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Ambien detox symptoms

Ambien (zolpidem) is used to treat insomnia, or difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep. It works by slowing activity in the brain to allow sleep. While Ambien is a non-benzodiazepine hypnotic, it acts on the central nervous system in ways similar to benzodizaepines.

So, what can you expect as you detox from this psychoactive medication? And is there a preferred method for quitting Ambien? We review here…and invite your questions about Ambien detox at the end.

Ambien detox: How long?

Sleep problems usually improve within 7 to 10 days after you start taking Ambien. However, Ambien should normally be taken for short periods of time. So, if you take zolpidem for 2 weeks or longer, Ambien may not help you sleep as well as it did when you first began to take the medication. But what happens when you take Ambien for a period of six (6) weeks or longer (considered long term use)?

After regular daily dosing of Ambien for a couple of weeks or more, the central nervous system adapts to the presence of zolpidem.  This is a process called “dependence” and is characterized by a set of symptoms which manifest when you significantly lower or stop Ambien dosing altogether.  These symptoms, also known as withdrawal, can persist for days, weeks, or months after use…depending on a few factors:

  1. The length of time you’ve used Ambien
  2. The dosing amount/frequency of Ambien dosing
  3. Your general health
  4. Your medical history

To generalize, overall symptoms of Ambien start a few hours to a couple of days after your last dose of Ambien and can last for several weeks after peak symptoms have resolved. In fact, Ambien affects each person differently. People who develop addiction to or extreme dependency on zolpidem may experience a more difficult detox process than those who take Ambien for short period of time at low doses.

Symptoms of Ambien detox

Symptoms of withdrawal which occur during detox from Ambien include but are not limited to:

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  • abnormal extroversion
  • agitation
  • anxiety
  • confusion
  • depression
  • insomnia
  • mood disorders

Ambien detox side effects

Never come off Ambien cold turkey. Ambien detox can cause adverse or serious side effects. This is why any Ambien detox requires medical supervision. In fact, the safest way to detox from Ambien us under medical supervision. Your doctor can help you first taper down your doses of Ambien over the period of a few weeks (or more) and set up an alternative plan for dealing with problems sleeping. Additionally, medical supervision helps identify and treat problems as they occur. Tell your doctor if any of these symptoms occur:

  • aggressive behavior
  • hallucinations
  • loss of personal identity
  • strange behavior
  • suicidal thoughts
  • worsening depression

Questions about Ambien detox

Do you still have questions about Ambien detox? Please ask your questions in the comments section below and we will get to you promptly.

Reference Sources: AARP: Ambien side effects
State of Connecticut: Zolpidem
Medline Plus: Zolpidem

Photo credit: mrhyata

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25 Responses to “Ambien detox symptoms
Debra L
7:41 pm September 12th, 2014

I’ve been on Zolpidem 12.5 mg every night for over 3 years. I have been on Alprazolam XR 3mg every day for over a year and alprazolam for 10 years of the lowest dose. Im also on 900 mg of Gabapentin daily. All prescribed. I’m running out. I moved 3 hours away. I’ve made doctors appointments and then was denied as a patient. Yesterday, my 4th doctor appointment but the 1st one face to face. When she saw my pill bottles she said “I don’t want you as a patient. We will refund your Co-pay”. So now I supposedly have a ” nurse practitioner ” appointment but I could not get in until 10/20/14. I will be out of these meds before then. I’ve always trust my PCP and took these meds as prescribe. I’m 61 and had major surgery 01/2014. I have premature atrial contractions with bouts of tachycardia. When I run out should I admit myself somewhere ? I live alone. Truthfully, I’m scared. What will my body/heart do?

6:23 am September 13th, 2014

Hello Debra. I’d suggest that you seek advice from a pharmacist; you may need to start tapering doses now to avoid a cold turkey withdrawal in October. But you definitely need medical advice and a plan before moving forward.

