Ambien dangers: short and long term Ambien side effects

What are the long term effects of Ambien? And what Ambien dangers should you consider before taking this sleeping pill? Plus, my all-time favorite prescription pill video of Stan versus Ambien. Sorry, but it’s funny.

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Reviewed by: Dr. Dili Gonzalez, M.D. Dr. Juan Goecke, M.D.

ARTICLE OVERVIEW: Ambien (zolpidem) is a hypnotic non-benzodiazepine, is very effective and widely prescribed in clinical practice for the treatment of insomnia and is believed to have few adverse effects. However, the adverse effects induced by zolpidem include short and long term symptoms. In this article, we list dangers and review the signs of a problem.


What Is Ambien?

Ambien is the brand name for the medicine called “zolpidem”, which depresses the central nervous system. It is best prescribed for a period of a couple weeks or less to manage seizures, anxiety, or sleep disorders. It is a sedative so strong that it is dangerous to try to drive or perform physically demanding activities while in Ambien.
The amount of Ambien that you can take immediately is limited to 10 mg of zolpidem at night, before going to sleep. In most cases, sleep medicines should only be used for short periods of time, such as 1 or 2 days, and for no longer than 1 or 2 weeks. Doctors usually stop the medication after 30 days if you do not see a reduction in symptoms.

Zolpidem is available as an oral tablet (Ambien and generics), an extended-release tablet (Ambien CR and generics), a sublingual (under-the-tongue) tablet (Edluar), and an oral spray (Zolpimist). Is also available under the brand name Intermezzo, a lower dose sublingual tablet that is approved for use as needed for the treatment of insomnia when a middle-of-the-night awakening is followed by difficulty returning to sleep.

How Ambien Works

Ambien is a central nervous system depressant. This means that it slows brain activity. Most central nervous system depressants affect the brain in similar ways: they increase the activity of gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA), a chemical that occurs naturally in the brain and sends messages between cells through neurotransmitters. GABA works by slowing brain activity. Although different types of CNS depressants work in unique ways, they all increase the activity of GABA, which produces a numbing or calming effect.


Ambien works incredibly fast in the body. It reaches the maximum concentrations in blood in 30 minutes after being ingested. It is important to take Ambien immediately before going to sleep, because of the rapidity with which its effects occur.

Short-Term Effects

Depending on the time of night and the dose of Ambien that is being taken, the effects of the medication may persist until the next day. Some people claim that these effects they feel resemble a hangover from a night of heavy drinking.

The short-term effects that can be felt the next day are:

  • Gastrointestinal disorders such as nausea.
  • Headaches.
  • Memory loss.
  • Persistent drowsiness.

In addition, there are numerous reports of sleepwalking and a strange phenomenon known as nocturnal feeding syndrome (or sleep) that can occur, especially in the context of multiple doses.

Addiction occurs when a person compulsively seeks out Ambien and uses it despite negative consequences.

Long-Term Effects

The FDA-approved Ambien drug label warns doctors that they need to evaluate for co-morbid diagnosis and reevaluate if insomnia persists after 7 to 10 days of use. If taken for longer than this period, Ambien can provoke insomnia that is actually worse than the insomnia the drug was intended to treat. [1]

Furthermore, using sleep hypnotics such as Ambien for more than 4 weeks can lead to damaged sleep staging and abuse of it. Abuse can then lead to addiction. While this Medline Plus article on sleeping medicines claim that Ambien is not addictive, we’ve researched and found that possible long-term effects of Ambien include:

  • Addiction.
  • Dependence.
  • Seizures.
  • Tolerance.

As with any other mind-altering drug, the potential for dependence on Ambien is a risk. Users who enjoy the effects of Ambien may start to use the medication while staying awake to experience the high associated with it. Because stopping Ambien can lead to returning sleep difficulty, a user may psychologically depend on it to use for longer than indicated.

However, physical dependence is different from addiction. Addiction occurs when a person compulsively seeks out Ambien and uses it despite negative consequences.
Abuse of Ambien may result in tolerance to its effects, which means that the person needs higher doses of zolpidem to reach the effects that they want, this happens because the body gets used to the presence of the drug.

Finally, Ambien is a hypnotic drug that acts on the central nervous system and slow the brain’s activity. This is why it is important to seek medical help when you stop taking Ambien. Activity in the brain can rebound and race out of control to the point that seizures can occur.

Other long-term effects include:

  • Abdominal pain.
  • Confusion.
  • Cramping.
  • Dry mouth.
  • Headaches.
  • Loss of appetite.
  • Loss of energy.
  • Loss of memory.
  • Mood swings.
  • Muscle aches.
  • Problems with coordination.

Ambien also depresses the respiratory system and if the underlying cause of insomnia is sleep apnea, this can reduce the drive to breathe.

Side Effects

The main side effects of taking Ambien are:

  • Disorientation.
  • Dizziness.
  • Drowsiness.
  • Drunken behavior without odor of alcohol.
  • Hangover feeling or daytime sleepiness.
  • Headache.
  • Impaired memory of events.
  • Lethargy.
  • Slurred speech.
  • Weakness.

Ambien Risk

Ambien is a medication that is prescribed for use as needed when a person is having difficulty sleeping, but it is not intended for everyday use. Many people who become dependent on Ambien and then stop taking the drug will experience withdrawal symptoms, including increased insomnia, anxiety, and in rare cases, seizures.
Central nervous system depressants should not be combined with any medication or substance that causes drowsiness, including prescription pain meds, cold and allergy medications, or alcohol. If combined, they can slow both the heart and respiration, which can lead to death. The FDA issued a serious warning in 2016 about mixing drugs with Ambien. Further, the Drug Abuse Warning Network reported a 220% increase in adverse reactions from zolpidem between 2005-2010. [2]
Zolpidem Related Emergency Department Visits Involving Adverse Reactions: 2005 to 2010 [3]

Another risk of using too much Ambien is addiction. Some people enjoy the sedative-hypnotic effects of Ambien and may use the drug to elicit specific side effects. In fact, research has shown that Ambien use and abuse are on the rise in the United States and is more common in people who have a history of abusing other drugs, especially alcohol. One of the most common risks of Ambien is the combination with other drugs, also known as polysubstance use. Polysubstance use occurs when a person consumes more than one drug or alcohol at the same time.

Signs of a Problem

It is important to recognize the signs of Ambien abuse as early as possible to prevent an addiction from developing. The following are a list of adverse effects that require medical attention:

  • A feeling of being drugged.
  • Blurry vision.
  • Constipation.
  • Diarrhea.
  • Dizziness.
  • Drowsiness.
  • Hallucinations (seeing things or hearing voices that do not exist).
  • Headache.
  • Joint pain, especially in the neck or back.
  • Lack of balance.
  • Lightheadedness.
  • Muscle aches or severe cramps.
  • Nausea or vomiting.
  • Pain, burning, or numbness in the arms, hands, legs, or feet.
  • Ringing or pain in the ears.
  • Sleepwalking or doing other behaviors while asleep or not fully awake (including driving).
  • Stomach pain.
  • Uncontrollable tremors or shaking.
  • Unsteady gait or difficulty walking.

The bottom line is that Ambien may not be a safe drug, especially for management of chronic sleeping problems. Instead, the NCCIH, the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health reports that relaxation techniques and melatonin supplement may be more helpful in the long-term. [4] Other treatments for sleeping problems outlined by the American Academy of Sleep Medicine’s Sleep Education therapies include [5]:

  1. Bright Light Therapy
  2. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
  3. Oral appliances, especially for sleep apnea

Overdose Signs

Someone who experiences significantly debilitating symptoms on a low Ambien dose may be more likely to experience even more severe effects in the event of an overdose. When a person overdoses on Ambien s/he may experience:

  • Slowed breathing.
  • Slowed heartbeat.
  • Severe drowsiness.
  • Loss of consciousness.
  • Coma.

If you or someone you care about has experienced an Ambien overdose, contact emergency medical help immediately. An Ambien overdose can be lethal, so it is important to seek medical care as soon as possible to avoid long-term damage or death.

Your Questions

If you think that you or a loved one might have an Ambien addiction problem, you are not alone. If you are ready to learn more about signs of prescription pill addiction, leave us a question, comment or e-mail. We try to respond to all legitimate questions with personal and prompt replies.

Reference Sources: [1] FDA: Ambien Label
[2] FDA: FDA Warns About Serious Risks And Death When Combining Opioid Pain Or Cough Medicines With Benzodiazepines; Requires Its Strongest Warning
[3] SAMHSA: Emergency Department Visits For Adverse Reactions Involving The Insomnia Medication Zolpidem
[4] NIH: Sleep Disorders: In Depth
[5] AASM: Treatment And Therapy
NCBI: Adverse Reactions To Zolpidem: Case Reports And A Review Of The Literature
NCBI: Spontaneous Adverse Event Reports Associated With Zolpidem In The United States 2003–2012
NCBI: Zolpidem
NCBI: Zolpidem Intoxication Mimicking Narcotic Overdose: Response To Flumazenil
About the author
Lee Weber is a published author, medical writer, and woman in long-term recovery from addiction. Her latest book, The Definitive Guide to Addiction Interventions is set to reach university bookstores in early 2019.
Medical Reviewers
Dr. Dili Gonzalez, M.D. is a general surgeon practicing women's focused medici...
Dr. Goecke is a medical doctor and general surgeon with personal experience of...

All of the information on this page has been reviewed and verified by a licensed medical professional.


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  1. I’ve been taking 10 mg of zolpidem and 6 mg of melatonin nightly for at least four years to help with my insomnia and PTSD from Viet Nam during the war. I am slowly cutting back on these medications because I realize now the side effects are greater then the help. Can the side effects be reversed over time is my question?

    Thank you,

    Ron US Marines Viet Nam 1965, 1966, 1967, and 1968

  2. Refer to my post of ‘9:30 am15 February 2018’

    The side effects would flare up every couple of months but now I have been experiencing quite severe side effects for four weeks running. The headaches are the worst, the severity fluctuates.
    1. is it safe to take medication for the headaches, what can I take ?
    2.I enjoy cycling, should I continue exercising, it seems to aggravate. ?
    3. In general all my symptoms suggest kidney disease, can this lead to kidney failure ?

    I would appreciate all help.

  3. I’m sure someone said this already but, 50mg of doxylamine succinate does pretty well for me. The hangover is such shot that you eventually only use it for special times whe you need to sleep. Also, nigth tea and valareyan extract also helps.

  4. I have taken to 10 mgzolpeden tonight in a span of three hours is not putting me to sleep do you have any suggestions on how I could fall asleep right away I just had a knee replacement and when I took the oxy andzolpeden it was great no more oxy no more sleep

  5. Hey Chuck, I can totally relate to the chronic pain issue. I’ve had mine for 16 yrs now. Melatonin has helped me.
    I only use it on bad nights. I’ve also had better rem sleep when I use a diffuser. Charles! after almost 3 years clean from prescription narcotics, I still experience paws. It has diminished slightly over time.
    Thanks Lydia for the info.

  6. I stopped using Stilnox suddenly almost a year ago. About three week ago I started getting bad headaches, dizziness, lethargy etc
    can I get side affects after such a long time.

