Ambien Addiction - The Addiction That Began While Sleeping

Ambien Addiction - The Addiction That Began While Sleeping drug rehabilitation and alcohol rehabilitation

It usually starts out as someone just wanting to get a good night’s sleep. Innocently enough, they start out trying warm milk or tea before heading to bed. Nothing works. So, they’re left with a choice: continue not getting rest, which can affect daily activities, or taking a pill that guarantees a night of quiet comfort and bliss. Yes, they go for the pill. The drug in question here is none other than Ambien.



Ambien or Zolpidem is a drug that can be obtained without prescription and is to be used at most, for two weeks, though a few days is recommended by doctors. The effects of the drug are immediate, putting one to sleep in approximately 15 minutes. So, what is considered abuse? Usually, using more than the recommended dose (over 10 mg), for a few weeks builds up the user’s tolerance, causing one to need to use more in order to get the same outcome. Like most drugs, when mixed with other substances, like alcohol, there is an intensified effect. When ambien abuse occurs, people may take it orally, crush and snort it, or cook it for an intravenous injection.


How do you get high off of something that supposed to put you to sleep?

The Ambien brand specifically has become very popular among recreational drug users. Users often report that they get high by fighting the effects of the drug. This is done by not allowing the body to sleep which can cause visual effects and an overall high. For some people though, resisting the sedative effects helps them to feel the side-effect of euphoria more than sedation. Some people report decreased anxiety as well as perceptual changes, auditory/visual distortions and even hallucinations.


The company that produced Ambien, has put a protective covering on the drug which is supposed to prevent the possibility of snorting, however, to a serious drug user this is not an obstacle.


What are the side-effects of Ambien?

Regardless of what dosage one is taking of the drug, there are possible side-effects. Some of them include the following:

  1. Hallucinations, through all physical senses, of varying intensity
  2. Delusions- A false belief strongly held in spite of invalidating evidence, especially as a symptom of mental illness
  3. Euphoria and/or Dysphoria (the opposite of euphoria)
  4. Impaired judgment and reasoning
  5. Uninhibited extroversion in social or interpersonal settings
  6. Increased impulsivity
  7. When stopped rebound insomnia may occur
  8. Ataxia or poor motor coordination, difficulty maintaining balance
  9. Decreased libido
  10. Increased appetite
  11. Anterograde amnesia- loss of memory for events immediately following a trauma; sometimes in effect for events during and for a long time following the trauma


Some people take this drug for the side-effects; however, it may be less common than use of benzodiazepine (Any of a group of chemical compounds with a common molecular structure and similar pharmacological effects, used as antianxiety agents, muscle relaxants, sedatives, hypnotics, and sometimes as anticonvulsants). Because of the cost associated with the drug, use of it may be lower in the United States than in other parts of the world where there are generic brands available. No studies have been conducted as of yet to tell whether cost and availability of the drug is correlated with increased abuse.


Like any drug, if taken for extended periods of time, Ambien dependence can occur. Under the influence of Ambien, it is common for people to take more than is actually necessary because they have forgotten prior usage. In this particular, the elderly population is at particular risk. There is of course, also the percentage of the population that takes more than the necessary dose. It is recommended that users, who have a tendency for abuse, give additional tablets to a friend for safe keeping. Another suggestion is placing the medication in a cupboard locked with a combination lock since the side-effects listed above may prevent an individual from operating such a lock while under the drugs influence.


It is possible that before a user becomes fully acclimated to these effects, their symptoms may be strong enough to be labeled as a drug induced psychosis. Incidentally it is possible that antipsychotics, like Seroquel, may be prescribed in order to combat side effects and to aid in sleep. However, due to the hypnotic effects of both of these medications, it is probably better to combine Ambien with an anti-depressant which also has sedative effects. This is more likely to cancel out the side-effects of either drug, producing the desired result – relief from insomnia.


Users have reported sleepwalking and in some cases binge eating, driving, sleep talking, and performing other daily tasks have been reported during sleep. The user can sometimes perform these tasks as though they were fully awake. Conversations may be carried on and users may be able to respond as though they were fully awake. This is similar to the average sleep talker, the difference being that sleep talking is usually incoherent and has no relevance to the current situation. In the case of an Ambien user, speech can sound similar to that of an individual suffering from schizophrenia. A common symptom of schizophrenia is word salad, which is a jumble of incoherent speech.


