The National Survey on Drug Use and Health recognized that more than 741,000 individuals over the age of 12 suffered from Ambien (Zolpidem) addiction and abuse.

Are you wondering if you or your loved ones form any part of these statistics? 

Well, because Zolpidem (Ambien) has become the go-to drug for people suffering from Insomnia, Zolpidem abuse has traversed through society like a sharp sword. 

So, is the sleep aid Ambien addictive? Can Ambien cause hallucinations? Does Zolpidem possess the ability to trigger depression? How to wean off Ambien? 

If your mind is flooded with these queries, read ahead and widen your knowledge spectrum on Ambien abuse, Ambien dependence, and Ambien addiction

A black and white pic of a bunch of pills.

Ambien (Zolpidem) addiction is a type of Sleeping Aid Addiction like Xanax Addiction or Valium Addiction.

Ambien – with the generic name Zolpidem – belongs to a class of drug usually referred to as “sedative-hypnotics.” 

Unlike Xanax or Valium, the effect of Zolpidem is short-lasting. Nor will it make you feel groggy or drowsy in the morning. 

Typically speaking, your doctor might prescribe you Ambien to use for 7-10 days – that is, till your biological clock resets and your sleeping cycles return to normal freeing you from the predicament of insomnia. 

Nonetheless, as your body develops a tolerance for Zolpidem over the span of 10 days, you will ultimately begin taking higher doses of the drug to achieve the same sedating effect and to have a good night’s sleep. 

Before you acknowledge your state, you might be popping 10-20 pills per day – which is way over the recommended dose of 1 pill per day – only to venture into the condition of Ambien Abuse. 

So, to answer your question: “Is the sleeping aid Ambien addictive?” Yes, Ambien has the tendency to become a habit. As your body becomes dependent on it, a full-fledged addiction is inevitable. 

But, how addictive is Ambien? Well, in comparison with Benzodiazepines like Xanax, Ambien addiction is slightly less severe. Similarly, Ambien’s withdrawal is not as intense. 

Read this article if you are addicted to Ambien and want Luxury Inpatient Treatment/Rehab for Zolpidem abuse

However, this does not imply that the severity of the sleeping aid addiction cannot change depending upon the risk factors that you are externally or naturally exposed to. 

Do not shrug off the possibility of Sleeping Aid Addiction or Zolpidem addiction if your body has already seen the worst with other forms of Substance Use Disorders. It might be in your favor to refuse using Zolpidem (Ambien) entirely. 

Most commonly, people, who use prescribed sleep aid Ambien tend to get “addicted” to the calming, soothing, relaxing “high” that Zolpidem (Ambien) creates. Eventually, the feeling of out-flowing anxiety becomes the reason for Zolpidem abuse. 

The active ingredient in the Ambien sleeping pill is Zolpidem Tartrate. Normally, this substance has a neuro-inhibitory mechanism – that is, it depresses your nervous system to the point of drowsiness. 

Zolpidem Tartrate causes the release of a neurotransmitter called GABA. 

The effects of GABA (Gamma-Aminobutyric Acid) for you will be revealed as:

  • Relaxation
  • Drowsiness
  • Anti-anxiety 
  • Calming 

As the neurotransmitter works its way through your brain, the Ambien sleeping pill high sets in 25-30 minutes. 

If you tend to abuse Zolpidem through snorting or Intravenous injections, Ambien’s addictive powers will drive you to your desired level of “high” sooner. The high that you will experience by injecting Zolpidem into your bloodstream will also be a lot more enraging and stronger. 

Note: Several times, the effect of Zolpidem might resemble alcohol intoxication or a Benzodiazepine “high.” 

Lastly, if you use Zolpidem for more than 10 days, you will be confronting the idea of Zolpidem abuse. If you abuse Ambien for more than a month, your body and brain will become addicted to Ambien. 

Long story short, does Ambien get you high? Yes, getting high because of Ambien is indeed possible because of Zolpidem Tartrate and its inhibitory effects. 

