How to withdraw from Ambien

Can you withdraw from Ambien at home? Perhaps. But never withdraw from Ambien cold turkey. More protocols for Ambien withdrawal here.

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Planning to withdraw from Ambien?

Be prepared first. Ambien (zolpidem) is classified as a sedative-hypnotic but has many benzodiazepine qualities that affect withdrawal symptoms. Because you can become dependent on Ambien very quickly, withdrawal from Ambien is likely when using Ambien for more than a couple of weeks. So what are symptoms of Ambien withdrawal and what does Ambien withdrawal feel like?

Withdrawal is an unpleasant experience and depending on the severity of use and symptoms, it can be potentially dangerous. That is why there are clinically recommended ways you can withdrawal from Ambien. Here we review how you can withdraw from sleeping pills safely and if you should attempt to detox from Ambien at home, or not. Then, we can answer you questions about Ambien in the comments section at the end.

When do you withdraw from Ambien?

For the most part, withdrawal is a purposeful process that occurs when you decide to stop taking Ambien after regular, daily use. Withdrawal is a normal way that the body seeks homeostasis to regulate normal body function without needing Ambien in the body. When does Ambien withdrawal occur? You trigger withdrawal from Ambien anytime you’ve been taking zolpidem for longer than two weeks (this is why Ambien should only be prescribed for short term use). You also withdraw from Ambien when you have been abusing the medication and have created a physical dependency to zolpidem in the body.

How long to withdraw from Ambien?

How long Ambien withdrawal lasts depends upon duration and amount of use.  Generally, Ambien withdrawal starts about 6 hours after your last dose and symptoms tend to peak about 48 to 72 hours later. Symptoms of withdrawal from Ambien can then last several weeks afterward. In fact, the length of time it takes to withdraw from Ambien can last between a week to several months. How and why?

Because doctors use Ambien to treat insomnia, cases of insomnia reappear and even be more intense. Insomnia may last for several weeks to months later until you are able to find other ways to resolve sleeping problems. Psychological symptoms may also be present long after the initial phase of withdrawal has passed. These symptoms such as craving Ambien or obsessive thinking about Ambien can continue to be an issue.

Withdraw from Ambien symptoms

As you withdraw from Ambien, there are several symptoms which may come up during the weeks after your last dose of zolpidem. Severe withdrawal symptoms can include memory loss, hallucinations, seizures, and confusion. These symptoms can be dangerous, and are associated with cold turkey withdrawal, dual diagnosis patients on multiple medications, or sudden withdrawal from high doses of Ambien. Other symptoms of withdrawal include but are not limited to the following:

  • abdominal cramps
  • abnormal or aggressive behavior
  • anxiety
  • apprehension
  • convulsions
  • dysphoria
  • exacerbated insomnia
  • fatigue
  • fear
  • flushing
  • hallucinations
  • insomnia
  • lightheadedness
  • loss of personal identity
  • mood changes
  • muscle cramps
  • nausea
  • nervousness
  • nightmares
  • panic attacks
  • shaking
  • strange behavior
  • suicidal thoughts
  • sweating
  • tremors
  • vomiting
  • worsening depression

How to ease withdrawal symptoms from Ambien

The best way to ease withdrawal symptoms from Ambien is to commit to strict adherence to recommended doses and then to seek medical advice in the time-tested practice of gradual taper-off. Tapering Ambien doses is the safest way to ensure that Ambien withdrawal is not as severe or intense as simply stopping the sleeping aid. You can also ask your doctor for more information about treating severe Ambien withdrawal symptoms with pregabalin, a newer antiepileptic agent without strong potential for abuse and dependence.

Can I withdraw from Ambien at home?

Yes, it is possible to withdraw from Ambien at home. But it is not for everyone. You can typically withdraw from Ambien at home when you have been taking Ambien only as prescribed, and have your doctor’s OK. Because of the dangerous nature of Ambien, you should NEVER withdraw from Ambien cold turkey. Furthermore, do not discontinue the use of Ambien without first talking to your prescribing doctor. It is best that you follow specific instructions from a doctor on how to withdrawal and taper use of Ambien so that you are in the best possible comfort and safety possible.

Nonetheless, if you plan to withdraw from Ambien at home, make sure that someone else is around. This is one of the safest things you can do. There have been accounts of people driving and walking around without any memory of getting into the car when adjusting doses of Ambien. This can be dangerous as you may be convicted of a DUI. This is why it’s in your best interests to have someone around that can monitor and regulate movement when and if these sorts of withdrawal symptoms arise.

How to withdraw from Ambien safely

To withdraw from Ambien safely, slowly reduce doses of Ambien over time to minimize possible withdrawal symptoms. It’s important to reduce your Ambien doses slowly because when the doses are being tapered, the risk of severe side effects decreases.

The best way to withdraw from Ambien

The best way to withdraw from Ambien is to have your doses of Ambien slowly deceased over time so that your doctor can monitor progress and prescribe other medications or address other medical issues that may occur during withdrawal. The proper ways to decrease dosing will depend on the individual and any other health issues impacting at the time of discontinuing use of Ambien. If use or abuse of Ambien has gotten out of control, monitored detox may be the next step. This way, you are being monitored while you go through acute withdrawal which can help with any safety issues that may arise while you stop trying to take Ambien.

How to deal with withdrawal from Ambien questions

Are you wondering how to deal with withdrawal from Ambien? Withdrawal can be frustrating and complicated. Do you still have questions about Ambien withdrawal? Please ask any questions or leave us your tips for Ambien withdrawal you may have below. We will get back to you personally and promptly.

Reference Sources: NHTSA: Zolpidem (And Zaleplon, Zopiclone)
PubMed: Pregabalin in zolpidem dependence and withdrawal.
PubMed: Zolpidem withdrawal delirium
Connecticut Department of Consumer Protection: Brochure on Zolpidem Tartrate
Toxnet: Zolpidem
Daily Med: Ambien 
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.
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