Mixing Cocaine And Ambien: Risks And Side Effects

Medically Reviewed by Johnelle Smith, M.D. on October 11, 2021

There are no known interactions to cause specific life-threatening effects after mixing cocaine and Ambien. But mixing the drugs can have serious effects on the body, including an increased risk of fatal overdose on one or both substances.

Dangers Of Mixing Cocaine And Ambien

Cocaine and Ambien have opposite effects on the body. Cocaine is an illicit stimulant drug that acts as an “upper,” and Ambien is a prescription sleeping aid that acts as a “downer.”

Though the two shouldn’t be mixed, it is a common combination, primarily due to the issue of sleep deprivation with cocaine use.

While cocaine and Ambien do not have any specific known drug interactions that cause harm to the body, there are multiple, serious indirect effects that the drugs can have on someone.

Find out more about the dangers of polydrug abuse

Why Do People Mix Cocaine And Ambien?

There are many reasons why people mix cocaine and Ambien, but the majority of people do so in order to counteract the effects of either of the drugs.

Falling Asleep After Cocaine Use

As a stimulant, cocaine activates the central nervous system (CNS), causing effects like high blood pressure, increased heart rate, breathing problems, and insomnia.

These effects can make it difficult to fall asleep after using cocaine. Many people then use Ambien after cocaine in order to help them with the comedown effects, namely insomnia.

Long-Term Sleep Disturbance

Cocaine use also creates physical changes in the brain that affect sleep. Chronic cocaine use leads to changes within the nucleus accumbens, which control pleasure and reward.

Researchers have found that sleep, sleep disturbances, and the body’s circadian rhythms are all affected by neurological diseases like cocaine addiction.

One study revealed that people who use cocaine take much longer to fall asleep and experience much less deep sleep.

A person may use Ambien and cocaine together, or one right after the other, because they’re experiencing significant and regular sleep disturbance.


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Effects Of Combining Cocaine And Ambien

Mixing cocaine and Ambien can have a number of effects on the body. When mixing uppers and downers, the body receives opposing messages.

Confusing the body with opposite extremes can lead to serious health risks, unpredictable responses, organ failure, and more.

Is It Safe To Mix Cocaine And Ambien?

In one case study published in the U.S. National Library of Medicine, a 30-year-old man was prescribed zolpidem (Ambien) for insomnia that came from cocaine abuse.

After using cocaine and up to 300 milligrams (mg) a day of zolpidem, he became euphoric and hyperactive.

This revealed that both zolpidem and cocaine can have a stimulatory effect on the brain, which can lead to addiction.

Risks Of Mixing Cocaine And Ambien

A person can quickly become addicted to both substances when they begin a pattern of regular cocaine-Ambien use. One of the biggest risks in combining these substances is addiction.

If a person can’t sleep without Ambien after cocaine use, or can’t seem to stay awake after using Ambien, this can lead to a dependency on both of these substances simultaneously.

In addition to addiction and physical dependence, there are multiple other risk factors linked to mixing these drugs.

Increases The Risk Of Overdose

It is possible to overdose on both Ambien and cocaine. Taking too much of one or both of these substances can result in severe consequences, including death.

The primary concern with mixing these substances is that a person might be under the false impression that they’re taken a safe amount.

Ambien may mask the effects of cocaine, creating a false sense of control and safety. It goes the same way with taking Ambien and cocaine shortly after to bring the body back “up.”

This can quickly lead to an overdose, as a person may not feel the effects of one or both of the drugs in the same way they would when taken alone.

Respiratory Depression

Downers like Ambien slow down bodily functions. If a person ingests too much Ambien, they may experience severe respiratory depression.

However, when cocaine is in the mix, a person may be unaware of the warning signs of respiratory depression because of the stimulant effects of cocaine.

Cocaine does not mitigate these effects, it only masks them. Respiratory depression may set in, and it could be too late before a person sees the signs and seeks medical attention.

Risk Of Heart Attack

Similar to the way cocaine can hide respiratory depression, using Ambien may mask signs of cardiac arrest.

Ingesting a large amount of cocaine can cause:

  • increased heart rate
  • thicken the heart muscle wall
  • stiffen arteries
  • inconsistent oxygen supply to the heart
  • abnormal heart rhythm

Any of these factors can lead to cardiac arrest. However, Ambien works in the opposite way. The sedative depresses the CNS, decreasing heart rate, blood pressure, and breathing.

A person may be under the illusion that their body is in order when in reality the stages of cardiac arrest have begun.

Treatment For Cocaine And Ambien Abuse

Breaking the cycle of cocaine and Ambien abuse is extremely challenging. But you or your loved one don’t have to go through that process alone, as help is available.

If you’re ready to look into addiction treatment, call our helpline and talk to one of our representatives about your options.

This page does not provide medical advice. See more

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These include peer-reviewed journals, government entities and academic institutions, and leaders in addiction healthcare and advocacy. Learn more about how we safeguard our content by viewing our editorial policy.

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Medically Reviewed by
Johnelle Smith, M.D. on October 11, 2021


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