An individual under the influence of Ambien may seem totally in control which can bring about concerns of their safety of the sleepwalker and others. Driving while under the drug's influence is generally considered several orders of magnitude more dangerous than the average drunk driver, due to the diminished motor controls and delusions that may affect the user. For all these reasons, proper treatment of Ambien abuse is necessary. Ambien abuse should be treated like any other type of substance abuse. The proper counseling needs to be obtained in order to stop a problem from becoming life threatening.



Rachel Hayon, BSN, MPH



Works Cited

  1. Ambien.com (2004). AMBIEN® Prescribing Information. Information About a Short-term Treatment for Insomnia - Ambien.com Home Page for Health-care Professionals. Sanofi-Synthelabo Inc. New York, NY 10016. Retrieved on 2007-06-9.
  2. Depoortere H., Zivkovic B., Lloyd K.G., Sanger D.J., Perrault G., Langer S.Z., Bartholini G. (1986). Zolpidem, a novel nonbenzodiazepine hypnotic. I. Neuropharmacological and behavioral effects. Journal of Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics 237:649-58.
  3. Kang, Peter. "Ambien Patent Extension Seen Positive For Pfizer, Neurocrine", Forbes.com, 2006-04-10. Retrieved on 2007-9-06
  4. S. Afr. Med. J. (January 2000). Extraordinary arousal from semi-comatose state on zolpidem. A case report. National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI). Retrieved on
  5. Schlich D., L'Heritier C., Coquelin J.P., Attali P., Kryrein H.J. (1991) Long-term treatment of insomnia with zolpidem: a multicentre general practitioner study of 107 patients. J. Int. Med. Res. 19:271-9.
  6. Maarek L., Cramer P., Attali P., Coquelin J.P., Morselli P.L. (1992). The safety and efficacy of zolpidem in insomniac patients: a long-term open study in general practice. J. Int. Med. Res. 20:162-70.
  7. Kummer J., Guendel L., Linden J., Eich F.X., Attali P., Coquelin J.P., Kyrein H.J. (1993). Long-term polysomnographic study of the efficacy and safety of zolpidem in elderly psychiatric in-patients with insomnia. J. Int. Med. Res. 21:171-84.
  8. Caldwell J.A., Caldwell J.L. (2005). Fatigue in military aviation: an overview of US military-approved pharmacological countermeasures. Aviation, Space, and Environmental Medicine 76:C39-51.
  9. Evidente, Virgilio Gerald H., Caviness, John N., and Adler, Charles H. (2003). Case Studies in Movement Disorders. Seminars in Neurology 23:277-284. Thieme Medical Publishers. 26 Jan 2004.
  10. Pritchett DB, Seeburg PH. "Gamma-aminobutyric acidA receptor alpha 5-subunit creates novel type II benzodiazepine receptor pharmacology." Journal of Neurochemistry. 1990 May;54(5):1802-4.
  11. Wafford KA, Thompson SA, Thomas D, Sikela J, Wilcox AS, Whiting PJ. "Functional Characterization of Human Gamma-aminobutyric AcidA Receptors Containing the alpha4 Subunit." Molecular Pharmacology. 1996 50:670-678.
  12. Perrais D, Ropert N. "Effect of zolpidem on miniature IPSCs and occupancy of postsynaptic GABAA receptors in central synapses." Journal of Neuroscience. 1999 Jan 15;19(2):

Topic Discussion

  1. Addict

    I've taken this medication three different nights now and honestly, I haven't slept this deeply in ages! However... from the time I take the medication to the time I get to sleep - I have no memories of this time period the next day. Also, if I am sleeping and someone wakes me up after I've taken the ambien, I won't remember anything the next day from being awake at the time. Really upsetting to my boyfriend the next day...

    • Addict

      One time I ended up taking Ambien and then I left the house on foot a mile down the road looking for my dog, instead of looking for my dog I went visiting friends at 10 p.m. I think I heard firecrackers that night but it seemed like gunfire. It was an exciting night, and my friend said I didn't seem to be to worried about Patrick. He was home when I got home.

  2. Addict

    hi i take about 100mg of ambien a night and now i am suddenly stopping use of it. What is gonna happen?

