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Detox from Ambien

ARTICLE OVERVIEW: Ambien (zolpidem) is prescribed to treat short-term insomnia, it is not meant to be used over an extended period. What happens when you want to quit? This article reviews how to get off Ambien safely.


What Happens To Your Brain?

Is important to know first, that Ambien is the brand name for zolpidem, a non-benzodiazepine sedative-hypnotic, and central nervous system depressant that is mainly prescribed as a sleep aid. This means that it slows your brain activity. How?

Ambien increases the activity of gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA), a chemical that occurs naturally in the brain and sends messages between cells through neurotransmitters. GABA slows down brain processes. 

Consequently, Ambien is classified as a Schedule IV controlled substance by federal regulation. In fact, if you are taking Ambien you need to aware of the risk of physical dependence. Physical dependence is a state of adaptation that manifests as a specific withdrawal syndrome when you:

  • Quit the drug abruptly.
  • Experience rapid dose reduction.
  • Have a decreased blood level of the drug.
  • Are administered a drug antagonist.

Ambien withdrawal affects each person differently depending on the dosage and how long you have been taking Ambien. For those who have developed a strong dependence on Ambien, a longer withdrawal period is expected. They will also experience the more uncomfortable or intense symptoms of withdrawal.

Additionally, former Ambien users have reported suffering Post-Acute Withdrawal Syndrome (PAWS) after Ambien use, which is a set of persistent symptoms that occur right after you stop taking Ambien and persist for several weeks to months after your last dose of Ambien. Insomnia, nightmares, depression and anxiety are typical of Ambien PAWS symptoms. Psychological effects of addiction and dependence may also still be present long after you are no longer taking Ambien.

What Happens To Your Body?

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.

So, be very careful if you are taking Ambien… If you have any of these symptoms seek for medical help right away. Other long-term effects that you may felt include:

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

Ambien also depresses the respiratory system, as we said above, and if the underlying cause of insomnia is sleep apnea, this can reduce the drive to breathe, and this is very dangerous.

Effects of Withdrawal

While Ambien detox is considered safer than some other types of sedative withdrawal, there does exist a small chance of some serious side effects, including seizure. Even in the absence of seizure activity, Ambien withdrawal is never easy. Some people claim that some effects they what they feel resembles a hangover from a night of heavy drinking.

During Ambien withdrawal, next day effects include:

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

In addition, there can be sleepwalking and a strange phenomenon known as nocturnal feeding syndrome (or sleep) that can occur, especially in the context of multiple doses.If you take for longer than 7 to 14 days, Ambien can provoke insomnia that is actually worse than the insomnia the drug was intended to treat in first place.


How long does it take to withdraw from Ambien? Generally, acute symptoms resolve within a week, however, some symptoms can persist for weeks to months. In fact, many people attempt to detox and withdraw from Ambien over a period of weeks and months. Most cases of long -term use result in withdrawal that is quite lengthy.

If you have been using Ambien for more than 6 weeks, or so, plan for at least a week of detoxification. Other cases may require more time.

Within a week or so, the acute detox period usually resolves. It is possible that cravings persist, but they will diminish with time, until disappearing completely. However, you may still have difficulties with insomnia in the weeks or months after you quit. So, be sure to talk with your doctor about alternative treatment options.


Withdrawal is different for everyone. The main factors that will influence how long it takes to withdraw include your:

  • Age, weight, gender, general health.
  • Level of drug dependence.
  • Medical history.
  • Use patterns including dosage, frequency, and total time using.

The most acute withdrawal symptoms of Ambien withdrawal generally occur within the first 3-5 days, but symptoms of psychological withdrawal can persist for up to two weeks. In some rare cases, you may experience insomnia, cravings, panic attacks and other side effects for months after discontinuing the use of Ambien.

Here’s a general guideline for what to expect:

Days 1-2 after last use: The first 4-8 hours after the last dose, you may begin to notice mild withdrawal symptoms. hour. 24-48 hours after the last dose, you begin to fully experience withdrawal symptoms (such as difficulty sleeping, craving, anxiety, tremor, heart, palpitations, delirium and, sometimes, seizures or psychosis).

