Ambien Detox Symptoms

Symptoms to expect during Ambien detox include rebound insomnia, changes in appetite, and mood changes. More on how to prepare for detox from Ambien and its symptoms here.

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

ARTICLE OVERVIEW: Withdrawal following the rapid dose decrease or abrupt discontinuation of Ambien can include anxiety, tremor, palpitation, or seizure. So, what can you expect as you detox from this hypnotic medication? Is there a preferred method for quitting Ambien? We review here.


Who Needs Detox

Anyone who has become physically dependent on Ambien can benefit from a period of decreased dose tapering and/or abstinence. In fact, Ambien is indicated for the short-term treatment of insomnia … but is not meant to be take form more than a few weeks at a time. In fact, the FDA approved label for Ambien reports that the medication has been shown to decrease sleep latency for only up to 35 days in controlled clinical studies. Ambien may not help you get to sleep after that. Even more, doctors are supposed to reevaluate your case if insomnia persists after 7 to 10 days of use.

How does it work?

Although Ambien is a non-benzodiazepine hypnotic, it acts on the central nervous system in ways similar to benzodizaepines. Its main ingredient is zolpidem, a sedative hypnotic that is a short acting inducer of sleep. It is used to treat conciliating insomnia and reconciliation insomnia, or difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep. It works by slowing activity in the brain to allow sleep.

Prescribing Guidelines

The recommended initial dose is 6.25 mg for women and either 6.25 or 12.5 mg for men, taken only once per night immediately before bedtime with at least 7-8 hours remaining before the planned time of awakening. Why the difference in dosing by gender? Women have been found to have a significantly higher serum Ambien concentration than men at equivalent dosage. In some persons, the higher morning blood levels following use of the 12.5 mg dose increase the risk of next day impairment of driving and other activities that require full alertness.

Some studies demonstrated that sudden discontinuation of Ambien by doses within the normal recommended range 2 to 4 weeks after treatment has not been associated with withdrawal symptoms. Ambien dependence and withdrawal symptoms have been reported in persons with doses between 160 to 2000 mg per day.

Still, dosage adjustment may be necessary when Ambien is taken combined with other central nervous system depressants. In fact, all drugs like Ambien should be used at the lowest effective dose and only after careful assessment of sleep disturbances for:

  • Amnesia.
  • Behavioral changes.
  • Cause.
  • Emergence.
  • Worsening of psychiatric or physical disorders.
  • Withdrawal symptoms.

Ambien is a super-strong, and potentially dangerous drug!

Sleep problems usually improve within 7 to 10 days after you start taking Ambien. However, Ambien should normally be taken for short periods of time. So, if you take Ambien for 2 weeks or longer, Ambien may not help you sleep as well as it did when you first began to take the medication. Nevertheless, what happens when you take Ambien for a period of six (6) weeks or longer (considered long term use)?

What Is Withdrawal?

Withdrawal occurs after you develop physical dependence on the chemicals found in drugs like Ambien. The human brain develops dependence as a state of adaptation; when we take psychoactive drugs, the brain adapts. In this case, it “speeds up” certain functions to account for the sedative effects of zolpidem.

When we experience abrupt cessation, rapid dose reduction, decreasing blood level of the drug, and/or administration of an antagonist…the brain triggers a specific withdrawal syndrome.


Symptoms of withdrawal can persist for days, weeks, or months after use depending on a few factors:

  1. The length of time you have used Ambien.
  2. The dosing amount/frequency of Ambien dosing
  3. Your general health.
  4. Your medical history.

To generalize, overall symptoms of Ambien start a few hours to a couple of days after your last dose of Ambien and can last for several weeks after peak symptoms have resolved. In fact, Ambien affects each person differently. People who develop addiction to or extreme dependency on Ambien may experience a more difficult detox process than those who take Ambien for short period of time at low doses.

Common Symptoms

Sedative/hypnotics have produced withdrawal signs and symptoms following abrupt discontinuation. These reported symptoms range from mild dysphoria, an abnormal state of mood, and insomnia to a withdrawal syndrome that may include abdominal and muscle cramps, vomiting, sweating, tremors, and convulsions. Why such a dramatic list of negative side effects?

Experts do not yet know.