    • Addict

      Well if you're taking 100mg a night...and have for some time you will feel like you have the flu for about a week but it will pass and taking any more in that time will only make it worse.

    • Addict

      How in the world did you take 100 Ambien and wake up, and what Dr. would give you that many. I was taking two a night now my Dr. has suddenly cut me back to a half a tablet and that does nothing for me. She gave me Lunesta waste of money and tastes horrible and doesn't work at all. I am scared that I won't be able to get enough to sleep I scared.

  3. Addict

    I'm now in effects of this drug , its very OK ! i love it .. I'm being addicted lol ! but i don want to die with it !!! I'm now in air !

  4. Addict

    I have been taking ambien for over 7 years now on and off. I have come to the point where I have built up a tolerance for it. Last week I got my Rx refilled, and that night took 3 pills initially, like I usually do, and in the past I have had a tendency to take a couple more after the effects have kicked in. So about 5 or 6 total. I always woke up the next day feeling refreshed and like I got a good nights sleep, even though I don't remember anything, or only remember short mental images for the time the ambien kicked in. However last week after I got the refill, and took my 3 pills, the next day when I woke up I noticed that I only had 1 pill left. I thought I may have spilled them on the floor, but found nothing! I searched frantically, and didn't find any, not to mention I made a huge mess of my house knocking things over. I can't believe I took 29 pills in one night. I'm surprised I'm not in a coma or dead. I didn't mean to take that many, and I don't remember taking them. I live alone so I know no one took them from me. I am addicted to ambien!. I know that's bad. I just wanted to share this and see if anyone has the same problem. When I woke up the next day, I was a bit drowsy but other than that felt normal. I was upset because now it meant another full month till my next refill. I;m not happy and am disappointed in myself.

    • Addict

      Well I haven't taken 29 in one night (that I know of, lol) but I'm up to 3, and then another one or two after that when I'm intoxicated with it so I'm in the same boat as you. I even drink 5 beers nightly and then take 3 ambien and a klonopin to get to sleep. I feel awesome the next morning, but don't remember sh$% from the night before. No depression side effects or health problems. Been doing this for like 4 years now. Same thing every night. What are we supposed to do?

    • Addict

      I could relate to your comments on Ambien. I've been taking 10 mg for over ten years. I can't sleep if I don't take one. I always run out because I take more than prescribed. I also had days after I picked up the prescription only to find 1 pill in the bottle that was to last me a week. I used Ambien when I drove; I get in a cleaning frenzy and become very chatty Cathy. I went to rehab to deal with alcohol, Percocet and Ambien. Ambien is my drug of choice and the hardest to give up.

    • Addict

      I have been taking Ambien for twelve consistent years. It allowed me to go off opiates. With Ambien, it allowed me to sleep through the abominable pain I had been living through. I have had to raise my levels from 10 to 20. Now on to 30 with a half pill at 4-5am. I feel no effect for at least two hours. The main dose lasts 4 hours or so after a 4 am trip to the restroom; I will take another to get back to sleep. This will take about an hour. Sure I am an addict. I cannot sleep without it, especially if using a cpap machine. I am proud to be off any and all pain killers. Ambien is a problem, is but a small one. I enjoy the deep sleep it gives. Without it I could not use the cpap machine. I avoid alcohol and mixing of other drugs. Best of luck. Has anyone been on this drug consistently for more than 12 years?

      Stuart

    • Addict

      You are describing the hell I am living....did you find a solution? HELP!!!

      • Addict

        It works best if you don't eat dinner and wait till you are about to sleep. Then take about 1 1/2 or 2 wait about 10 minutes (not 15 or 20) and eat dinner. It will put you right out. Slowly as your tolerance goes down you can start cutting back more and more till you can sleep naturally. I was in the same boat till someone told me about that and now I am so happy. And on the bottle it says to take on an empty stomach. Just try it and remember most of sleeping is mental, if you convince yourself this won't work then it simply won't.

  5. Addict

    I do the same thing , email people and don't remember anything I take many of these pills and was asleep when
    I did it.. I fear I am going to overdose while asleep...

