Tuesday December 23rd 2014

Can you die from taking Ambien?

Can you die from taking Ambien?

Yes. You can die from an overdose of Ambien. Not only that, but some side effects of the medication can be dangerous in their own right, such as “sleep-driving” or suicidal thoughts.

How does Ambien affect the body and can Ambien get you high? Know what an Ambien overdose looks like? And how do you know if you’re at a high risk of side effects from Ambien? We explore all these and more in this article.  And we invite your questions about taking Ambien at the end.

Dangers of Ambien ingredients

Because of the potential for abuse, tolerance, and overdose, Ambien is only prescribed for short periods of time, in relatively small doses. But what is in Ambien that makes the medication so dangerous? Ambien poses three main dangers for those who take the medication, either in the short or long term.

1. Slowed brain activity

2. Sedative side effects can complicate some medical conditions

3. Possible addiction liability

Ambien is a sedative-hypnotic medication prescribed for people who have trouble falling or staying asleep. As a hypnotic, Ambien alleviates the symptoms of insomnia and helps people sleep through the night. Zolpidem, the active ingredient in Ambien, works by slowing brain activity. While this slowing of activity is helpful in insomniacs, it can also be dangerous, causing drowsiness or dizziness. In people with breathing problems or lung disease, the sedative effects can be even more dangerous. Zolpidem is also habit-forming, so there is the danger of Ambien get addicted.

FDA warnings about Ambien

Ambien should always be taken as directed, and never taken with alcohol or other medicines that cause drowsiness. The FDA doesn’t recommend the use of Ambien in people with certain health conditions, including:

  • a history of drug or alcohol abuse
  • a history of depression or mental illness
  • kidney or liver disease
  • lung disease or breathing problems
  • pregnancy or breastfeeding
  • suicidal thoughts

However, one of the biggest dangers of Ambien short term effects and long term effects  is that it can cause some people to sleep-walk or participate in potentially dangerous activities in their sleep. If you find out that you have been engaging in any of the following activities during the night and can’t remember them occurring, the FDA warns that you need to talk to your doctor right away. Some activities reported while users have been sleeping and on Ambien include:

  • driving a car
  • having sex
  • making and eating food
  • sleep-walking
  • talking on the phone

Serious adverse side effects of Ambien

Because Ambien acts directly on the brain, it can sometimes have serious side effects in normal doses. Anyone experiencing any severe side effects after taking Ambien should consult their doctor right away.  Some major Ambien dangers are:

  • activities while sleeping
  • anxiety and depression
  • difficulty concentrating
  • hallucinations
  • memory problems
  • pain, burning, and numbness in limbs
  • stomach pain or problems
  • strange or unusual behavior
  • suicidal thoughts
  • uncontrollable shaking

Signs of Ambien overdose

Taking too much Ambien can cause excessive drowsiness. Although the feeling of sedation may be subjective, drowsiness becomes truly dangerous if it begins to affect consciousness, breathing, or heartbeat. An overdose on Ambien may cause difficulty breathing, or slowed breathing and heartbeat. Ambien overdose can even cause the user to lose consciousness and fall into a coma.

How to treat Ambien overdose

If you’re worried you’ve taken too much Ambien, contact your local poison control center. However, if you suspect that someone is experiencing an Ambien overdose, and they’re either collapsed or stopped breathing, you need to contact 911 immediately. It may be a matter of life or death.

Help for Ambien use or misuse

Ambien is an addictive medication – chronic use of the Ambien may result in tolerance and physical dependence. Ambien abusers may need to take larger and more frequent doses of the medication to get the desired effects, which can be dangerous and even deadly. If you are addicted to Ambien, talk to your doctor. It is possible to kick an Ambien habit by gradually tapering the dose of the medication. You should never stop taking Ambien abruptly due to the withdrawal effects which can occur.

Taking Ambien questions

We  invite your question about taking Ambien here. Please know that we try to answer all legitimate questions with a personal and prompt response.

