Monday September 1st 2014

How to withdraw from Ambien

Planning to withdraw from Ambien?

Be prepared first. Ambien (zolpidem) is classified as a sedative-hypnotic but has many benzodiazepine qualities that affect withdrawal symptoms. Because you can become dependent on Ambien very quickly, withdrawal from Ambien is likely when using Ambien for more than a couple of weeks. So what are symptoms of Ambien withdrawal and what does Ambien withdrawal feel like?

Withdrawal is an unpleasant experience and depending on the severity of use and symptoms, it can be potentially dangerous. That is why there are clinically recommended ways you can withdrawal from Ambien. Here we review how you can withdraw from Ambien safely and if you should withdraw from Ambien at home, or not. Then, we can answer you questions about Ambien in the comments section at the end.

When do you withdraw from Ambien?

For the most part, withdrawal is a purposeful process that occurs when you decide to stop taking Ambien after regular, daily use. Withdrawal is a normal way that the body seeks homeostasis to regulate normal body function without needing Ambien in the body. When does Ambien withdrawal occur? You trigger withdrawal from Ambien anytime you’ve been taking zolpidem for longer than two weeks (this is why Ambien should only be prescribed for short term use). You also withdraw from Ambien when you have been abusing the medication and have created a physical dependency to zolpidem in the body.

How long to withdraw from Ambien?

How long Ambien withdrawal lasts depends upon duration and amount of use.  Generally, Ambien withdrawal starts about 6 hours after your last dose and symptoms tend to peak about 48 to 72 hours later. Symptoms of withdrawal from Ambien can then last several weeks afterward. In fact, the length of time it takes to withdraw from Ambien can last between a week to several months. How and why?

Because doctors use Ambien to treat insomnia, cases of insomnia reappear and even be more intense. Insomnia may last for several weeks to months later until you are able to find other ways to resolve sleeping problems. Psychological symptoms may also be present long after the initial phase of withdrawal has passed. These symptoms such as craving Ambien or obsessive thinking about Ambien can continue to be an issue.

Withdraw from Ambien symptoms

As you withdraw from Ambien, there are several symptoms which may come up during the weeks after your last dose of zolpidem. Severe withdrawal symptoms can include memory loss, hallucinations, seizures, and confusion. These symptoms can be dangerous, and are associated with cold turkey withdrawal, dual diagnosis patients on multiple medications, or sudden withdrawal from high doses of Ambien. Other symptoms of withdrawal include but are not limited to the following:

  • abdominal cramps
  • abnormal or aggressive behavior
  • anxiety
  • apprehension
  • convulsions
  • dysphoria
  • exacerbated insomnia
  • fatigue
  • fear
  • flushing
  • hallucinations
  • insomnia
  • lightheadedness
  • loss of personal identity
  • mood changes
  • muscle cramps
  • nausea
  • nervousness
  • nightmares
  • panic attacks
  • shaking
  • strange behavior
  • suicidal thoughts
  • sweating
  • tremors
  • vomiting
  • worsening depression

How to ease withdrawal symptoms from Ambien

The best way to ease withdrawal symptoms from Ambien is to commit to strict adherence to recommended doses and then to seek medical advice in the time-tested practice of gradual taper-off. Tapering Ambien doses is the safest way to ensure that Ambien withdrawal is not as severe or intense as simply stopping the sleeping aid. You can also ask your doctor for more information about treating severe Ambien withdrawal symptoms with pregabalin, a newer antiepileptic agent without strong potential for abuse and dependence.

Can I withdraw from Ambien at home?

Yes, it is possible to withdraw from Ambien at home. But it is not for everyone. You can typically withdraw from Ambien at home when you have been taking Ambien only as prescribed, and have your doctor’s OK. Because of the dangerous nature of Ambien, you should NEVER withdraw from Ambien cold turkey. Furthermore, do not discontinue the use of Ambien without first talking to your prescribing doctor. It is best that you follow specific instructions from a doctor on how to withdrawal and taper use of Ambien so that you are in the best possible comfort and safety possible.