Deanna B
3:31 pm October 17th, 2014

I was forced to go cold turkey because of the doctor’s office poor planning and no one in FL will say they will prescribe this drug now. I have been on it nearly 7 years. It took awhile for me to figure out that it worked best on a nearly empty stomach but once I did it worked great and I never had any problems like others have reported. My problem now is I have severe depression for over a year now with suicide ideation and have been forced to stop taking ambien. Everything is getting worse. I can’t breathe, my joints are aching and needless to say I am making plans. The reason I went on it was to avoid dependency on pain meds for a bulged disc in my neck and I also have RLS. Plus I have IBS/C and pain meds make it worse. How long will detox symptoms last after 7 years dependency and how much worse are they going to get?

2:31 pm October 22nd, 2014

Hi Deanna B. Fist of all, stopping Ambien cold turkey is not good, especially if you’ve been taking it for 7 years. The withdrawal is expected to last several weeks, read this article for more info: http://prescription-drug.addictionblog.org/how-long-does-ambien-withdrawal-last/ AND see if you can get a doctor to prescribe something to lower the severity of your symptoms, or you can ask a pharmacist for help.

sal
2:29 am January 7th, 2015

I have been having issues with sleeping and was given Ambien by a doctor who suggested I take
one to two tablets (they are 5mg each). Started on Dec 12th and took on 5mg for about 10 days. It made me sleep but had somewhat of a headache type feeling when I woke up. I had followed up with a Healing Counselor to ween of the drug, when I started to do and had sleeping issues again and started to take it again. However started getting panic and anxiety attacks and got completely off the drug since Christmas and up until today still getting anxiety which come on at different times. Its been about 10 days since I went cold turkey and hoping the drug will get out of my system. Do you have any advise? Thank you. Sal

Dianna C
1:58 am January 22nd, 2015

A pa at my doctors office put me on Ambien and a new pain pill to get me off vicadin. Started having having halutions and siezers in my sleep. Went on for a month but I didn’t remember anything in the morning. Then one day I started having flashes of what was happening during the night. I was doing all kinds of things during the night. And then I remember taking pain pills and Ambien every two hours. I was afraid I had almost killed myself. I have real bad high blood presure and it was out of control, I take meds for it ,they weren’t working. I have been to the ER four times. Went off Ambien and pain med cold turkey. I know it was a bad idea. Spent yesterday in the ER. They helped. Am taking different meds and feel a little better. Did get some sleep last night. How long will the chills and sweats last?

1:11 pm January 26th, 2015

Hello Dianna. Symptoms of Ambien withdrawal can last anywhere from a couple of days to several weeks after your last dose of the medication. Most symptoms should resolve a month after you quit. Drink lots of fluids and eat healthy meals to prevent dehydration and help the detox process. Hang in there and know that eventually you will feel a sense of normalcy return.

Donna
8:16 pm February 12th, 2015

Have taken ambiem 10yrs doctor took me of cold turkey I am freaking out l know I’m addicted please help

1:42 pm February 17th, 2015

Hello Donna. Can you ask your doctor to keep prescribing medications to last you through a gradual taper. You may not be addicted, but your body has developed dependence and that’s why you are now experiencing withdrawal symptoms. You shouldn’t be going cold turkey off a medication after ten years of use. Please ask for a proper tapering schedule and help to get off.

Lois
4:09 pm March 5th, 2015

Can you recommend Ambien detox at home? I live alone but have a lot of willpower. I definitely don’t want to go into an institution. Also, I have cats that depend on me and provide me with very good company.

1:39 am March 12th, 2015

Hello Lois. The following link leads to an article that explains the course of Ambien withdrawal and what you can do at home to get through this time: http://prescription-drug.addictionblog.org/how-to-withdraw-from-ambien/ Please feel free to write again if you have any other questions.