  7. @ Higgy, I was on Ambien for years and then out of no where I had a bad reaction to it. enough to scare to the dog snot out of me (panic attacks and heart palpitations) so I stopped cold turkey. I was taking one Ambien tablet every other night / sometimes a half a tablet every single night. Everyone is different and I have heard the side effects of stopping cold turkey can be dangerous in some situations but in my case… Been off of it for over almost 5 months now and have researched other alternatives like Kava, Melatonin and Benadryl. Im still searching for a good remedy to my sleep issues as I have chronic pain and most of my problems stem from pain keeping my awake or waking me up from a sound sleep.

  8. Hi Higgy,
    First discuss this with your Dr. But, Ambien like all drugs must be tapered off. So you Erik use a little less over a short period of time, until eventually you will not be taking it at all. Good luck, sleep well! 🙂

  9. How long does it take to get off Ambien? I e taken for years and it doesn’t seem to help anymore. I’m just not sleeping for than an hour or two a night. Which is really messing with my head. How do dr’s ween you off of it?

  10. Hi J, I remember while on Ambien years ago, I had several incidents with kidney stones. I can’t say for sure it was the Ambien. But, I haven’t suffered from kidney stones once, since I tapered off Ambien

  11. I was told by a pharmacist, when I was picking up my prescription for ambien, to check with my Dr. if taking it for more than 6 months. I have been on this medication for close to 20 years. What is the reason I should contact my Dr.?

  12. I don’t refined this drug for anyone suffering from sleep disorders in the long term. I was on Ambien for almost a year. Ten years later, in stool suffering Freon harmful side effects even though I haven’t taken Ambien fire over 13 years now.

  13. Mary, A Dr. knows what’s best for your husband. you should never throw away anyone’s medication. Im not condoning his behavior. If he is attacking you, Ambien is the least of your worry’s. I would seek counseling with your husband.

  14. My fiancé has been on Ambien for seven or eight years. We met three years ago and fell deeply in love. We are in our sixties and really happy. But his Ambien habit is scaring me. He has even gotten angry when I threw them out, enough to attack me. I love him so much and don’t want to lose him and don’t know what to do. He has PTSD and has had suicidal thoughts before. I don’t know how to go on….marry him or leave? He refuses to give up the Ambien. Says if we stay together I must accept it. His depression from PTSD is a lot better since he has been prescribed an anti-depressant by his doctor. He is even getting therapy for his PTSD. I cannot decide whether to leave or stay. I am terrified of being without him and also of staying with him on Ambien. What do I do?

  15. as anyone recorded any musculoskeletal issues? such as loss of movement, primarily in the cervical spine, and lumbar spine. limited flexion extension and rotation? and/or pain in thr kidney areas?

  16. I’ve been taking Ambien for 5 years now. The first few years my night time adventures where a complete blur. I got my wife pregnant 2 times without even knowing it. but just recently I have had severe bad reactions. Heart palpitations, shortness of breath, panic attacks and worst of all, my memory functions are going down the drain. I used to take 10MG every other night, then went to 5MG (Half a Tab) every single night but after these last few scares im done. id rather have sleep apnea than suffer these consequences. My personal opinion is: If you use it once every 4-5 days or once a week your good. but please don’t consider this as an every night band aid to sleep problems.

  17. I’m taking Zolpidem for almost 5 years after developing panic attacks and troublesome insomnia. I’ve also developed addiction as well as tolerance to a higher degree. But now I’ve promised to stop it. Need your help doing this. Kindly consider.

  18. So im thinking im pretty addicted to ambien and well anything that will affect my gaba receptors (ie alcohol and marijuana). What is the best way to come off this addiction and how long will my withdrawal be? I have smoked marijuana for sleeping for about 5 months then after that have been using ambien for about a month now. When not on ambien i will not sleep at all.

  19. when i wake up after ambien i sometimes experience anxiety as it
    the wearing off of the pill is affecting my breathing. dosage just 5mg.
    will wean off it but this effect i could not find.

  20. I need to know why i dont remember i drove myself after taking only half the Rx of ambien then i got arrested. I’m not sure if that even the side effect of ambien and if i can fight that in court. Help!

  21. This drug has far more negatives then positives. The risks are too great. I suffered a fourth degree burn because I slept cook and used my hand as a pot holder. I woke up the next day injured, hurting, and had a sleep memory of what had happened. Seventeen surgeries, mostly skin graphs and Forty days in a burn unit later made new realize that I would rather go without sleep than to sleep cook, drive, talk etc again. I couldn’t deal with possibly hurting myself or another while sleeping. This is my experience with Ambien

  22. I am on day 5 of no more Ambien. I started taking this in 2005 when my son went to Iraq. I’ve weaned myself off by going from 10mg down to 5mg, then 5 mg every other night to none. I’m 63 years old and this has been awful!! I’m fortunate I am retired so I don’t have to worry about going to work. My sleep, when I get some, is very, very restless. I’ve been tracking it on my Fitbit. But, I’m not going back on it. This stupid little pill is not going to get the best of me. I did go see my family Dr. Yesterday and he did give me Trazodone 50mg. I slept for about 3 hours last night. I’ve been reading all the information I can find, maybe just a another week or so and things will start to improve. Hang in there everyone if your trying, like me, to get off this stuff. I feel a better nights sleep is just around the corner?

  23. I was prescribed ambien at the age of 14 along with Lexapro and welbutrin and never had manic depression or parinoia until after taking all of these, I was diagnosed at the age of 13 with depression, anxiety, parinoia, insomnia, ptsd,and severe adhd, after a year of going through extensive testing cuz of my mother they had decided to start me on some meds, first the welbutrin 800 MG a day which caused the insomnia, then along came the ambien, after 5 weeks of those two combined came the manic depression and Lexapro, in 9 th grade and going to school, after being on Lexapro for 4 weeks I stayed getting suicidal, lashing out at other students and teachers, hiring myself and other people mentally and physically and eventually got kicked out of that high school, with all of these meds combined I became a parents worst nightmare, I was worked off all the meds but cut off cold turkey from ambien first which made the situation much much worse, I literally was made insane because of all of these meds, I’m now 26 and suffer from partial blindness in my left eye, horrible memory loss, possible glaucoma, severe migraines everyday, and now have the diagnoses of, boarderline personality disorder, bi polar, chronic ptsd, and Manic depression, severe anger problems, rheumatoid arthritis, fibromyalgia, and still undiagnosed as to why I’m half blind and going half blind in my right eye as well, undiagnosed as to why I suffer the memory loss I do, I have graduated extensive anger management and dbt therapy last year had been going since I was twelve, so my question is, COULD THE AMBIEN COMBINED WITH ALL THE OTHER MEDS HAVE CAUSED ME LIFE LONG PROBLEMS? Also forgot to add the fact that I have undiagnosed random seizures that occur up to six times a year 4 if I’m lucky

  24. About 8 or so years ago when I was still working, I saw my GP about insomnia due to work stress. Since then I receive a 6 monthly repeat prescription from my GP for Zolphedin. My GP told me this drug has a “hipnotic” effect, and is not addictive. I retired 3 years ago, but I still take the drug every evening at bed time. This ensures that I will at least sleep for 6 or more hours every night. My GP’s logic is that it is more important to sleep vs. the minor side effects of the drug. When I try to stop taking the drug, I end up sleeping maybe for two hours a night, and spend the rest of the night staring into the dark. Invariably, I must then have a two or so hour afternoon sleep. I have no side effects at all taking this drug, but I would like to stop, but sill be able to have a good nights rest each evening. This drug is expensive and Medical Aid does not pay for it. How do is stop without reverting back to sleep deprivation?

    1. Hi Willem. Have you tried some alternative ways to gain your sleep? Melatonin and relaxation techniques may be helpful. Before taking or trying anything, speak with your doctor. Here’s suggested reading that my help you deal with your insomnia:

  25. My wife has taken Ambien for at least 10 years, she cannot get to sleep without it. The drug takes affect within 20 minutes and she gets aggressive and says things that she usually wouldn’t
    She has stories of having sex, driving, talking on the phone and getting stuff to eat
    I’ve tried to tell her about the behavior change that I see every night but she seems to find it funny
    It stresses me out that she feels that she needs this

  26. lately have had feeling of upper right side quandrant pain, extremley tired, no energyy,no desire to do anything, during day, cannot understand why i feel like putting my heard and going to sleep, have severe headaches, feels like there a rock in my head, or feels like i have a tumor, and many times i have dreams. there is no concentration whatsorver and cannot do me office or work at home.Love making is gone (do not know if that is the problem)Keep in mind, i have been taking ambien for more than 15 years (if not longer. I have had many medical tests and all i
    . i am at the end of my ropeknow is that i have an infected bladder and anal warts. Other than that, n othing. I kept saying to myself, there nis something physically wrong with me and iu feel like i am going to die.
    So, it dawns on me putting two and two together, (Insomnia,Headaches, extrem exustion , no love life) i guess i am searching for an answer. as this point in my life, i feel like committing suicide, but i keep thinking about my kids, so that thought goes out the window, if all this makes some sense to you, i would appreciate hearing from you as to direction to take and options,
    thank you john garanes

  27. Diagnosed Bipolar with insomnia for past 15 years. Ambien has been prescribed in 5 mg and now 10 mg. 10 mg last 5 years. My new psychiatrist was adamant about decreasing my Ativan, finally successfully. However, I never heard anything like this! I can relate to the memory loss (I’m 40) and feeling like I can’t grasp complex things or express myself creatively the way I used to. Much fatigue during the day. I feel scared not to take it, I see now I’m mentally and physically addicted. I’ll be talking to her about decreasing and cutting out this drug. = to 1-2 packs of cigs per day?! No thanks- it’s time I cut the ambien cord and see if I can reverse this damage.

  28. Dear Sir,
    My main question is what drug should I have tapered off from 1st? I am currently taking Clonazapam, Ambien, & Adderall.
    I need your help. I’m tapering off from Adderall. I was taking 60 IR mg per day for 9 years.. On August 10, 2016 I felt I needed to take control of my life & stop Adderall and all medications that I don’t really need. The doc prescribed it to me because I had been depressed. I tried almost every antidepressant out there for a long period of time. None of the antidepressants worked for me. That’s why I’m taking Adderall.. It’s not because I have ADHD. I have been tapering off Adderall and I’m now taking 1 1/4. I will take that dose for 16 days before lowering to 1 IR Adderall on September 11, 2016 and so on….

    Please tell me what to do, I want to give my brain a break and get of these monsters, I;m praying my brain will recover and start to produce happy brain juices. I was never depressed one day from birth 1955 till 1986 (my 1st, child was born).


  29. I have been taking Ambien for over a month because of anxiety. I am not so anxious now and I can’t tell if I am damaged by the Ambien or I am just handling the stress better. Reading this article has scared the crap out of me! At one time I was taking 2 melatonin, 1 benadryl, 1 muscle relaxer and 1 Ambien. I saw my doctor he told me to quit the benadryl and I did. He didn’t say anything about my putting myself into a coma! Why wouldn’t he say so? What if I ignored him?I told him that I wanted to get off the ambien and he didn’t really offer any suggestions or advice. I told him that I wanted to try traZODone and he gave me 100mg tablets. They didn’t do anything at all. 50mg knocks my wife out every night. I do not know what to do, now! I tried to get to sleep without taking the Ambien and just taking the traZODone with 2 Melatonin and laid awake for 5 hours before finally taking the Ambien. If someone could share how they were able to get off of it, I would really appreciate it. I am a male, 67 years old, 213 pounds. I have no appetite and have lost 30 pounds in the last month and a half. I do not get much exercise and I know I should get at least 30 min 3 times a week.

