Ambien Addiction Treatment

Ambien Addiction Treatment: Understanding Symptoms and Dependence

Written by:

Amanda Stevens, B.S.

Medical Review by:

Dr. Po-Chang Hsu, M.D., M.S.

Medically Reviewed On: May 14, 2024

Ambien (zolpidem) is a sedative that is approved to treat insomnia. If misused, it may be possible to develop dependence and addiction.

What is Ambien?

In the U.S., 8.4% of people took sleep medication within the last 30 days in 2020.[1] Ambien is a commonly prescribed medication to treat sleep problems. It is effective at helping people get to sleep and stay asleep and is classified as a Schedule IV controlled substance. Common street names include zombie pills and sleepers.

Side Effects of Ambien

The most common side effects of Ambien are drowsiness, diarrhea, and dizziness.[2] However, long-term use may cause a drugged feeling. Most side effects are short-term and go away naturally.

How is Ambien Taken?

Ambien comes in tablet forms with dosages of five and 10 milligrams. The tablets are meant to be taken whole, which allows the drug to release over many hours slowly. Those who abuse Ambien may crush and snort it or inject it, which causes more immediate effects.

Ambien Quick Reference

Ambien Quick Reference

Drug Category

Non-benzodiazepine sedative

Commercial & Street Names

Zolpidem, zombie pills, sleepers

DEA Schedule

Schedule IV


Oral, snorting, injecting

Statistics on Ambien Use, Misuse, and Addiction

One study linked approximately 500,000 deaths in the United States to sleeping pills, including Ambien, in 2010.[3] Sleeping pills can easily be misused and lead to dependence, a variety of health risks, and potentially fatal consequences.

Ambien Addiction and Abuse

If you can’t function without Ambien, you may have a substance use disorder. Many start taking Ambien to help them sleep, but once they become dependent, it may be next to impossible to sleep without the drug.

Effects of Ambien Abuse

Ambien abuse often causes drowsiness and a drugged feeling. Those who abuse Ambien may often be fatigued and confused. They may also have low blood pressure and a slow heart rate. Long-term effects of Ambien may include impaired muscle control, chronic headaches, and mental health issues like anxiety and depression.

Dangers of Long-Term Ambien Use

The long-term use of this drug may make it more likely that a person will experience severe side effects. These include aggression or other unusual behavior, abnormal thinking, and memory problems.[4]

Is Ambien Addictive?

Ambien is not as addictive as opioids, but it still has the potential for dependence and abuse. It may be more likely to become dependent and addicted when misusing this drug. Misuse concerns using the drug in ways other than what was prescribed.

Signs of Addiction to Ambien

Those addicted to Ambien may try to get prescriptions from different doctors so they don’t run out. They may also take sleeping pills from their loved ones or steal money to buy more illegally.

Can You Overdose on Ambien?

It is possible to overdose on Ambien if you take too much or mix it with other drugs. Overdoses may cause permanent physical damage or death.

Signs and Symptoms of Ambien Overdose

Sleeping pill overdoses will often cause a person to fall unconscious, and it may be impossible to wake them. Respiratory depression is a serious concern as it can cause hypoxia or lack of oxygen. This may cause brain damage and death.

What to do if you suspect someone is overdosing on Ambien?

Call 911 right away and stay with the person until the paramedics arrive. If the person is not breathing, perform CPR.

Ambien Addiction and Mental Health

Drug addiction can cause hopelessness, depression, and anxiety. You may feel that you can’t live without the drug. Certain mental disorders may also make developing an addiction more likely. These include anxiety, depression, BPD, impulse control disorder, and psychosis.

Co-Occurring Disorders

A dual diagnosis or co-occurring mental health disorder can exacerbate one’s propensity to misuse sleeping pills. Below are common examples:

  • Depression: Some may try to escape feelings of depression by abusing drugs.
  • Anxiety: Those who feel anxious may rely on sedatives to calm them.

Ambien Addiction Treatment

The cost of addiction treatment depends on the program you choose and your insurance plan. Treatment length will take several months with a focus on therapy and support. With the right care, you will gain the skills to overcome your addiction.

Choosing the right treatment program is essential for your recovery. Professional treatment is especially helpful if you have a co-occurring disorder. Treatment often includes detox, inpatient treatment, and therapy.

Ambien Medical Detox

Medical Detox

Ambien Medical Detox

The safest way to detox is in a professional rehab facility. If anything goes wrong, medical detox professionals will be there to help. A treatment center can also ensure the process is as safe and comfortable as possible. In many cases, a gradual tapering approach is utilized, as stopping Ambien use suddenly can cause significant withdrawal symptoms. A medically supervised detox will vary in intensity for each person and is tailored to their needs.

Ambien Inpatient Treatment

Inpatient Treatment

Ambien Inpatient Treatment

Inpatient treatment allows you to sleep at the facility and receive treatment during the day. The program focuses on different forms of therapy, such as group, family, and individual therapy.

Therapies Used in Ambien Addiction Treatment

Therapy is essential for helping you or your loved one navigate recovery and begin each new day with a new perspective. It also helps build healthy habits for avoiding relapse and pursuing a more productive life. Some of the most effective modalities are:

CBT: Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

CBT changes your thinking to be more positive.

DBT: Dialectical Behavior Therapy

DBT is best for those who struggle with intense emotions.

Motivational Interviewing

This style helps patients resolve ambivalent feelings via behavioral changes.

Contingency Management

This method uses motivational incentives to work toward recovery.

Motivational Enhancement Therapy

This therapy aims to create internally motivated changes with goal-setting and a changed mindset.

Experiential Therapy

This option helps patients express themselves with activities and tools.

Relapse Prevention

This therapy helps avoid future relapse by reinforcing coping skills.

Twelve-Step Facilitation

This therapy guides patients through twelve treatment steps until they are equipped with all the skills to overcome their addictions.

Ambien Detox and Withdrawal Management

Detox is often the first step of drug treatment. It clears your body of drugs and lets you start fresh. You can continue with other treatment options, such as therapy, once your body is clear and your mind is free. Detox is only a few days or a week for most people, but each patient’s withdrawal timeline and treatment plan will be unique.

Frequently Asked Questions


Why Do People Use Ambien?


Most people take Ambien for insomnia. Some may become dependent on this drug and may have a hard time sleeping at all without it.


Who Gets Addicted to Ambien?


Ambien addictions are more common in those with substance use disorders and those who misuse the medication.


Can You Take Ambien With Other Medications?


You should avoid taking Ambien with alcohol or other sedative medications. Always talk to your doctor before you take any medication with Ambien.


Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2023, January 25). Products – data briefs – number 462 – january 2023. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Retrieved from on 2023, July 4.


NDA 19908 S027 FDA approved labeling 4.23.08. (n.d.-d). Retrieved from on 2023, July 4.


Study: Popular sleeping pill ambien linked to increased death rate. (n.d.-e). Retrieved from on 2023, July 4.


Bouchette D, Akhondi H, Quick J. Zolpidem. [Updated 2022 Oct 1]. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2023 Jan-. Retrieved from on 2023, July 4.

Begin Your Recovery Journey Today