Ambien Withdrawal Symptoms, Timeline and Treatment

Ambien Withdrawal Symptoms, Timeline and Treatment

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Zolpidem, also known as Ambien, Ambien CR, Edluar, Intermezzo, and Zolpimist, is a medication that’s prescribed for insomnia. Ambien is a Schedule IV controlled substance because of the risk of abuse and dependence.[1]

People who use Ambien long-term can develop a tolerance for the drug, leading them to take more to get the same effects. Over time, this leads to Ambien addiction, and if you try to quit, you may experience unpleasant withdrawal symptoms.[2]

What Is Ambien Withdrawal Like?

Ambien Withdrawal Symptoms

Ambien influences gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA), a primary inhibitory neurotransmitter for the central nervous system that reduces excitability by inhibiting nerve transmission.[3] With regular Ambien use, the brain and body become dependent on the drug to function properly, so stopping suddenly can bring on unpleasant withdrawal symptoms.

With low-dose Ambien, withdrawal typically includes trouble sleeping for several days. But with higher doses, especially misuse, withdrawal symptoms may include:

  • Abdominal pain
  • Anxiety
  • Headaches
  • High blood pressure
  • Confusion, delirium, or disorientation
  • Irritability
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Speech problems
  • Restlessness
  • Seizures
  • Tremors[4]

Ambien Withdrawal Timeline

Ambien (zolpidem) has a half-life of approximately 2.5 to 3 hours and is typically recommended for short-term management of insomnia.[5]

Withdrawal can be different for everyone, however. The length of use and dosage of Ambien significantly affect the intensity of withdrawal.[6] Older adults or people with co-occurring disorders may experience more severe withdrawal symptoms.

Post-Acute Withdrawal Syndrome for Ambien

Post-acute withdrawal syndrome (PAWS) is a set of symptoms that occur after quitting a drug of abuse. Also known as prolonged withdrawal syndrome or protracted withdrawal syndrome, PAWS has symptoms similar to mood disorders or anxiety disorders.

PAWS is most likely to occur after an acute withdrawal from alcohol, opioids, or benzodiazepines, but it can occur with other substances like Ambien. The symptoms of PAWS fluctuate in severity and may linger after withdrawal or disappear and reappear. These symptoms include:[7]

  • Learning and memory problems
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Irritability
  • Obsessive-compulsive behaviors
  • Cravings for substances
  • Pessimism or apathy
  • Low tolerance for stress
  • Sleep issues

Types of Drug Withdrawal Treatment

Experts recommend tapering off of Ambien to discontinue use – with or without addiction – to lessen the severity of withdrawal symptoms. Depending on the dosage, you may need to taper off Ambien following a specific plan to get your body used to progressively lower amounts of the drug.[8]

This is done under the supervision of a physician, which is why detox can be helpful for Ambien withdrawal treatment. With round-the-clock medical care, Ambien tapering can be monitored, and any withdrawal symptoms can be addressed immediately.

If you’ve taken Ambien for long periods of time or at higher doses, it can be dangerous to go through withdrawal. You may develop serious symptoms like seizures or delirium.[9]

Detox is an important step in getting through Ambien withdrawal, but it’s not enough to manage the underlying addiction to the substance. Ongoing treatment is an important part of uncovering the thoughts, emotions, and behaviors that led to Ambien’s abuse and addiction.

Treatment is individualized but may include:

Inpatient Treatment

Inpatient treatment takes place in a 24-hour care facility with individual and group counseling, psychiatric care, and education to resolve issues related to drug misuse and addiction.

Behavioral Therapies

Behavioral therapies like cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) can be highly effective at treating Ambien addiction and the insomnia that led to its use.[10] One-on-one sessions are key to addiction treatment programs to address the underlying psychological issues that contribute to addiction and learn appropriate ways to manage behaviors and avoid relapse.

Group Therapy and 12-Step Therapy

Many of the same approaches used in individual therapy sessions work well in a group, providing a support system for sharing the experience and learning effective coping strategies.

How Ambien Withdrawal Treatment Works

Unlike many recreational drugs, Ambien misuse and dependence often occur when Ambien is legally prescribed as a treatment for insomnia. Tolerance may build up, leading people to take more Ambien to fall and stay asleep. Addiction can happen if Ambien is taken at higher doses or for longer periods than prescribed.

Still, the core issue is often insomnia, which has both medical and psychological causes.[11] Seeking treatment for Ambien addiction and withdrawal means addressing underlying issues and co-occurring disorders that can contribute to insomnia and drug misuse, such as depression or anxiety.

