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Ambien withdrawal treatment: How to treat Ambien withdrawal

While Ambien (zolpidem) is prescribed to treat short term insomnia, Ambien is not meant to be used over an extended period of time. Why? Mainly because how Ambien works in the brain  is known to be habit forming and can induce serious withdrawal side effects upon cessation of use. In fact, Ambien is classified as a sedative-hypnotic and is known to cause physical dependence after a few weeks of daily dosing.

Withdrawal is an unpleasant experience and depending on the severity of past use, can be potentially dangerous. Still, there are clinically approved ways to treat Ambien withdrawal symptoms once you’ve become dependent on Ambien. So, what are the most common detox from Ambien symptoms. What are the best ways to treat Ambien withdrawal? We answer these questions here. Then, we invite any remaining question(s) you may have in the comments section below.

Effects of withdrawal from Ambien

Effects of withdrawal include two subsets of symptoms: physical and mental/emotional. Physical withdrawal from Ambien can trigger the resurgence of insomnia and may cause more physical problems and frustration. And treating Ambien withdrawal can drain you mentally, triggering anxiety or panic as you find time to regulate your normal body function. The process of withdrawal from Ambien can be exhausting.

Withdrawal from Ambien symptoms

There are several symptoms which may come up during withdrawal from Ambien. Severe cases of withdrawal can include memory loss, hallucinations, and confusion. These symptoms can be dangerous and you may want to be monitored if you have been using high doses of zolpidem, or have been taking Ambien for months or years at a time. Other symptoms of withdrawal can include but are not limited to the following:

  • abdominal cramps
  • anxiety
  • apprehension
  • dysphoria
  • exacerbated insomnia
  • fear
  • mood changes
  • nausea
  • nightmares
  • panic attacks
  • shaking
  • vomiting

How to treat Ambien withdrawal symptoms

There are many options out there for detox and ways of coping with withdrawal symptoms. Options can range from inpatient to outpatient monitoring. Because Ambien withdrawal can be dangerous, sometimes it’s important to be monitored by a medical expert.

First, you can talk to your prescribing doctor to help you treat your symptoms. S/He can look for alternative ways to treat insomnia while you are withdrawing from Ambien. They can also prescribed medications that treat withdrawal symptoms. Also, understanding your past medical health will play into treating Ambien withdrawal symptoms and will impact the effectiveness of recovery. Looking at insomnia and the reason insomnia may be impacting it and addressing this concern specifically while you are withdrawing can helpful in treating your withdrawal process from Ambien. So keep in direct communication with your doctor to figure out a withdrawal plan together.

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Next, finding time and a support system to help while you withdrawal will 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. Sometimes there are remedies lying around your house that can help minimize the effects of withdrawal. For example, teas and natural sleeping aids like melatonin can be purchased over-the-counter.

Best way to withdraw from Ambien

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.

While you are slowly decreasing you doses treat any withdrawal symptoms that may arise. This biggest one being insomnia. Look for alternative ways to help with your sleep cycles. Sometime insomnia is a symptom of something else. Maybe you need to decrease levels of stress in your life to help you sleep. Maybe something psychological is impacting your ability to sleep. Seeking talk therapy during this process may also help you withdrawal from Ambien.

Ambien withdrawal treatment questions

Do you still have questions about Ambien withdrawal? Do you want to know more on how to treat withdrawal from Ambien? Please ask your questions in the comments section below and we will get to you promptly and personally.

Reference Sources: NCBI Zolpidem induced sleep walking
NCBI: Quetiapine treatment of Zolpidem dependence
NCBI: Modest abuse-related subjective effects of zolpidem

Photo credit: U.S. Department Veteran's Affairs

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41 Responses to “Ambien withdrawal treatment: How to treat Ambien withdrawal
michael
9:03 pm December 9th, 2013

Hi I was wondering I am on 12.5mg of ambien1 at bed time can I start to break the tab in half to approx. 6.25 and for how long what do you think? thank you for any help in this matter.