Days 3-5: During this time, symptoms often reach their peak. However, not everyone will experience withdrawal symptoms, nor will everyone experience the same symptoms. A period of 1-2 weeks is average, but several factors can affect how long a person experiences Ambien withdrawal symptoms. These include:

  • How long the person took Ambien? Because when takes it as prescribed for a short period of time, the person is less likely to experience withdrawal symptoms, and those symptoms will not be acute or severe.
  • How high the Ambien dose was? If a person takes more than prescribed, is more likely to develop a tolerance to the medication, which means more Ambien is needed to feel “normal,” and can lead to worse physical and psychological withdrawal symptoms.
  • What Ambien version was taken? Extended-release medications offer a higher dose of the drug; this means that medication is slowly released into the system when taken usually. The organism of the people who abuse this medication bypass the chemicals that permit the slow liberation effect, this can lead to much more intense withdrawal symptoms, because they use higher doses to have the same effect.
  • Was the person took other drugs in addition to Ambien? Other medications, alcohol, or illegal drugs can enhance the effects of Ambien, increasing the potential “high.” Withdrawal symptoms are likely to be compounded if the person ceases all drug use at once.


Ambien may be relatively less addictive than benzodiazepine sedative-hypnotics, but it still carries a risk of dependence and compulsive misuse. 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. 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.

Can You Detox Yourself?

Not always.

For some people, withdrawal symptoms are unbearable. For others, detox resolves without complications. In any case is always important consider an extra help, because Ambien detox can be related with adverse and serious side effects. This is why any Ambien detox should always require medical supervision as in inpatient or outpatient programs.

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 sleeping problems. Additionally, medical supervision helps identify and treat related problems or new problems as they occur.

Where To Detox?

Being able to quit Ambien requires treating the physical and psychological hold the drug has over the user. This is why a medical detox clinic is the safest place to remove Ambien from your system. Most inpatient rehabs offer detox as a service. However, some treatment centers are better equipped than others.

The structure of inpatient treatment also helps people to re-establish healthy sleeping habits since bedtime and waking up are consistent on a day-to-day basis. Is centered on a strict routine which include daily activities are scheduled and often include counseling, free time, support groups and other activities. However, the best Ambien detox center is the one where your needs are met and you feel welcomed.

Medications That Can Help

There are no FDA approved medications to treat addiction to prescription sedatives; lowering the dose over time must be done with the help of a health care provider. However, sometimes a traditional taper isn´t the best course, though. In this case, doctors may choose to substitute one benzo for another.

Gabapentin has been used efficiently to assist or treat alcohol withdrawal, management of cocaine dependence as well as benzodiazepine dependence/detoxification, and has shown positive results treating Ambien dependence problems. Gabapentin lacks short backs of benzodiazepines in treatment of any drug dependence.

Quetiapine is a second-generation antipsychotic medication with known sedating effects. While zolpidem is a relatively safe drug compared to conventional hypnotics, people with substance abuse histories may be at risk for abuse. In cases of zolpidem abuse or dependence, the use of another sedating agent with lower abuse potential should be considered.

Some over-the-counter medicines can help you feel better during withdrawal, as well. Two types of meds relieve diarrhea in different ways:

  • Bismuth subsalicylate (Kaopectate, Pepto-Bismol) balances out how fluid moves through your digestive tract.
  • Loperamide (Imodium) slows the movement of food through your intestines, which lets your body absorb more liquid.

Treating Common Symptoms

Below you will find some easy treatment options for common symptoms that you may have during Ambien detox. If any of these symptoms persist, you have to seek for medical attention.

What To Do For Headaches?

Some headaches are easily treated with over-the-counter medications, including:

  • Aspirin.
  • Ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin IB, others).
  • Acetaminophen (Tylenol, others).

Alternative therapies aimed at stress reduction might help in some cases. They include:

  • Acupuncture.
  • Biofeedback.
  • Cognitive behavioral therapy.
  • Massage therapy.

What To Do For Diarrhea?

Most cases of diarrhea clear on their own within a couple of days without treatment. Eat bland, low-fiber foods until you feel better. Doctors often suggest the BRAT diet:

  • Bananas.
  • Rice (white).
  • Applesauce.
  • Toast.