Simply speaking, each half-life of Ambien lasts for a maximum of 2.5 hours

Because it takes 5 half-lives in total for the Ambien sleeping pills to be completely eliminated from the system, the upper limit for Ambien to remain within the body is 12.5 hours. 

Relatively speaking, Ambien has a shorter half-life in comparison with Xanax or Valium. Because Zolpidem (Ambien) does not linger within the system, it is preferred over Benzodiazepines since it will not cause you to be stupefied in the morning. 

Read Also: Klonopin Addiction and Symptoms of Clonazepam Abuse

Depending upon your age and/or gender, the half-life of Zolpidem can be decreased. 

Note: Half-life is the time it takes for the concentration of a certain drug to be reduced to half within the body. 

Nevertheless, it is still possible to detect Zolpidem (Ambien) within the body fluids for the following durations:

  1. Blood: 12.5 Hours
  2. Saliva: 24 Hours (1 day)
  3. Urine: 72 House (3 days) 

If you happen to indulge in sleeping pill misuse and abuse, the amount of Zolpidem can be detected in the aforementioned body fluids.

As you would predict, if you have an Ambien addiction, higher than normal levels of Ambien sleeping aid will be detected in your body fluids. 

There is no particular factor affecting the life of Zolpidem within the body. Instead, a myriad of factors cast their effect on your body for Ambien elimination. 

  • Age: If you happen to be an older adult intaking higher levels of Zolpidem than usual, your body will take longer to eliminate the drug. 
  • Gender: For a healthy male, the normal duration for which Zolpidem remains in the system is 12.5 hours. However, for an unknown physiological reason, females tend to eliminate the drug at a slower pace. 
  • Dosage: If you are 12-feet deep into the prospect of Zolpidem abuse and addiction, it is likely that your body will form more metabolites than usual and it will take a maximum of 15-20 Hours for the drug to say goodbye to your system – that is, if you do not ingest any more sleeping pills of Zolpidem in the meantime. 
  • Frequency of Use and Ambien Abuse: If you tend to take 1 pill per day as instructed by the physician, your body will remain healthy and follow the natural pattern of drug assimilation and elimination. However, many people who abuse Ambien sleeping pills tend to neglect the frequency of consumption. In this case, the concentration of eliminating Ambien will be simultaneously replaced by the entering Ambien.
  • Organ Function: The human liver is an important participant in the natural course of drug elimination. If your liver function is not normal, your body will have difficulty in eliminating Zolpidem. 

So, what are the causes of Ambien’s abuse? Well, do you happen to consume Zolpidem more frequently than prescribed? Or, do you pop no less than 10-20 pills per day? 

Or maybe, you happen to snort or intravenously inject Ambien to get a “better” effect? 

Either way, it is safe to say that you have successfully climbed onto the dangerous mountain of Zolpidem Abuse.

Simply stating, the causes of Zolpidem abuse venture from the high, the relaxation, and the feeling of lowering anxiety that abusers of Ambien tend to experience after taking higher-than-recommended doses of the drug. 

People who turn to a sedative-like Ambien to rid themselves of anxiety-induced insomnia can easily become familiar with the concept of Zolpidem Abuse. 

Alright, now that it has been established that Ambien abuse can come in several forms, let’s take a look at the not-so-severe signs and the severe signs of Ambien abuse. 

Remember that the signs and symptoms of Zolpidem Abuse that do not display a probability of permanent effects are less severe. 

These include:

  • Consuming Zolpidem at a faster pace than recommended and “faking” prescriptions to acquire more Ambien. 
  • Taking doses of Ambien sleeping pills that are not even remotely close to the recommended amount. 
  • Displaying symptoms of nausea. 
  • Showcasing extreme energy outbursts with immensely drowsy periods in between. 
  • Engaging in risk-taking behavior and barely having any memories of it. 
  • Having tremors in the limbs. 
  • Intaking Zolpidem sleeping aid as crushed pills for snorting. 

By implying that these signs of Ambien abuse are less severe, we are indicating that the boundary for improvement and Zolpidem recovery is enormously wide for you. 

