According to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), Ambien doesn’t have the highest abuse potential of the sleep medications available. However, Ambien use can still lead to dependence and addiction if abused.
Ambien is a non-benzodiazepine sedative-hypnotic prescription drug (also known as a z-drug) that’s used in the short-term treatment of sleep disorders like insomnia.
Ambien’s Potential For Abuse
When first introduced, Ambien (known under the generic name zolpidem) was marketed as being less addictive than similar drugs already on the market. But that turned out not to be entirely true.
Ambien is classified as a Schedule IV controlled substance by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), which means it has a lower abuse potential than drugs like Valium, Xanax, and other benzodiazepines.
But when the sleep aid is abused or taken in high doses, it can be habit-forming and lead to dependence and addiction just like the medications it was supposed to replace.
Signs Of Ambien Dependence & Addiction
If you suspect a loved one has become dependent on Ambien or is struggling with an addiction to the drug, there are some signs you can look out for, including:
- crushing the pills and snorting them
- taking Ambien hours before bedtime
- getting Ambien prescriptions from multiple doctors
- continuing to take Ambien despite consequences like sleepwalking or
- being unable to stop taking Ambien
- spending a lot of time and money to find and use the drug
- hiding drug use
- taking the drug longer than recommended
- skipping responsibilities to use Ambien
- intense craving for Ambien
- increasing the dose to achieve the desired effects
- going through withdrawal when not using Ambien
Side Effects Of Ambien Abuse
If you or a loved one are abusing or misusing Ambien, there are certain side effects that can occur, including:
- problems with coordination
- short-term memory loss
- slowed heartbeat
- slowed breathing
- nausea and vomiting
There are also long-term side effects that can come with Ambien abuse, especially if you abuse it for a long period of time, including physical dependence, withdrawal, overdose, and addiction.
If you’re abusing Ambien over weeks, months, or years, you increase your risk of building up a physical dependence. When this happens, your body no longer knows how to function without the drug in your system.
When you stop taking the drug or it exits your system before you take another dose, uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms can occur.
Ambien Withdrawal Symptoms
That brings us to the next long-term side effect of Ambien abuse: withdrawal symptoms.
If you build up a physical dependence on Ambien and then try to quit, withdrawal symptoms are likely to occur and may include:
- high blood pressure
- muscle aches
- panic attacks
Abusing Ambien, especially with other substances like opioids and alcohol, can lead to an increased risk of an overdose. An Ambien overdose can be difficult to detect because some of the side effects of the drug are similar to the signs and symptoms of an overdose.
Ambien overdose symptoms may include:
- slowed breathing
- slowed heartbeat
- intense drowsiness
- loss of consciousness
If you experience these symptoms or you notice someone else with them, call 911 immediately.
Ambien addiction is one of the biggest issues that can come with abusing the drug. It could start with a legitimate need for the drug and then maybe you feel you need to take more because it’s not working as it once did.
Whatever the reason, once you build up a dependence, it can be very difficult to stop Ambien use and that can ultimately lead to the addiction.
Professional addiction treatment can ease you into the recovery process.
Treatment For Ambien Dependence & Addiction
There are many forms of treatment for Ambien dependence and addiction. The first step is usually a detox program and then an inpatient or outpatient treatment program after that.
Medical detox is the type of treatment used to allow the drug to safely exit your system without too many withdrawal symptoms.
This may involve a taper-down schedule where you take a lower and lower dose of Ambien over time until you can quit with very few withdrawal symptoms.
After detox, you can move to inpatient treatment where you stay in a residential facility 24/7. While there, you receive therapy and medical care, go to support groups, and learn more about addiction.
If inpatient care doesn’t seem right for you, an outpatient treatment center is another option. You receive similar treatment options as inpatient care, but you’re able to go home after each session. You don’t stay at the facility overnight.
If you or a loved one is struggling with drug addiction or another form of substance use disorder, contact Northeast Addiction Treatment for information on our outpatient services.
What Is A Typical Dose Of Ambien?
A typical dose of Ambien depends on the form of the drug that’s taken. Ambien is available as a pill, an extended-release pill, sublingual tablets which you place underneath your tongue, and an oral spray.
Depending on the severity of your insomnia, the dosage of Ambien prescribed can fluctuate between 5 and 10 mg.
How Long Does Ambien Stay In Your System?
Ambien can stay in your system for about 13 hours after the last dose. Drug screening methods can detect Ambien for about 3 days after the last dose.
Learn more about How Long Ambien Stays In Your System
Is Ambien A Controlled Substance?
Yes, Ambien is classified as a Schedule IV controlled substance by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
Learn more about Ambien Drug Class & Schedule
Is Buying Ambien Online Safe?
No, buying Ambien online can be unsafe if you do not buy from a licensed provider. Unregulated forms of Ambien can include potent and even fatal ingredients.
Learn more about Buying Ambien Online
Is Ambien A Benzodiazepine Drug?
No, Ambien is a sedative-hypnotic medication used to help treat insomnia and is not a benzodiazepine.
To learn more, read Is Ambien A Benzodiazepine?
Is Ambien Considered A Narcotic Drug?
No. The term narcotic is generally used to describe opioid painkillers, usually in an illicit context.
Zolpidem (Ambien), on the other hand, belongs to a class of prescription drugs known as non-benzodiazepines or z-drugs.
To learn more, read Is Ambien A Narcotic?
Can You Get High On Ambien?
Zolpidem tartrate (brand name Ambien) is a sedative-hypnotic drug that can be habit-forming, causing a high or a rush of euphoria when abused. Ambien can be taken in large doses or snorted to intensify the effects of sedation.
Learn more about an Ambien High
Can You Snort Ambien?
Yes, Ambien is available as a tablet that can be crushed into a powder and snorted. However, snorting Ambien enhances side effects like drowsiness, dizziness, and sedation, and can also increase the risk of overdose.
Does Long-Term Ambien Use Cause Dementia?
Long-term use of Ambien has been linked to forms of reversible dementia. Studies have suggested that Ambien’s effects on the GABA neurotransmitter can cause long-term cognitive decline, especially in patients with preexisting health conditions.
Learn more about Ambien & The Risk Of Dementia
Can You Take Ambien While Pregnant?
Taking Ambien during pregnancy is not recommended because it may increase the risk of birth defects and low birth weight.
Learn more about Ambien Use During Pregnancy
How Do You Safely Taper Off Ambien?
Ambien tapering should be attempted with medical supervision.
Your healthcare provider will likely develop a plan that gradually reduces your dosage to minimize withdrawal symptoms and give your body time to adapt to the drug’s absence.
This plan should be adjusted and refined regularly to balance your progress with your overall health and comfort.
Learn more about Tapering Off Ambien
How Much Does Ambien Cost On The Street?
The average street cost of Ambien is between $2 to $10 per pill. The exact price depends on the dosage. Standard Ambien comes in 5 mg and 10 mg dosages, while extended-release Ambien comes in 6.5 mg and 12.5 mg dosages. In general, the higher the dosage, the higher the price.
Another factor that impacts Ambien’s street price is location. Typically, the closer you live to a big city, the cheaper Ambien will be. That’s because big cities tend to have higher supplies of Ambien and other drugs, which leads to lower prices.
Learn more about Ambien Street Prices
Northeast Addition Editorial Team
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This page does not provide medical advice.