year or more.

Depending on the severity of the zolpidem or Ambien addiction, rebound insomnia can last from a few days to a few weeks, or even months in particularly strong cases. Typically, the intensity of rebound insomnia begins to wane off after two weeks from the last dosage, but users may still struggle with falling and/or staying asleep because of a psychological addiction to Ambien. For those who think it will be impossible to sleep normally again, psychiatric therapy may be necessary as part of their drug treatment program to address the cognitive issues associated with their sleeping patterns.

The best way to wean off Ambien safely is to enroll in an inpatient or outpatient drug treatment program. With medical supervision, clients can gradually taper off Ambien or zolpidem by reducing the dosage intake. This process varies by individual, based on how he has been using the drug, how high their tolerance to Ambien or zolpidem is, and how severe his withdrawal symptoms are. People who try to wean off Ambien without medical supervision risk triggering dangerous symptoms and may suffer severe medical consequences, so it is advised that people with Ambien or zolpidem addictions seek professional drug treatment.

To safely detox from Ambien, you must go to a drug rehab and enroll in either an inpatient or outpatient program. There, a trained medical staff will keep tabs on the severity of your symptoms and gradually reduce your medication dosage accordingly. Should you experience intense rebound insomnia, nausea and/or vomiting, body aches, or other concerning withdrawal symptoms, clinical staff members will aid you back to stable health.

The duration of withdrawal and detox varies by person, based on how long they’ve been using Ambien or zolpidem. In drug treatment programs, doctors will structure the detox process around how high the client’s tolerance levels are and how severe their withdrawal symptoms appear. Certain clients may need longer detoxes than others. Some Ambien addicts can detox in a few days while others need a few weeks or a few months.



At a drug rehab center, you can start your recovery with a healthy support group of trained clinical staff, other like-minded recovering addicts, and addiction counselors that only want you to succeed.


Addiction treatment programs will vary by individual and substance, depending on the severity of his addiction and whether other treatment methods need to be included, such as dual-diagnosis or holistic therapies.


Some medications that may be expected are: diazepam, an Ambien replacement; buspirone, an anti-anxiety drug; paroxetine and trazodone, antidepressants; and carbamazepine and valproate, anti-seizure medications.


Going cold turkey will trigger withdrawal faster than if you were to enroll in an inpatient or outpatient drug rehab program for zolpidem addiction. Suddenly quitting Ambien may also cause intense, possibly life-threatening withdrawal symptoms that may require immediate medical attention, such as hallucinations, vomiting, and increased heart rate, among other withdrawal signs.



In 2010, 74 percent of emergency department visits involving zolpidem were patients 45 years or older


Females accounted for two thirds (68 percent) of zolpidem-related ED visits involving adverse reactions in 2010.


In 2010, slightly more than half (1,306,460) of ED visits involving adverse reactions to any drug were made by middle-aged adults.