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Zolpidem (Ambien)

Home Drug Abuse and Addiction Zolpidem (Ambien)

Written by: Editorial Staff.


Zolpidem, more commonly known as Ambien, is a short-acting non-benzodiazepine sedative-hypnotic used typically for the short-term treatment of insomnia. Its effects, however, mimic those of benzodiazepines in that they bind to the same GABA receptors in the brain. The effects of Ambien are typically noticed by the user as quickly as fifteen minutes after ingestion. Ambien Instant Release has proven its effectiveness in helping users fall asleep, and a controlled time-release version was later manufactured to answer concerns over its ability to help users stay asleep.

Side Effects of Zolpidem

Side Effects of Zolpidem

  • Headaches
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Anterograde Amnesia
  • Hallucinations
  • Delusion
  • Altered perceptions of reality
  • Euphoria
  • Increased appetite
  • Increased or decreased libido
  • Impaired judgment
  • Increased reports of impulsive behavior

Abuse, Tolerance, and Withdrawal

Zolpidem has a high potential for abuse due to its hypnotic effects. Users commonly develop a tolerance to the drug, and if usage is stopped abruptly, withdrawal can follow. Tolerance to zolpidem has been reported to have developed after just a few weeks, and the most common side effects of zolpidem withdrawal are delirium and seizures. An overdose of zolpidem may cause

  • Excessive sedation
  • Constricted pupils
  • Depressed respiratory functions
  • Coma
  • Death

Combined with alcohol, opiates, or other Central Nervous System depressants, the likelihood of a fatal overdose increases.

Recreational Abuse Of Zolpidem

Zolpidem is most commonly used recreationally by those who seek to make the effect from stimulant drugs more bearable. It is also quickly overtaking illegal sedatives as the most commonly used date rape drug. The hypnotic side effects, along with the increased libido, have also made zolpidem popular for couples to use in order to enhance their sexual encounters. When abused, users may take a larger quantity of the drug orally or even crush them up and snort them.

This can be especially dangerous if the pill being crushed and snorted is the time-release version of Ambien. By crushing the pills in such a way, the user removes the active ingredient of the drug from the particles that are designed to modulate its dispersal throughout the body.

As opposed to feeling a low level of symptoms over a longer period of time, the user will feel all of the effects of Ambien at the same time, in one rush. Those who abuse Ambien by taking large quantities orally are at risk of overdose as well, and the user may become so sedated that they are unable to breathe.


After the ingestion of zolpidem, some users have been known to get out of bed and drive their vehicles. Other activities such as sleepwalking, preparation, and enjoyment of meals, phone calls, text messaging, or strange sexual behavior have been reported, and the user will typically have no recollection of such behavior.

According to a bulletin written by the Food and Drug Administration in 2007, internet pharmacies can hold their own dangers. Consumers who bought Ambien and other drugs from online pharmacies received drugs that contained cutting agents such as haloperidol, which is a powerful medication used to treat psychosis. Many found themselves hospitalized after ingesting the pills they acquired over the internet.

Addiction Treatment

As with other drug abuse, people who develop Ambien addiction can get help with their problems from treatment specialists.

The first step is to learn how to safely stop taking your medications. The next step is to explore other ways to improve sleep and find ways that will allow the user to avoid relapse in the long term. For example, patients can meet with a dietitian, talk to a therapist, consult a yoga instructor or coach to improve their physical health and get the most restful sleep possible.