Unfortunately, as you step into the zone of severe signs of Zolpidem abuse, Ambien sleeping pills dependence, and Ambien addiction, the boundary for improvement will continue to narrow down. Until there is no more of it left. 

Now, what are the severe signs of Zolpidem abuse? Let’s dive in! 

What is the linkage between Ambien and depression? Can Ambien give rise to depression? Or is it a mere aid to depression? To be fair, the answer to both the questions is affirmative. 

The FDA illustrates that Zolpidem can cause depression. At the same time, for people who already suffer – or have suffered in the past – from depression, Ambien abuse can worsen the symptoms of depression. 

If your mind is ridden with the thoughts of “I am not worthy enough,” “I do not belong here,” or “I deserve to die,” it is likely that Ambien will only intensify these feelings. 

In several cases of depression, Ambien has been away for the escape that depressed individuals seek. 

In other words, Ambien abuse and overdose have been a common way for depressed individuals to deal with their thoughts, emotions, and feelings.  

Remember, if your loved ones display any signs of depression coupled with insomnia, Ambien – or as a matter of fact, any other sleeping aid – is never the right call to make. 

Ambien Use Disorder in the patients of depression can cause 

  • Compulsive behavior to seek and consume the drug, despite the consequences and the cost 
  • Relationship problems 
  • Isolation from the family 
  • Suicidal tendencies and an inclination to overdose. 
  • Loss of interest in activities of your choice and your hobbies
  • Lethargy 
  • Inability to concentrate

In 2013, a 27-years old man, suffering from depression, consumed 20 milligrams of Ambien as part of a case study. The result? He experienced his thoughts diverting towards the possibility of committing suicide. 

Dangers of mixing Ambien and Alcohol

So, can Ambien cause suicidal tendencies? In mentally healthy individuals, no.

However, if your loved ones suffer from conditions like depression, PTSD, ADHD, and/or other mental health disorders, Zolpidem sleeping pills can certainly give birth to suicidal tendencies. 

One major sign of Ambien abuse – and possibly, Ambien addiction – is that after consuming large doses of Zolpidem you might find yourself in situations that your mind possesses no recollection of. 

For instance, under the effect of the drug, you might eat, sleepwalk, take a shower, or even drive, without having any memories of it whatsoever. 

“One potential side effect of Ambien is “sleep eating”—the odd practice of preparing and eating food while asleep. That happened to me all the time,” says Laurie Sandell, a former Ambien addict. 

As surprising as it may sound, a complete blackout of memories is indeed possible under the influence of Zolpidem abuse.

According to the FDA, if Zolpidem abusers acquire at least 12 hours of sleep after higher-than-recommended doses, it might be possible to avoid memory problems. 

Ambien and Dementia – Is It Possible? 

Alright, it has been demarcated that you are prone to develop amnesia if you abuse the sleeping aid Ambien. 

Until Zolpidem (Ambien) is eliminated from your body, your brain will be unable to register short-term memories. With the drug constantly rendering your short-term memories stagnant, there is a high chance and a never-ending debate that Ambien can trigger dementia. 

In foresight, dementia can cause Alzheimer’s. 

Because short-term memory loss can only occur because of untimely, higher-than-recommended doses of Ambien, it is a sign of Ambien abuse. That too, a severe one! 

Ambien (Zolpidem)-induced hallucinations are not uncommon. There is a myriad of factors that can affect hallucinations in individuals. 

Even though the researchers have not completely analyzed the factors that you can associate with hallucinations and paranoia because of Zolpidem addiction, there are three of them that we know for certain:

  • Not getting at least 7-8 hours of sleep after taking Zolpidem
  • Intravenously injecting Ambien for a stronger “high” 
  • Combining Ambien sleeping pills with other drugs, like alcohol. 

Hallucinations can be of visual, auditory, or tactile types. 

Remember, it is not certain that you will experience hallucinations after abusing Zolpidem. Nevertheless, this will not defy the possibility that you might be abusing Ambien (Zolpidem). 

