Saturday April 19th 2014

Mixing Ambien with alcohol

Are you considering mixing Ambien with alcohol?

Weigh in on the risks and dangers here. In this article, we review what happens in your body when you mix Ambien with alcohol. We also outline what can go wrong. Plus, we invite you to ask questions about being addicted to Ambien or mixing Ambien and alcohol in the comments section at the end. All questions about Ambien receive a personal and prompt response.

Ambien and alcohol effects

The main ingredient in Ambien is called zolpidem and is a sedative. Zolpidem can cause a euphoric high or even hallucinations when taken in large amounts, or without going immediately to bed.  Snorting Ambien effects are even more dangerous.  But some people like to enhance these effects by mixing the zolpidem in Ambien with alcohol. In self-reported examples, some people who mix Ambien and alcohol have reported the following effects:

  • drowsiness
  • relaxation
  • feelings of well-being
  • clumsiness
  • poor motor control
  • mild visual hallucinations
  • memory loss
  • sleep walking and other activities (including driving)

As you can see, some of the effects of mixing Ambien and alcohol can be very dangerous, particularly when someone acts out activities in their sleep. Ambien also chemically reacts with alcohol,having an additive effect in the body and brain when combined. So the effects of both alcohol and Ambien are intensified when taken together. While the feeling of relaxation and euphoria might be pleasant, it can also be dangerous.  FYI: How long does Ambien stay in your urine? 12-60 hours after ingestion.

Dangers of mixing Ambien and alcohol

When alcohol is taken with Ambien, dangerous side effects can occur. This is mainly because mixing alcohol and Ambien can intensify the effects of both alcohol and Ambien. Some potentially dangerous effects of mixing Ambien with alcohol include:

  • dizziness
  • drowsiness
  • loss of consciousness or coma
  • shallow breathing
  • impaired motor control
  • impaired judgment and thinking
  • memory problems
  • overdose
  • unusual behavior

Keep in mind that the additive effect of combining sedatives goes both ways – Ambien can enhance the effects of the alcohol itself, as well. Alcohol is a sedative, which makes you sleepy, drowsy, and lightheaded, so drinking while taking Ambien can cause trouble concentrating and difficulty with coordination, which can put you at risk of accidents. Not only that, but you might engage in dangerous activities without being fully aware of what’s going on – and you may not even remember later. Ambien can cause people to drive, prepare food, and even have sex during their sleep. Obviously, this can be extremely dangerous and cause serious accidents. Even if you’re only sleepwalking, you are at risk of falls or serious injuries when mixing Ambien with alcohol. In some cases, mixing the two can be deadly.

Ambien and alcohol overdose

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. Although Ambien is unlikely to kill you when taken alone, it can absolutely be deadly when combined with alcohol.

Ambien and alcohol deaths

Alcohol is one of the most prevalent drugs used in combination with Ambien that can cause death. Because of the increased likelihood of sleep-driving and other dangerous behaviors, even normal doses of Ambien are too dangerous to take with alcohol. NOT DRINKING ALCOHOL is the only way to stay safe while taking Ambien.

Is it safe to drink on Ambien?

No. Mixing Ambien with alcohol just enhances the dangerous effects of both drugs. In fact, doctors recommend never mixing Ambien and alcohol, and even instruct people who have had a drink during the day not to take Ambien that night. You can ask your prescribing doctor for more information on taking Ambien and drinking. But the FDA warns against mixing the two at all, or even taking them hours apart.

Mixing Ambien alcohol questions

Do you still have questions about mixing Ambien with alcohol or other substances? Please leave your Ambien questions here. We try our best to answer all questions personally, and promptly. And if we don’t know the answer, we will refer you to someone who can help. Your experiences with mixing Ambien and alcohol are also welcome.

Reference Sources: NIAAA pamphlet: Harmful Interactions, Mixing Alcohol with Medicines
PubMed Health: Zolpidem
FDA Medication Guide: Ambien Tablets

Photo credit: zacharmstrong

Leave a Reply

36 Responses to “Mixing Ambien with alcohol
Jeana
6:24 am October 13th, 2012

Is 5 mg of ambien and 2-3 drinks of alcohol enough to OD on? I had a few drinks tonight, and after getting home, I took my normal nightly meds (including the 5mg of ambien) without thinking about it. Now I’m worried…please help?

