Sunday April 20th 2014

How long does Ambien withdrawal last?

Doctors do not recommend you take Ambien for longer than a couple of weeks at a time.  Ambien (zolpidem) is a sedative-hypnotic that reduces activity in the brain to allow for sleep.  So, whether you are treating Ambien addiction or just wanting to detox from Ambien for a while, you’ve come to the right place.

If you have become physically or psychologically dependent on Ambien, you are not alone. But what is withdrawal from Ambien like? What are symptoms of Ambien withdrawal and how long do they last?  More here about the withdrawal process of Ambien and what occurs over the course of the first couple of weeks when you stop taking Ambien. We also invite you to ask any questions about Ambien you may have at the end.

How long until Ambien withdrawal starts?

After your last dose of Ambien, onset of withdrawal symptoms can manifest a few hours to a couple of days later. Withdrawal symptoms are not as likely if you’re using Ambien within the prescribed two week period, but minor symptoms may still present themselves. A common symptom to experience with onset withdrawal is rebound insomnia. You may also have feelings of apprehension, restlessness, and increased anxiety. Other possible symptoms of withdrawal from Ambien which have been reported include:

  • abdominal cramps
  • dysphoria
  • depression
  • memory loss
  • panic attacks
  • psychosis
  • shakes
  • vomiting

Ambien withdrawal timeline

Ambien affects each person differently. Those who are also diagnosed with Ambien addiction or who have developed extreme dependency on zolpidem may experience a more difficult withdrawal process. However, overall symptoms 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. Below is a general outline of Ambien withdrawal and what symptoms to expect within each time frame.

24 – 72 hours after last Ambien dose – In this phase of Ambien withdrawal, you may experience bouts of confusion and memory loss. You could experience mood changes and have increased feelings of fearfulness and anxiety. For some people, hallucinations and psychosis are possible(his is on the more severe end of the spectrum). You may also have a harder time sleeping again or experience shakes and vomiting.

Week 1 after stopping Ambien – Sleep disturbance can still be present. Some people withdrawing from Ambienhave reported nightmares and continued anxiety. As you have used Ambien to sleep, these first few days can be almost unbearable as sleeping disturbances return. Drug craving is a challenge during this week.

Week 2 after stopping Ambien – Symptoms of withdrawal tend to even out and you can begin to feel normal again. Drug cravings, depression, and mood swings may still be present. Rebound insomnia should even out around this time, as well, unless you suffer from chronic insomnia. During this phase of withdrawal, symptoms can include possible panic attacks and increased psychological need for zolpidem.

Weeks 3-4 after stopping Ambien – If you have been taking Ambien appropriately you should no longer be experiencing symptoms. However, others who have grown psychologically dependent on zolpidem or who abuse Ambien still experience psychological symptoms around this time. Some may return to having trouble getting or staying asleep.

How long do Ambien withdrawal symptoms last?

Overall withdrawal symptoms of Ambien withdrawal will affect you within the first 72 hours after your last dose of Ambien. Rebound insomnia will manifest during this time as well. Symptoms of Ambien withdrawal can last anywhere from a couple of days to several weeks after your last dose of Ambien. Most symptoms should resolve themselves after a month after your last dose of Ambien. After this period, you may still experience post-acute withdrawal syndrome for several months. Hang in there and know that eventually you will feel a sense of normalcy return. Cravings and psychological needs may still be present for some people well after Ambien is no longer present in the body.

Ambien withdrawal: how long?

Ambien affects each person differently depending on the dosage and how long you have been taking Ambien. For those who have developed a dependency on zolpidem, a longer withdrawal period is expected. They will also experience the more uncomfortable or intense symptoms of withdrawal.

In general, if you’re taking Ambien you need to be careful of its physical dependency. Ambien is one of those medications with a likelihood of developing a dependence. Take Ambien only as prescribed by your doctor. Ambien is not a cure of chronic insomnia and should not be used as such. Doing this insures less likelihood of major withdrawal symptoms.

Additionally, former Ambien users have reported suffering Post-Acute Withdrawal Syndrome (PAWS) after Ambien usem, which is a set of persistent symptoms that occur right after you stop taking Ambien and persist for several weeks to months after you last doseof Ambien. Insomnia, nightmares, depression and anxiety are typical of Ambien PAWS symptoms. Psychological effects of addiction and dependence may also still be present long after you are no longer taking Ambien.

