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Calls to any general helpline (non-facility specific 1-8XX numbers) for your visit (IP: will be answered by American Addiction Centers (AAC) or a paid sponsor.
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Is Ambien a narcotic?

Is Ambien a narcotic?

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No, Ambien is not classified as a narcotic in the U.S. According to the Drug Enforcement Agency’s (DEA) classification under the Federal Controlled Substance’s Act (CSA), Ambien is a Class IV substance on par with other prescription medicines. Drugs in Schedule IV have low potential for abuse, limited physical, and limited psychological dependence relative to the drugs or other substances in schedule III. The drugs in Schedule IV also have current medical use.

But, what are narcotic drugs? If you want to learn more about narcotics addiction and treatment considerations, what you can do to address it, and what are your long-term rehab and recovery options…read here in our Narcotic Addiction Treatment Programs and Help guide.

What is Ambien?

Ambien is the brand name for zolpidem, a non-benzodiazepine sedative-hypnotic, central nervous system depressant that is mainly prescribed as a sleep aid. Ambien is usually prescribed for short-term treatment of insomnia and can be taken for up to 4 weeks to treat sleep problems. Ambien might also be prescribed for the treatment of particular types of brain disorders.

Is Ambien addictive?

Although research has shown that tolerance and dependency usually do not occur after 4 weeks of therapeutic use, tolerance to Ambien (the need to increase dosage to achieve the same effect) may develop with chronic use of the sleeping pill. Physical dependence can also develop, as indicated by withdrawal following abrupt discontinuation of Ambien. However, simple developing a tolerance or a dependence on a drug does not mean that you are addicted to it. In order for addiction to occur, you must experience at least one of the four characteristics of addiction:

1. You begin to crave Ambien.
2. You cannot stop taking Ambien.
3. You take Ambien for non-medical or recreational purposes.
4. You continue to take Ambien despite negative consequences.

Be cautious! Abusing Ambien recreationally or in doses/ways other than prescribed can lead to dependence and addiction. Learn more about Sleeping Pill Addiction Treatment Programs and Help to get ready to find the best addiction treatment program for you.


Should Ambien be classified as a narcotic in the U.S.? Personally, it doesn’t seem like a wise decision. I think that other prescription medications, like the ingredients in Tramadol, show more dangers than Ambien in terms of addictive qualities, and although people can overdose on Ambien (especially when seeking suicide), it seems to be clear-cut as a medical aid. What do you think?

Can you not get to sleep without Ambien? Do you use Ambien to calm down, or have you used Ambien without a doctor’s prescription? Are you afraid that you might be addicted to Ambien? Post your comments and discussions here and we’ll respond to you in a video. You can also learn more about how to help prescription drug addicts here.

Leave a reply

Monday, April 25th, 2011

Hi, thanks for the info. I used Ambien myself to help me sleep, and it works great, so far this is the best sleeping medication I've ever used, just make sure you don't take alcohol while using this!! because if you mix alcohol and ambien together it will act like a date rape drug! and you won't remember what happened.
Ed Childers
Thursday, June 23rd, 2011

Is ambien really a narcotic
Narcotic Not
Tuesday, September 27th, 2011

It seems more than clear that Ambien it NOT physically addictive if taken for more than 4 weeks or for that matter any length of time and the article concludes it should not be rescheduled as narcotic as it simply is not narcotic nor addictive.
Thursday, December 15th, 2011

Should this med be under lock and key with all other lock down meds?
Addiction Blog
Thursday, December 15th, 2011

Hi mj. Thanks for your question. Ambien is stored at controlled room temperature 20°–25°C (68°–77°F). Yes, you can keep Ambien under lock and key, especially if you have children in the house or are around those who may misuse it. Ambien does have side effects, and is listed on this FDA medication guides page: Does this help?
Esther Everett
Sunday, January 15th, 2012

I want to know what the long-term effects of taking Ambiem every night for five years or longer.
Addiction Blog
Monday, January 16th, 2012