Nonetheless, if you plan to withdraw from Ambien at home, make sure that someone else is around. This is one of the safest things you can do. There have been accounts of people driving and walking around without any memory of getting into the car when adjusting doses of Ambien. This can be dangerous as you may be convicted of a DUI. This is why it’s in your best interests to have someone around that can monitor and regulate movement when and if these sorts of withdrawal symptoms arise.

How to withdraw from Ambien safely

To withdraw from Ambien safely, slowly reduce doses of Ambien over time to minimize possible withdrawal symptoms. It’s important to reduce your Ambien doses slowly because when the doses are being tapered, the risk of severe side effects decreases.

The best way to withdraw from Ambien

The best way to withdraw from Ambien is to have your doses of Ambien slowly deceased over time so that your doctor can monitor progress and prescribe other medications or address other medical issues that may occur during withdrawal. The proper ways to decrease dosing will depend on the individual and any other health issues impacting at the time of discontinuing use of Ambien. If use or abuse of Ambien has gotten out of control, monitored detox may be the next step. This way, you are being monitored while you go through acute withdrawal which can help with any safety issues that may arise while you stop trying to take Ambien.

How to deal with withdrawal from Ambien questions

Are you wondering how to deal with withdrawal from Ambien? Withdrawal can be frustrating and complicated. Do you still have questions about Ambien withdrawal? Please ask any questions or leave us your tips for Ambien withdrawal you may have below. We will get back to you personally and promptly.

Reference Sources: NHTSA: Zolpidem (And Zaleplon, Zopiclone)
PubMed: Pregabalin in zolpidem dependence and withdrawal.
PubMed: Zolpidem withdrawal delirium
Connecticut Department of Consumer Protection: Brochure on Zolpidem Tartrate
Toxnet: Zolpidem
Daily Med: Ambien 

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12 Responses to “How to withdraw from Ambien
julie o'neal
1:01 am February 14th, 2013

I want to go off my ambein. I have been on10 mgs for almost 3 years. I need to know if i cut back to 5mgs how long to wait until I cut backagain? Should I go to a sleep center beforeI go all the way off?Im really concerned about how I will deal with insomnia after i go off.

8:20 am February 14th, 2013

Hello Julie. Decreasing your dose by 50% is probably too much to handle at once and can provoke withdrawal symptoms. Seek advice from your prescribing doctor first to ask for a tapering calendar. It’s better to slowly reduce Ambien doses over the course of several weeks than try to figure it out on your own.

Suzanne
5:33 am April 24th, 2013

Sadly I have been on ambien for years also, 5mg every night (I cut the 10mg tabs in half)…does it come in 2.5mg? My sleep problems are related to fibromyalgia pain so I am worried about the process of withdrawl and not sleeping again (not that it is so great right now). Any recommendations for how to go about this?

TG Hillman
4:36 pm April 29th, 2013

Greetings. My wife took Ambien on and off for about 8 weeks to treat menopause/hormone/anxiety-driven insomnia. She never took more than 5mg and, often, i cut them in half to 2.5mg. The first 4 weeks, about 3x a week. Weeks 5-6, 3x to 4x a week. Weeks 7-8, 5x to 6x a week. Some of these nights included 2-3 beers between 6-8pm.

As I primarily see people taking 10-40mg every night for weeks, months or years…I can only consider my wife being a mild or low-dose user. However, about 12 days ago she went off it cold turkey (assuming that being low-dose was a low-risk cold turkey).

She has had very bad anxiety and sleeplessness ever since. I’m talking 0-3 hours of sleep per night. Because we are self-employed, she HAS been able to stay in bed or recline and rest many extra hours a day…as opposed to getting uo for a 9-5 job. This has helped, but she is still getting worn down. We thought this would have ended by now.

Bottom line….should she STILL be trying a tapering schedule even at these low dosages and frequencies? Or…is the fact that she went cold turkey a reason to NOT begin a tapering schedule? Would it just throw her back into the fire again?

