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Ambien Withdrawal and Detox

Ambien is a depressant drug, which means it slows activity in the brain. When withdrawal symptoms kick in, the tendency is to take more of the drug to avoid experiencing the debilitating side effects. In people who have not abused the drug, possible withdrawal side effects include nausea, fatigue, irritability, anxiety, depression, memory loss, stomach cramps and confusion. When people stop taking the drug, it is quite common to experience worse insomnia than before taking the drug.1,2

If a person abused zolpidem for its sedative effects or developed a high tolerance, additional withdrawal repercussions can include panic attacks, shakiness, tremors, psychosis and even suicidal thoughts or suicide attempts. Most people with zolpidem dependence experience some degree of “brain fog” that inhibits the ability to think clearly. While dangerous physical withdrawal symptoms are relatively rare, they may include changes in heart rate, profound confusion, agitation, seizures or hallucinations.1

Withdrawal Timeline

Ambien has a fairly short half-life, the period of time required for the concentration or amount of drug in the body to be reduced by one-half. The drug usually clears the body within 24 to 48 hours. Ambien withdrawal symptoms usually occur within the first 72 hours after the last dose. Detox typically can be completed within a week, although more diminished cravings may linger. Symptoms are generally most pronounced as Ambien exits the system, resulting in intense cravings and difficulty sleeping. They can last anywhere from a couple of days to several weeks after the last dose, but in most cases, resolve within a month. Long-term users or those with chronic illnesses such as diabetes may require a few additional days to detox.1,2,3

Ambien Detox Treatment

Ambien detox is available on both an inpatient and outpatient basis. The drug is often abused with alcohol or other prescription drugs, making detox more complex. For those with co-occurring addictions, inpatient treatment is advised in which around-the-clock medical monitoring is provided with careful tapering of the drug. In some cases, benzodiazepines and/or flumazenil is administered to alleviate withdrawal symptoms. Following detox, clients participate in psychosocial counseling and therapy.4 After rehab, many people continue to struggle with insomnia, so it is important to talk to a physician about alternative treatment options to prevent relapse.

  1. Ambien Abuse. Drug Abuse website. http://drugabuse.com/library/ambien-abuse/ Accessed January 10, 2017.
  2. How long does Ambien withdrawal last? Addiction Blog website. http://prescription-drug.addictionblog.org/how-long-does-ambien-withdrawal-last/ Published January 2, 2013. Accessed January 10, 2017.
  3. Ambien Detox Symptoms, Timeline, Medications and Treatment. Mental Help website. https://www.mentalhelp.net/articles/ambien-detox/ Updated November 24, 2015. Accessed January 10, 2017.
  4. Ambien Rehab Centers and Addiction Treatment Help. Mental Help website. https://www.mentalhelp.net/articles/ambien-rehab/ Updated August 18, 2016. Accessed January 10, 2017.
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