10:57 am October 15th, 2012

Hello Jeana. In overdose, Ambien (zolpidem) manifests as somnolence and drowsiness, pinpoint pupils, respiratory depression, and in extreme cases, coma and respiratory failure.

While acute overdose occurs probably did not occur in your case, you have a higher chance for doing the following activities if you drink alcohol with Ambien:

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

Call your doctor right away now that you’ve mixed the two to report it or anytime that you find out that you have done any of the above activities after taking Ambien.

More information here: http://www.fda.gov/downloads/drugs/drugsafety/ucm085906.pdf

amy
5:48 am December 9th, 2012

I had my last drink at 2 a.m. it is almost midnight now, can I take my ambien?

10:19 am December 10th, 2012

Hi Amy. Alcohol metabolizes relatively quickly in the system. And if you give it a good 22 hours to pass, alcohol should not react with Ambien in the system.

Trina
3:07 pm January 24th, 2013

I just want everyone reading this, with questions of mixing Ambien and alcohol, to know my experience. Maybe it will help them to never mix the two. I took one 10mg of Ambien, my normal dose, but it never took effect, I was guessing it was because I took it on a full stomach and the instructions say to take on an empty stomach. So I thought I would just take one drink to help kick it in and go to bed…..The next morning I woke up, noticed that my room had been rearranged, the vodka bottle was empty and it was half of a 750ml bottle. I also had apparently had a ‘sexting’ conversation with a friend and even sent nude pictures. These are things that are completely out of character for me, I’ve never in my life ‘sexted’ or taken nude pictures. I have no recollection of any of the events that took place that night. The last thing I remember is having the one drink. According to my phone, I was active for a couple of hours without even being aware of it. I’m thankful to be alive. PLEASE DO NOT MIX AMBIEN AND ALCOHOL!

crissy
8:53 am March 9th, 2013

so are you saying it does not matter how much ambien and alcohol it just wont kill us?

2:03 pm March 11th, 2013

Hi Crissy. No – the opposite. Risk of overdose increases when you take Ambien with alcohol. If you want clearance to drink on Ambien, please speak with your prescribing doctor or pharmacist for more warnings AGAINST the practice.

Craig
4:54 am April 9th, 2013

My Dad is now totally addicted to ambien since he has taken it for many years. He also drinks and takes ambien which is costing him his health and peace. He is now on so called anti depressants and is having suicidal thoughts as well. I’ll be driving him to the psychologist who deals with dependency tomorrow. People!!! Do not go down this path. A once strong man is being destroyed. Live clean!,,

Melinda Coats
7:36 pm June 6th, 2013

My husband has been taking ambien for about 4 years and he mixes alcohol with it every nite. Some nights he will go on to sleep, other nights he stays awake and does crazy things and talks crazy. He usually only drinks beer, but when he mixes liquor with it the results are much worse. My biggest question is the effects this has on his personality and how he handles daily activities with me and our kids. His temper is out of control. Everything gets on his nerves. He bitches at us about all the smallest details that are not important. I feel it has gotten worse with time and feel somehow it is linked to this. He also adds a liquid unisom to the mix every night. Please help!!!!

Lin Tidings
6:32 am July 3rd, 2013

I have been drinking wine and have taken 750 mg of ambien. Is this a fatal dose?

12:33 pm July 3rd, 2013

Hello Lin. Please call the Poison Control Center at 1-800-222-1222 for a diagnosis and next steps on what to do.

aquarius
6:18 am July 5th, 2013

i mix my ambien with my beer i get trippy things that happen to me for example im watchin tv it looked like the people was coming out of the tv an my bed feels high off the floor i get worried but i cant just fall asleep alone on the ambien like i use to so i drink on them an find it to help me asleep in minutes

charlotte
5:34 pm July 5th, 2013

should an alcoholic be prescribed Ambien. He gets 30 pills at a time and he has 5 refills. took 23 Amcien in a 48 hr period. Also takes BusPIRone 7.5 mg every 8 hours.