How long Ambien withdrawal questions

If you have any more questions regarding withdrawal from Ambien please ask. We do our best to respond to your accurately and promptly.

Reference Sources: FDA: Ambien Drug Label
National Library of Medicine: Modest abuse-related subjective effects of zolpidem in drug-naпve volunteers
DailyMed: Ambien CR
National Library of Medicine: Zolpidem withdrawal delirium 

Photo credit: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

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33 Responses to “How long does Ambien withdrawal last?
Roy
5:08 pm March 21st, 2013

Twelve weeks ago I was prescribed 10mg of Zolpidem for insomnia.
For the past six weeks I’ve been very gradually tapering the dose to the point where I am now taking about one third of a 5mg tablet. I have also been taking 2mg slow release Melatonin with no adverse effects of combining these medications.
I may have dreamt it but I recall reading somewhere that once Zolpidem is discontinued it should never be taken again – not even a very low dose for just a few days or all the side effects and withdrawal symptoms will return necessitating another prolonged tapering programme. Is this correct or am imaging it ?

Betty Rickenbacker
7:47 pm March 27th, 2013

I have been on ambien (generic brand) for about a year and do not want to continue. My Internist said when I stopped taking it the only thing that would happen would be that I would not sleep for a couple of nights and it was not addictive. What is your response to this? Thanks.

2:39 pm March 28th, 2013

Hello Betty. I’d suggest that you consult with a pharmacist for an expert opinion on Ambien dependence – physical dependence on zolpidem. We suspect some doctors of down-playing the risks and realities of prescription drug dependence. So, with more information, you can make an informed decision about whether to taper your doses as you stop taking Ambien, or not.

Tori
2:32 am April 11th, 2013

I’ve been taking Ambien CR 12.5 mg for 12 years. I rarely take more than one a night even though it only keeps me asleep about 4 hours now. I got a new doc when we moved to Calif. and she freaked out about it all and said I would be addicted the rest of my life, that since I am 58 I will have to take it the rest of my life. I think she was issuing me a challenge so I cut the CR in half about a month ago and have only been taking half dose and doing pretty good. I have not told my doc yet. I started having serious W/D symptoms last night and am in pretty bad shape right now which only confirms I need to completely quit right now. I’ve decided I’m not taking any more starting tonight. I’m worried about the seizure part. What should I do? Would it be better to now split the pill again to a quarter than to go cold turkey? I see my doc in a week, would it be appropriate to ask her for valium to help me off? I’m sick of this drug controlling my ability to sleep.

5:04 am April 11th, 2013

Hello Tori. I’d suggest that you call your doctor immediately and ask for suggestions. Usually a tapering regime should be implemented under doctor supervision, because factors for dosing are unique to each person…and it’s possible that a 50% decrease in Ambien is too much for you to handle. Seek medical advice to either continue with the withdrawal, or to ease up and change dosing so that it takes 4-6 weeks to get off Ambien. Good luck!

julie o'neal
5:19 pm April 11th, 2013

I have cut my dose from 10mgs into 1/3. Whaen do I just completly stop? I have been so moody and depressed that its hard to function. Do I just keep going? once Im not taking any at all how long will I feel this way when I have been feeling it since I started decreasing the dose?

8:37 am April 15th, 2013

Hi Julie. Please consult with your prescribing doctor for an individualized tapering calendar and advice. Tapering should always be completed under medical supervision.

Brenda
9:44 pm May 2nd, 2013

I have been taking ambien nightly for 6 years. No daytime side effects plus am Abe to get up if necessary during the night. Should I be worried

8:03 am May 7th, 2013

Hello Brenda. The long term effects of taking Ambien (for more than 6 months at a time) are not well known. Check in with your prescribing doctor or a pharmacist to air out your concerns about long term use.

Linda
6:50 pm May 19th, 2013

I have been on ambien for going on 20 yrs. It was prescribed to me after I had a ceribal aneurysm. My doctor put me on it. As sleep became harder, she increased the dosage to 10, then 20 mgs. I have reduced my intake to 10mg. Would it be advisable to decrease my dosage down to 5 and finally stop taking the medicine all together?

