Ambien, also known by the generic name, zolpidem, is a sedative-hypnotic “Z-drug”.
Z-drugs are central nervous system (CNS) depressants that are used to treat insomnia and other sleeping issues.
Ambien is a sleeping pill considered to be less habit-forming than benzodiazepines.
However, this does not mean that they are not addictive and that a person cannot develop a dependence on Ambien.
Once a person develops a chemical dependency, they may need detox in order to safely stop the use of the drug and to rid their body of it.
Who Should Detox From Ambien?
Even short-term Ambien use can result in increased tolerance and dependence. An initial dose of Ambien can range from 5-10 mg, and tolerance can develop in as little as two weeks.
Risk of developing an Ambien addiction increases the longer a person takes Ambien, or if they are abusing Ambien.
Individuals are likely to experience withdrawal symptoms when they stop taking Ambien, and a medically supervised detoxification program can help ease those symptoms.
Ambien Detox Symptoms
Detoxing from Ambien often causes a person to experience certain detox effects, or withdrawal symptoms, as the brain adjusts to the lack of zolpidem.
Some of the more common or noticeable Ambien withdrawal symptoms include:
- high blood pressure
- sleeping issues
- mood swings
- panic attacks
- unprovoked or uncontrolled crying
There are also more intense, or severe, withdrawal symptoms associated with Ambien abuse, such as:
- body temperature fluctuations
- suicidal thoughts
- heartbeat irregularities
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Timeline Of Ambien Detox
Because Ambien is chemically similar to Xanax or Valium, Ambien’s detox timeline is similar to the benzodiazepine detoxification timeline.
Initial withdrawal symptoms begin around 24 to 72 hours and usually last a week or two. However, the timeline can be affected by a number of factors.
In general, the Ambien detox timeline may look like:
- Days 1-3: Once a person takes their last dose of Ambien, they can anticipate the emergence of withdrawal symptoms during the first three days. These include physical, psychological, and emotional side effects of Ambien withdrawal.
- Days 4-7: In the second half of the first week, withdrawal symptoms can be expected to become more intense. Physical symptoms are typically at their worst between three and five days after the last dose of Ambien.
- Days 7-14: The intensity of Ambien withdrawal declines over the next week, and should almost completely subside by the end of two weeks.
- Day 15+: Individuals who have been abusing Ambien or taking Ambien for long periods of time, especially in high doses, may experience psychological and emotional withdrawal symptoms for weeks or even months.
Factors That Influence The Drug Detox Timeline
Similar to other sleeping pills, there are a number of influencing factors that often affect the withdrawal timeline, such as:
- how much Ambien is usually taken
- previous substance abuse
- type of Ambien taken
- polysubstance abuse
- long-term use of Ambien
Because Ambien is habit-forming and causes withdrawal symptoms, a tapering process is suggested.
This involves gradually lowering the dose of Ambien until a medical professional determines it is safe for the individual to stop.
Different Types Of Detox From Ambien
There are a few ways a person can detox from Ambien. Substance abuse recovery professionals strongly encourage a program that includes supervision by medical professionals.
Detoxing from a prescription sleep aid at home should still be under the guidance of a healthcare provider.
The doctor may suggest decreasing the dosage over a period of time (the tapering process), and provide a detailed treatment plan for a person to follow while stopping their medication.
Home detox is not suggested for individuals that have been taking high doses of Ambien for a long period of time, or anyone who has a history of substance abuse.
Outpatient Detox Programs
An outpatient detox treatment center can help manage symptoms of withdrawal with a thorough treatment plan and regular check-ins with medical professionals.
They also may prescribe medications, support meetings, and therapy for individuals during the detox process.
Inpatient Medical Detox
Individuals with drug dependence or addiction are encouraged to seek an inpatient detox treatment facility when stopping Ambien.
Inpatient treatment providers can provide around-the-clock supervision, administer medications to ease withdrawal symptoms, and provide support to help prevent relapse.
These programs are generally a week long.
After completing detox, individuals are strongly encouraged to move on to a substance use treatment program.
Potential Risks And Side Effects Of Ambien Detox
No matter the detox program used, it is never recommended that a person detox off a drug or medication they are dependent on without medical advice.
There are some serious risks associated with Ambien detox, including:
When a person stops taking sleep medication, a common risk is that the symptoms they were experiencing before will return.
Deciding to stop taking Ambien can result in returning insomnia or other sleep issues. Medical personnel can provide alternative solutions to help treat rebound insomnia.
Withdrawal symptoms are uncomfortable, sometimes painful, and can cause permanent damage.
When a person feels unable to manage their Ambien withdrawal symptoms, they may return to taking their medication to feel “better”.
A dangerous, and potentially fatal, risk associated with Ambien detox are seizures. Someone taking a higher dose of Ambien is at more of a risk of seizures during detox.
A medically supervised detox program can monitor a person and treat symptoms of Ambien withdrawal.
Mental Health Effects
When stopping Ambien, there is a risk of mental and emotional instability.
This may result in some or all of the following symptoms:
- memory loss
- panic attacks
- extreme anxiety
- suicidal ideation
- reckless behavior
Locating An Ambien Detoxification Program
Ambien dependency can happen, even when taken as prescribed. There are substance use treatment options available to help at each step of the process.
Reach out to our helpline and allow us to help answer any questions or concerns you may have regarding addiction treatment. We are available today.
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- U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) — Ambien Label
- U.S. National Library of Medicine — Screening for Unhealthy Drug Use in Primary Care in Adolescents and Adults, Including Pregnant Persons: Updated Systematic Review for the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force
- U.S. National Library of Medicine: MedlinePlus — Medicines for Sleep