References: FDA: Ambien Medication Guide
PubMedHealth: Zolpidem
NHTSA: Drugs and Human Performance Fact Sheet for Zolpidem

Photo credit: brain_blogger

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18 Responses to “Can you die from taking Ambien?
Sleepless in CLE
4:12 am March 19th, 2012

I have been taking Ambien for about 2 years. I have not ever increased my does of 5mg, but do take it daily. I am finding that I am sometimes forgetful with names or specific words I would like to use while in a conversation. I am getting the sleep I need, for the most part. Is my temporary memory loss due to Ambien? Or onset of dementia.

From a 36 year old stressed woman.

5:34 am March 19th, 2012

Hi Sleepless. Thanks for your question. How often does this memory loss occur? Is it chronic and daily, in every conversation? Or only occasional? What has your prescribing doctor said or recommended about the problem?

I do know that dementia onset normally occurs later in life, but it might be worth looking into a diagnosis if you truly believe that there is a configure deficit in the language function or communication.

kristine
6:16 am June 1st, 2012

my brother took 6 pills and had a beer with it as well im not familiar with overdose on ambien but i know its not good to take medication with alchohol. HE has ran into walls and urinated himself has slurred speeching and dizziness. I told him drink water and to settle down and relax. what should i do to help and make sure nothing else happens

7:58 pm June 1st, 2012

Hi Kristine. I’d suggest that you take your brother for immediate medical attention.

Also, and this may sound unorthodox, you might want to record his behavior and show it to him later. Express your concern and tell him how you felt when the event was occurring. This may not be enough to stop him from drinking and taking Ambien again but you can try to reach out and see what happens. All the best to you and your brother.

Marshall
9:45 pm July 30th, 2012

I have been taking prescribed ambien 10mg/night at bedtime and I know how quickly it works. I also take 400mg prescribed trazadone at the same time and 2700mg prescribed gabapentin. I am an addict but have drank alcohol in addition to the pills on occaision. How dangerously close am I to not waking up when I do this? I would have 6-10 drinks but like I said only on occaision, maybe half dozen times over the past 2 years. I also know that since I only weigh 165 lbs at 6’3” the effects are multiplied. I still only manage 4-6 hrs of sleep and have awoke to find blood on the walls, doorway to bathroom and patio, tv back on . I know I haven’t gone outside my apt. though or tried to cook anything thank God. and I don’t, can’t drive, no car and physically unable to only a bike and I know That’s safe since I’m on the 2nd floor and its a hassle when I,m awake.

2:24 am July 31st, 2012

Hello Marshall. Thanks for your question.

NOT DRINKING ALCOHOL is the only way to stay safe while taking Ambien. Risk of overdose on Ambien increases when used with alcohol. Because these drugs enhance one another, the effects of both are much stronger than when they are taken separately

In general, it sounds like you’re really testing the limits there. Are you in recovery for addiction? Were you using another drug or is Ambien your drug of choice? And do you have someone that you can talk to about the use of these drugs while drinking in a face-to-face environment?

Maureen Kosta
2:23 am March 5th, 2013

I am 80 years old and my doctor prescribed the antidepressant Bupropion 150 mg. Because of my lack of sleep he prescribed zolpid5mg. Tonight is the first night I’m taking zolpidem. I’m scared. I’ve been having problems with my memory due to lack of sleep and now this. I don’t know what to do. Please advise.

2:16 pm March 11th, 2013

Hi Maureen. I’d suggest that you talk with your local pharmacist. Air out your concerns and seek advice from a qualified medical professional.

Ronald K. Carpenter
9:05 pm March 11th, 2013

My doctor has decided to take me off of Ambien, saying that FDA has decided that it is dangerous for people over 60. What is that about? I’m 75, and have enjoyed the comfort it provides for over 5 years.

5:02 pm April 12th, 2013

I’m not sure, but you can learn more here: http://www.fda.gov/drugs/drugsafety/ucm334033.htm

Mary
7:21 pm June 1st, 2013

Hi,

I am 35 years old and I have a 1,6 year old baby. I have been taking zolpidem daily for more than 8 months.

At first I started to take one pill because my problem was how to induce the sleep.