So, can Ambien cause hallucinations? Yes, it can! But, does every Ambien abuser experience hallucinations? No, that is not necessary. 

Alright, so let’s move on. 

If you tend to abuse Zolpidem (Ambien) in order to get the “complete experience” of sedation, you must be familiar with the “need” to up your dosage every time you consume. 

Well, you are not alone. When the body develops a tolerance for Ambien, people engage in alcohol consumption along with Zolpidem abuse. 

The reason being? Well, both alcohol and Ambien are depressive, inhibitory, GABA-producing drugs. 

The result? When taken simultaneously, they can trigger a stronger and a faster “high,” further resulting in increased sedation. 

However, washing down the Ambien sleeping pills with a sip of red wine is never a wise choice. 

In other words, it is easy for your nervous system to go into complete stagnation if it becomes “too inhibited.” 

Not only will you become comatose (prolonged unresponsiveness and unconsciousness), but a slight overdose and it will be like inviting death over for a drink. 

Many people also combine Ambien with Benzodiazepines like Valium or Xanax. This can be immediately fatal. 

Why? Because the resemblance in the composition and mechanism of both the drugs is tremendous. 

Both of them can suppress your nervous system to the brink of becoming lethal. 

Note: The health risks concerned with combining Benzos or Alcohol together with Zolpidem (Ambien) can result in an overdose of sedatives. 

Imagine a staircase. Each step you lift takes you from Ambien abuse to Ambien dependence, and eventually, to Ambien addiction.

By the time you reach the stage of Sleeping Aid Addiction (Ambien addiction), you will have the symptoms of Zolpidem dependence and Zolpidem abuse as well. 

In other words, while Zolpidem dependence is a physical “hunger” for Ambien, it is also a mere symptom of Ambien Addiction. 

Differentiating between Zolpidem dependence and Zolpidem addiction can be a tiresome process. This is because of a thin, partially visible line that demarcates the boundary between the two. 

After all, jumping through hoops of insomnia and crossing the boundary from Zolpidem dependence to a full-fledged Ambien addiction does not take much effort. 

Simply speaking, Zolpidem dependence is your body’s and brain’s way of signifying you to consume more of the sleeping aid Ambien. 

Signs of Ambien Dependence
Signs of Ambien Addiction/ Ambien Use Disorder
Ambien dependence is the physiological (functional) tolerance that your body develops for Zolpidem. You consume other drugs like Alcohol or Benzos with Zolpidem (Ambien) sleeping aid to combat your increasing tolerance. 
You have to increase your dosage to achieve a better state of sedation. You participate in the recreational use of Ambien. You might even find yourself abusing Zolpidem during the day. 
You experience “rebound insomnia” if you stop using Ambien. Getting rid of insomnia is barely a concern anymore.
You experience a state of fatigue and nervousness if you withdraw from Ambien. You experience symptoms of depression, anxiety, and psychosis along with withdrawal symptoms of Ambien if you do not consume the drug. 
You can easily go through medical-assisted detox and wash your hands off of Zolpidem addiction. You will need medical-assisted Zolpidem withdrawal, alongside ongoing inpatient rehabilitation treatment. 

Note: Rebound Insomnia is the abrupt inability to sleep after quitting Ambien cold turkey. 

With that said, understand that Ambien addiction is the last milestone that you will accomplish in your journey of abuse. Returning from such a milestone can be a hectic, troublesome job. 

Zolpidem dependence is a dialed-down version of your Zolpidem addiction. 

Moving ahead, let’s say that you are dependent on Ambien. The question is how will you wean off Ambien / get off Ambien? Especially with the relaxing “high” it triggers? 

Getting off Ambien might not be easy for you if you have been dependent on the drug for a long time (over 2 months). 

Nonetheless, to wean off Ambien means to cut off the frequency of doses and the concentration of doses each time you intake Zolpidem. 

You will be guided by your physician to comply with four steps:

  • Step 1: Reduce the number of doses per day. 
  • Step 2: Take smaller doses per day. 
  • Step 3: Take even smaller and lesser doses on alternate days. 
  • Step 4: Quit Ambien intake and do not relapse. 