Other good choices include:

  • Potatoes.
  • Peanut butter.
  • Skinless chicken or turkey.
  • Yogurt.

Avoid foods that can make diarrhea or gas worse, like:

  • Fatty or fried foods.
  • Raw fruits and vegetables.
  • Spicy foods.
  • Caffeinated drinks, such as coffee and soda.
  • Beans.
  • Cabbage.

Drink clear liquids during the day to stay hydrated. Water is a good way to replace fluids, but it doesn’t contain the salts and electrolytes (minerals such as sodium and potassium) you need to maintain the electric currents that keep your heart beating. You can help maintain your electrolyte levels by drinking fruit juices for potassium or eating soups for sodium. Certain fruit juices, such as apple juice, might make diarrhea worse.

What To Do For Muscle Pain?

Muscle aches often respond well to home treatment. Some measures you can take to relieve muscle discomfort from injuries and overuse include:

  • Resting the area of the body where you are experiencing aches and pains.
  • Taking an over-the-counter pain reliever, such as ibuprofen (Advil).
  • Applying ice to the affected area to help relieve pain and reduce inflammation.

Other measures that may provide relief from muscle pain include:

  • Avoiding high-impact activities until after the muscle pain goes away.
  • Avoiding weight-lifting sessions until the muscle pain is resolved.
  • Doing stress-relieving activities and exercises such as yoga and meditation to relieve tension.
  • Gently stretching the muscles.
  • Giving yourself time to rest.

Do You Have Questions?

Do you still have questions about detox from Ambien? Please ask your questions in the comments section below and we will get to you promptly and personally. If we do not know the answer, we will contact the specialist who has it.

Additional Reference Sources:FDA: Ambien
FDA: Questions and answers: Risk of next-morning impairment after use of insomnia drugs; FDA requires lower recommended doses for certain drugs containing zolpidem
NCBI: A case of zolpidem dependence successfully detoxified with gabapentin
NCBI: Prescription sedative misuse and abuse
NCBI: Using medication: What can help when trying to stop taking sleeping pills and sedatives?
NCBI: Quetiapine treatment of zolpidem dependence
NCBI: Zolpidem dependence, abuse and withdrawal: A case report
NIDA: Commonly abused drug charts
SAMHSA: Emergency department visits for adverse reactions involving the insomnia medication zolpidem


Leave a Reply

30 Responses to “Detox from Ambien
4:31 pm June 11th, 2013

Hi, I’m located in Portugal and have been seriously addicted to Ambien for a long time now. I am to go through detox this Summer…do you know if there are places at all for ambien detox in my country? I’ve been searching for ages but have never been able to find anything.


12:03 pm July 5th, 2013

Hello Mark. Here’s what I found about drug addiction (and detox) treatment in Portugal:

3:07 pm August 3rd, 2013

I am 88 and I want to detox from ambien at home. Please help.

7:48 am August 13th, 2013

Hello Pauline. You always need medical supervision when coming off Ambien. First, seek a tapering schedule from your prescribing doctor. Then, record your symptoms in a journal or on a calendar. Finally, prepare to have alternative ways to cope with possible rebound insomnia during withdrawal and after. Best of luck to you, Pauline!

Joan Compton
11:45 pm September 3rd, 2013

Hi. I took Ambien, usually half of 10mg, for about 6 months. I started to experience hypoglycemia, weakness, shakiness and rapid, shallow breathing and through research determined that these symptoms were from Ambien use. I decided to quit cold turkey, which may not have been a great idea. Withdrawal symptoms, aside from insomnia, included increasing nausea to the point of vomiting one day, loss of appetite for several days, increased depression (suicidal thoughts, and feeling of lost identity.) Then I gradually got better. But the insomnia continues, with occasional weakness and rapid breathing. It’s been almost 3
months. Could there be any lingering withdrawal symptoms?

5:26 am September 5th, 2013

Hello Joan. Hmm…look into protracted withdrawal symptoms PAWS for zolpidem. Have you reported these symptoms to your physician? Also, I’d suggest that you seek counsel with a pharmacist. But from my reading….yes, the brain can take a while to recover from hypnotics like Ambien (which are only meant to be used for a few weeks).