One hypothesis about the reason Ambien withdrawal triggers such symptoms is that long-term doses of zolpidem saturate specific neurotransmitter receptors. Therefore, high-dose Ambien may have a paradoxical effect to decrease anxiety, and abrupt discontinuation of high doses would produce dangerous withdrawal symptoms.
Sedative hypnotics like Ambien produce withdrawal signs and symptoms following abrupt discontinuation. These reported symptoms range from mild dysphoria and insomnia to a full blown withdrawal syndrome with symptoms like:

  • Abdominal and muscle cramps.
  • Convulsions.
  • Fatigue.
  • Flushing.
  • Lightheadedness.
  • Nausea.
  • Nervousness
  • Panic attack.
  • Sweating.
  • Tremors.
  • Uncontrolled crying
  • Vomiting.

In primarily depressed people treated with sedative-hypnotics, worsening of depression, and suicidal thoughts and actions, including completed suicides, have been reported. Suicidal tendencies may be present in such persons and protective measures may be required. Intentional over dosage is more common in this group of people. Furthermore, this 2011 study published in the Indian Journal of Pharmacology found that zolpidem use in and by psychiatric patients has led to abuse, dependence, and complications like delirium during withdrawal.

Detox At Home?

Never come off Ambien cold turkey or unsupervised. Ambien detox can cause adverse or serious side effects. This is why any Ambien detox requires medical supervision. In fact, the safest way to detox from Ambien is under medical supervision.

Your doctor can help you first taper down your doses of Ambien over the period of a few weeks (or more) and set up an alternative plan for dealing with problems sleeping. Additionally, medical supervision helps identify and treat problems as they occur.


Do not stop taking zolpidem without talking to your doctor, especially if you have taken it for longer than 2 weeks.
Furthermore,  Ambien abuse, dependence, and withdrawal syndrome can be all mixed up. In fact, concerns about addiction are increasing in the recent years due to increased number of reported cases. Overprescription may be the cause. Or, use of this drug outside of its therapeutic goals and its short half-life predisposes adverse events.

Still, Ambien is one of the top 3 drugs prescribed to people with sleeping disorders. It is recommended that you use it at the lowest effective dose for only a period of a few weeks, or less. In fact, behavioral therapy for insomnia is preferred to prescription Ambien. The American College of Physicians released 2016 clinical practice guidelines on the management of chronic insomnia disorder in adults. Recommendations include cognitive behavioral therapy for insomnia as the initial treatment for chronic insomnia disorder .

Dependence vs. Addiction

Ambien is classified as a Schedule IV controlled substance by federal regulation. This is because it can be both abused AND can cause physical dependence. But the two issues are distinct. What’s the difference?

Dependence is a state of adaptation in which exposure to a drug induces changes to the brain. This can include tolerance, a diminution of one or more of the drug effects over time. Tolerance may occur to both desired and undesired effects of drugs and may develop at different rates for different effects.

Abuse is characterized by misuse of the drug for non-medical purposes, often in combination with other psychoactive substances. Abuse often leads to addiction, a primary, chronic, neurobiological disease with genetic, psychosocial, and environmental factors influencing its development and manifestations. It is characterized by behaviors that include one or more of the following: impaired control over drug use, compulsive use, continued use despite harm, and craving. Drug addiction is a treatable disease, using a multidisciplinary approach, but relapse is common.

Signs of a Drug Problem

KNOW THIS: Drug problems are not moral problems. If you are misusing Ambien, you are not alone. Medical professionals can help you overcome your dependency. The first step is accepting you have a drug problem. If you are willing to admit a problem, help is out there!

How do you know you have a problem with Ambien?

First, if you think you have a problem, you probably do. Second, most drug problems involve intention. If you are taking Ambien to get high, this is a problem. But if you are taking Ambien therapeutically as prescribed, be aware of its ability to cause dependence and tolerance. Do not take Ambien for more than a few weeks at a time. And, look for behavioral changes to treat your insomnia.

If you are using Ambien to achieve euphoria and stimulation and not for sedation…speak with a medical professional. Or, if you are taking Ambien in the daytime or in ANY WAY OTHER THAN PRESCRIBED, you may need professional help. Other signs of an Ambien problem include:

  1. Losing control of drug use, or taking more Ambien more often than you wanted.
  2. Continued use despite negative consequences to health, home, or work.
  3. Cravings.
  4. Quitting but not being able to stay quit.

Finally, if any of these symptoms occur, you may need special attention. Speak with your doctor if you notice any of the following symptoms while taking Ambien:

  • Abnormal extroversion.
  • Agitation.
  • Anxiety.
  • Confusion.
  • Depression.
  • Insomnia.
  • Mood disorders.
  • Aggressive behavior.
  • Hallucinations.
  • Loss of personal identity.
  • Strange behavior.
  • Suicidal thoughts.
  • Worsening depression.