9:35 am December 12th, 2013

Hello Michael. You’ll need a personalized tapering calendar from your supervising/prescribing doctor before you start to get off Ambien. Ambien is a particularly sensitive medication and can induce seizures when you cut doses too quickly. Seek a medical opinion and then set up a dosing regimen over the course of 4-6 weeks to gradually lower doses for the safest withdrawal.

Jade
4:54 pm January 2nd, 2014

I have been taking zolpidem for 4 years now. I originally took it to help me get to sleep as I have sever arthritis (I’m only 30) & it would help me get to sleep. I also get terrible migraines & one day when I had a migraine I took a zolpidem thinking it might knock me out… To my surprise it didn’t put me to sleep, all my pain disappeared & I felt great! As it is a difficult drug to get I would take it in binges each fortnight, I even managed to take 30 pills in a 24 hour period! I would always get a very bad migraine when I stopped but it seemed like a small price to pay to escape from my pain once a fortnight. Over the last month I have been taking it everyday. I need to stop now as it is dangerous (obviously!) not just for me but for others as I often drive when I’m on it. I also have been flagged as a “dr shopper” & can’t get it anymore. I haven’t taken zolpidem for 3 days now & I’ve had my migraine as well as stomach issues but I’m worried the worst is yet to come as I can’t find any posts about anyone else withdrawing for using zolpidem in this way… Am I going to get through this ok or am I still at risk of siezures? I live alone so I’m worried…

8:31 pm January 2nd, 2014

Hi Jade. I’d suggest that you seek a medical opinion, and perhaps check in to a detox clinic, where medical professionals can assist you in a taper. At the least, be honest with your current prescribing doctor about misuse. There is a light at the end of the tunnel but you’ll need some professional help during withdrawal as well as possible psychological treatments to stay off it.

bill
2:05 am January 20th, 2014

I have been taking Ambien for almost 7 years and two years ago got real sick for several months physically and mentally I got better but never the same constant anxiety that i never had. Been to all kind of doctors no answers. I have been taking only the 10mgs all this time and a couple weeks ago I took twenty one night and 15 for three more then back to ten. I all off a sudden got all the withdrawal symptoms for four days at an extreme level was packed to go to emergency room the only reason i did not go I was scared they would put me in mental hospital. I did alot of computer work and now realize that it was ambien withdrawals all this time. My question is how is the best way to get off this and get rid of these horrible symptoms. I was going to taper but that will take too long as I feel like I am dying now. Please help me figure out best and quickest method.

1:02 pm January 20th, 2014

Hello Bill. I can only recommend that you search for articles from authority sources related to zolpidem withdrawal. You can search using these keywords: site:.gov zolpidem taper or site:.edu zolpidem taper Best of luck to you, friend!

Gifford
12:26 pm June 9th, 2014

I have been taking Ambien to 20 mg per day for years. II used up my months supply of Ambien 5 days ago so I had to stop cold turkey. I could not get anymore because they said I was at the maximum dosage already. This rebound insomnia is terrible otherwise I don’t think I have any other withdrawal symptoms. I cannot refill my prescription until June 15. In the last four nights I’ve gotten less than four hours of sleep. Will this pattern continue?
Shall I refill my prescription on the 15th and taper slowly or continue on cold turkey ?

7:48 am June 11th, 2014

Helo Gifford. You have experienced first hand the real downside to continued Ambien use – physical dependence. Consider this: Ambien is not meant to be used for more than 6 weeks at a time; this is what is written on the Rx guidelines and is published by its manufacturer. The decision to taper or stop is up to you; because you’re already on Day 5 of a cold turkey withdrawal, I’d suggest that you consult with a pharmacist or your prescribing doctor to report the symptoms and to learn more about your options.

Gifford
9:53 am June 11th, 2014

I have been following that blog. That is why I gave you my detailed background and asked the question I i did. My dr recommended a weeks supply of Valium- which is for anxiety not sleep. Sleep is my problem . Not anxiety . Again What do YOU recommend?