Note: If you have already stepped into the Ambien addiction zone, tapering off or weaning off Ambien will not be effective. 

Is Ambien addictive? The final verdict is, yes, Ambien is extremely addictive if Zolpidem (Ambien) abuse continues for months. 

More importantly, if Ambien is combined with other drugs, its addictive prowess just multiplies several times. 

Nonetheless, there are a few risk factors that expose your body and brain to the possibility of acquiring Ambien addiction. 

Let’s jump in! 

History of Mental Health Disorders/Issues

The risk of mental health issues tends to affect almost all forms of Substance Use Disorders. 

But, you must be wondering, “why is Ambien associated more with mental health issues than other drugs?” 

Logically speaking, Ambien is a sedative-hypnotic drug, implying that it induces sleep. 

One major component of several mental health disorders and issues is insomnia, wakefulness during the night, and the inability to shut your mind off. 

If prescribed to the patients with clinical depression, PTSD (Post-traumatic Stress Disorder), ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder), OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder), among others, Ambien has the tendency and the power to give rise to Ambien addiction. 

The fragile brains of these individuals are hardly able to fight against the physical dependence of Ambien. 

The outcome? A massive addiction to Zolpidem with a destructive mental health disorder. 

Multiple behavioral issues might also erupt from the boiling volcano of Ambien addiction. 

History of Substance Use Disorder

If you have suffered from Substance Use Disorder or Sleeping Aid Addiction in the past, it is likely that you will develop dependence and addiction to Zolpidem sooner than others. 

A former history of Substance Use Disorder indicates a built-in responsive network to drugs that can create an addictive “high.” 

Lack of willpower is yet another factor that can allow you to enter the territory of Sleeping Aid Addiction (Zolpidem addiction) if you have been a target of Substance Use Disorder in the past. 

Either way, this risk factor increases your liability to Zolpidem addiction 2-4 times. 

Family and Genetics

The genetic code of the human body has the liberty to pass a verdict about each and every one of our body functions. 

As for Zolpidem addiction, your genetic composition can often expose your body and brain towards it if your parents were addicted to similar types of CNS Depressants. 

Note: CNS Depressants are drugs that cause the release of the inhibitory neurotransmitter GABA, causing relaxation and drowsiness. Ambien, Xanax, and Valium are all CNS Depressants. 

Similarly, family members and family dynamics can prove to become triggers for the consumption of the drug. 

If the drug is present within the vicinity of the home, it is safe to assume that teenagers and adolescents can find a way to it. 

Ultimately, both the factors can come into play together or individually. Either way, the outcome will not be changed. 

Social Acceptance of Ambien (Zolpidem)

As Laurie Sandell, a former drug addict reports, “He laughed and said, “Are you sleeping well? So you’re addicted—no big deal!” My mind was at ease, so I continued to pop pills.” after she encountered a doctor and displayed her mixed feelings about being addicted to Ambien. 

The purpose of putting this statement in front of you is to depict that Ambien is a fairly accepted drug. 

In fact, it is so accepted that even medical professionals often fail to acknowledge the hazards of Zolpidem. 

To put it differently, only you are responsible for the actions you take! 

Do you believe that your loved ones are suffering from Ambien (Zolpidem) sleeping pill addiction and participating in active sleep aid Ambien abuse? Well, it may be time for you to acknowledge the symptoms of Ambien’s addiction. 

Let’s take a look at the warning signs of Ambien addiction in accordance with the checklist for Sedative use disorder by the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5):

  • Consuming higher-than-recommended doses of Ambien along with alcohol or benzos more frequently than normal.
  • Lying about losing prescriptions to attain the drug. 
  • Abruptly stopping Ambien abuse before becoming agitated and continuing again. 
  • Compulsively and recreationally abusing Zolpidem. 
  • Failing to supervise professional, personal, and academic situations.
  • Indulging in reckless behavior like sleep-driving. 
  • A “drowning” urge to consume Ambien. 
  • Abusing Zolpidem despite the effects it is having on your relationships. 
  • Using Ambien despite the psychological impacts it is having on you.
  • Combining Ambien with other drugs or increasing the dosage of Ambien to fulfil the tolerance. 
  • Being unable to quit Ambien and experiencing Ambien withdrawal. 