Cathy
12:46 am March 14th, 2015

Please help me, I have been on ambien for 8 years and now the doctor wants me off. I also want off due to side effects of not remembering things that I do after taking them. 2 months ago I fell down 13 steps in my house and broke my sternum and some ribs. I have no memory of any of it from the fall to the ambulance to the emergency room. I woke up in hospital room and was there for 5 days. I started the process of cutting down the ambien and it was working while I was also on heavy pain meds. Now I am off pain meds and the need for full ambien is back. I am having major panic attacks, and feel like I want to crawl out of my skin. Even taking the whole 10mg is not helping, I was always on the12.5 u til we started the process of getting off. Now my doctor only gives me 10 pills and wants them to last for 30 days. I feel like I am going crazy. I have to keep calling and asking for refills

rose
10:30 pm March 22nd, 2015

13 years an ambient user – mostly 7.5 mg. – 10 mg. Many home detoxes which never got me below 2.5. Once was prescribed 2 potent drugs to take while slowly reducing ambient, both increased anxiety and left me bumping into walls in the morning. How can I trust my doctor when he’s the one who’s been prescribing me the drug? Plus, I don’t like the idea of going to a detox center only to be given more drugs. I feel adrift and desperately want to get off ambient.

12:20 pm March 26th, 2015

Hi Rose. The best way to withdraw from Ambien is have your Ambien doses slowly reduced over time to compensate for withdrawal symptoms. It’s important to reduce your Ambien doses slowly because when the doses are being tapered, symptoms are less severe. In most cases, doctors will advise you to switch to an equivalent dosage of a longer acting benzodiazepine, like diazepam, and then taper down from that. You may be able to take alternative sleep medications to help treat insomnia, which is a common Ambien withdrawal symptom. Even though some people can detox from Ambien at home, it’s not generally recommended and you should seek your doctor’s help.

lora
12:28 pm March 29th, 2015

I have an autoimmune disease of the thyroid my antibodies are as high as 3196. I was taking 10 milligrams of ambien and cut down to 5 but I’m up at 1:30 AM. I want to get off ambien it’s wrecking my health. I’m going to see a functional doctor who is running labs to see what is causing the increase in the auto immune response. I’m on a paleo diet no sugar, Dairy grains I know gluten. I’ve been on ambien for almost 3 years. It’s affecting my total health I need help. Do you have any more suggestions I’ve tried many herbs, Yoga, exercise outside in nature, what else can I do?

Katie
11:45 pm April 4th, 2015

I am in the same boat ..12 years prescribed…suddenly ripped off…what surprises about the responses here is that no seems to think that what was done to us by Doctors is not legally actionable….they did wrong and violated Their oath “To Do No Harm”……and put us long term victims in severe jeopardy…the “recovery time” quoted by the moderator as weeks even months is Not accurate….ambien stores in the fatty tissues of the brain it much more realistic that you will fighting your wait for years and years….I think all of us should start a class action suit…I know I will feel Much better if i try and do something that will prevent this from happening to other folks……just saying

11:32 am April 14th, 2015

Hi Lora. Seems like you are doing everything you can to stay in good mind and spirit. One question: How long were you taking Ambien? If it was longer than a couple of weeks, you may have developed physical dependence and now your brain is experiencing a change in chemical balance. What did your doctor say after running all the tests? If the issue is what I assumed, then you just have to hold on till your brain returns to homoeostasis and you can sleep on your own again.

jackie
2:34 pm May 18th, 2015

Hi, I have been on ambiens about ten or eleven years and I know I am very much depended on them, I am on 10 mg one pill at night but have taken more than one at a time. I hate that I want them.I of course don’t have none right now and missed my appointment and just found out that my doctor no longer gives his patients prescriptions without an appointment so therefore I am forced to go cold turkey and my next appointment is not due to June 19. I want to stop but I feel like when my appointment comes I will take the ambiens again, please tell me what can I do and I’m already feeling some withdrawal. I don’t want to be hooked on ambiens no longer!

1:37 pm May 22nd, 2015

Hello Jackie. The worst part of Ambien withdrawal is the insomnia. But, make no mistake to believe that you are having trouble sleeping because you are not getting your regular dose before bed. Ambien actually, tends to produce insomnia in detoxing patients as it leaves the system. Talk to a pharmacist for alternative ways you can help your sleep cycles. Some general OTC medication can help you treat nausea and GI tract upset. Also, NSAIDs such as Ibuprofen, Tylenol, or acetaminophen may be helpful for the general aches and pain you will experience with withdrawal. And finally, home made teas can help support the central nervous system and calm the nerves.