Gifford
10:24 am June 11th, 2014

My dr gave it to me for CPPS pain which it really helped in addition to sleep . Anyway is too late to go back. How many more sleepless nights can I expect?

Bill
4:32 am June 12th, 2014

I was on 10mg for 7 years and quit cold turkey due to extreme withdrawal symptoms and I was still taking it. The stuff is poison if you have been off a week or more especially if you don’t have any withdrawal symptoms stay off. The sleep returned to normal after about two weeks first week was tough second was better had to use Benadryl a few nights to fall asleep but after that just got better and better It has been four months and I feel better than I have in three years. Try not to go to doctors or websites because they know nothing . Be your own voice or ask people who have been there. Best of luck

5:53 am June 13th, 2014

Hi again, Gifford. Valium is a central nervous depressant and can make you feel sleepy, but it seems to be substituting one hard core pharmaceutical for another. In terms of sleep efficacy, I recommend a combination of lifestyle adaptations: mastering diet, exercise, meditation, and stress management are truly the final frontiers in getting a health night’s sleep.

Gifford
10:50 am June 13th, 2014

Again I ask how many more sleepiness nights can I expect since t had to go cold turkey from ambien? It has been 8 so far

Jade
1:23 pm June 13th, 2014

Gifford. It seems to me that the stress of not being able to sleep may be the reason you are still not sleeping. We it comes to bedtime your brain is telling you that sleep will not come easy. I know you don’t feel you have anxiety but your brain is experiencing stress which is anxiety, so taking Valium for a week or two may really help you. Its only addictive if you take it for more than four weeks. I use Valium to sleep at times. It doesn’t bring on instant sleep like ambien but it relaxes your brain and muscles enough that when you lay down you should fall asleep within 20 minutes max. Slowing your breathing down when in bed by REALLY helps too!
I hope this helps. All the best!

Gifford
2:36 am June 14th, 2014

I know all about ambien and what it does.but my question about how many sleepless nights I can expect after going cold turkey has not been unswered.
. If you don’t know please say so, rather than telling me info about Ambien that can be found on this and other Ambien sites.

Bill
4:02 am June 14th, 2014

I think you are looking for a definite answer and there isn’t one because everybody is different been on different doses for different amounts of time. What I know from my personal experience and research is that two weeks you should start sleeping better each week longer and longer. If you are not falling asleep then try the Benadryl it is the safest med on the market and it really helps to fall asleep. I personally would not take the valium cause you replace a monkey on your back with a gorilla . Any other questions you have I would be happy to help

Jade
2:41 pm June 14th, 2014

I know it’s difficult to get a definite answer but yeah, everyone is different & nobody can give you a definite day/time when your sleep will return to normal, which is very frustrating I know! It will happen though! If you’re still have trouble at the 14 day mark then see your dr. Sorry my previous comment didn’t help. All the best :)

Azeneth
5:10 am September 7th, 2014

My husband ran out of his ambien and the doctor will not do refills on it unless he takes this other anti-depresent that he doesn’t feel comfortable switching to. His starting to have withdrawal symptoms. What can we do?

Jade
5:46 pm September 10th, 2014

Just take the script for the other medication but only take the Ambien perhaps?

