Tolerance to Ambien

Tolerance to Ambien can occur after only 4 weeks of prescribed use. Learn more about Ambien tolerance and its connection to dependence and addiction here.

minute read

Does Ambien simply not work for you anymore? Ambien used for anxiety or sleep disorders is typically NOT prescribed for more than 4 weeks at a time.  Are you concerned that you might be developing a tolerance to Ambien? How long to be dependent on Ambien occurs in as little as a couple of weeks after daily dosing. So if you are worried your increasing tolerance to Ambien may become an Ambien addiction, you’re in the right place.

In this article, we’ll explore Ambien tolerance, as well as its relationship to Ambien dependence and addiction. We’ll also talk about what you can do about your tolerance to Ambien. Finally, we invite your questions about tolerance to Ambien at the end.

Developing tolerance to Ambien

Ambien (zolpidem) tolerance occurs when you’ve taken this sleeping aid in high doses or for extended periods of time.  Building a tolerance means that you need higher or more frequent doses of Ambien to achieve the same therapeutic effect.  In other words, tolerance starts to affect how well and how long Ambien lasts.  But how’s tolerance related to addiction?

While physical dependence on the drug zolpidem which is found in Ambien is clinically different from Ambien addiction, both conditions are possible when you take Ambien for long periods of time. Ambien dependence simply means you won’t be able to stop taking Ambien abruptly without withdrawal symptoms. However, Ambien addiction includes psychological symptoms which are not necessarily present when you become Ambien-tolerant. Furthermore, Ambien addiction is more likely if you’re not taking it as directed, by taking large amounts or snorting the medication.

If you need help stopping Ambien, check out our detailed GUIDE on sleeping pills withdrawal and detox help to get better equipped with knowledge about the withdrawal, detox, and quitting process under medical supervision.

Ambien tolerance symptoms

Ambien tolerance has two main symptoms:

1. Feeling like Ambien isn’t working as well as it used to

2. Needing to take higher than normal doses of Ambien to get to sleep

Still, these symptoms don’t necessarily indicate an addiction to Ambien. They’re simply signs that your body is used to functioning with Ambien in your system, and so you’re no longer responding as well as you used to.

Ambien tolerance: How long?

Ambien is highly addictive, so zolpidem is usually not prescribed for periods of longer than 4 weeks. In fact, for most people, Ambien is only prescribed for a week or so. This is because it’s possible to develop a tolerance (or dependence) on Ambien after only 4 weeks – the exact amount of time depends on the individual. The longer you’ve taken Ambien and the higher the dose, the more likely you are to develop an Ambien tolerance.

High tolerance to Ambien

Doctors only recommend 10 mg daily of Ambien or 12.5 mg of Ambien CR. Because Ambien is only intended to be used for short periods of time, anything higher than this dose is considered “high.” If you have chronic difficulties with insomnia, your doctor may have to raise your dose over time, or have you switch to a different sleep medication that is more effective.

How to lower tolerance to Ambien

If you want to lower your Ambien tolerance because it’s no longer working for you, talk to your doctor. They may recommend that you stop taking Ambien for a month or two so that your body adjusts – and may be able to recommend alternative drugs to help you sleep in the meantime. There is no way to lower your Ambien tolerance other than tapering your dose and/or taking a break from the drug for a period of time.

Building up tolerance to Ambien questions

Do you still have questions about Ambien tolerance? Please share your questions and experiences with Ambien in the comments below.

Reference Sources: DailyMed: Ambien
NCBI: Intractable nausea caused by zolpidem withdrawal

FDA Medication Guide: Ambien Tablets
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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