    • Addict

      I have been on Ambien 11 years since colon cancer. I actually sleep through the intestinal pain lying on my back at night now. Late at night I would get on EBay and buy things I did not really need. The funniest/worst occurrence was the purchase of several cars at 1-2 am in the morning-in another country in a foreign currency. I am in the United States. The cars were in England. I actually followed through with the purchase. My wife (now ex) was quite upset and angry. I had no memory of this, but EBay emails confirmed it. I still have the cars which are classic and extremely rare here.

  6. Addict

    How do you get off of this shit........

    • Addict

      I'm right there with ya i need help also 3 pills and 3 beers i cant live like this any more ,,,,what is the answer

      • Addict

        How do you get off of it? Been on it for a year.

    • Addict

      I got off it cold turkey. I have been on it for 2-3 years. I built up a tolerance to it. I had to take more and more. I began having withdrawals during the day. I knew my body was addicted. I went off it cold turkey. The withdrawals lasted 3 days. I would describe them as panic attacks one right after another. I had terrors. I am scared that I will never sleep a good night again. I am having a lot of trouble accepting the Ambien road is over.

  7. Addict

    I take ambien occasionally to help me get a full night sleep. In the morning I wake up with so much energy it is unbelievable.I sleep 7 full hours and wake up without feeling any side affects but full energy.

  8. Addict

    I have read so many things and do not know what to believe. I have post traumatic stress disorder and have taken sleep aides from the health food store which left me with Vertigo and not feeling well. I have not had any of the usual side effects with Ambien and it leaves me refreshed however I do have one weird side effect and I was not sure at first if it was the Ambien. But it is. I am usually a person who is cold and likes the heat. But I have gotten heat sick several times and living in NYC where there is no air and we are constantly having heat waves it has made me sensitive to heat. I am super sensitive and usually if there is a side effect to be had I get it but really I have not had anything except the heat exhaustion. I mean sweating, etc.

  9. Addict

    I feel for every one of you. My brother was dressing and going to work in the middle of the night, drove his car and parked it somewhere, lost his glasses, wallet and cell phone; and lastly, flooded his apt., . An ambulance was called as he was passed out cold when he flooded the apt. Spent a week in the hosp. and then was transferred to a psychiatric facility for 3 weeks before being transferred to a healthcare facility. Diagnosed as Dimension and psychological problems. Has to be under constant care and cannot live on his own anymore!!! When I spoke to him last night he was having a fit because they wouldn't give him Ambien to sleep. He has become very, very hostile about it. When he's in his right mind, he will tell you that he takes about 10 a week because that is this only medicine that will work. His long term memory is still good, but his short term is gone. He also talks off the wall about things that are very real to him, but we know that he is saying is not true. Please, please, please see or talk to your doctor about an alternative before it is too late.

  10. Addict

    i have been taking Ambien 10mg for about a year now. i love it i take it every night. I often text friends at night and fall asleep and not remember what i was talking to them until i go back and read all the messages, i live alone and this is a great pill my doctor gives me 90 day supply so i have only to see my doctor a few times a year,

    • Addict

      Hey Paul i have taken Seroquel for sleep but quickly seems like I am immune.. can you tell me a little more about Ambiem.

      • Addict

        Nighthawk,

        I found the following two sites very informative when it comes to Ambien use, abuse and addiction. Hope you find these two sites helpful as I know you will find the information you are looking for.

        Ambien Abuse and Ambien Addiction

  11. Addict

    hey guys... question about Ambien, I was an opiate addict for a long time so seems like I still need more of any cns or benzo to feel any relief. Just got 10mg Ambien script from doc, ate 2 whats a good dose to make everything cool...? Thanx dearly