We were thinking a schedule of 2mg at 3x for a week….then 1.5mg 3x for a week….1mg….0.5mg…etc….done. That is, IF she should even go to tapering at all.

Any advice is greatly appreciated. Thanks you so much….TG

jake
12:53 pm June 1st, 2013

Please talk about Lyrica. It is a non narcotic but if you take enough of them you can get very high. How long does it stay in your system? What are the dangers of Lyrica (pregabalin).

Ben
8:16 am July 29th, 2013

I’ve been taking Ambien for a while now, probably a year? 5mg a night. The past few months it’s puts me to sleep for about 3-4 hours, then I wake up, and generally can’t get back to sleep. I’d like to switch medicine, (or find a better way to sleep!) how should I stop taking the Ambien to avoid withdrawal symptoms? (also, I have sleep apnea, and sleep with a CPAP every night.)

9:30 am July 29th, 2013

Hi Ben. You’ll need to consult with your prescribing doctor to set up a tapering regime for Ambien over the course of several weeks. Don’t try to guess on doses by yourself. Generally, from what I’ve read, zolpidem is tapered in a similar way to benzodiazepines. Check out page 10 of this manual for very precise guidelines: http://dss.mo.gov/mhd/cs/pharmacy/pdf/dur9-1.pdf

To get back to sleep at night, you might look into treating underlying anxiety. I’ve personally found psychotherapy and meditation practices help quite a bit. Setting the SAME TIME to go to bed every night does wonders for sleep.

sandy kurilich
4:00 pm August 29th, 2013

i havef been on ambien for aprox 2wks. cnt sleep without it. also on pain meds for chronic pain, which is why i started the ambien in the first place. even though i cant sleep, i am scared to take the ambien anymore. should i stop now while i can or is it too late:

roberto
1:00 am October 1st, 2013

I use stilnox 6 mg and 0.2 mg xanax for one half year only before going to bed . Last months feel weak and drowinses . Decided to interrupt the xanax and I am 5 month clear . I go with stilnox 6 mg before going bed and suddenly I had a Punic attack . I have a month that I used 10-15 mg stilnox when I see the signs of Punic . The Punic sometimes I have and two times per day .so I have out of control the quantity and the time of using stilnox . I need to tell smb what I can do because I have out of control using of stilnox .thanks

8:52 am October 1st, 2013

Hello Roberto. Have you consulted with your prescribing doctor?

Julie
4:43 pm July 10th, 2014

Doctors in UK have no idea that zolpidem has such terrific withdrawal symptoms. They think you can just stop in 4 weeks after halving, halving again, etc…….they do not recognize the dependency and anxiety they cause when at tolerance and during withdrawal.

elliot nesbaum
4:58 am July 27th, 2014

I Recently (5-6 weeks ago) Quit COLD TURKEY a Many Years Long Daily/NIGHT Dose of 5 MG Ambien. IT HAS BEEN HORRIBLE! Horrible Anxiety & Mental Confusion, Making Mistakes Writing Checks, Following Through on Important Tasks, Profuse Sweating Occurring Unexpectedly, Intolerance to Heat, and I Should Have KNOWN BETTER! I’m Just Now Beginning to Start Feeling Somewhat BETTER, and Did a Google search for Cold Turkey SYMPTOMS of Discontinuation! I’m 65, USMC Ret. Vietnam Combat Veteran, ptsd, use & rely on Xanax, but haven’t used Any anti-depressant type meds for Years, as I Cannot Tolerate How they Make Me Feel! Also have long term chronic pain, and using very low doses of pain patch. VA says I cannot take Xanax & Pain meds together, due to THEIR DR.s Over Prescribing & Now they are Trying to Over Correct their MISTAKES by With Holding the Only Med that Allows Me to Deal with Daily Stress & Anxiety! These Quacks at VA should All Be Prosecuted or at Very Least DISMISSED for Malpractice!! But POINT IS – DON’T STOP AMBIEN COLD TURKEY! Thank Heavens I was on a Small Dose or I SERIOUSLY DOUBT I WOULD HAVE SURVIVED, Without EMERGENCY INTERVENTION!!

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