  30. Hi,
    I’ve been taking ambien. I’ve had a brutal divorce. Found out,I was crossed by a friend to my ex wife,and was told I sent racist text messages but don’t recollect sending. I know I was pissed off but would I have sent after taking the ambien?? I’m stumped.
    Thank you,

  31. I have been taking sleeping meds for about 6 years. I have severe insomnia and before taking mes, I would go without sleep. I have a fear of not being able to sleep and that’s why I started taking prescription meds for sleeping. What are the dangers if any for staying on these meds forever?

  32. I have been taking Ambien CR for 10 years or more and over the last three weeks I have tried I went through a detox center and a 21 day program I could not finish the 21 day program because the physical symptoms of the withdrawals were too much for my mind to handle at that time I believe Ambien CR to be one of the most addictive more so than opiates or benzo’s it has been more than three weeks now and I find myself burning stinging restless anxious paranoid scared panic attacks and my skin from my top of my scalp to the tippy toes feel like I am on fair on fire every nerve ending is just feels like my skin just wants to peel off I thought Ambien affected the brain helping you to go to sleep but reading the side effects and the comments of everyone it affects the central nervous system and that’s my biggest problem is my anxiety I had to stop last night I took an Ambien just make the side effects go away hopefully soon someday I can try again

  33. I have been taking ambient for several years. I have had several times when I can not recall a period of time but now I’ve had a bad experience. I was in a car accident on Monday morning. I know I drank vodka but not how much. I have no memory from sometime on Sunday until Tuesday which is vague. I really do not have much recall until Weds. I recall the I actual impact and the fireman saying not to move as they were putting me on a flat board. I have no memory of the hospital at all. My boyfriend came over Sunday night and I was already asleep and do not remember him being here or his leaving. Monday, other than the moment of impact and the fireman is a blank. Tuesday is vague and I fell several times in the house as things were broken. I am totally terrified. I am facing a DUI and still do not know the full impact. I know the ambien played a role. i drank but not how much. Please direct me here.

  34. I have been prescribed Ambien for 8 years. I started out on 10 mg. My dr. increased it to 20mg. after two years. I was on this dose for 4 yrs. Two years ago I started tapering. I got to 15 mg. two years ago I went through a divorce after 20 years of marriage. That took me 11/2 yrs. During this time I have been tapering. I am down to 2 1/2 mg. (I/4 of a pill) and .25mg of Alprazolam. I have been taking this dosage for 4wks. I am experiencing vertigo. I have been experiencing vertigo for 6 months. However, it is worse the last 4 weeks. The vertigo is worse today. Is this connected to the change of medication? I lost my insurance in the divorce. I have been to the doctor, and blood work, blood pressure all good. However, the vertigo is an impairment in my life. If I could pin down
    what is causing this it would help. Thank you for any information you can give me.

  35. Hello Cindy. No need to be scared; addiction is a medical condition. Have you spoken with your prescribing doctor about your symptoms? Have you had a medical assessment to determine drug dependency or abuse patterns? These are the starting points: getting a diagnosis.

  36. My husband has been taking this drug for seven years I am getting concern and I can’t believe the doctor keeps renewing the prescription should I be concern and I think I need yo change dicyirs

  37. Hello Tired. I would agree with you that your husband could benefit from a regular bedtime routine. I’d suggest that you copy and paste what you’ve written here and consult with a family doctor or sleep specialist. I think that your concerns are probably grounded in reality, but you may need to enlist the help of an expert to speak with your husband. For example, I’ve read to avoid screens for 3 hours before you plan to go to bed. TV, video games, internet, etc. But perhaps you’ll have better luck getting the help of a medical professional’s advice.

  38. My husband got medically discharged from the army almost three years ago. He has a little PTSD, and was diagnosed with insomnia and sleep apnea. He has since had his septum fixed and now only “battles” insomnia… The VA has him on several pills for various things but the one that worries me the most is the ambien. I feel like he has become dependent on them. When I voice my concerns to him it starts a fight.( a side note: he also consumes a two liter of cola per day and eats a lot of junk) Here is my argument : he comes home after a long shift at work, thoroughly exhausted, sits on the couch after dinner and gets on the net to chat. At around 9 pm, after dozing off a few times, I tell him to just go lay down since he is tired…his reply almost always is ” no, if I go to sleep now I’ll be up at 4, I’m going to stay up now and take my drugs in a bit”…. Not ten minutes later he usually knocks out on the couch…. When he wakes up at our cats being loud an hour or two later he gets up to find a snack ( 11pm) and sits back at the computer or tv ( stimulating the brain some more…) at midnight he takes his pills and continues what he is doing….at 130am he decides to take a shower before going to bed…at this time he is already high and loopy ( I imagine the shower intensifies his high, as when he is done he is even more intoxicated) then he climbs into bed at around 2am and still plays some Nintendo DS before finally crashing at 3am….sometimes there is random ambien sex ( which is scary for me) and once there were violent dreams. He has a hard time getting up with his alarms at 9am or 10 am….usually we have two hours prior to that with him hitting the snooze button! I feel like he just lacks the discipline to set a better nighttime routine. He argues that he has a medical condition and NEEDS his doctor prescribed ambien to sleep and that I am just picking on him….am I wrong to be concerned? I’m lost as to what to do with him!

  39. I ran into this drug about 6 years ago and it helped me get some great sleep. At the time, I found sleep to be impossible for a variety of reasons. Ambien seemed like the right drug to fix this. Sleep was great. It was so easy and I always felt refreshed the next day. But over the years, I started noticing some changes.

    Interestingly enough, I started sleeping less! I also started working more. I have a pretty stressful job and really need the sleep that I get with the drug. I find myself working right up to the point when I will go to sleep, so I take the pill while still working. Eventually, it hits and I go to bed, basically taking 2 min or less to go to sleep. Sometimes I wake up a few hours later, thinking I’ve slept the whole night. Realizing not, I go back to bed and eventually get up in the morning – with a total of 6 hours sleep.

    I have tried to convince myself that the other side effects were not due to the drug, but I think I have “woken up” to the dangers of Ambien – sorry for the bad pun. I feel very forgetful. I have a terrible time remembering first names. Even people I have known for years! It’s like my mind has been replaced with blank spots and I have to put a lot of effort into recovering what was there. This has made me a little socially awkward because I don’t want to reveal my forgetfulness in public. I’ll always eventually remember the first name, but the time it takes to get it is the cause of embarrassment. Recently, I was playing some trivia and felt like a complete idiot. I could not answer anything. Or it would take me too long to come up with the answer. I also have found that there are times when I have nothing to say. Like nothing pops into my mind to talk about when a random conversation with a stranger should be easy. I used to feel gregarious, interesting, and extroverted. Now I feel like an empty shell, boring and stupid. I am not! And I know something is causing this.

    I have decided after reading everything here that I am not alone. And that this may be due to Ambien. I quit 2 nights ago. The first night was terrible. I could not sleep at all and just watched a bunch of Netflix movies. But when I tried to sleep, I noticed something interesting. Flashes of color and imagery with my eyes closed. There was one moment of panic, like a nightmare starting while I was awake, or drifting to sleep. Things like that kept waking me up but it gave me the idea of what is going on. Perhaps the Ambien has prevented me from dreaming – an essential element to sleep and to the health of my brain!

    Night 2 was easier. Sure, it took forever to fall asleep, but I dreamed! Twice. Vivid dreams. I went to bed at 11:30 and got out of bed at 8:30. Sure there was a lot of tossing and turning, but for someone who has slept 6 hours for years, it seemed like a change. The main thing is the dreaming, though.

    It will be interesting to see how I progress. I hope that I never take this again. I hope that I continue to dream every night and that the dreams I have work to refresh or reboot my brain. I think that I have deprived myself of an essential element of rest for so long that it has tired out my normal functions. Hopefully my forgetfulness and general sense of being uninteresting will go away as my brain dreams its way back to normal function. I do find it scary to read that a lot of people here allude to normal personality not coming back – only clarity of thought. I really hope that I have not permanently damaged myself with this pill. But I will remain hopeful and come back here in 6 months to finish my thoughts on the recovery.

  40. I have been taking ambien for couple of months…..My husband went pick up a refill for me I couldn’t sleep because of neuropathy …..I remember taking one pill……two days later I woke up and discovered I took 30…10mg pills in 2 days….next day have… extreme anxiety
    attacks….sweating of feet and hands….anxiety attacks are hours long and scary..
    .was rushed to hospital 3 times for anxiety.
    Never told dr what i took….i didnt want no one to think I was crazy and put me in physc ward…how could I explain that I didn’t remember taking 30 pills…dr put me on anxiety meds thats helping some

    ..but when will it stop

  41. And what is up with that silly photo of a guy laying on a rug. Is that intended to hype this site up? Very bizarre. How about showing a person cuddled up to a pillow in bed sound asleep?

  42. Some of the posts on this site are ridiculous. Taking 10mg of Ambien every night is no different than drinking coffee every morning. I have been taking it for years and am healthier than ever. I get a good night’s sleep every night and wake up refreshed. Life is stressful. Just give yourself a break and don’t give yourself a hard time for needing a little help to get some sleep. The people reporting bad experiences sound like they have other problems… Probably not related to Ambien. Try yoga, exercise and eating well. 10 mg Ambien daily when I go to bed is part of my healthy lifestyle.

  43. Hello erratic. You have a very exceptional case of perhaps combine insomnia and circadian rhythm disorders. I’d suggest that you seek medical help from a sleep specialist so that you can tailor therapy to your needs. A sleep disorder assessment includes a physical exam, health history, and sleep history. However, I’d personally advise you to think two about using Ambien to induce sleep. This medication is strong hypnotic, and should be prescribed for short term use of 6 weeks or less. You can develop physical dependence on Ambien quickly, and then experience withdrawal when you stop taking it. Here are some links that might help you:

  44. I have been on ambien steadily for about a month now. I work 24 hour shifts and do not take ambien on those nights. I work in a stressful job and my sleep patterns are erratic due to the nature of the business. I was hoping that a week of being on it would reset my sleep pattern. It hasn’t. I have even cut down caffeine and sugary foods after 4pm to help me get to sleep. But it hasn’t helped much. I should mention that I dont sleep well the nights I don’t take ambien. However at the end of a 24hr shift if I am exhausted I sleep for hours unassisted. But I fear this messes up my sleep pattern as well. So that being said…what is recommended to help me develop a normal sleep routine on my days off?
    Erratic sleeper

  45. I am an ambien user of two years. I take one 10mg pill every night. I do not have the horrific side effects reported here and I don’t think most ambien users do as well. This blog is only one side of the story. I am telling mine. True, quitting ambien cold turkey was a little rough for me as I’ve done it myself several times, and probably not a good idea to do without talking to a doctor, but for me it was not the big scare that is being reported here. I was a little anxious during the day and had very restless sleep for a few nights, but that’s it.

    I am not discounting any of the users here who reported bad experiences. I am merely providing an alternative experience that was not

    By the way, I do not like the advice being doled out here for meditation as a safe alternative to medication or other relaxation practices. While we should be cautious of our prescribed medications, I warn that meditation has been associated with spaciness, disconnect from reality, detachment to the point that normal, human responsibilities and relationships seem unimportant. Not all meditations are alike. Not all meditative practices will work for everyone. I am not sure if I am allowed to post sources here at this blog, but medical studies do exist that show adverse reactions to meditation. Most of the studies I’ve seen seem to particularly focus on the popular TM meditation.