Ginge
4:55 am October 2nd, 2014

I have been on Ambien/Zolpdidem since 2001 (13 years) at a dose of 10mg per night. I have binged on it every now and still do every now and then. For example, I would take 50mg (5 pills) some nights during a particularly stressful time. As a result, I often don’t have enough of the medicine to tie me over until the next refill, which leads to inevitable withdrawal symptoms. At first, I didn’t recognize it as withdrawal — I thought maybe I didn’t sleep well or something else was wrong with my body. But overtime, I noticed and figured out the pattern of withdrawal — it’s a vicious cycle, and I wouldn’t wish it on anyone. I have experienced both physical and psychological symptoms from Ambien/Zolpidem withdrawal, both very unpleasant. The physical are lack of coordination, nausea, muscle weakness, heart palpitations, shortness of breath (very scary,) eye pain, burned feeling in the nose/throat/tongue/eyes, overcompensation on body movements, muscle cramps, and a physical feeling like I want to jump out of my body. Psychological symptoms are anxiety, crying spells, confusion, panic attacks, distortion of time, and hopelessness. I have come to control the psychological symptoms of withdrawal through self-talk, reassurance, and positive thinking — let me tell you though, it hasn’t been easy. Although the physical symptoms cannot be controlled until the withdrawal subsides, I have learned that the shortness of breath can be managed through slow, deep breathing. I wish I had never come across this medicine.

Brenda
9:02 am February 9th, 2015

Have taken 5-10 mgs Ambein for 21 years. The generic has not worked for me from the moment it came out. I talked with my doc and she agreed the generic is not working for me and we are in agreement that I should discontinue the drug. She is an excellent psychiatrist and I have a 21 yr history with her successfully treating me. This is where we disagree…….she said since the drug is doing nothing for me “just stop taking it”. Having worked for big pharma for 29 yrs, I question that discontinuation method and the more I read the more I believe I should have listened to myself. I have now been cold turkey off the drug for 15 days and have been experiencing severe ringing in both ears.
I have also been on 60 mg of Prosac for 21 years with success. In the past six months, I have also noticed it does not seem to be working well for me and I was feeling agitated, anxious and began experiencing memory loss which was quite noticeable to me.
Before we stopped the Ambien or began tapering off the Prosac ,we did a psychotrophic Genesite test and the results showed that only a few drugs, including Wellbutrin were in the “green zone” for me, most SSRI’s were all in the “yellow zone” and the one drug that was in the “red zone” for me was fluoxetine (Prosac). The report stated “use with increased caution and more frequent monitoring” and showed serum levels at normal prescribing amts may be too high and lower doses may be required. Also, it said Genotype may impact drug mech. of action and result in reduced efficacy. Finally, it stated “Use of this drug may increase risk of side effects”. We were both shocked at these results given the high dosage I have been on for so long. We began tapering the Prosac the same day as we stopped the Ambien….15 days ago. So, for the past 15 days I have titrated down from 60 mg qd to 40 mg qd. The plan would then be to titrate down to 20 mg for 15 days and then I think perhaps 10 mg for 10-15 days until off Prosac (I think my doc feels I can go down to 20 and then off the drug and she would then like me to start on Wellbutrin 150mg qd for 2 wks, then go up to 300 mg qd for maintaince.
First, my question to you is this: What is your opinion of the immediate d/c of Ambien for a patient like me? If you were me would you perhaps go back to 5 mg every other night for a month and then d/c Ambien to avoid withdrawl side effects? (Note: since we were doing both drugs concommmitly, perhaps that is why I am experiencing such loud Tinnitis in both ears? I did read it is sometimes a side effect of withdrawing from Prosac, altho I have not seen anything on Tinnitis and withdrawl from Ambien. Do you know of any studies showing such a side effect of that drug as well? Second, would you advise a different lowering drug schedule to withdraw from the Prosac for a pt such as myself or do you concur with my doc’s withdrawl schedule?
The only other side effects I have really noticed in the past 15 days are some additional memory loss and or confusion, some anxiety and fear of the future, muscle and bone pain (which is not abnormal for me when weather changes anyway), a continual cough that I can not seem to shake, very dry mouth and skin and hair. All of which I can manage except this severe Tinnitis is making it hard for me to concentrate and hear well.
Would you think that is normal in my withdrawal of these two drugs and if so, how long does it normally last? If not, what specialty doctor should I consult or do you know of a OTC type treatment that really works for Tinnitis?……I have never experienced this before in my life.
I am taking your advice and starting a mood and feelings journal today as I believe it would be helpful for me and for my doctor. I am also going to ask her to recommend a therapist for me to talk with since I am single and have lost many good friends to moves for their retirement years, death and just loosing touch since my retirement and my only family is my one brother and he lives 750 miles away. I am not one to talk about such issues with others that are not professionals anyway so I feel your advice to seek a therapist to talk with during these withdrawal months would be very helpful to me.
I am hopeful I have not over loaded you with all these concurrent events and my anxiety about making certain I withdraw safely and with minimal side effects. Thank you so much for any advice you might offer.