Now I take 2 or 3 pills per night because I have to wake up during the night to attend my baby and so I have the need to take one more doze to get asleep again.

Before taking Zolpidem my only problem was inducing the sleep but if I awaked in the middle of the night I could easily return to bed and sleep. So this drug has caused me this new situation of vigilia state during the night.

I am preocuppied because my Psyquiatrist gave me these pills and also Clonazepan but I am felling with a lot of hang over and I find it hard to breath (beforehand I had problems breathings but I am not sure if now it is worse).

Could you give me some piece of advice please?

I have thougt that maybe I could quit everything all of a sudden and try to manage on my own.

9:00 am June 3rd, 2013

Hello Mary. I’m sorry to hear of your trouble sleeping. Hypnotics like Ambien are not meant for long term use of more than a few months, or so. And having a new baby can be so physically and mentally demanding.

I’d suggest that you talk with your psychiatrist about the hangover feeling and seek a tapering schedule if you want to get off Ambien. Then, look into more natural alternatives such as melatonin, exercise, and meditation. They can really help!

Bessie
3:11 am July 31st, 2013

I was just prescribed 5mg Ambien to help me sleep as I have severe anxiety (panic disorder) and can’t shut my mind off at night. (I am also getting married in 11 days) I am TERRIFIED to take this medication. How likely is it that I will do something awful like sleep drive? (I shouldn’t of googled this medication :( )

amit
12:25 pm August 6th, 2013

i take 80mg zolpidem
plz help what can ido for stoping pill

7:36 am August 13th, 2013

Hello Amit. See your prescribing doctor. The best way to withdraw from zolpidem is slowly, using a tapering calendar/schedule that is made just for you and is supervised by a medical doctor.

John
5:49 am August 26th, 2013

Hello, IM 50 years old and have had 4 failed ulnar nerve operations on my arm leaving me with what I’m told is permanent nerve damage and constant severe pain in my arm and hand. They have me taking oxycodone every 4 hours to control the pain and this will probably be for the rest of my life. I hate taking any medications, I do not try, and I do not get high taking them, which I think is a dumb thing to do. Anyway, due to my extreme nerve pain, which becomes worse at night, IM consumed with the pain I’m feeling and usually need to take a 10 mg Ambien IR to be able to sleep. Sometimes I go 2 or 3 days without sleep because of the pain and I have taken a 2nd 10mg ambiance, which then makes me groggy enough to FINIALLY go to sleep and get a very needed 5 or 6 hours of rest. IM always very worried that I won’t wake up due to taking the 2nd one and maybe dying of an overdose. How much risk am I at taking this 2nd 10mg ambien pill when needed? Am I at risk of dying and not waking up? IM really worried, please give me the straight dosing facts and risk, thank you!!! John

6:33 am August 26th, 2013

Hello John. Have you asked your prescribing doctor yet about the second dose of Ambien? You’ll need an expert medical opinion for this.

KAREN VIERA
12:55 pm May 24th, 2014

Hi,I have been taking the generic ambien for over 20 years due to anxiety and insomnia. Zolpidem 10mg. to be exact. The most important thing to do is take it on fairly empty stomach and get in bed. do some breathing in and out through the nose ,put a evening meditation tape on and let yourself go to sleep. I have had some wierd things happen a long time ago, but that was before I DID WHAT THE DOCTOR AND YOUR PHARMACY WILL EXPLAIN. IF you have the disease of addiction ,then probably pills of any kind will be dangerous. I am not an addict and take only one per evening. this for me works well because if I don’t sleep, it can be way more hazardous to my health. people can have terrible episodes from sleep deprivation. Medicine is fine as long as we take it with a proper doctor who knows what he or she knows what they are doing and you are honest about your addictions. ALSO SLEEPYTIME TEA CAN HELP AND GETTING UP EARLY AND SOME EXERSISE EVERY DAY. Take care of yourself every day try to wean yourself off caffaine . Pill come from plants ,so if not abused, can be so very helpful for some people. For others, the natural way is the only way, due to the illness of addiction.

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