    Quote: “Dr. Solomon Snyder, head of neuroscience at Johns Hopkins University, warns that during meditation the brain releases serotonin. This may help those with mild depression but too much serotonin can cause, in some, a paradoxical relaxation-induced anxiety. Instead of relaxing during meditation, these people become distressed and may even have panic attacks. Snyder says that in some cases of schizophrenia, meditation can launch a person straight into psychosis.”

  46. I took ambien for over 4 years and I recently quit cold turkey…well I supplemented with melatonin and valerian root. During use and even now, I wake up with uncontrollable shaking hands and tremors. My hands are shaky throughout the day, making it hard to write, eat, drink or keep my hand on the mouse while on the computer. (I will accidentally click on things because of the shaking.) I’m wondering if anyone has experienced this problem and whether or not it may be permanent damage.

  47. I have been taking Ambien for about 14 years and I know I am addicted to it. But the thought of not taking it just causes major anxiety issues. I am already on Celexa and Klonipin, for the depression and anxiety. I have been reading about all the side effects that ambien is causing. I don’t have any of those. The only thing that happens to me is sometimes they don’t work and I definately do not sleep thru the night. But some sleep is better then none. I also do have a glass of wine or a beer after I take the ambien. Is Lunesta any better for you????

  48. i have been taking 2mg lunesta for a year,with no side effects.any damage to central nervous system taking lunesta long term.fda approved it for 6 months,during time 6 month study lunesta was well tolerated and no tolerence developed

  49. I feel like I am addicted to Ambien. I have take 5 to 10mg every day for the last 2 years. I am 36 years old and had struggled with insomia for years before finally finding some relief with Ambien. For the most part it has worked for me and have not experienced any of the serious side effects like sleep walking. I have never taken more than 10mg. My intention was to never to be taking the pill this long. Or, at least I would like to limit it to just taking during the two weeks prior to my period, which is when I find it most difficult to sleep. The problem is I can’t stop. I will try to go a night here or there without taking a pill on those days that I feel so tired and know I shouldn’t need one. But, as soon I make the decision not to take a pill, my body begins to react. I begin to panic. My heart feels like it is racing. I feel uncomfortable an anxious. Soon the fear of not getting enough sleep for work the next day always leads me to give in and take a pill. Please help! I don’t want to go my whole life feeling that I won’t be able to sleep unless I take a pill.

  50. Hello S. Google the term “ zolpidem withdrawal” for full reports and abstracts on possible adverse side effects of going cold turkey off Ambien. NOT recommended. At the least, mild dysphoria and insomnia, abdominal and muscle cramps, vomiting, sweating, tremors, convulsions, fatigue, flushing, lightheadedness, nervousness, and panic attacks may occur.

  51. I had been taking zolpidem/ambient for over 2 years and had to suddenly stop- cold turkey. Has there been any reported permanent damage from either long-term use, or stopping the use of zolpidem/ambien suddenly, without tapering off?

  52. I was prescribed zolpidem (ambien) over two years ago. I was forced to stop taking the drug without weaning- just a cold turkey stop. I have been going through withdraw now for two months, with dizziness, headaches, nausea, irregular heartbeat and other problems that I am not sure may have to do with the use of the drug, or the discontinued use of the drug.

    My question is: Is there any documentation of permanant physical or mental damage from the long-term use, or the “cold turkey” discontinuance of Zolpidem?

  53. I have been taking ambien cr for three years. I feel sluggish,have tachycardia and am just tired of having no energy. I have been cleared through my cardiologist—no heart problems??? I would like to get off the ambien but I am so addicted to ir now that I feel stuck. I need to sleep.

  54. Can Ambien12.5 CR cause a racing heartbeat and still the inability to fall asleep at times and then only sleep 5-6 hours?

  55. I am physically dependent on ambien, but have tried all of the alternatives (OTC, herbal, other z-drugs, benzos, trazodone, mirtazapine, off-label SSRIs) and nothing else helped.

  56. I have actually had a really good experience with long-term use of Ambien, because I had terrible insomnia for many years, and when I started taking Ambien I could sleep, and then all my worrying about not being able to sleep was let go. So just knowing that Ambien is out there has greatly reduced my anxiety. So now I don’t need to take it every night, just once every few days I break off a little piece of the pill if I wake up in the middle of the night and can’t get back to sleep. I just worry about any other physical effects from the meds. Thanks!

  57. UPDATE. I have blogged on here in the past to reach out for support and information, for that I thank this Blog!
    I decided that after years of using Ambien, it was time to stop. I broke it down like this, I do not want to have to take a pill to do one of the most natural things in life… sleep. Sleep is important and when disrupted for a long time can be unhealthy, but what about putting this pill in my system every night?? That can’t be healthy either. I am not prescribing this but simply sharing this. I decided to stop taking Ambien, so I just stopped. Sure, I had about a week of on and off restful sleep, mostly off… but I am now off of it for about 6 weeks and am averaging about 6-8 hours of sleep each night… ON MY OWN. So, it can be done. Just don’t expect instant results. 🙂

  58. I have been taking ambien for 10 months now on a daily basis and I LOVE this medication! I am menopausal and insomnia has ruined my life prior to ambien. I only take 5mg at night and sleep like a baby and am energized all day long. I have none of the bizarre side effects that are listed. Why should I stop taking this and return to insomnia hell? Melatonin and Benadryl have not worked for me in the past. Thank you for any insight!

  59. i’m using zolpidem for over a year now .i begin at time when i start to take zoloft for depression and got insomnia because of that.I’m in a very good mood seems my depression disappear completely.but i got some memory issues as well as some feeling that i could never get to sleep without current dosage is 5-10 mg per memory problem doesn’t bother me as much as my mentioned feeling of addiction.should I stop taking ambian?
    thanks in advance.

  60. im using zolpidem now for more than 6 months… i discountinued in between but started again cause my personal life is in havoc.. cn u plz suggest me few ways to come out of this plz…

  61. Hello Chuck. Just to be clear – it seems that you are Ambien-dependent and not Ambien-addicted. Dependence indicates the physical need for a medication or drug, while addiction indicates a psychological or emotional need. And once you get Ambien out of your system and go through withdrawal, you can learn to sleep again naturally.

    I’d suggest that you talk with your prescribing doctor about cutting back on a tapering regimen over the course of several weeks. And simultaneously, you might seek out a sleep professional or sleep center that can teach you how to sleep again. Dr. Rubin Naiman has some great books and teachings about sleep. Or there may be a sleep center near you. Lifestyle adaptations and changes can work wonders for difficult sleeping patterns.

    Best of luck and happy sleep!

  62. Hello,
    I have been taking Ambien for at least 3 years. Early on I started taking 1/2 a pill. Then I had to take a whole pill get to sleep. I knew
    I was getting addicted, so I stopped taking a whole pill and back to a 1/2. Now I never take more than a 1/2 and sometimes I stop for weeks at a time. It seems like I get to sleep easily when I first go to bed, but I will wake up after 3 to 4 hours. Somtimes I can get back to sleep, but if I can’t thats when I take a 1/2 ambien. I’m 66 years old and I feel like my memory is getting bad. Am I permanently damaging
    my brain. I would like to stop taking Ambien,but I like to get a full nites sleep. What should I do?

  63. My son in law takes Ambian for ten years and in the last few years has added on Lunesta. Os it typical for a doctor to prescribe both sleep aids at the same time? He also takes two antidepressants.

  64. very sorry for the loss of your sister. Thank you for sharing. I have been taking ambian for 10 years now and every time I actually tell my doctor my awful side effects and ambian episodes I don’t get any response or offer of any solutions/alternatives. I did not realize that people died from long term ambian use. What exactly is it that it does to kill people? Are they dying from physical side effects of long term use or behaviors associated with its use (ambian driving…ect). This scares me silly.Though I take the same dose as I have for ten years my memory has suffered greatly. I am a graduate student and it is greatly affecting the quality of my work and everyday function. When I mentioned to my doctor my memory problems (I am 43) he called it something like early dementia suggesting perhaps it was associated with depression. My niece passed away in a drowning accident last summer and I admittedly have been quite depressed but the memory loss has been here much longer than that. I just feel like he was passing the buck on the memory loss when clearly (I feel and from everything I have read) the ambian is a huge contributer.

  65. I wish Dr.’s would stop giving this drug without checking up,,,I had to bury my baby sister 4 weeks ago because a dr gave them to her for years and why dont they just give them for a small time period instead
    of killing people???

  66. Hi Cheryl. You can try to search for these keywords in your internet browser: ambien zolpidem “long term” effects

    From this search, I found these excellent papers:


    You can contact the FDA personally for more information and try to follow the manufacturer’s news about Ambien. Also, seek a consult with a pharmacist who cares.

  67. Hi, My neighbor has been taking Ambien for 7 years and is having problems with shortness of breath. She thinks it’s okay because her family doctor prescribed it and she sees him regularly. What can I tell her about the long term side effects of Ambien? I can’t seem to find much on the internet.

  68. hi Fred. Great questions. From what I’m seeing in my research, Clinical withdrawal from zolpidem has been reported but is likely to be mild in cases of therapeutic and prescribed use. However, other cases of “poisoned use” (ie. high doses) have reported symptoms of withdrawal from zolpidem.

    Daytime withdrawal reaction very similar to benzodiazepine withdrawal have been reported which include tremor, tachycardia, sweating, & severe anxiety. At doses >20 mg, zolpidem may lose benzodiazepine-receptor selectivity, increasing the risk of withdrawal reactions.

    How long can you expect these withdrawal symptoms to occur? It’s not clear from my research. You can learn more here:

  69. This board is great source of good info,

    I have been on Ambien for years, started at 10mg and this year uped to sometime 200mg/day. Now I am tapering off to 1/2 every few days and plan to quit within two weeks . I read an artical that saud to take 300mg of NEURONTIN and 100mg of Voltarene to help with the W/D and it seems to be working.
    I now plan to stop taking them as well in a week.

    I have lost some of my coordination and judgementand my sensitive job has suffered with a “no confidence” ordeal.