Questions about Ambien Detox

Do you still have questions about Ambien detox? Please ask your questions in the comments section below and we will get to you promptly.

Reference Sources: FDA: Ambien label
NIH: Zolpidem withdrawal delirium
NIH: Zolpidem Dependency and Withdrawal Seizure: A Case Report Study
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 went to a rehab in Texas to detox from ambien and tradzone but it didn’t help and now I’m home and not sleeping shaking tremors and leg aches it’s been three weeks since last ambien I’m miserable can’t function what can I do now

  2. I have discontinued using Zolpidem after maybe six months of use. I’m on my second day of no use and I have a strange headache… like its pulsating in just one part of my brain/head. Have you ever heard of such a thing?

  3. Please I need help I recently went to a new doctor to get my ambien prescription renewed and he took me off ambien cold turkey and wants me to go from that straight to trazodne I have been on ambien for 12yrs straight and am very worried I will get sick and not be able to work or function. I only have one night of ambien left.

  4. I’ve been taking ambien for probably 10 years now. Last 5 I’ve been on 10mg. I want to stop. The last 3 weeks I’ve cut it in half so only taking 5mg. My sleep isn’t too good but not bad enough to take the other 5mg. Next week I’ll cut it down again to only 2.5mg and see how that works. I want off this med. I haven’t felt too great when I get up but it seems tolerable. I hope this approach works to in alittle over another month I’ll be free of it. What do you think?

    1. Hi Robin. It depends from your body and how it adapts the new drug-free environment. Since Ambien is a benzodiazepine, I suggest that you take a look into the Ashton Manual, a manual that can help you with dealing benzodiazepine dependence and withdrawal:

  5. About 5 years on Zolpidem. Also drank alcohol socially while taking. Started at 5 mg and 2 years ago started cutting in half to start the process of weaning off. After cutting those in half, finally stopped 4 months ago. Been having sleep problems on and off, taking over the counter sleeping supplements now and then. Just recently, things have gotten worse and nothing helps, I can hardly sleep. My primary physican prescribed Trazodone thinking it’s caused from worry and anxiety. I’m so afraid to take it because I’m not sure if it’s anxiety or still suffering withdrawals. Do you think the ambien withdrawal would still be affecting me? And if so, should I try the Trazodone? Don’t want to get hooked on something else but maybe I need rehab? I’m 61, a runner, and in pretty good health otherwise, but haven’t been able to exercise much lately since I’m exhausted. Would appreciate any advice you can give me. Thank you!!

  6. Have been taking zolpidem for over 20 years, 10 my and adjusted to 5 mget 2 years ago. Tapered off over a period of about 2 weeks. How long will my withdrawal last? I now take melatonin to help with sleeping. Have a regular time and routine before bedtime. My body seems to be adjusting and some nights are better than others. Jut hoping that I get back to normal. So what timer frame am I looking at?

    1. Hi Yvonne. After your last dose, the onset of Ambien withdrawal symptoms was probably manifest a few hours to a couple of days later. A common symptom to experience during withdrawal is rebound insomnia, so I am glad you have the melatonin to somewhat manage that.

      Now, after two weeks of being Ambien free, symptoms tend to even out and you can begin to feel normal again. Drug cravings, depression, and mood swings may still be present. In the following few weeks you can expect for most symptoms to subside. Although, you may still experience psychological symptoms around this time. Some people return to having trouble getting or staying asleep.

      I’d say that the worst part is in the past for you at this point. It will only get better with time. How long exactly – I cannot say because each recovery pace is individual. And, after 20 years of Ambien (zolpidem), I’d say that it will take up to a year until you feel completely normal.

  7. I have taken 10 mg nightly ambien since 2012. I quit once in 2012 for several months. I cut my dose in half September 2015 for a week with no side effects.So then December 31st 2015 I took my last dose and flushed my pills. Jan 1st i had mild insomnia,I took two benadryl and some sleepy time tea and was fine. Jan 2nd I had a panic attack ,tool .25 xanax and went to urgent care. Jan 3 I had a mild panic attack that went away after 5 min. I took melatonin,drank tea and slept OK. Today is jan 4th. I have mild tachycardia,blood pressure is good and anxiety is thru the roof. I called off work in fear of another attack. My questions are the following. Did taking the xanax set me back? Am I out of the clear for chances of a seizure? I understand I should have tapered however that is not an option. Neither is seeing a doctor in the next few days. Please give me an honest assessment. Thank you.

