The Effects of Ambien Use

  1. Table of ContentsPrint
  2. About Ambien
  3. Ambien Short-Term Effects
  4. Side Effects
  5. Long-Term Effects of Ambien
  6. Ambien Dependence
  7. Ambien Withdrawal Treatment

With similar actions to the benzodiazepines, Ambien—trade name for zolpidem—is frequently utilized as a short-term sleep aid; taking Ambien in doses and durations in excess of those prescribed can result in dependency and numerous ill effects.

About Ambien

Ambien is the brand name for zolpidem tartrate, a sedative-hypnotic. When you take Ambien correctly, it can make you feel relaxed, comfortable and sleepy. The United States Drug Enforcement Agency classifies the prescription drug Ambien as a Schedule IV drug; this means that you cannot possess or use the drug without a prescription from a doctor.

The reason that the Drug Enforcement Agency regulates this drug is because it's potentially dangerous. Misuse of Ambien can cause dependence and other side effects.

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Ambien Short-Term Effects


Those with severe insomnia are the only ones who should take Ambien, and those patients must visit a doctor to obtain a prescription. Doctors typically discontinue the medication after 30 days if the patient does not see a reduction in symptoms.

The abuse of Ambien can result in tolerance to its effects. When this occurs, and rebound insomnia intensifies, people frequently resort to increasing the prescribed dose of medication – a practice that can result in some serious repercussions.

Ambien: Sweet Dreams or Total Nightmare?

Depending on the time of night, and dose of Ambien that is being taken, residual effects of the drug may persist through the next day. Some users claim that these effects resemble a hangover from a night of heavy drinking. One can suffer from the following for several hours after waking the next morning:

  • Headaches.
  • Memory loss.
  • Persistent drowsiness.
  • Gastrointestinal disturbances such as nausea.

Additionally, there are numerous reports of somnambulism (sleepwalking) and a bizarre phenomenon known as night eating syndrome—or sleep eating—that may occur, especially in the context of multiple doses. If you’re suffering from any of these short-term effects because of an addiction to Ambien and want information about available treatment help, call 1-888-744-0069Who Answers? to speak with a confidential treatment support specialist.

Dangerous Cocktails: Combining Ambien with Other Drugs

Mixing Ambien with other substances like alcohol, opioids, or benzodiazepines is very dangerous.

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration reports:

  • Almost 20,000 overdoses involving zolpidem occurred in 2010.
  • 60% of the overdoses were due from combining zolpidem with other substances.

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Side Effects

Doctors refer to a specific disorder associated with the medication as paradoxical excitation, which refers to the way in which some patients exhibit unusual behavior while using the drug; some patients drive a car, eat or walk. The patient is not aware of his or her movements, and the patient does not know what happened unless someone else notices the behavior.

According to the U.S. National Library of Medicine, other side effects of Ambien include:

  • Drowsiness.
  • Headache.
  • Light headed feelings.
  • Trouble walking.
  • Problems with balance.
  • Diarrhea.
  • Heartburn.

  • Stomach cramps.
  • Weak feelings.
  • Appetite changes.
  • Tremors.
  • Redness of the eyes.
  • Joint pain.
  • Muscle pain.

When to Consult a Doctor

The following signs and symptoms can indicate an allergic reaction or another condition that requires medical attention:

  • Skin rash.
  • Hives.
  • Trouble breathing.
  • Chest pain.

Ambien Effects Quiz question 2

Ambien Effects Quiz question 3

Long-Term Effects of Ambien

One of the more serious effects of taking Ambien is developing a tolerance to the medication. When you change your dosage without speaking to a doctor or if you use Ambien for more than 30 days, you can develop a higher tolerance to the drug. If you have an increased tolerance to Ambien, you will notice that you need to frequently increase the size of your dosage if you want to feel the same effects that you did when you first took the drug.

Ambien Effects Quiz question 4

Another long-term effect of Ambien is insomnia. Consequently, many sufferers increase the size of their doses as they become tolerant to the medication, leading to overdose.

An overdose may present as extreme drowsiness or loss of consciousness.

Ambien Effects Quiz question 5

Ambien Dependence

Ambien dependence occurs most often in those with a high tolerance to the drug, but it can also affect those who take the medication regularly. With continued use, you can develop a dependence on the drug so that you don't feel like you can function without it.

Once dependence takes hold, it can be extremely difficult to stop using without help. To help an Ambien addict, call our helpline at 1-888-744-0069Who Answers? for more information.

Ambien Effects Quiz question 6

Ambien Withdrawal Treatment

Those who use the medication for a longer period can suffer from withdrawal symptoms after discontinuing the medication. These withdrawal symptoms can be quite dangerous and can include:

  • Sweating.
  • Fatigue.
  • Intractable insomnia.
  • Irritability.

  • Stomach cramps.
  • Panic attacks.
  • Delirium.
  • Seizure.

A professional Ambien rehab center can help you recover from your addiction. Additionally, these treatment centers can provide medically supervised detox to monitor a precarious period of withdrawal from the medication. Supervised detox can belp lessen the detox effects, make you feel as comfortable as possible, and, most importantly, monitor you for any of the potentially life-threatening symptoms of Ambien withdrawal.

If you experience any of the troubling side effects of short- or long-term Ambien use or you think you are dependent on the drug, call  1-888-744-0069Who Answers?.