Addiction isn’t universal, and neither are treatment options. Different therapies and levels of care ensure that you get the individualized care you need, whether you benefit from staying in a residential facility until withdrawal is complete or need outpatient care to manage your day-to-day responsibilities. You can sleep soundly or need outpatient care to manage your day-to-day responsibilities without sacrificing your treatment.

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What’s the Best Way to Find Ambien Withdrawal Treatment?

Ambien withdrawal can last for weeks, so detox is often the first step in getting Ambien addiction treatment. If you or a loved one are struggling with Ambien addiction, you can speak with your physician or therapist to find a detox center. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) also offers resources for nearby detox centers.

If you’re ready to take the first step now, Alpas Wellness offers a 24/7 confidential helpline with compassionate professionals. Contact us today to learn more.

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Find Ambien Withdrawal Treatment Near Me

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Cost of Drug Withdrawal Treatment

The cost of Ambien withdrawal treatment can vary according to the level of care and therapies you need. Fortunately, many health insurance providers cover substance use disorder treatment. Contact our team at Alpas Wellness to see if you have an in-network provider.

Frequently Asked Questions About Withdrawal Treatment

01

What Is Considered Long-Term Use of Ambien?

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Ambien is typically prescribed for a few weeks, then the use and dosage are reevaluated. For some people, sleep is still difficult without Ambien, and they may continue to take Ambien past that timeframe.[13] Taking Ambien for longer periods increases the risk of dependency and abuse, however.

02

Is It Bad to Take Ambien Every Night?

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Ambien use should be monitored by your physician. Taking Ambien more frequently, at higher doses, or for longer than prescribed can increase the risk of dependence, addiction, overdose, or other complications.

03

Does Ambien Stop Working?

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For some people, Ambien stops working as tolerance occurs.[14] This is another reason that Ambien is recommended as a short-term (as short as possible) solution for insomnia. 

Sources
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[01]

Controlled substances – alpha order – dea diversion control division. (n.d.-a). Retrieved from https://deadiversion.usdoj.gov/schedules/orangebook/c_cs_alpha.pdf on 2023. July 2.

[02]

Heydari, M., & Isfeedvajani, M. S. (2013, November). Zolpidem dependence, abuse and withdrawal: A case report. Journal of research in medical sciences : the official journal of Isfahan University of Medical Sciences. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3906775/ on 2023, July 2.

[03]

GABA receptor – statpearls – NCBI bookshelf. (n.d.-b). Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK526124/ on 2023, July 2.

[04]

Zolpidem (Oral route). (2024, May 2). Retrieved from https://www.mayoclinic.org/drugs-supplements/zolpidem-oral-route/precautions/drg-20061195 on 2024, June 6.

[05]

Zolpidem Monograph for Professionals. (n.d.). Drugs.com. Retrieved from https://www.drugs.com/monograph/zolpidem.html on 2024, June 7.

[06]

Zolpidem: MedlinePlus drug information. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://medlineplus.gov/druginfo/meds/a693025.html on 2024, June 6.

[07]

Ferguson, S. (2022, October 19). How to Recognize and Manage the Symptoms of Post-Acute Withdrawal Syndrome. Healthline. Retrieved from https://www.healthline.com/health/post-acute-withdrawal-symptoms on 2024, June 6.

[08]

Zolpidem monograph for professionals. Drugs.com. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.drugs.com/monograph/zolpidem.html on 2023, July 2.

[09]

Mattoo, S. K., Gaur, N., & Das, P. P. (2011, November). Zolpidem withdrawal delirium. Indian journal of pharmacology. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3229797/ on 2023, July 2.

[10]

Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research. (2023, April 5). Insomnia treatment: Cognitive behavioral therapy instead of Sleeping Pills. Mayo Clinic. Retrieved from https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/insomnia/in-depth/insomnia-treatment/art-20046677 on 2023, July 2.

[11]

What is insomnia? | NHLBI, NIH. (2022, March 24). NHLBI, NIH. Retrieved from https://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/insomnia on 2024, June 6.

[12]

Awasthi, H., & Vohra, A. (2023). Abrupt withdrawal from Chronic High-Dose Zolpidem use: a case report of resulting delirium. Curēus. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC10658757/on 2024, June 6.

[13]

Zolpidem monograph for professionals. Drugs.com. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.drugs.com/monograph/zolpidem.html on 2023, July 2.

[14]

Göder R;Treskov V;Burmester J;Aldenhoff JB;Hinze-Selch D; (n.d.). [zolpidem: The risk of tolerance and dependence according to case reports, systematic studies and recent molecularbiological data]. Fortschritte der Neurologie-Psychiatrie. Retrieved from https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/11753748/ on 2023, July 2.

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