Jade
5:18 am February 17th, 2015

Brenda, I would suggest you come off it slowly. I have tried the cold turkey before & ended up have seizures! It is very dangerous to stop any medication suddenly!

susan
7:21 pm March 4th, 2015

I am susan, 81 years old, have been taking zolpidem 10mg for three years now, and I am about tostop taking it. I only started taking zolpidem because of severe eye pain (one side, right side), after cataract surgery three years ago, after 1 and a half years later my eye pain suddenly gone!! I thought this is the time to stop zolpidem, Actually I stop taking it three days now, I don’t sleep well and feel dizzy. My thoughts are should cut it half and gradually quit. Please advice, Susan

Wayne
12:52 am March 8th, 2015

I am taking 20 mg a day of Ambien. I have been doing this for 10 years . My physician has prescribed this to me for my chronic pelvic pain. I know it’s only supposed to be used for sleep but I also use it for pain. If you Google Ambien for pain or Ambien as a muscle relaxer and you’ll see that many others are doing this too. It will ease my pain in 15 to 20 minutes. It Brings imy pain from an eight to it to Less than two in that time. I do not want to withdraw as it is the only thing I found it to relieve my pain. I have tried dozens of other medications but both pain relievers and muscle relaxers but Ambien is the only thing that helps. But it no longer puts me to sleep at night. I’ve been getting Less than two hours sleep a night for the last six to eight nights. It used to work for both pain and my insomnia but no longer works for my insomnia. The insomena is cause by my 8 level pain. The problem is it only gives me pain relief for 2 to 3 hours using 5 mg of Ambien. Is there something else I can use for insomnia while I am on Ambien? My doctor knows this and says he would give me more Ambien but I am at The legal limit of 20 mg per day now. He it knows what I am going through but that has nothing else to suggest. what do you suggest? Please Dont say withdrawl because without ambien my my pain at aN 8 24/7. At least Ambien gives me some help for 8 to 10 hours of the day and keeps my pain from driveing me insane.

3:19 pm March 12th, 2015

Hello Susan. It’s not recommended to stop Ambien doses suddenly because of the withdrawal symptoms that may occur. I’d advise you to see a doctor, agree on a tapering schedule that you will follow and do it slowly and gradually to avoid possible discomfort. I don’t think you should do it on your own or without professional medical insight into the situation. Best of luck to you!

s.p. fig
11:59 pm June 28th, 2015

I am having Ambien withdrawal what other medication can I take I lieu of Ambien. my withdrawal symptoms are anxiety, nervousness, panic, and feeling sick to my brain.

10:35 am June 29th, 2015

Hello s.p. fig. It’s best to talk to your prescribing physician and report withdrawal symptoms. Your doctor can then advise you on what to do and prescribe medication to help ease symptoms. There are lots of over-the-counter medications that can help treat general nausea symptoms attributed to Ambien withdrawal. 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.

Debra
3:53 am August 23rd, 2015

Plase help me and my two baby sisters am 56,Tammy 54,Lee is 52. We are suffering, if I have 20 Will take that many 10mg, once a day,so will Tammy ,Lee is increasing her doses ,I believe Ambiens have stop me from having an appetite,hard time going the bathroom. I can take enemas,stool softer drink miralax still might not go have went over a week without having a b.m. Really need help .Want to live been to the hospital they gave me a enema for constipation,little results after two enemas ,I usually don’t drive when I take them but find myself driving now when my body crave them it’s a horrible addiction don’t remover conversations .Please help me and my Sisters.