    Does anyone know if all my function will return to 100% normal when I am off everthing, how long I can expect it to take me central nervious sysyem to crank back up? O, I was on Zanax for a two month span with the Ambien and took way to many of them as well and was falling over a lot but that has all stopped since I quit the Zanax.
    Best of luck to all,

  70. My fiance’ has been on Ambien for MANY years prescribed with Seriquil and other anti-depressents for Military PTSD given by the VA. I am always so terrified of this cocktail of dangerous drugs. As with the other posters on this site, he pops all 5 of his assorted pills at bed time. He wanders the house and eats several times a night. During the day, he normally eats nothing because he is up all night eating. He is also tired every day. He wakes up tired. For someone his age he should be so active but, he literally does nothing. He volunteers at a local business strictly to get up and DO SOMETHING but that is just sitting 5 hours a day answering phones, and he naps most days even there. At home he sleeps, complains about being sick, sore muscles, headache, stomach issues….every day it is something that requires him to lay around. I think I get one day a month that he says he feels ok. It actually frightens me thinking about our up-coming wedding because I am a very active person and I feel that I am marrying a grandpa. My 84 year old mom is more active. It seems most nights he cannot wait till it reaches 8 or 9 pm so he can take those stupid pills. As far as the Ambien wild intercourse part……that is not going on here. We get the 10-15 minutes to hurry up and get the deed done before he starts snoring. He has fallen asleep DURING intercourse. I am reading the posts on this site tonight because I am so Fed Up. We have had our first kid free night in about 6 months, I planned a nice romantic evening and —- he got home from work at 5 and IMMEDIATELY went and layed in bed. Got up 30 minutes later and ate a TINY bit of food which I prepared and within 10 minutes was back to bed sound asleep. He got up about an hour ago to take his stupid pills and pee (up for about 3 minutes) ….. and is back snoring. He will wake up tomorrow about 10am — Out of 24 hours in a day, he is awake for MAYBE SEVEN !!!!! I am an active person. I love the outdoors but, I have noticed that he wants to do NOTHING. At his size and age, he should be able to do tons of stuff. I mow the lawn, do all the house work, take care of pets, climb ladders to change light bulbs …. he sleeps. I am seriously considering postponing or cancelling the wedding until he gets off this stuff. As for talking to the doctors – good luck with that folks: I have twice now. I have, on my own, cut his Seriquel in half because the doctor REFUSES and tells him to continue. I have argued with his doctor about this Ambien and the doctor tells me he needs it and that I am overly-worried over nothing. I have read several articles online about the VA and the Seriquel cocktails and it scares the hell out of me for him. The side effects of these drugs are terrifying. I just want my man to ba a man and not a zombie. I want him to enjoy swimming, hiking, going on a trip, actually ANYTHING other than just sleeping his life away.

  71. Hi Eldon. There is currently no published data supporting the efficacy and safety of zolpidem beyond six months.

    One current main concern is that you can start to act in ways that you don’t remember after taking Ambien for some time: behaviors such as sleep-driving, preparing and eating food, making phone calls, or having sex have been reported with zolpidem. Long term effects could possibly intensify insomnia, rather than treat it. But there isn’t much literature out there or research.

    If you can sleep without Ambien, why not try something like melatonin for a while until you can even wean from that. Lifestyle changes such as regular 30-45 minute exercise or daily meditation can significantly help sleeping problems.

  72. I’ve been taking Ambien for about a year and a half. No real problems as discussed in most of the previous comments. It really helps me fall asleep. I take it as prescribed, and just before going to bed. I don’t try to stay awake or take it for a high. I am mostly concerned if there are any major health concerns from taking it for so long. I do notice restlessness and trouble falling asleep when I don’t take it. My job sometimes requires early mornings so I don’t take it the night before to prevent over sleeping or side affects. Again, no complaints from it, just curious if I should quit taking it for long term health issues.

  73. Hello chronic. Yours is a rather difficult and complex case with lots of emotional undertones. I can understand (as a new mother) the real need for sleep and the frustration that occurs when you do not sleep well. From what I’ve read, sleep is something that we cannot “will”…it just happens as we relax. I would personally look into major lifestyle changes in order to sleep better. First, create a log of ALL activities for at least a week. Then, ask for recommendations from trusted medical professionals: from your pain doctor to a nutritionist to a sleep specialist. Everyone you can think of. Maybe there is something going on in your daily routine that you cannot see that is the key to getting good sleep.

  74. Everyone here has addiction horror stories, where can I get their Dr/s phone number? 10 years ago I was diagnosed w/spinal stenosis, 5 years ago add jejunitis (therefore no anti inflammatories, no alcohol), and last year chronic cysitits. I had spina bifida occulta, which means a chronic irritated urge to urinate. I suffered a major trauma when 17 years old. After the hospitalization for the jejunitis, I was prescribed ambien, took on a nightly basis since 2006. I relocated to the ‘great’ Midwest in 2008, and since then have been in a constant battle with my chronic pain provider for this medication-in fact, they took me off cold turkey. I am a wreck, drinking a lot, benadryl, etc, still only sleeping 1-2 hrs a night, then such a hard sleep w/horrible dreams I wake up w/chest pain and sick to my stomach. I no longer sleep with my husband, my work has suffered tremendously. And I have been through all the hoops-the anti depressants, acupuncture, spinal injections, massage therapy, herbal remedies, NOTHING WORKS! I am such a good patient too, I don’t take the med till my head is on the pillow and lights are out, only 2 occasions when I did not recall something from previous night-both entailing late night phone calls from relatives-and their recounts of my conversations were perfectly lucid. I do not take the medicine if I know I will have a late night commitment.

    My health has suffered drastically since this ‘dr’ did this and I don’t know what avenue to take. I have not increased my dosage in the entire six years I took this medication. I have stopped before for several months at a time with no luck, ending up in the shape I am fast approaching again. However, I am getting older and it is harder to bounce back from this. My biggest conscern has been the ongoing chest pain. Any suggestions? If I seek a new dr. I always feel like they are considering me a ‘drug seeker’. I can produce pharmacy and medical records to prove otherwise. What am I to do?

  75. Hi Alex. How long have you been off Ambien? It’s possible that these symptoms you describe are indicators of PROTRACTED WITHDRAWAL from Ambien, which can occur if you were a long time user of Ambien.

  76. Do you your cognitively impaired symptoms go away after taking ambien or is it permanently? I’m having difficulty communicating. Im having difficultly recalling the words I need to communicate my thoughts.

  77. Hi Lifetime insomniac. Thanks for sharing more about your experience with Ambien. Yes, it might be worth a trip to the doctor’s office to report symptoms and to seek alternatives. I’m not sure why doctors prescribe Ambien for long term, chronic sleep problems when it seems clear that Ambien is not made for that.

  78. Never did deep sleep and cannot sleep w-cpap machine without some ambien. I have had epsiodes of getting high. Excercise, eat well, but without it I get 1-2 hrs a sleep a day. Tried everything natural before. It seemed like a miracle drug. Have been taking it now for almost 3 years. I take 1/2 pill because I don’t want to be high. Definitely talking to my dr. But if I don’t take it I can go to bed at 10pm and not sleep until 4-5AM for an hour or so before time to get up. I don’t feel addicted I just want to sleep 6-8 hrs like a normal person. I do know people that just can’t take it, minutes after taking it they are very high. I seem to be off balance alot and I thought it was just getting old, but this really makes me think if it is not the ambien. I never used to do that.

  79. I’ve been taking Ambien for about 2 months 5mg a night. I had hysterectomy and had insomnia ever since. I am a pretty active, educated person. I didn’t think taking such a low dose a night would make me have side effects. This past week I have been dizzy and out of it during the day and actually thinking I’m losing it. Headaches that wouldn’t go away. Feeling as if I am with it one minute and out of it the next during the day. My body aches etc. I thought I was getting sick and started telling my husband that I felt as if something seriously was medically wrong with me. It occured to me that Ambien may be to blame. I found this site and appreciate everyone sharing their stories. I threw my pills down the toilet today and not taking any more chances. I can not believe this drug is even pushed by doctors. I have never felt so horrible in my life. My brain feels as if it is slowly leaving. I started to feel anxiety not realizing it was the Ambien, started taking anxiety pills during the day on top of the Motrin to combat my migraines. Never again, I would much rather go with out sleep.

  80. Thank you so much for sharing what your doctor told you about the long term effects of lorazepam, Mischelle. There is a time when medicine can become poison and it sounds Ike you’ve been there and back. Kudos to you!

  81. I had posted on here a month or so ago about the crazy effects that ambian was having on me (sleep talking, texting, singing..bidding on items, posting to facebook) and it seemed fairly harmless (I have never driven or wandered) aside from some embarrassment which my close friends and family refer to as “ambian momemts”, but a few nights ago I had an experience that really has me scared. After taking Ambien I apparantly decided to go in the hottub. I woke up at 6am in my hottub (in my pajama’s) freezing and waterlogged. I am not sure how deep the sleep is but I am sure I could have drowned as I don’t remember anything. I know I need to wean off, its been 10 years of taking them daily and I still have insomnia even with them so I am desperately afraid of no sleep and how horrible I feel when I even miss one night of them I am like a zombie. I applaud others efforts to wean off and so wish I had the courage to quit. I am definately thinking about locking myself in the bedroom after taking it so I dont end up in the hottub again. This medicine is serious business, to anyone consider taking it more than just occasionally, really think about it because it is very hard to sleep without it once you start your body needs it to sleep.

  82. I have been taking Ambien/Zolpidem for 9 years. I had insomnia my whole life & Ambien really helped. However..I became addicted. If I ran out of pills I was terrified of trying sleep without it. When I got pregnant I stopped it right away but started back on it once my baby was sleeping thru the night. I have to admit though, as much as I needed the help falling asleep & craved it for the high. It felt basically like a good buzz without having to drink. I enjoyed the effects and changes to my personality. When on Ambien I was more brave, risk taking, attractive and aroused. It really is like an alternate personality. I have been treated fir depression, bi-polar & anxiety for all these years and have taken it along with my mood-stabilizers & occasionally Lorazapam for the anxiety attacks. I love taking Ambien to be honest. I have done all the crazy things noted. Driving (only once becuase I was terrified the next day), buying stuff on tv & ebay, crazy conversations online & text. I’ve had promiscuous intimate encounters I barely remember the next day. I took nude pictures & sent them to peope. Sometimes if I took it and didn’t go to sleep right away I would stay up very late & become OCD cleaning & organizing maticulously. I knew I should get off it but didn’t want to ive up the fun side & felt ok because my Dr’s have always prescibed it so “what could possibly be wrong? right?”. The final straw was when I finally realized terrible my memory & ability to learn and retain had become. My job is very complex & changes constantly & I have to keep up with the ongoing demand & changes. I noticed that I wasn’t able to learn as quick as everyone else and my anxiety and paranoia became crippiling. I truly feel like co-workers are laughing behind my back & they think I am stupid. Self-esteem dropped. At my last appt with my psych I mentioned these frustrations about my work & my memory & learning problems. I said ” I litterally feel like I am getting stupider year after year. Could it be connected to my meds?”. She said ” actually yes. The Ambien and Lorazepam can both cause these problems.” OMG!!!! I had no idea! I had never made the connection. I thought it was just me. Since that day I have not taken any of those meds. I haven’t had any problems or side effects and it’s been almost 2 months now. The dosage I took was 5mg & I broke those in half so I gues sthe tapered amount I had been taking the past 2 years must have helped my getting off of it. Now I think all those fears of quitting were really just in my head. I felt I needed it but turns out my frea of brain & memory damage was enough to overcome the other fear. I am very happy to say I do not take these meds now & I do feel more clear minded. I pray everyday that I do not have long-term or irriversable damage. I am so happy to have found this forum to know I am not alone, that others experienced the same feelings. I hope you all find the strenght to overcome this as well. Good luck to all………..

  83. Hi Katherine. I applaud your effort to get off Ambien. And also for your youthful openness and perspective about possible Ambien dependence and addiction. I wonder if you’ve considered using meditation practices to help prepare you for sleep? Just like the body, the mind needs some “exercising”, too, and there is nothing like focused concentration to tire the mind and prepare it for sleep. I wish you all the best!

  84. Hi Mike. Ambien is a strong sedative and requires medical supervision when you come off it. I urge you to speak with your prescribing doctor about stopping and withdrawal from Ambien. The drug manufacturer’s label reads: “If you have been taking Ambien or any other sleep medicine for more than 1 or 2 weeks, do not stop taking it on your own. Always follow your doctor’s directions.”