    • Addict

      First off, I'm in the same boat as you are. I was addicted to painkillers for approx. 6 years (methadone, hydrocodone, oxycontin, dilodid, fentanyl patches, etc.) I finally hit rock bottom and went and saw a doctor about my problems. He got me on Suboxone which took care of the withdrawal symptoms and made me feel "normal". He also gave me Ambien so I could sleep at night. Well after 2 years of being on Suboxone and Ambien my doctor got shutdown by the DEA so I had to find a new doctor QUICK. I'm scared to death of the withdrawals. Well I got a new doctor that informed me that Ambien in addictive and that I should've only used it for no longer than a couple weeks. He refilled my 30 day supply and said we need to get me off of Ambien. I'm starting to ramble but I read your comment and related to what you're going thru so here's some of my advice (for what it's worth). If you REALLY have chronic pain suboxone will take care of some of the pain and won't let you get that high feeling if you try to take more than prescribed. You could take 10 and it'd only feel like if you took 3 it doesn't do any more after about 3. So let your doctor know that you either want to control your pain but not abuse your pain meds or that you want to completely wean yourself off everything. He'll probably start you out on 3 or 4 8mg suboxone and then slowly work you off of them. About the Ambien, I'm having to start weaning myself off of them so I don't have any advice other than don't mess around and get dependent on them. They to only use it for a couple weeks. It'll work only taking (1) 10mg tab a night. Hope I could help. I know what you're going thru and promise you there's a way out even though it seems impossible!!!

  12. Addict

    I need help, I think I am addicted. I cant sleep not for one minute if I dont take one or 1 1/2 per night. I actually feel jittery/fidgety during the day. I am actually scared, will I ever be able to get off and just sleep normally?

  13. Addict

    Hey guys just wanted to say that I haven't been sleeping right for about two months. Sometimes I don't sleep for like 5 straight days but no one believes me. I've tried a lot of things and nothing works only Ambien but instead of taking one I have to take two so I can sleep. The thing it's that the doctor doesn't want for me to take two he said that I'm abusing it but I tell him that that's the only thing that will put me to sleep.

  14. Addict

    Hey I feel a bit better after reading all of your comments. I need to stop last week I took two Ambien and went to bed. Somehow I thought that the grass needed to be cut at 10:30pm and I cut off three toes. I can't deny that I need help.

  15. Addict

    Wow I never knew people could get addicted to Ambien. Well that was before I figured out it was a benzo. My suggestion to anyone taking Ambien is to only use it on occasions. Don't make an every night habit out of it. And people who have had prior substance abuse issues this is not a good idea to be taking either. Benzo withdrawals can be some of the worst withdrawals out there. The problem with benzo withdrawals is they almost always occur along with seizures this isn't something you should ever try and tackle cold turkey. A taper method is to be preferred but under the guidance of a professional. I would definitely talk to a detox facility before ever trying to kick benzos.

  16. Addict

    I have been taking Ambien for a about 3 years now by subscription through my dr. 30 10mg's every 2-12 months. But lately I got my hands on some more. I have used 90 pills in 21/2 week. I take them recreational for more of a 'hit'. I use it to sleep and a little to unwind right before bed. It's out of hand and I know I need to stop. Any ideas would be welcome. Thanks again!

  17. Addict

    My husband takes Ambien to sleep but it doesn't work instead he ends up sleeping all day. He takes more than he is suppose to along with Flexeril, Percocet and Vicodin. Is there any danger of this? One time he took too many and started to shake vigorously and had hard time to wake him. Can someone tell me something about it please?

  18. Addict

    I live with an addict. She will wake up in the middle of the night and take more pills. The worst is not remembering that she did it. She doesn't remember where she got it before either when she was sober. Does anyone know why?

  19. Addict

    My brother attempted suicide after many months of Ambien. He was not able to get any more and was drinking while taking Ambien.

  20. Addict

    I have Chronic Fatigue, Fibromyalgia and Neuropathic Herpes Zoster (Shingles). My Chronic Fatigue was in remission since 2007 until Dec 25, 2012. It went into remission because I had a doctor that gave me IVIg treatment recently due to a manager at work violating my ADA restrictions in my personnel file I had to take a LOA because it returned. And Yes, I am Back on the Ambien 10Mg I have been that interested in abusing those kinds of drugs but when a doctor suggested I go off of it and see if my daytime sleepiness would stop. I did that but not gradually he just told me to quit. After two months I was a mess. I then was not able to sleep from Dec 25 to Last Friday when Rheumatologist said I must restart the Ambien to correct my sleeping as I had not slept for almost two months more than 2-3 hrs. and that is my story with the exception of mentioning the brain fog.

  21. Addict

    My mom was on it and one night her talking woke me up, I went into her room and she said she was talking to a little monkey friend who visits her often. It was really sad to try and explain to my adult mother who raised me that talking monkeys don't exist and that it was the Ambien that is altering her reality during sleep/night.

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