Hi Esther. Using hypnotics such as Ambien for more than 4 weeks can lead to damaged sleep staging or insomnia. Additionally, Ambien acts on the central nervous system and slows the brain’s activity. That's how it works. So if you want to stop taking Ambien, you must seek medical help. Activity in the brain can rebound and race out of control to the point that seizures can occur. Do you want to get off Ambien for good?
Friday, August 24th, 2012

My spouse has taken Ambien for 4 years and I truly believe he is ADDICTED. He has even managed to get two scripts from two different Doctors because he had reached his max dose. He orders hundreds of dollars worth of STUFF on line in the middle of the night and does not always remember ordering it or how it was paid for. His Dr. is aware of this, but he does have joint pain. He also takes this while driving and with pain meds. I do not know where to turn, but this addiction has ruined my marriage.
Addiction Blog
Wednesday, September 5th, 2012

Hi Anne. Yes, drug addiction can lead to major disruptions in intimacy between couples. You may feel like your husband simply hasn't "shown up" for the past few years. So...where to get help? 1. A family addiction treatment professional. Schedule a consultation with a psychologist with experience working with couples or families. Go in with a goal: identify the next steps in your relationship, try to work things out, set limits. Whatever it with someone who has experience and they can help guide you through. 2. Al-Anon. It's not just for families of alcoholics. Here, you can learn how to find happiness for yourself, whether you stay in the relationship or not. You learn how to stop enabling addictive behaviors and start to stand up for yourself. Plus, you get support from a group of peers. 3. A physician. Consult with your family doctor about what's going on and seek a medical opinion or referral to other solutions. The more open you are about what's going on, the more doors will open to you! Does this help?
Saturday, April 20th, 2013

This site has been very informative. I have been on ambien for slightly over 2 years now. I have had episodes were I might want to try and get high from the drug from time to time. Whenever I do this activity, I wind up regretting it. Every time I have taken the drug in order to get "HIGH" I never know what has happened until I wake up and I am told a unbelievable story of all kinds if real stupid things I do after I took the dose. I have absolutely no memory of any of the events that happened while I was on the drug. When I finely come to my right mind, I am there to face the consequences of what I did while I was under the drugs effects. Needless to say it is NEVER good. I have done some crazy stuff while under the effects of this drug. Things that I would have NEVER have done if I was in my right mind. Beware.
Saturday, May 4th, 2013

I had to go a week in detox to get off ambien. I am now a outpatient. They do urines screens. A delayed order of ambien came in the mail several days ago and I took 10 in two days. My screen is 48 hours away will it show up on the screen. I hear it leaves the body fast.
Annie Jordan
Wednesday, May 22nd, 2013

After taking 20mg of Ambien for sleep for years, I was told I would no longer have it. It was time to lower the dose and eventually stop using it altogether. It is a drug that should be classified in the most dangeroous category. I have ha a multitude of psychological problems which are associated with withdrawal. I have not felt well, I have been very angry, and felt very lost. And of course...have not been sleeping. Those of you who are going to be withdrawing from Ambien,,,beware, I do not think physicians understand the gravity of the withdrwal effects. All of a sudden we can no longer use it for sleep, beecause the FDA has decided it does not clear fast enough from the body. I am angry that I have been ill for two weeks...unable to work. Beware...
Tuesday, May 28th, 2013

Ambien is extremely addictive.
Sunday, June 23rd, 2013

I have been on Ambien for insomnia for roughly 3 had just become a part of my routine...10mg....but I would break it in half and try to take the smallest amount to get me to sleep....I ran out before it came in the mail a few days ago.....I decided to just go off cold turkey....I didn't like having to rely on something and take control of my life....I have been off for 4 nights....and have been ill ever since....shaking, vomiting, stomach aches, headaches, fogginess, terrible dreams....just trying to get through the withdrawal.....I wish I had never started taking either have to stay on it forever or never take it....I knew about the side effects, i.e. getting up and doing strange things before I started them, but that never happened to me while taking it, but never knew just how it affects the brain and how terrible the withdrawal symptoms would be.....I just want to get through this and be well....hope this helps some people here....
Thursday, January 16th, 2014

I have been on ambien for about 5 years, on and off. I have slowly weaned myself off. Have not slept for 3 nights. Doctor has no answer. really starting to effect me. I don't know what to do.
Saturday, March 15th, 2014