    Additionally, cold turkey withdrawal from Ambien can precipitate more severe symptoms of abdominal and muscle cramps, vomiting, sweating, shakiness, and rarely, seizures. Although these symptoms are relatively uncommon, they are possible. And rebound insomnia can also occur.

    I’m not sure how long it takes to withdraw from Ambien, though. That’s a good question for your doctor.

    I hope that this helps!

  85. I am 84. On Ambien for a number of years after husband’s death. Yes, I did the whole thing: ambien = sleep. Great! Until I fell down the stairs, came in and called an ambulance and my children. I was unconscious for three days. I use unconscious becase it is the only thing I an think of. My version would be “lost to the world” I have no – none – memory of four days. I immediatley went off ambien cold turkey. No, I did not sleep – I read books, watched TV – though terrible thoughts about what I would like to do to the doctor who kept prescribing this medication. It has been months now and through will power alone I have finally come to a place where I will sleep for a few hours – 4 to 6 usually. I am managing this. I worked as a Paralegal; I hold a degree in Psychology and one in Philosophy. I feel like my brain will never work again -being awake is one thing – being able to think is another. I forget simple things – like where is the key? What did I do? And on and on. BUT, I am able to think more clearly every day. God willing, I will recover my brain. By the way I worked for and got my degrees in 2004. So, no I am not an addled old person!

  86. Hi, I have been taking ambien for about 2.5 years and desperately want to stop. Though I initially began taking it for sleep problems I am now taking it to sleep but also the ‘high’ it sometimes give me. I travel a lot across time zones for work and have been dependent on it to get me to sleep as well when I am away from home. If I go ‘cold turkey’ how long will withdrawal last? Can I taper off? How long should the tapering off last if so? Thanks so much, Michael

  87. Yeah I talked about all that with my doctor before I even started sleep aids. Unfortunately, none of the life changing styles helped. I’ve had sleep issues for YEARS. I take Prozac for anxiety….so yes, I’m i an I person….but no matter how I try to relax at night I don’t sleep well. I use aromatherapy….i try to wear myself out by staying active, etc. But even after, say, an exhausting day at the water park…sleep just doesn’t come.

  88. Hello Dan. Wow. These symptoms do seem really extreme. I’d suggest that you check in with her prescribing doctor and also explore possible dementia. I know it’s not an easy subject to bring up, but you want to rule out all possibilities.

  89. Mother-in-law took one ambien, no problems, next night took one and would not stay in bed, disoriented etc. Discontinued the Ambien but continues to have orientation issues, inability to focus her vision, doesn’t know where she is etc. Now 72 hours later she still has the orientation issues, doesn’t know where she is at, doesn’t know president or other facts. She had no deficits, (took her own pills, did her own banking, cooked etc., as recently as one week ago. Only change was the ambien. Is it possible she is still having side effects from the Ambien?

  90. Hi Ambien User. As you know from personal experience, we cannot MAKE ourselves fall asleep. Sleep is something that occurs as a result of allowing sleep to happen. Are you able to consider a lifestyle change in order to give yourself the best chance possible to get good rest? Is is possible that stress is ruling your life? Does your diet contribute nutrients to your body or leave you depleted? Do you get 30-60 minutes of exercise a day?

  91. Yeah, I have been thinking its time to change. What kinds of alternatives for sleep should I talk to my doctor about. Normal store bought sleep aids simply don’t work for me…but since I work 10-12 hours per day I really NEED good sleep.

  92. Hi Ambien User. In some cases caffeine appears to slightly enhance sedation brought on by zolpidem, the active ingredient in Ambien. However, caffeine can also antagonize, or work against sedation. Each case is different. Still, you can improve chances for sleeping by avoiding caffeine, nicotine, beer, wine, and liquor in the four to six hours before bedtime.

    In the long term, you may want to seek out an alternative to Ambien, especially if it has stopped working consistently for you.

  93. I’ve been on ambein for about 6 months. It used to help me fall asleep but now it doesn’t…however….I can’t sleep without it. I end up just staring at my ceiling all night. I had hallucinations the first week but those have mostly gone a way. I also have “ambein moments” that I don’t remember. I eat, I shop online, I text, etc. Its kinda scary. Today my concern is simply….what will happen of I mix a rockstar energy drink with it? I did that today because I was sooooo tired this morning and then naturally, couldn’t sleep tonight. So took a pill. Now I’m nervous.

  94. Hi Shannon. I really feel the hurt and concern for your mother in this message. I wonder if you’ve ever tried Al-Anon for yourself?

    Although you cannot do anything to change an addict who is living in addiction, you can make steps towards accepting what you can change – yourself! And as difficult a pill as this is to swallow, there is peace inside of yourself. But you need to separate your mother’s choices from you own, and to take responsibility for your mental health first. Because in the end, we can only control ourselves.

  95. My experience: I had a severe sleep disorder that manifested in various ways throughout my life (night terrors, sleep walking/talking, insomnia). After my children were born, I had a terrible time getting to sleep, and when I did, my sleep quality was so poor, I no longer had a clear distinction between being asleep and awake. I never “woke up” per se, but just got up after 6-9 hours of cat-napping, and lucid dreaming, never fully asleep. I was so exhausted and sleep-deprived, I was occasionally uncertain as to whether I was dreaming or awake. I was moody and prone to depression. I was offered pharmaceutical options, but the feeling I would get from any narcotic or hypnotic drug was (fortunately, I guess) so uncomfortable to me that I refused the drugs and did my best to manage with moderate to vigorous daily exercise, cat naps, and journal writing.

    Then I was diagnosed with cervical cancer when my youngest child was 4 years old. I chose to participate in a study for a form of treatment that did not require chemotherapy, but did cause intense fatigue. During that treatment, I sought acupuncture therapy to support my adrenals. I was the only person in the cancer treatment study that was successful- and I became a believer in the power of acupuncture/Chinese medicine.

    A couple years later, I was in an accident that resulted in whiplash, a severe concussion, and ultimately a ruptured spinal disc, spinal spasms, and multiple super painful neuropathies. The neurologist who treated me was an older gentleman, near retirement, and I expected him to be unsympathetic to my concerns about addictive narcotics/hypnotics. Instead, I found a wonderful ally, in that he had come to conclusion throughout his years that many standard therapies are causing much greater problems than they are solving. He guided me to a course of treatment that eschewed the AMA standard (prednisone, xanax, vicodin) for a much gentler approach- Chinese trauma pills (which are taken for just a couple days), Xi Gong meditation (which I had never done, but found a great teacher easily on the internet), ibuprofrin on a reduction schedule, weekly acupuncture, neuromuscular massage, and marijuana tea before bed. He recommended the latter for no more than 5 weeks. As it turns out, I took it for 5 days, stopped for a few, did it again for 3 days, and the spasms were gone. I had no desire to continue with that, once the underlying problem was solved, as it did cause dry mouth and eyes. My recovery took about 1/4 of the time that the GP had suggested it would take. I was back to walking a couple miles each day and a fairly normal yoga practice within 6 weeks of the accident. It was a time-consuming treatment plan (vs. taking pills), and I did experience a great amount of pain over the first few weeks- but I knew intuitively that you’ve got to feel it to heal it. The body needs to know where the problem is, or it can’t do what it needs to do to fix the underlying problem.

    During the acupuncture therapy for this situation, it was suggested to me that acupuncture/Chinese medicine could also address my ongoing sleep issues, though I was warned that it could take several months to get full relief. I committed myself to this course of action, knowing that it was critical for my career, my family life, and my social life. Initially, I got acupuncture treatments twice weekly and massage once weekly, and I took an herbal formulation (powder made into a tea) three times daily. Within a couple weeks, with no side effects whatsoever, I started to feel some distinction between sleep and wake. The herbal formulation was tweaked every few weeks, and my treatment schedule was reduced over the next few months. Within 3 months, I was off of the herbal formulation altogether, receiving acupuncture 1x/monthly (or a little less) and sleeping easily and soundly! I’m still so thrilled by this, 5 years after the fact, I wake up in the morning and send up my thank you prayers. My moods are much more stable, much less prone to bouts of depression and anxiety.

    In gratitude, (and to have it all convenient for my own needs),I opened a studio in my neighborhood that offers yoga, acupuncture, and massage. Now and again, especially with the pressures related to operating this facility, I have a few rough nights. I’ll go in for a “tune-up” acupuncture and/or massage, get back into my meditation/yoga practice (it usually happens when that has fallen off), and increase my physical exercise for a few days, and that does the trick. Sleeping well is such a wonderful thing, and I understand the panic and anxiety people feel when they are not getting that. However, resorting to an addictive substance with dangerous side effects is not the only solution. Good luck out there!

  96. My beautiful and brilliant mother has been using Ambien, on and off, but mostly on- for several years now. Throughout those years, her behavior when taking Ambien (particularly in the hours immediately following, but sometimes drifting far into the next day) has been bizarre- she’s made numerous phone calls in which she is unreasonable and erratic, making nonsensical demands or trying to make plans for events that are past, etc. She sleep walks and eats, mixing cocktails and putting things in microwave that have caused small fires. She has slipped and fallen a few times, and once defecated all over herself and the floor. My family has allowed it to become fodder for funny stories at get-togethers. I’ve participated in this- sharing the hilarity of entering my daughter’s room where my mother was staying, horrified by what appeared to be a bloody massacre, only to discover that it was the result of her getting up in the night and taking a gallon of chocolate ice cream back to bed to cuddle with. However, now it seems that all of us having accepted this as funny has created a normalizing of a dangerous situation. My mom has been saying for years that she needs to do something about it, and she has occasionally pursued natural remedies for brief time periods. But she’s an admittedly impatient person with a low tolerance for pain, and when she has an illness or an accident, the cycle starts right back again. She also became addicted to Oxycontin for a short time period, and in withdrawal from that, she felt the need to go back on the Ambien. She says that I just don’t understand how terrible she feels without these drugs…yet I have had most of the same physical issues that she has and I have been successful in treating with gentler methods that don’t have side effects. I’ll share my personal experience in a separate post.

    Even having witnessed this, my mother still can’t seem to let go of her Ambien. I wish I could convince my super strong and intelligent mother of the importance of finding healthier options, but when I try to talk to her about how I feel about her drug use, she goes from sweetness to hostility. Last night, I expressed to her how scary it was for me when she sent bizarre text messages and called my husband rambling and obviously high in the middle of the day, then passed out and we couldn’t reach her, and I had this anxiety for hours, until my stepdad confirmed that she was okay. She tried to laugh it off and gave explanation about being really exhausted from playing golf and being up all night with my stepfather (who has his own set of health problems and corresponding addictions). When I told her that I thought she needed to consider an in-patient rehab program, she got angry and said that I was a self-righteous priss and that I “always” have to be right about “everything”. I told her I loved her dearly, but that I was not going to participate in this conversation and hung up the phone. I feel helpless in the face of this. My children adore their “grammie” and want to spend time at her home during vacations. And yet, I wonder how healthy it is for them to be in an environment where drug addiction is an acceptable norm and fodder for funny stories.