4:16 am May 20th, 2013

Hello Linda. I’d suggest that you speak with your prescribing doctor or a pharmacist about dose decreases. However, it’s a good idea to wait for approval before making dose changes.

Laura
10:31 am June 2nd, 2013

Hi,
I took Ambien because i had side effects from a herbal supplement that was causing insomnia. I took it for 6 weeks but was scared taking it throughout the whole time (Ambien). Last Tuesday May 27th was my last dosage. I was getting concerned as I started feeling depression around May 18th, about a month into it. Since stopping last Tuesday May 27th my depression has increased and my insomnia has been every other day. Last Tuedsay I didn’s sleep, Wednesday I did, Thursady i didn’t, Friday evening I did and today Saturday June 1 no sleep,insomnia. I feel like i am going crazy!!!! I can’t funvtion as a mom, wife or at work. Is this normal?? I also get headaches and my mouth is dry on and off throughout the day. I feel really down the days that I don’t sleep. The days that I sleep my mood is better, Please Help!!!!!

Laura
10:38 am June 2nd, 2013

Also, my doctor said I canquit cold turkey. The only thing she said was that I would be miserable for a few nights due to rebound insomnia. i’m sacred about my health & well being now.

8:54 am June 3rd, 2013

Hello Laura. The symptoms that you describe seem to fit those of Ambien withdrawal. There are some things that you can do: exercise for 30-60 minutes daily, take caffeine out of your diet, and consider meditation. This too, shall pass, although it seems very painful and uncomfortable right now.

Laura
7:49 pm June 5th, 2013

Is it normal to last this long? One week ago I stopped cold turkey. I slept Sunday & Monday night but last night I didn’t. I know it’s hard to predict but what is the average time to recover from this, took it for 6 weeks. heard that if you ate cherries you can increase your natural melatonin. Thank you for your comments they are helpful.

Laura
11:45 pm June 5th, 2013

Also, my mouth isn’t as dry feel it’s getting better, my mood is also getting better. I’m on my 8th day post. I have been excercising, drinking lots of water and doing yoga. I am reading all these scary Ambien post on the internet and it’s freaking me out.

5:47 am June 11th, 2013

Hi Laura. That’s great, thanks for sharing the tip about cherries and natural melatonin. Often, trouble sleeping indicates dis-ease about the past or the future. Have you tried meditating before you sleep? Or going to sleep at the SAME TIME every night. These two practices have helped me sleep tremendously after about 2 weeks.

Gary
8:58 am August 31st, 2013

I took 10mg nightly for about 6 months and then began tapering down until I was at 1/4 to 1/3 tablet nightly. During this period of time, I began to notice some shaking in my hands. Up until about a week ago, I was taking 1/2 a tablet on Fri, Sat. and Sun nights. I have been sleeping OK without it, but the hand tremors seems to be persisting. I intend seeing a neurologist, but wonder if these are typical Ambien withdrawal symptoms, and perhaps waiting a few weeks might be a reasonable idea. My fingers tremble during routine tasks, like typing, almost as if I were nervous. And yes, this all makes me feel VERY nervous and anxious.

12:32 pm September 2nd, 2013

Hello Gary. Restless limbs may be triggered by withdrawal from hypnotics and pseudo-benzodiazepines like Ambien, but they may also be caused by something else. I’m interested to know what is causing this and hope that you get a diagnosis soon. Please update.

Gary
12:12 pm September 3rd, 2013

That I shall. I’ve eliminated all possible causes for tremors (meds, caffeine, etc) and am going to give it a couple of weeks. One doctor suggested I just take an ambien and see if the tremors disappear. In any case, I will visit a Neurologist in the near future.

Gary
1:26 pm September 3rd, 2013

Oh, one other thing. A little research reveals that high doses of (3g per day) Vitamin B3 Niacinamide can be very helpful in alleviating anxiety and getting off benzodiazepines.

Mike
6:21 pm December 12th, 2013

I took 5 5mg ambien over 5 days and on day 4 started feeling like I had withdrawal. Overall, took Ambien for 8 days total. Now I have stopped. How likely is withdrawal? And for how long?

Don Johson
6:44 pm December 17th, 2013

After taking Ambien purchased over the internet, I now seem to be experiencing depression and anxiety. I`m also emitting a strange body oder, thus I`m wondering if the Ambien or toxins, or both, are playing into this? I used the Ambien acouple of months and went cold turkey on it now?