I have been taking ambien for a little over 7yrs. It controls my life. I take more than I am supposed to because the 1st one isn't enough anymore. I have done some crazy things and not remembered the next day. My family fears for me. I just want sleep. I sometimes go for days without sleep. I have 2 prescriptions a month one of them mine and the other belongs to someone else. This is 60 pills and I still run out and have a couple of days that I have to do without. Those are the worst days. I get sick and very irritable.I never would have believed that I would become addicted to a drug. I hate the feeling. I have cried many tears over Ambien. My best friend & worst nightmare. It is a crazy thing and I wish I would have never started taking them. So if you have never taken and you are just thinking about it.........RUN in the other direction!!!!!!
Monday, June 9th, 2014

I went 3 days without any ambien i was taking about 50ms then ran out i became tearfull aggitated hot dizzy it wss terrible i have some now but will lower my doeses will that help
beverly paredez
Friday, September 5th, 2014

I use ambien to sleep at night and sometimes I use it to calm down
Sunday, November 16th, 2014

Is it illegal to have 2 prescription of this drug with 2 different Insurence I don't know how to put a stop to this do I contact her doctor or medical Insurence
Sunday, January 25th, 2015

Ambien may currently be classified as non-narcotic Sch IV, but that is only because there isn't enough known about zolpidem and other "Z" drugs (e.g. Lunesta). New studies have shown that these drugs affect GABA receptors in a similar way as benzodiazepines (xanax, klonopin, valium, etc). The Z drug binds to the GABA receptors that are associated with sleep. Now, research has shown that Z drugs such as Ambien actually do bind to all the same GABA receptors as benzos. Therefore, the FDA has been urged by the DEA to reclassify these drugs as Sch III Narcotics. If taken for an extended period, and abruptly stopped, you WILL experience benzodiazepine withdrawal effects... Which is a very serious problem. Unlike Opiate withdrawal, benzo withdrawal can induce seizurez snd cause irreparable brain damage. Physicians know less about the drug. It should be administered and taken in the same respect as benzodiazepines. Physicians and Psychiatrists should be versed on how to safely taper patients who have had long term exposure, especially once tolerance levels have risen. A prolonged taper schedule similar to benzodiazepine tapering should be employed, and because of the dosages available, titration is going to be needed toward the end of the taper. My message is BE CAREFUL!
Lois Russell
Saturday, March 21st, 2015

I have been taking 30-40mg. of this in a twenty-four-hour period. I first started taking 1-1.5mg. a day three or four years ago, but after a very stressful total knee replacement a year and a half ago, together with necessary extraction of all my lower teeth while I was still in intensive care, I felt some post-trauma. In about three months I began to notice depression in myself and very frequently had anxiety attacks - fear that someone in a crowd of commuters would knock me down (which has happened). Because of my lack of teeth, my choices in food were (and still are) limited. I completely lost my appetite for food and began to vomit after at least every other meal. About two months ago I started to take 5mg. for anxiety attacks, and it worked. Since that time my depression has gotten worse, I feel mentally fuzzy and stay in bed most days. I want to quit, and I need to go it alone, without the support of family or friends, who have no understanding of this problem. About how much should I decrease the daily dose, and how fast should I do it? Thanks. Oh, and I forgot to mention that I usually drink two or three beers at the same time that I take the Ambien. Not good, is it?
Wednesday, April 8th, 2015

Ambien is highly addictive. I originally got a prescription to combat stress related sleep issues after losing my dad. This turned in to a total addiction and in the end I was ordering the pills online and taking more than 30 per day. I ended up in treatment for 32 days, 12 of those were withdrawing from the Ambien. I am now 9 months sober and attending 12 step meetings daily to kick this addiction. It is powerful stuff!
Saturday, May 30th, 2015

It is always very powerful in the psychological aspect, and it only makes it difficult trying to get family and/ or friends to understand what it's like. Although, the best thing to do is to live one day at a time, and make a change for the better every day. I have been a recovering addict for multiple years now and having gone through everything I did I can truly say that regardless of anyone's opinion, only yours matters. Always trust that inner voice, the voice of reason. Allow the burden of addiction to be lifted off of your shoulders more and more every day sober. Good luck and God bless everyone in their times of trouble and hardship.
Tuesday, November 3rd, 2015