Sharleen
12:47 am November 5th, 2015

I am hooked on ambian.. Been taking 2a day for bout two wks. Now I’m withdrawing- please help me cope with this… What can I do for the withdraw feelings?.. Thanks

Linda
11:56 pm December 4th, 2015

I was on ambien for a little over 3 weeks, 10 mg most nights. I’ve tried to get off, taking 5 mg for a couple nights and now just 1/4 tablet for 3. Seems like my sleep, or lack of sleep is getting worse each night. Did I try to wean off correctly? Any idea how long this will go on?

Lydia @ Addiction Blog
12:51 pm December 9th, 2015

Hi, Linda. Maybe, this plan doesn’t work for you, so I suggest you consult with your doctor to help you plan an individualized tapering plan only for you.

Glenda
1:14 am January 17th, 2016

I ran out of ambien & my Pharmacy says the Dr has not gotten back to them. I have been out of Ambien since Tuesday. I am now having anxiety & shaky. It’s Saturday so my Dr’s aren’t open. Is there anything I can do to help the withdrawals

Wayne
5:47 pm January 17th, 2016

It seems like the advise for getting off Ambien here is always ” see your doctor “. Many doctors don’t see any problem with being on Ambien or withdrawing from It.
My doc had me on 2x the recommended max dose for 10 years . He had me quit cold turkey not realizing there was a withdrawal problem with this medication .I would recommend talking to your pharmacist instead. They know much more about medicines than MDs.

Bill
6:29 am January 18th, 2016

How long and what mgs were you taking when you ran out would be helpful. Not much that helps but the one thing that did was Benadryl for sleep I was surprised that it worked but it did

Carol
9:32 pm March 30th, 2016

I am ready to get off Ambien. Down to a quarter of a pill around 2am when I wake up and can’t get back to sleep. Advil pm and natural pills are not working. I could really use some advise and some help. I want to quit it is affect my life. Been on it for years!

Lydia @ Addiction Blog
3:09 pm March 31st, 2016

Hi Carol. I suggest you speak with your doctor who can help you plan an individualized tapering plan. Moreover, you may consult with a pharmacist to recommend some over-the-counter aid, home remedies and teas to ease withdrawal symptoms.

maggie
12:26 am April 23rd, 2016

I have been on Ambian for over two years now 10mg. I also take 10mg oxicodene 2 a day and baclofen. I hate taking it and i want to srop. I have mid back pain…neuropathy bulging disk degenerative disc desease and early scholiosis. I want to stop!

Bill
5:15 am May 7th, 2016

You can stop but need to do one at a time the withdrawals can be hell I know. Just start by reducing your ambien by 1 mg a week or so until you are off. Cutting down by those small amounts should prevent withdrawals except maybe some sleep issues but even those should be mild if at all. You can do it you just have to be disciplined make a plan and stick to it

Rebecca
4:14 pm May 24th, 2016

I take little pieces of Zolpidem throughout the day when I start feeling highly anxious and physically uncomfortable, and I take an additional 10 mg at night to sleep. I guess my withdrawal symptoms are that can’t breathe correctly and experience exercise intolerance, so can’t work out like I used to. I am incredibly irritable. I sometimes take Adderall to give me clarity and pep, which also gives me more anxiety and insomnia. Vicious cycle for sure. I don’t know how to manage the horrible withdrawal effects through the day, so I keep taking more drugs. Already went through benzo detox program and lingering insomnia brought me to use Ambien instead of Valium. Not sure what to do now. Thanks for suggestions

Wayne
6:08 pm June 3rd, 2016

I have been off Ambien for a year now and I have only slept three hours tonight since . Before this I was on 20mg/day for 10 years. Could Ambien have permantly effected my ability to sleep?

Bill
5:16 am June 4th, 2016

If you already went trough benzo withdrawals the worst thing you can take is ambien. It is in the same family of drugs as a benzo it only midses one compound so that is why they are able to call it a non benzo but it’s not. Get off of that as quick as possible because it will just aggravate your situation.

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