    In the past month, I’ve had a 44-year old friend drop dead, most likely from the side effects of a prescription drug addiction. One of my talented employees started coming to work impaired. I discovered she had an addiction to xanax and trazadone and she had been stealing from us to support it. I know a lovely young woman who found out she was pregnant, and in the process of trying to wean off of prescription drugs for anxiety, vertigo, and sleep (Ambien being one), she miscarried. I had a paramedic/firefighter client tell us that most everyone he works with is “on” some type of narcotic or hypnotic drug. He had successfully used yoga practice, massage, and acupuncture to recover from his own addiction to Ambien. He’d seen horrible mistakes and tragedies that he felt were related to Ambien usage and other prescribed drugs. And these are just a few…ARGH!!!

    Sorry for the long, rambling message…I guess my point is to encourage people who have formed a dependence or addiction to get fully present with the damage they are causing to themselves and to those around them and commit to finding a means to overcome/cure the underlying conditions, rather than masking with potentially dangerous substances. Accept that sometimes you will feel pain. That is part of being human and alive. The human body is amazing in it’s ability to heal itself, but if you are consistently silencing or confusing the body’s communication system with narcotics/hypnotics, that healing won’t occur. There are ways to get healthy, without damaging your liver and kidneys and heart, or devastating your relationships with loved ones.

  97. Hi Alana. Building tolerance to sleep medications like Ambien quickly is one of the downsides to the efficacy of using Ambien to fall asleep. In other words, the longer you use Ambien, the less effective it can be. Have you considered any other alternatives to Ambien?

  98. I’ve been taking Ambien for about 3 months now. My doctor prescribed it to me because of ongoing sleep disorders, insomnia being the biggest. I have to wait about 2 days after I’ve taken it because my body develops a quick tolerance but when I absolutely need sleep, I sometimes have to resort to taking 2 10mg tablets a night. I’m concerned about the potential health issues that could arise from this. Might I add I am 19 years old and of small build, and I’m already taking Zoloft for depression. Anything would help. Thank you.

  99. Hi Emma. Thank you for sharing about your very difficult time battling with an addicttion to Ambien. I hope that your husband and your story can help others.

  100. My wonderful physician husband (who also plays music in his spare time) of 22 years (we had been together 25) was prescribed Ambien about 11 years ago by a sleep specialist. As a doctor, my husband was on call a lot, and had difficulty returning to sleep on the nights he was not on call. Within the first year of using Ambien, he was clearly addicted, and could not sleep without taking it. Then, he could not sleep even when taking it. Then, he tried taking more. I noticed his affect seemed flat (no expression), and he wasn’t expressing happiness or joy. He wasn’t really expressing anything, but just seemed depressed and more quiet, as he was internalizing his bad feelings. (Later, he told me he felt bad all the time.) It was as if he had no personality. At night, he would wake up with weird nightmares, shuffle into the kitchen, eat, and then take some more Ambien to try to get back to sleep. Sometimes he would play his guitar at odd hours. At some point, as a scientist, he realized he was addicted and took himself off of it. The withdrawal symptoms were horrific. The details he related to me included: feeling (as he was walking the hospital halls to round on patients) disconnected from reality; sweating, delusions, depression, inability to concentrate, suicidal thoughts, and more.
    One day he came home and put on children’s videos and just “vegged” out in front of the TV. My two daughters were noticing the changes; but he had always been reserved, and doctors are good at hiding their feelings because they deal with life or death situations. He wasn’t angry at this time–just rather zombie-like.

    He was convinced by then that it’s definitely addicting and he has never quite felt he was the same person before Ambien. I know that his personality has altered so much–there were times I thought he was exhibiting signs of mental illness. As his wife, I thought perhaps he was unhappy with me so I continued to try to be the perfect wife, mother, and to work hard on my career.
    He seemed better up until a few years ago. (I did not know at the time that he had resumed his Ambien dosing; using the newer form, which is supposed to act somewhat differently than the previous version of the drug.) Now, as he returned to Ambien, his behavior became quite hostile. We went to a counselor who said that he was bordering on the thought patterns of a sociopath.

    He drank more alcohol (we had a drink occasionally previously), had strange people he met on Craig’s list (to be in his rock bands) to our suburban house, had numerous extramarital affairs, including the last one with the wife of a band member.
    This once Phi Beta Kappa borderline genius and talented musician, the man who cherished our two children, now covered his arm with tattoos, forgot entire conversations, and alienated some long time friends (others just thought it was a mid-life crisis). He purchased hundreds of books on everything from world religions, to the devil, to the history of nudity.
    He yelled at his younger daughter to “leave him alone” as he texted his latest affair while in the backyard. It goes on and on. Perhaps the closest I can convey is for you to read that old story of Robert Louis Stevenson’s “The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.” Ambien is a “Hyde” drug. I am sure there are others–Cocaine, Heroin, Meth–but this one is entirely legal and prescribed daily all over the world. It seems innocuous, but everytime I meet someone who is taking it, I offer my cautionary tale.
    I spoke with a few physicians and a nurse friend of mine said she was addicted after a few months–when he tried to go off quickly, her husband was shocked at her “crazy” behaviors and rages. (This is one of the most patient women I have ever known.)

    The end of my story isn’t pleasant–Ambien led to so much pain for our family as my husband was drawn to the affair person who was also an Ambien/alcohol/Marijuana/Meth addict. She and her husband (now ex) had been in recovery for a few years, but he noticed she started drinking and drugging again when the affair with my husband began.
    We divorced last year and I moved with my younger child out of state.
    My now ex still practices medicine, still puts on the the appearance of a normal person to the outside world.
    He visited last holiday and I felt so sorry for him–he wasn’t raging at me and threatening me anymore, but his conversation and ramblings were still bizarre–full of nihilistic images and metaphors.
    He would say odd things such as “I just wanted to shake the foundations a little, not tear everything down.” He never asked for joint custody of our child, and made no objections to our move.
    When my mother was dying, he came over and said more strange things.
    When his mother died this year he said to one of our children, he expressed no emotions.
    I know that our brains are complex systems; it is possible my former husband suffered from a number of issues. Sometimes brilliant people do. However, I am convinced that Ambien led to or at least contributed to his downfall.
    You are wise to consider not taking it, and, if you are taking it now, to seek to reduce and finally eliminate it. If you are seeking restful sleep, I wish you the best, but the madness that this drug can create is much worse.

  101. Hi Lou. Thanks for your message. We all try our best!

    Have you spoken with your doctor about alternatives to sleep aids? Also, if you have great responsibility in your life, what are you doing to manage the anxiety? This might be something to look into, which can help change your life.

  102. Hello and thanks for the props, detoxing from ambien

    this is Lou agian, and although it seems I gave bad advice, I AM TRUELY SOORY,, forgot it was a addict blog board, I am not an adiicit, run a 100 person compnay , married with 3 very little kids, however, at times I like to get off of ambein and have to resort to wine and benedrly and then just getting up early for a month. again this is just my experince, it is not intened for anyone with an alcohol or drug problem to follow/ I am new to the board and a bit nieve, didnt intend my post to harm. God Bless everyone. just looking to sleep the nigh :—)))) take Care. Lou

  103. Hi Tonya. I might suggest that you seek another medical opinion, just to get another professional’s advice. And you can consult some national sleep associations and see what their opinion about Ambien is.

  104. Hello

    I have been on Ambien for 8 years now. It helps me sleep and I wake up feeling rested and ready for my day. Now, I do have the occasional times after I take it that I don’t remember what I did the next day, but that usually involves eating and having conversations I don’t recall. I have expressed concerns to my doctor that I want to make sure it’s safe to remain on the Ambien and she told me it is. After reading some of the stuff here I’m concerned that I shouldn’t take it. I have had no problems and sleep like a baby!

  105. Hi Rose. Thanks for your question. From a brief query at PubMed (a government database of medical articles), I found this study from 2000:

    Using hypnotics like Ambien 30 times per month is associated with a similar mortality hazard to smoking 1-2 packs of cigarettes per day. In spite of feeling like you are getting sleep, hypnotics actually end up impairing your daytime performance, cognition and memory. Plus, chronic Ambien use can increase the risk of automobile accidents and falls and promote unfavourable changes in personality.

    What does your prescribing doctor say about using Ambien? If it works…don’t fix it? Also, have you looked into some other pharmaceutical or lifestyle alternatives?

    For more studies, I’d suggest that you use the keywords “hypnotic dangers”, “hypnotic long term effects”, “Ambien dangers” or “Ambien long term effects” in the seearch box on PubMed.

  106. I have been on ambien for a few years now. I have the standard side effects as everyone else here, memory loss of conversations, crazy eating. My family is really bugging me to get off of it, but it is the only relief I get as far as sleep. They keep sending me emails and articles that state that ambien will shorten your lifespan and the medical dangers of it. Blablabla!!!!! If I can get some sleep now, it’s all worth it to me in the long run. I sometimes try to wean down to 5 mg. but something always comes up that makes me go back to my 10mg. I know that I am addicted, but I don’t act like a addict. Is there really any adverse effects medically for taking ambien long term?

  107. I’m fighting back for my life as I once knew it to be. I was once an independent, beautiful, intelligent person until I was introduced to ambien as a way to combat my sleeping disorder after that my life went down hill from there. I’ve lost my job as a result of ambien, failed very important exams related to this job, almost lost my life, twice. My relationship failed, I spent thousands of dollars on this drug because I was and still am addicted to it.

    I’m a totally different person now. My once happy disposition is no more, my peace of mind no longer exists, I’m just trying to survive. I ‘m trying to keep my head above water even though I just want to drown. I feel so alone. My mind does not retain much anymore, I have difficulties understanding simple instructions its like my brain is slowing down.

    I’m just really trying to be strong but everyday I live in fear, fear of myself. I have no self confidence and most of all I just want to have peace.

    Please, if you have support around you take advantage of it, don’t be a slave to this drug its dangerous ok. Please guys do what you can to come off. I know its hard.

  108. Hi Natalya.

    Ambien is habit forming and creates physical dependence. This is one of the main reasons that it is prescribed short term. Before you were on Ambien what other alternative treatments to sleeping pills did you check out?

  109. I have been taking ambien for about 9 months. I always fall asleep naturally, but I always wake up in the middle of the night and take a half or a quarter of an ambien to get me through the rest of the night (depending on what time I wake up). But I do take a part of a pill every single night. Before I was on ambien I had the most horrible insomnia–it was ruining my life, and this has been the greatest year because I know I can sleep. I feel like I have my life back. But now I’m reading about how it’s only intended for short term use. Why? Can’t I just take a half an ambien for the rest of my life? Thanks for your help.

  110. While I don’t condone mixing alcohol with prescription drugs, Lou’s post should be yet another indication that ambien is not harmless. Lou’s post highlights the difficulty of getting off this drug that is so often deemed ‘safe’ and non-addictive.

    Thank you Addiction Blog for all of the helpful information!

  111. Im concerned as well. I started taking ambien about 8-9 months ago. While it helps me sleep and my moods (idk how but it does) im still a little worried. Im 23 and cant remember…alot of things or conversations, sex, even stuff I routinly do are almost forgotten daily I.e: grabbin my keys,fone,cigs,lighter,purse,money,debit card…like everything I know i’d need. I had a conversation with my dad a few weeks ago and while we were talking, he handed me money which I asked for and put it in my pocket. Not even a min afterwards I asked him for money and he laughed at me. Confused, I asked why. He said I already asked and he already gave it to me. It may have been funny but inside I know something is wrong. Ive never been so blah in the head. If u ask me what I did yesterday…i wouldnt b able to remember maybe 1 thing and the rest is completly erased. Ex. Me and my bf were in the car and he asked where did we spend so and so money at..and I couldnt even remember 1 place we went to. I feel helpless . I know it probably causes frustration to everyone, myself,loved ones, boss’s and co-workers.Depression seems to b getting worse and unfortunately I think I may be turning into a paranoid skitzo. Once again …i havent been so blah in my entire life. Idk if ambien is at any fault but I need some insight?