  8. I want to get off Ambien, and Klonapin. I believe both are keeping my “binge drinking” going — usually once a week or so. I can go about 3 months and then relapse. I need help, please. When I was in outpatient treatment, they tried to tell my psychiatrist they didn’t think I could stay sober with these two meds. Do you agree? Do I need a new psychiatrist, and what can I take to sleep, otherwise (I.m on 12.5 now, which doesn’t work very well). I definitely need help. Please advise. I am a mental health professional with a doctoral degree. STILL NEED HELP!
    Thank you. Gwen

  9. Hi, I have been on ambiens about ten or eleven years and I know I am very much depended on them, I am on 10 mg one pill at night but have taken more than one at a time. I hate that I want them.I of course don’t have none right now and missed my appointment and just found out that my doctor no longer gives his patients prescriptions without an appointment so therefore I am forced to go cold turkey and my next appointment is not due to June 19. I want to stop but I feel like when my appointment comes I will take the ambiens again, please tell me what can I do and I’m already feeling some withdrawal. I don’t want to be hooked on ambiens no longer!

    1. Hello Jackie. The worst part of Ambien withdrawal is the insomnia. But, make no mistake to believe that you are having trouble sleeping because you are not getting your regular dose before bed. Ambien actually, tends to produce insomnia in detoxing patients as it leaves the system. Talk to a pharmacist for alternative ways you can help your sleep cycles. Some general OTC medication can help you treat nausea and GI tract upset. Also, NSAIDs such as Ibuprofen, Tylenol, or acetaminophen may be helpful for the general aches and pain you will experience with withdrawal. And finally, home made teas can help support the central nervous system and calm the nerves.

      Next, find time and a support system to help impact withdrawal positively. Talking to someone close to you or a member of a support group when you’re craving Ambien can be helpful in treating psychological symptoms, and also useful to prevent getting back on the medication once you go for the next appointment.

  10. I am in the same boat ..12 years prescribed…suddenly ripped off…what surprises about the responses here is that no seems to think that what was done to us by Doctors is not legally actionable….they did wrong and violated Their oath “To Do No Harm”……and put us long term victims in severe jeopardy…the “recovery time” quoted by the moderator as weeks even months is Not accurate….ambien stores in the fatty tissues of the brain it much more realistic that you will fighting your wait for years and years….I think all of us should start a class action suit…I know I will feel Much better if i try and do something that will prevent this from happening to other folks……just saying

  11. I have an autoimmune disease of the thyroid my antibodies are as high as 3196. I was taking 10 milligrams of ambien and cut down to 5 but I’m up at 1:30 AM. I want to get off ambien it’s wrecking my health. I’m going to see a functional doctor who is running labs to see what is causing the increase in the auto immune response. I’m on a paleo diet no sugar, Dairy grains I know gluten. I’ve been on ambien for almost 3 years. It’s affecting my total health I need help. Do you have any more suggestions I’ve tried many herbs, Yoga, exercise outside in nature, what else can I do?

    1. Hi Lora. Seems like you are doing everything you can to stay in good mind and spirit. One question: How long were you taking Ambien? If it was longer than a couple of weeks, you may have developed physical dependence and now your brain is experiencing a change in chemical balance. What did your doctor say after running all the tests? If the issue is what I assumed, then you just have to hold on till your brain returns to homoeostasis and you can sleep on your own again.

  12. 13 years an ambient user – mostly 7.5 mg. – 10 mg. Many home detoxes which never got me below 2.5. Once was prescribed 2 potent drugs to take while slowly reducing ambient, both increased anxiety and left me bumping into walls in the morning. How can I trust my doctor when he’s the one who’s been prescribing me the drug? Plus, I don’t like the idea of going to a detox center only to be given more drugs. I feel adrift and desperately want to get off ambient.

    1. Hi Rose. The best way to withdraw from Ambien is have your Ambien doses slowly reduced over time to compensate for withdrawal symptoms. It’s important to reduce your Ambien doses slowly because when the doses are being tapered, symptoms are less severe. In most cases, doctors will advise you to switch to an equivalent dosage of a longer acting benzodiazepine, like diazepam, and then taper down from that. You may be able to take alternative sleep medications to help treat insomnia, which is a common Ambien withdrawal symptom. Even though some people can detox from Ambien at home, it’s not generally recommended and you should seek your doctor’s help.