Nicole o
11:49 pm July 7th, 2013

I have a story that my rehab center thinks I should share. I developed an ambien addiction after 8 years of being on it. I inceased my dosage over the years and it destroyed my life. No doctor was addressing the real problem…extreme anxiety after losing my mom unexpectedly…then six months later I was diagnosed with a rare and aggressive form of cancer. In remission now. And a tubal pregnancy nine months later. I was sedating myself to deal with it all I ended up destroying friendships and damaging my corporate career. Doctors should not be prescribing long term to people that have genetic predispositions to addiction…period! I am in the process of repairing the damage I did with my behavior under the influence of ambien.

chris
11:34 am July 14th, 2013

My boyfriend of 11 years has been combining ambien and alcohol on a nightly basis for years. I often think of calling the prescribing doctor who obviously is not prescribing it properly–for short term use but realize this will only create more problems.

Now pot has been added to the mix on a regular (though) not nightly basis. I guess this is not really a worry but the combination has him saying mean and rude things which are leaving me depressed! Why would these drugs make people say things which seem out of character? I never intended to be with a drug addicted individual and worry that one night he will not wake up.

12:49 pm July 16th, 2013

Hi Chris. Sounds like substance abuse. I’d suggest that you seek help for yourself with a psychologist experience in family addiction counseling. You’ll need to stop enabling the behavior and decide what you can and cannot live with. The only person we can control is ourselves!

chris
2:31 am July 25th, 2013

Addiction blog,

I would love to control the doctor who is prescribing ambien outside of how it is recommenced!

I will seek counseling since I just discovered several full vials of pot newly acquired. The “lethal” combo of ambien, alcohol and pot is a nightly fixture even though he drove his daughter to a rehab facility last week! It is family addiction and the prior post about not prescribing addictive drugs like candy to people with genetic addiction histories rings so trut.

9:05 am July 25th, 2013

I hear you, Chris. Doctors may prescribe these medications with the intention of helping, but there can certainly be devastating effects to personal lives and family lives. I do wish you all the best in your journey to wholeness and harmony as a unit. Check out both counseling and support groups like Al-Anon or Narc-Anon for yourself. You don’t need to do it alone!

keith
6:25 pm July 26th, 2013

Ok, I don’t understand something here… If you had a drink or two and took one (1) ambien, that’s enough to make you get out of bed and want to drive?

Another thing, what if you took let’s say five (5) ambien and had a couple of shots of whiskey and went to bed to get a solid nights sleep, what would happen? Or ambien and Nyquil before going to bed, what would happen?

keith
6:32 pm July 26th, 2013

I still just don’t get it, what makes a person want to get out of bed and go for a drive JUST because they mixed alcohol and ambien? Why driving? Who does that?

In extreme cases you mention respiratory failure, is the person conscious or unconscious when this happens?

Ann
8:48 pm August 1st, 2013

My husband died a few months ago. He was in great shape. Worked out 4 times a week. six foot seven inches and weighed 230. The coroner’s report said zolpidem and ethanol, which is ambien and alcohol. I knew he had been taking ambien to sleep in the past, but told me he had stopped. He always drank at night, but tried to hide it from me. It just got to the point that he was mean. Everything made him angry. He thought everyone was out to get him. He was very agreessive. Road rage fights on the side of the road (which is always won). He lied a lot. Of course it was all my fault. Are any of these actions symptoms of an ambien-alcohol addiction? Wouldn’t it take an enormous amount of ambien and alcohol to kill someone as large as he was. It almost seems impossible to me. Please help. I’m trying to understand what happened.

8:07 am August 13th, 2013

Hello Ann. I’m so sorry to hear of your loss. And I know that you’re looking for answers to some really painful questions. To me, these do sound like signs of Ambien-alcohol withdrawal and possible addiction. Hiding drug use is a major sign of drug abuse, as are mood swings and extreme paranoia. To answer some of the more medical questions, I’d suggest that you request a copy of the toxicology report from the coroner and then start to seek answers about cause of death from a certified professional in the field of toxicology. You can start there. But peace will come when you can accept and mourn your husband’s death.

Nathan
10:24 pm September 4th, 2013

i took 10mg of zolpidem Friday night after drinking 3 & half beers, i had a really bad headache, for 6 days now i have felt dizziness lightheadedness pain in my eyes & back of my head, feeling off balance, dose anyone know what these effects are?!