Gerri Eslary
3:01 pm October 5th, 2013

I have been taking Ambien for years but only as needed. This year has been an emotional ride and I found myself taking only 5 mgs every night. I have tried to stop lately but find it impossible. I take Lyrica for neuropathy before I go to bed, also. I only get four to five hours of sleep. I am 76 yrs. old. Is 5 mgs a danger?

11:05 am October 9th, 2013

Hello Gerri. What does your prescribing doctor say?

Brady Cherry
11:39 pm June 13th, 2014

I have been taking 10 milligrams of ambien for almost 3 months.I recently started taking 3 quarters of the pill. I didn’t find out about the problems and withdrawals until it stopped working and made my insomnia worse. All the rehabs I have called say they don’t prescribe any addictive medication witch means they don’t taper you off. They just give you anti seizure medication and mood stabilizers. I already take medication for the psychosis I went into a year ago and I am scared of going back into a psychosis. I haven’t been able to find any rehabs that tapper you off. I want off of it really bad.

7:07 am June 15th, 2014

I live in New Orleans, La. and been taking ambien for 10 years at least, learn how to play with it when did not work anymore, five mg, 21/2mg or the 10mg ; lately is not working at all and makes me feel in a daze all night , I want to stop I don’t have a doctor; last week stopped for 3 days with no mayor trouble than the lock of sleep but then I thought of looking for a way to do it and found your blog, today I’m going to take i/4 to sleep some. HELP ME Im 59 years old

3:13 pm June 16th, 2014

Hello Josephine. Well, get a doctor! No, seriously. You need help during withdrawal, and there are alternatives to sleeping aids. In addition, there may be a sleep consulting center in a major city like New Orleans. So, check out the listings here ( , and schedule an appointment so that you get the support you need and deserve during Ambien detox. The rebound insomnia can be difficult, and you need to be prepared!

Gerri Eslary
3:13 pm June 18th, 2014

I take 5mg when I first go to bed and that lasts four hours. I wake up to use the bathroom and take another 5mg and that takes me to morning. So far I’m happy with this since I have no side effects with zolpidem. But things always seem to change.

10:58 pm November 28th, 2014

I am a recovering cocaine addict who got clean in a rehab center in 1986 Clean almost 28 years. I just now hit my bottom on Edluar. I’ve been taking it for over 4 years. It just stopped working. I can get 4-hours max then I’m up with anxiety. I recently went through some realization of unresolved childhood issues. I will be seeing a new mental health Doc. on Wed. I have decided to go cold turkey. It’s been 3 days and I’m Better, but it was brutal torture. slept 9 hours in 5. days. I was about ready to check i somewhere. Meditation before bed and soothing music and prayer has help. My question is: Now that I got thru the worst part, should I “stay the coarse” I read it stays in the system for 6-months Could this be an issue? I don’t want to take it anymore. It’s dangerous to an addict. TY

3:06 pm December 3rd, 2014

Hello Angel. Congratulations on the courage and strength to quit. Ambien is long gone from your system by now, but it will take some time for your brain and body to get accustomed to the absence of the medication and get back to normal. You should feel completely normal after 2-3 weeks.

9:13 pm February 2nd, 2015

This is an old post but I hope to get a response. I’ve been on Ambien off and on for 2 years. 10MG but I do split it in half, so 5MG…I want to wean off of it for good…I thought about 1/4 pill this week, 1/4 every other night the following week and third week, every 2 nights…is 3 weeks to short to wean off of 5MG and for 2 years of use?

3:46 pm February 3rd, 2015

Hello Brian. You’ll need an expert opinion from you prescribing doctor (who knows your medical history) or a pharmacist (who has experience with tapering guidelines for Ambien). The more conservative the taper, the longer the “withdrawal” period, but you may increase your chances for success. Also, be sure to have a back up plan for potential insomnia and/or anxiety in place.

5:39 pm March 16th, 2015

I’ve been taking ambien for 20 years. I have a real problem. I NEED HELP!