  13. Please help me, I have been on ambien for 8 years and now the doctor wants me off. I also want off due to side effects of not remembering things that I do after taking them. 2 months ago I fell down 13 steps in my house and broke my sternum and some ribs. I have no memory of any of it from the fall to the ambulance to the emergency room. I woke up in hospital room and was there for 5 days. I started the process of cutting down the ambien and it was working while I was also on heavy pain meds. Now I am off pain meds and the need for full ambien is back. I am having major panic attacks, and feel like I want to crawl out of my skin. Even taking the whole 10mg is not helping, I was always on the12.5 u til we started the process of getting off. Now my doctor only gives me 10 pills and wants them to last for 30 days. I feel like I am going crazy. I have to keep calling and asking for refills

  14. Can you recommend Ambien detox at home? I live alone but have a lot of willpower. I definitely don’t want to go into an institution. Also, I have cats that depend on me and provide me with very good company.

    1. Hello Donna. Can you ask your doctor to keep prescribing medications to last you through a gradual taper. You may not be addicted, but your body has developed dependence and that’s why you are now experiencing withdrawal symptoms. You shouldn’t be going cold turkey off a medication after ten years of use. Please ask for a proper tapering schedule and help to get off.

  15. Hello Dianna. Symptoms of Ambien withdrawal can last anywhere from a couple of days to several weeks after your last dose of the medication. Most symptoms should resolve a month after you quit. Drink lots of fluids and eat healthy meals to prevent dehydration and help the detox process. Hang in there and know that eventually you will feel a sense of normalcy return.

  16. A pa at my doctors office put me on Ambien and a new pain pill to get me off vicadin. Started having having halutions and siezers in my sleep. Went on for a month but I didn’t remember anything in the morning. Then one day I started having flashes of what was happening during the night. I was doing all kinds of things during the night. And then I remember taking pain pills and Ambien every two hours. I was afraid I had almost killed myself. I have real bad high blood presure and it was out of control, I take meds for it ,they weren’t working. I have been to the ER four times. Went off Ambien and pain med cold turkey. I know it was a bad idea. Spent yesterday in the ER. They helped. Am taking different meds and feel a little better. Did get some sleep last night. How long will the chills and sweats last?

  17. I have been having issues with sleeping and was given Ambien by a doctor who suggested I take
    one to two tablets (they are 5mg each). Started on Dec 12th and took on 5mg for about 10 days. It made me sleep but had somewhat of a headache type feeling when I woke up. I had followed up with a Healing Counselor to ween of the drug, when I started to do and had sleeping issues again and started to take it again. However started getting panic and anxiety attacks and got completely off the drug since Christmas and up until today still getting anxiety which come on at different times. Its been about 10 days since I went cold turkey and hoping the drug will get out of my system. Do you have any advise? Thank you. Sal

  18. I was forced to go cold turkey because of the doctor’s office poor planning and no one in FL will say they will prescribe this drug now. I have been on it nearly 7 years. It took awhile for me to figure out that it worked best on a nearly empty stomach but once I did it worked great and I never had any problems like others have reported. My problem now is I have severe depression for over a year now with suicide ideation and have been forced to stop taking ambien. Everything is getting worse. I can’t breathe, my joints are aching and needless to say I am making plans. The reason I went on it was to avoid dependency on pain meds for a bulged disc in my neck and I also have RLS. Plus I have IBS/C and pain meds make it worse. How long will detox symptoms last after 7 years dependency and how much worse are they going to get?

  19. Hello Debra. I’d suggest that you seek advice from a pharmacist; you may need to start tapering doses now to avoid a cold turkey withdrawal in October. But you definitely need medical advice and a plan before moving forward.

  20. I’ve been on Zolpidem 12.5 mg every night for over 3 years. I have been on Alprazolam XR 3mg every day for over a year and alprazolam for 10 years of the lowest dose. Im also on 900 mg of Gabapentin daily. All prescribed. I’m running out. I moved 3 hours away. I’ve made doctors appointments and then was denied as a patient. Yesterday, my 4th doctor appointment but the 1st one face to face. When she saw my pill bottles she said “I don’t want you as a patient. We will refund your Co-pay”. So now I supposedly have a ” nurse practitioner ” appointment but I could not get in until 10/20/14. I will be out of these meds before then. I’ve always trust my PCP and took these meds as prescribe. I’m 61 and had major surgery 01/2014. I have premature atrial contractions with bouts of tachycardia. When I run out should I admit myself somewhere ? I live alone. Truthfully, I’m scared. What will my body/heart do?

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