  112. Hi Sera. I’d suggest that you schedule an appointment with your prescribing doctor and review how Ambien is working for you (or not), and the side effects that you describe, as well as alternatives. Make a list of all the symptoms that you can think about and be prepared for the appointment. Also, outline your concerns and how you WANT to feel. Then, present this information to your doctor and write down some other alternatives and look them up on the internet. Does this help?

  113. Thanks for your comment, Lisa.

    I also want to add that we at Addiction Blog do not encourage or condone mixing alcohol with prescription drugs. This can be a serious or even fatal mistake!

  114. Lou,

    I am glad you are off the ambien, but I don’t think reccomending a mixture of any drug and alcohol is good advice. In my house, I am the one taking Ambien, my husband sometimes will take a benedryl to help him sleep, but again, I think any drug used for an extended amount of time is not good. I want to be off Ambien so badly, I tried Lunesta as well, but didn’t like the metal taste in my mouth as one of the many side affects, that and a foggy hang over feeling it gave me the next day. I like the suggestion of alternative more natural ways of achieving sleep. Best of luck to you, but please be careful when mixing any drug with alcohol.

  115. After reading all the comments, I wanted to share with the group a good way to get off ambein. I have been off and on Ambein for many years. When I want to get off it, I take one or two Benedryl pills (over the counter allergy medicine) with one glass of wine. This actually works to get me to sleep, even after 1-3 weeks of taking ambien. Try to first reduce your ambein from 10mg to 5mg and then to 3,,, over the course of the week, then try the Benedryl.. trust me it works. IF you dont want to ween off, you can just take 2 benedryl’s ans 2-3 glasses of wine,,expect to feel Hungover/very drowsrey the next day, but after one to two days of this,, you will be able to sleep without anything. This is the only safe drug/way I have found to break the ambein habit,, unless you want to go 2-3 nights without sleep.The trick is to make sure you get up early, 630am,, this will help you fall asleep at night. God Bless

  116. Hi Robert. I feel for you! It can seem like a never ending cycle of needing Ambien to sleep, but not feeling rested as a result.

    General long term effects of taking Ambien can include worsened insomnia and slowing brain activity. What does your prescribing doctor notice in terms of your general health change as a result of taking Ambien. And have you considered looking for alternatives to Ambien or asking for advice from the National Sleep Foundation or The American Sleep Association? It is possible that there IS another therapy that can work for you.

  117. HI,
    I have had MANY problems from ambien, but have found it almost impossible to stop taking.

    NO sweating / Low pulse / throat pain / abdominal pain. /unable to eat meals without pain.
    Have had every test in the book.

    Are you familar with long term Ambien use and general body problems? It appears everyone is different when it comes to side effects of this med. and especially when used for a long time.


  118. Hi Cheryl. Yes, the most safe way to detox from Ambien is at an inpatient facility with a detox center. This doesn’t necessarily need to be a hospital, but can be a clinic.

    You can open the conversation with your friend by saying, “I am concerned about a few things. Would you like me to share them with you?”

  119. I’ve been involved in a long distance relationship with someone for two months, and I think he may be suffering side effects from long term use of ambien. I notice that he works compulsively from morning to late night. Although some of it is just needing to make more money, he’s taken on more projects than any human can possibly handle. During the day he will say he is overwhelmed. I also hear a lot of grandiosity in his conversations, like he has so little time to make a huge dent in the world. I’ve heard him say he takes a couple of ambien at night, I thought one pill would have the entire dosage. I know he can’t sleep without them. Since I’ve never met him in person, hard to determine how he actually moves through the day. I’m not sure his therapist/dr. is providing the dangers of long term use, or if he is just ignoring them. Since it’s still early in terms of our relationship, I’m not sure if it’s something I should share my concern about, but I just don’t know how/when to bring it up. Would he need to be hospitalized to go through withdrawal?

  120. Hi Pete. Have you spoken with your prescribing doctor about your desire to stop taking Ambien? Do you know what to expect during withdrawal and detox? And do you have a back up plan for how to get healthy sleep?

  121. it seems like i can barely think at all after the years i’ve been taking this drug. and would LOVE LOVE LOVE to stop taking it. i have been in training at work for two weeks and find that i can barely learn anything now. plus depression seems to be coming on lately.. probaby from feeling like a vegetable from this nightly ritual.

  122. Hi Jody. You should speak with your doctor (or get a new one) about tapering your Ambien and finding a replacement. You MUST detox from Ambien with medical supervision, and never cold turkey.

    Furthermore, it actually seems irresponsible that your doctor has knowingly allowed you to continue with an Ambien prescription, given that it is recommended for short term only (4 weeks or less).

    Check out the National Sleep Foundation or The American Sleep Association websites, and ask questions about sleeping aid alternatives there. You can try to call or email them, and see what help you might get in finding another doctor or learning more about sleep alternatives.

    Does this help?

  123. Hi, I have take ambian for almost 10 years now on a daily basis. Its horrible if I run out because I can’t sleep at all sometimes for 2 or 3 days or until refill is received, though I’m exhausted.I have experienced almost all of the above side effects aside from driving. I have made food, woke up to wrappers and food everywhere, made many phone calls, texts and had long conversations (some were even taped so I could hear the next day), bidding on items on ebay and of course stumbling around the house, falling ect..most of this with little or no memory at all. I know it is a problem and I have been asking my dr for an alternative for years and he seems to keep ignoring my request! I’m afraid to stop cold turkey after hearing the withdrawels and possible seizures but I simply don’t like knowing I am out of control for that period of time. (Also, posting on facebook is horrifying when I sometimes discover some “ambian” moments I’ve posted).Is there a proper way to wean off or on to a less harmful sleep aide?

  124. Hello amoja three rivers. Thanks for your question. Chronic use of hypnotics like Ambien for sleeping can affect your sleep cycle in the long term. Have you tried alternatives such as valerian or melatonin to aid sleep? Or behavioral modifications like increased exercise or meditation? I wonder if you can consult both a medical doctor and perhaps an “alternative” specialist who can provide you with other more natural aids to sleep?

  125. I took ambien for about 5 years, but when my MD added mirtazapine I found I no longer needed the ambien. After taking the mirtazapine for a few years (along with Zoloft & Valium) I began to have adverse reactions to the mirtazapine, ie: my right eye would close within half an hour after taking it. So they lowered the mirtazapine, which does help me sleep & put me on 5 mg of ambien. Fine for a while, but lately I am so tired & sleepy during the day, even after 9,10,11 hours of sleep, I’m thinking it must be the ambien. Any advice?

  126. Hi Monin Garcia. Have you spoken with your doctors about these symptoms? Ambien is meant for short term use, so there may be another way that you can manage sleeping problems. I’d suggest that you seek medical help, and ask for alternative therapies for getting and staying to sleep. It is possible that diet, exercise, meditation and a balanced routine can support you as you seek help with sleep.

  127. I have been on Ambien for a couple of years as well. I find that about 50% of the time it doesn’t work for me at all. I do not like that I have to take it to get some much needed sleep.

    I do however still experience blocks of time missing from my memory. I sometimes have no memory of conversations with different people, no memory of ”relations” with my husband, and also eating after taking Ambien.

    I recently came down with a terrible kidney infection and am taking antibiotics, but wonder if the kidney infection is at all related to the Ambien.

  128. I have been taking Ambien for several years. I have tried slowly removing Ambien from my nightly ritual, but find I can’t sleep without it. I even bought natural pills and I’m convince that they did not worked, I have been doing strange things after taking ambien and supposedly asleep, for example, cooking food without remembering it, and one day during the morning hours I did not know if it was morning, night, could”t
    remember were I was, it was scary…

  129. Hi Lori. Thanks for sharing about your husband and how his experiences with Ambien affect you both. I would agree with you: it sounds like your husband has a problem with Ambien. But here is the truth. You cannot fix him or his problem. But you can get help for yourself, and confront him about his Ambien use.

    I’d suggest that you talk with a professional addiction counselor, and go to Al-Anon meetings to get started. You can set up a plan for yourself and decide what you can live with, and what you cannot. Using outside resources for help is an objective way to get another perspective and not have to carry the load all by yourself. You are not alone!

  130. My husband cannot go without Ambien. He drinks as well with it. He has extremely bizarre behavior, i.e. running out side with no clothes, nonstop talking, and is easily agitated. He is now saying he no longer cares for anyone or anything. I do not know how to help him.

  131. Zolpidem, the main active ingredient in Ambien, can cause side effects, but should not be taken if you have a history of kidney or liver disease. Call your doctor to report this unusual problem while you are taking Ambien.

    After you are diagnosed, and the effect has been linked to Ambien, you can then send a report to the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) MedWatch Adverse Event Reporting program online or by phone [1-800-332-1088].

  132. I have been taking Ambien for several years. I have tried slowly removing Ambien from my nightly ritual, but find I can’t sleep without it. I have noticed the past few weeks, a cloudy strong odor urine. Usually, my urine is quite clear and no odor because I drink a lot of water each day. I have no unreasonable lower back pain, and no pain when I pee. I wonder if the long term use of Ambien may be effecting my kidney’s?

  133. I’ve been taking Ambien for about five years now. It was prescribed to me when I was going through a rough break up and suffered depression. Funny I no longer need the anti-depressant but can’t get a wink of sleep w/out Ambien. I wish I never started, but definitely dependent on it, but have recently discussed with my doctor at options to stop.
    Im reading this and I thank you all for sharing your experiences it helps me realize that the decision to stop is the right one I may still have a chance to reverse some of the effects.
    Have a good year! Stay well.

  134. I have been taking ambien off and on for about 4 years. Am I addicted?? I am having intestinal issues but don’t know if its realated. And I have bad vision now, and can’t keep my train of thought. Is this from long term use…or just getting old??

  135. Hi Sharee. I hear your concern for your husband. It’s possible that your husband is PHYSICALLY DEPENDENT on Ambien, but that’s different than addiction. Addiction is characterised by continued use of a drug despite negative consequences, cravings, compulsive use and obsessive thinking (to name a few signs). Have you shared these concerns with him or his doctor?

  136. I am concerned about my husband’s use of ambien. I had heard that it can create some long term effects like depression, feeling of hopelessness, stuff like that. I am concerned about this and possible addiction.

  137. I took Ambien for over a year. It led to sleep-walking. Last Friday, I left the house in my bare feet, and ended up by the river where I usually walk my dog. Sheriff spotted me. Apparently, I was unresponsive…ended up in Psych ER and was petitioned to a VERY scary mental institution for four days. I’m suing the shrink.

  138. I have not had any of the side effects. IN fact I was taking a sleep aide from a health food store that made me dizzy and gave me vertigo. However this is super scary. I have PTSD and am going through something unbelievable and horrifying. Ambien is the only thing that has helped me sleep so far. I have been on it maybe a month. But the one thing it definatley has done and it is a clear difference is it makes me heat sick. I live in NYC with constant heat waves so I have been heat sick a lot. But the alternative is not to sleep!

  139. Hello there, have been reading for a few days now and wanted to let you know what a good resource I believe you’ve got going on here, carry on the good work.

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