Maddie
4:38 am October 27th, 2013

Can i take a zolpidem 10mg and have a glass of wine a few minutes later?

1:40 pm October 28th, 2013

Hello Maddie. No, it is not advised that you take zolpidem and then have a glass of wine… because you will compound the sedative effects of both chemicals.

c.c.
7:20 am November 3rd, 2013

scary stuff.
how much ambien and alcohol would cause a fatal dose?

need-for-rewiring
3:33 am November 11th, 2013

My norm is a bottle of wine and one zolpidem an evening. This has been going on pretty consistently for 8 months. Yes it is a problem I have to deal with…but right now I want to know if I am doing permanent damage to my brain. My memory is seriously impaired during the day (even when not drinking). When I get it under control, will I be able to get my memory back??

need-for-rewiring
4:18 am November 11th, 2013

After reading many of your great posts this evening I realized something tonight. The reason I take my one zolpidem pill after my bottle of wine every night is so I don’t take the next drink. Wow! I think I am purposely controlling my blackouts (guaranteed with Zolpidem) so I don’t have a real…alcohol blackout. I’ll have to save that epiphany for my therapist/AA sponsor if and when I get one. By the way, I’m a stay at home mom, 4 kids, 2 dogs, husband who I call Mother Theresa, beautiful home, no shame, guilt or sh&t in my past.

skyler
7:57 am December 1st, 2013

My ex just took 10 Ambiens and idk how much vodka but he said a bottle, idk how big the bottle was. I just want to know if this will put him into a coma or just kill him? it’s been like 2 hours.

5:25 pm December 1st, 2013

Hello Skyler. Please call the Poison Control Center at 1-800-222-1222 for emergency advise.

Lacie
8:43 am December 29th, 2013

I am a long term user of Ambien. So long term, I have taken my Ambien and can coherently write this, though I took it quite a bit ago. I’ll go to sleep when I go to bed in a few minutes. As far as mixing alcohol and Ambien is concerned, please don’t. Especially if you have addictive tendencies. For me, it started out with Ambien and a glass of wine, now and then. Because I’ve been on it so long that I couldn’t tell if it had kicked in, so the wine kicked in. But it turned into a bottle (of the highest alcohol content wine I could find.) every night. Sometimes a bottle and 2 Ambien.

A
4:54 am January 14th, 2014

70 mg of ambient, 228 mg Diphenhydramine Citrate, a beer, and a lot of vodka. That’s what my best friend took yesterday. She’s a tiny girl, and she says she feels fine. I mean she woke up and went out and all. But could there be other problems we just haven’t noticed yet?

Grieving Mom
5:38 am January 22nd, 2014

My son died at age 39 from combining alcohol and Ambien. Although his autopsy report lists his cause of death as “acute alcohol intoxication”, in addition to finding a half empty (large) bottle of vodka, I found a completely empty vial of Ambien (30 10mg pills) that had been filled the day before his death. In addition, he was in the habit of snorting his meds. I don’t believe he intended to die that night but, we all know it’s a matter of Russian-roulette when you indulge your addictive behaviors. Please – just don’t. The wreckage you leave behind is indescribable.

Pablo
10:48 pm February 11th, 2014

I had a friend as of last week I decided to stay away from her.I was at her place drinking all of a sudden I seen her put a pill in her mout.It was ambien an hour later she accused me of steallinv from her threw a chair at me.then hit me I had to defend myself.Now everyone thinks im d bad guy.My question is does mixing the two was what made jer violent?

vicki
11:48 am March 31st, 2014

My husband has taken ambien for years as well as heavy drinking..Like the others he either winds up passing out, chatting away and saying rude ugly things. He is always trying to improve our sex life which there is none of (because of the above). Could one also truely believe they had sex with someone (cheating), when I am with afterwork and on weekends..no he does not remember any details, but he said he did it and gave a name. He says I should believe him and the other party denies everything she is not an addict. She is more a sister to both of us…Help do I believe it happened and ruin all lives or do I believe it was the toxic combination creating the situation.

melba
3:46 am April 4th, 2014

I drank one beer over 3 hours ago… is there danger in taking my nightly ambien besides feeling extra sleepy and possibly sleep walking? I’m afraid I won’t be able to sleep without it, but do not want to risk my life…

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