Are your loved ones having difficulties in their professional or academic life? Are the relationships of your loved ones at the brink of declination? Are they experiencing any health complications? 

Ask yourself these questions before analyzing the extent of Ambien addiction.

Remember that the symptoms of Ambien addiction resemble closely with Zolpidem abuse. 

Although there is not a ginormous time difference before Ambien abuse turns into Zolpidem (Ambien) addiction, realizing the symptoms beforehand will enunciate better recovery prospects. 

Note: As soon as you acknowledge the symptoms of Ambien addiction, opt for an outpatient Ambien rehab or an inpatient Zolpidem (Ambien) rehab depending upon the condition of your loved ones. 

The signs of Zolpidem abuse reside in close proximity with the effects of Ambien addiction. 

Generally, it is fair to classify the effects of Zolpidem addiction into a neuropsychological category and a behavioral category. 

However, the effects of Ambien addiction and Ambien dependence can also be enunciated as short-term effects and long-term effects. 

Let’s take a peek at the two types of effects of Zolpidem addiction:

Short-Term Effects of Ambien Addiction

If you have ever underestimated the Ambien addictive potential, you must know what it feels like to wake up and have no recollection of your thoughts and memories whatsoever. 

As scary as it might sound to a non-addict, it is very much possible. In fact, it is a short-term effect of being addicted to Zolpidem. 

Overall, the short-term effects of Zolpidem addiction can be equated as:

  • Mild amnesia – Inability to recall short term memories
  • Extreme drowsiness
  • Immense relaxation
  • Not feeling anxious
  • Fatigue and lethargy because of Zolpidem addiction
  • Cloudy thoughts and inability to concentrate
  • Sleep-driving, sleep-walking, sleep-eating, all under the influence of Ambien
  • Muscle spasms and twitching
  • Decrease in heart rate (Bradycardia) and breathing rate. 

These effects of Ambien addiction are an odd mixture of positive and negative. However, all forms of Sleeping Aid Addictions and Prescription use disorders have worse outcomes than their negative effects. 

Remember, in the case of a drug like Ambien, death can occur because of overdose. 

Long-Term Effects of Ambien Addiction

“And though I’ve long been prone to minor bouts of anxiety, I found myself having full-blown panic attacks,” says Laurie Sandell, a hero who battled Ambien addiction. 

This is an accurate depiction of how your mental health issues can intensify and magnify over the course of time if you continue to be addicted to Zolpidem (Ambien). 

Other long-term effects of Ambien addiction include:

  • Depression
  • Delusions
  • Hallucinations
  • Paranoia 
  • Impaired judgment
  • Decreased libido
  • Violence
  • Aggression and behavioral changes
  • Potential dementia and increased possibility of Alzheimer’s
  • Organ damage 
  • Accidental overdose and death. 

Note: While you have the chance, block yourself from Ambien (Zolpidem) addiction and gain a new perspective for life. 

Let’s identify the final takeaways about Ambien addiction. 

Is Ambien addictive? Yes, it is. Becoming addicted to Ambien begins as you step onto the ladder of Ambien abuse accompanied by the signs of depression, memory loss, hallucinations, and suicidal tendencies. 

As you tend to climb your way up, you will become increasingly dependent on Ambien. 

Before you know it, Ambien addiction will become your permanent companion. 

Understand that weaning off Ambien will not be effective for you if you have conquered Ambien addiction. 

The only way to prevent Ambien addiction is to follow the protocol that your physician has provided you – 1 dose of Ambien per day for 7-10 days. No more, no less. 

Seeking treatment for Ambien abuse and Ambien (Zolpidem) addiction in time can be a life saver. 

Take control of your life and your Ambien abuse before it transforms into Zolpidem addiction.

FAQS