Well I have been band from one pharmacy because I have been getting my Ambien from 2 other places, at the time we were going out of town and country because of deaths in the family. This started late last year and continued into this year. I have always had trouble with sleep and I am PTSD with Manic Depression, wont go into all of that. I only take the Ambien at night in bed when I am ready to go to sleep. I don't see any other reason to take it. Due to the stress and sadness of all that is going on I have increased to 1 1/2 sometimes 2, but things are may change as I hope we do not have to travel out of the country anymore. The Pharmacist that band me was very nasty about it and did not tell me why she way snooping on me, or why it was a big deal about me have them from two other places, just that I could not come there anymore. I still have five orders there along with my other meds. Mind you I don't take anything else, I don;t drink or smoke or anything, just trying to get some sleep, can I report this or what do I do, just let it go. How can they just get in your business and tell you what you can and can not do. Why didn't she just tell me I could not get the Ambien at the other places and explain to me why, by the way I still don't know why. Any real answers as to why a pharmacist can police your med intake that your doctors perscribe.
Addiction Blog
Wednesday, November 11th, 2015

Hello Tina. If you are not satisfied with your pharmacist's service, you could file a complaint. I came across this government site that might be helpful to you.
Friday, August 5th, 2016

Ive been in stilnox in Australia since about 2000. Then after 2 kids i started taking 2 every night. Someimes even when i have a nana nap in the arvo. 2 more
Friday, November 18th, 2016

Having been on ambien for 5 years and having had friends and family on ambien for long periods of time I can say.. 1. Ambien is absolutely addictive and it's the only drug besides opiates that I have seen many responsible people look to find ways to get more than recommended. 2. Taking more than 10 mg will cause even the most experienced ambien user to have black outs where they don't remember their own actions. Ambien black outs aren't just "things were a little bit foggy", they are full on.. the lights are on but nobody is home. My girlfriend says the scariest thing about an ambien black out is the fact that I can hold a normal conversation and seem okay but will have no idea what I was talking about the next day (that's after years of learning to act normal on it). 3. Rehab centers are overwhelmed with the amount of people checking in to detox off the drug. Anyone who says they took ambien for years and just quit cold turkey with no problems is a rare case and very much the exception. That said.. insomnia is horrible. After two days of 2-3 hours sleep I start to become dim witted and struggle with work issues that shouldn't be that hard. That's the problem I guess, even with all these terrible side effects of ambien I came to the conclusion that insomnia is still worse for my health.
Sunday, February 5th, 2017

I am Ambien tolerant i guess, because i cannot get to sleep without using it. I've needed Ambien for sleep for 10 years. Tried 6 months without it and never once got to sleep before dawn. However, i take the same 10mg dose i always have; 10 mg is just as effective now as it was 10 years ago.
Saturday, June 3rd, 2017

I have had blackouts while taking Ambien. My worst experience was sleep driving. I pulled over to the side of the road at 2:00 AM in the morning wondering where I was. I had the clothes on that i was wearing when I went to bed, boxer shorts, nothing else. I had driven thru several traffic signals and obeyed them all. A cop pulled over to check on my situation. The first thing I did was ask him where i was. He checked my papers and left. Very lucky for me. I had driven 20 miles to nowhere.
Lydia @ Addiction Blog
Tuesday, June 6th, 2017

Hi Richard. That's a very awful experience. Have you talked with your doctor about this? You may need to stop using Ambien at all.
Wednesday, June 14th, 2017

My primary care doctor prescribed ambien for me to help me sleep. My pain doctor knows this and has known it for the 2 years that I've been seeing him, however, today, he said that I must stop taking ambien because it could cause me respiratory problems while taking my pain medication. He wants me to use over the counter sleep aids if I have trouble sleeping. The problem is, if over the counter stuff worked, my primary care doctor wouldn't have given me a prescription for ambien. Me and my primary care doctor have already covered all of I don't know what to do....