8:42 pm May 21st, 2015

I’m replying for my daughter. She has been on ambien for a number of months. We have just been told that she has been taking more than prescribed and encourages her dr to increase her dose. She wants to stop, she is out of ambien and her dr is out of the country. She is scared to tell any other dr of the issue for fear she will be jailed for taking the meds not as prescribed. She is going cold off it. How can I help her? I already see withdrawal symptoms.
Thank you

12:01 pm May 22nd, 2015

Hello Shelby. There are lots of over-the-counter medications that can help treat general nausea symptoms attributed to Ambien withdrawal. 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. Talk to a pharmacist at your local pharmacy for other medications or herbal remedies that may help soothe withdrawal effects.

1:12 pm September 30th, 2015

Hi everyone. I have not slept at all last night. I’m out of Zolpidem, desperate, crying non-stop, moody and angry. I’ve been diagnosed with borderline, including bipolar 2 and anxiety. Of course with borderline you know manipulation inside out. I am socially isolated, a single mom and have stress coming out my ears. I have been in rehab and still managed to get codeine in there. That was inhouse for 6 wks and I felt like a fraud at the end. I am too embarrassed to even mention how much I use now.I go GP or script shopping and have escalated to 40 mg at a time, day or night. It is so compulsive that I can get through 30 in 3-4 days. There is so much shame attached and these drs know you are there for dependency purposes but issue it anyway. I am really just wanting to sleep as if oblivious to the world, but I know this little pill is a demon to resist. What do I do? I’m 42.

Rob no
1:54 am January 10th, 2016

Will I hullucinate off of 40mg of snorted ambien ijust did it

11:26 pm August 14th, 2016

I have been addicted for years. I do not have health insurance due to recent job loss. I have never been without insurance I am praying to lord Jesus Christ to break this dreadful addiction. Don’t sant to use my first name.

Lydia @ Addiction Blog
12:52 pm August 18th, 2016

Hi Louise. If you have questions about addiction treatment and your options, call our free hotline to speak with a trusted treatment consultant.

5:51 pm October 16th, 2016

I want to safely remove my depending on ambient for sleep. Getting conflicting answers but I desire inpatient help.what to so ? I’m scared.

Lydia @ Addiction Blog
11:13 am October 18th, 2016

Hi Dave. If you are looking for a treatment program, call the number you see on the website to get in touch with a trusted treatment consultant.

3:23 pm November 1st, 2016

If it takes 10 or more zolpidems to get to sleep for a few hours, what does diazepam do to help?
Does one go onto anti-anxiety meds and what helps you fall asleep? I and another in my home are battling hard, and it you have any solid sollutions please advise. Some recommended medical marujana but not sure of that. Can kenisiology help?

6:55 pm June 29th, 2017

Dr. prescribed 10mg. Ambien after hysterectomy Nov. 2012 and have been on it continually for almost 5 years now. I took it as prescribed for a week and was hooked…couldn’t sleep when I tried to stop so, since I had 30 pills, I continued…and 6 mos. of refills, I continued. Dr. kept refilling, so I continued. Now, 4 yrs later, due to addiction publicity, doctors are rethinking this. I have to work a 40 hr week, and due to hypothyroidism, I know I cannot function and I’m miserable if I’m sleep deprived. Dr. started not refilling…so I cut back to 3/4 a pill and am now at a half a pill. 5mg. I’m hoping to start reducing it by shaving part of the half for a while until I can totally get off. Should I tell my OB/GYN what’s going on or try to do it myself?

9:40 am July 6th, 2017

You can simply stop Turkey cold

10:40 am November 2nd, 2017

Dear sir, it was my querry, i quitted ambien few months ago, but sometimes i fear relapse, so i want to inquire it from you that have you seen anyone who quitted ambien years ago and been ambien free since then say 5 years ago

12:10 am January 26th, 2018

What a friggin TRIP!!! 20 years on Ambien? They lied to me and told me why I had to be on it but I won’t get into that. I am on my 13th day of withdraw not quite sure of that I would have to go look at my diary ! I survived so far! How? God saved me… FACT lucky to be alive. Evil drugs,,,i came off several. Im a medical professional. Big Pharma wants u!!! Screw them

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