Lisa
11:03 am January 30th, 2014

Are you still receiving/answering messages to this post? I have some questions regarding discontinuation of Ambien. Thank you. Lisa

11:03 am January 31st, 2014

Hello Lisa. Sure. Go ahead and we can try to help as best we can.

chris
3:46 am February 7th, 2014

I have been taking ambien for 15 years, up to 5 and 6 a day. I did stop cold turkey and went to a hospital and was sent home the next day. I have been off ambien 11 days, how long will I experience this feeling of doom and cloudy feeling. I have ony sslept 8 hrs over the last 11 days and meds are not an option with the drs at the hospital.

Shelley
5:53 pm February 7th, 2014

I stopped ambien 3 nights ago. Still sleeping on 2 mg of klon. I was taking 10 mg. now I have high pulse and muscle pain leg twitching. Hoping it will improve. Ambien also made me nausea and constipated. Hoping this relieves. Not sure if should go back on an taper or just get through. It. I’m sleeping just in slot of muscle pain.

Nicole
4:55 pm February 10th, 2014

My doctor prescribed me ambien years ago for my insomnia. As the years went by, I have needed higher doses. I am taking 20 mg to fall asleep and then have to take another 10 mg just to get more than 6 hrs of sleep. I developed excruciating back pain that is unbearable. I have been to Mayo clinic, numerous neurologists and chiropractors to no avail. I tried going cold turkey off the ambien since my doctor never told me how bad this drug is and that long term use should not be taken with this drug. I can not sleep, can not think, can not function and my doctor told me to take ambien again. Funny thing is, my back pain starts to diminish when I quit taking it but everything else gets worse. I had to quit my job bc I can not function at all and my insurance is horrible and I only have it a bit longer but with my deductibles and no job I can not afford to go back to the doctor. Does anyone know if long term ambien use causes severe upper back pain and will this eventually go away? I tried staying off of ambien for a few months and it helped slightly but everything else got worse. I am so upset my doctor put me on such an addictive drug with horrible side effects without letting me know any of this and now my life is a mess along with my health!!!! If anyone has any knowledge please share bc I no longer know what to do…. Thank you!

Lele_2010
2:25 pm February 15th, 2014

I use herbal tea now at teavana to sleep they are great I use dream tranquil at night I sleep great with them I no longer use any sleepin med …

Christine
12:49 am March 5th, 2014

Oh my! I have been taking Ambien CR (generic) for the past 6 years all a while asking my MD if this wasn’t harmful and he always shrugged it off. I weaned myself down to half of the 10 mg for years but my sleep was short lived. Now my life circumstances have changed and I find myself able to sleep well during the day. I am having some liver issues so I decided to get off totally. I weaned down to 1/3 a night and then every other night. Now I am off completely for the last two weeks and the insomina rebound is making me crazy! I can go to sleep but then awake up around two and am up the rest of the night. About 6 a.m. I can go back to sleep for about 4 hours, just not soundly. I have tried Chamomile tea and Valerian Forte. I am in New Zealand at the time and they won’t sell Melanton without a script. My mood and mind are all over the map. I need sleep. A week of full uninterrupted sleep would make me a new person! But I refuse to go back to the Ambien after I’ve come this far. Also my restless legs has gotten unbearable the last two weeks since I stopped the 1/3 of Ambien. Any suggestions on how long the rebound insomina may last? Thanks for letting me vent!

2:25 pm March 5th, 2014

Hi Christine. Good for you! I like your can-do attitude. In addiction to regular exercise, a diet high in greens, and meditation…there might be professional behavioral sleep interventions that you can learn. Have you considered possible psychological interventions for underlying anxiety that can be related to insomnia? Or what about training specific to sleep therapy? From your message, it seems like you’re into trying new lifestyle changes….way to go!

VV
9:07 pm March 21st, 2014

I am taking Ambien for 1 year and now am off it cold turkey. How long will this horrible feeling of lightheadedness and confusion last.

carolyn
6:17 am April 18th, 2014

I would like to know how long does psychosis lasts if Ambien is the cause of it? I also have came across data concerning middle-aged women and Ambien concerning psychosis – please post more info about this. Thanks

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