Next, find time and a support system to help impact withdrawal positively. Talking to someone close to you or a member of a support group when you’re craving Ambien can be helpful in treating psychological symptoms, and also useful to prevent getting back on the medication once you go for the next appointment.

Gwen
12:46 am June 10th, 2015

I want to get off Ambien, and Klonapin. I believe both are keeping my “binge drinking” going — usually once a week or so. I can go about 3 months and then relapse. I need help, please. When I was in outpatient treatment, they tried to tell my psychiatrist they didn’t think I could stay sober with these two meds. Do you agree? Do I need a new psychiatrist, and what can I take to sleep, otherwise (I.m on 12.5 now, which doesn’t work very well). I definitely need help. Please advise. I am a mental health professional with a doctoral degree. STILL NEED HELP!
Thank you. Gwen

Lisa
9:11 pm October 26th, 2015

Been off for 2 nights no bad feeling is that normal

Rebeca
5:51 pm January 4th, 2016

I have taken 10 mg nightly ambien since 2012. I quit once in 2012 for several months. I cut my dose in half September 2015 for a week with no side effects.So then December 31st 2015 I took my last dose and flushed my pills. Jan 1st i had mild insomnia,I took two benadryl and some sleepy time tea and was fine. Jan 2nd I had a panic attack ,tool .25 xanax and went to urgent care. Jan 3 I had a mild panic attack that went away after 5 min. I took melatonin,drank tea and slept OK. Today is jan 4th. I have mild tachycardia,blood pressure is good and anxiety is thru the roof. I called off work in fear of another attack. My questions are the following. Did taking the xanax set me back? Am I out of the clear for chances of a seizure? I understand I should have tapered however that is not an option. Neither is seeing a doctor in the next few days. Please give me an honest assessment. Thank you.

Yvonne
5:53 am August 26th, 2016

Have been taking zolpidem for over 20 years, 10 my and adjusted to 5 mget 2 years ago. Tapered off over a period of about 2 weeks. How long will my withdrawal last? I now take melatonin to help with sleeping. Have a regular time and routine before bedtime. My body seems to be adjusting and some nights are better than others. Jut hoping that I get back to normal. So what timer frame am I looking at?
Thanks,
Yvonne

4:26 pm August 26th, 2016

Hi Yvonne. After your last dose, the onset of Ambien withdrawal symptoms was probably manifest a few hours to a couple of days later. A common symptom to experience during withdrawal is rebound insomnia, so I am glad you have the melatonin to somewhat manage that.

Now, after two weeks of being Ambien free, symptoms tend to even out and you can begin to feel normal again. Drug cravings, depression, and mood swings may still be present. In the following few weeks you can expect for most symptoms to subside. Although, you may still experience psychological symptoms around this time. Some people return to having trouble getting or staying asleep.

I’d say that the worst part is in the past for you at this point. It will only get better with time. How long exactly – I cannot say because each recovery pace is individual. And, after 20 years of Ambien (zolpidem), I’d say that it will take up to a year until you feel completely normal.

Pam
8:13 pm October 23rd, 2016

About 5 years on Zolpidem. Also drank alcohol socially while taking. Started at 5 mg and 2 years ago started cutting in half to start the process of weaning off. After cutting those in half, finally stopped 4 months ago. Been having sleep problems on and off, taking over the counter sleeping supplements now and then. Just recently, things have gotten worse and nothing helps, I can hardly sleep. My primary physican prescribed Trazodone thinking it’s caused from worry and anxiety. I’m so afraid to take it because I’m not sure if it’s anxiety or still suffering withdrawals. Do you think the ambien withdrawal would still be affecting me? And if so, should I try the Trazodone? Don’t want to get hooked on something else but maybe I need rehab? I’m 61, a runner, and in pretty good health otherwise, but haven’t been able to exercise much lately since I’m exhausted. Would appreciate any advice you can give me. Thank you!!

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