Ambien (Zolpidem) Signs, Withdrawal Symptoms, and Side Effects

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Ambien (zolpidem) is a powerful sleep aid prescribed to over 10 million Americans (1) each year. When used as prescribed it can help those who have trouble falling asleep or staying asleep. When used recreationally, it can cause a euphoric type of sedation. Ambien users can develop side effects and withdrawal symptoms after stopping even if used as prescribed.

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Physical & Psychological Side Effects of Using Ambien

This potent sleep aid affects its users both physically and psychologically. Over time, various side effects may develop as a result of its use. Though it is considered safe when used as prescribed, Ambien users may still develop these side effects.

Short-Term Side Effects

Short term side effects (2) refer to possible effects felt after just one use or each time that Ambien is taken. These short term side effects include:

  • Drowsiness
  • Tiredness
  • Headache
  • Dizziness
  • Lightheadedness
  • ‘Drugged feeling’
  • Difficulty keeping balance
  • Nausea
  • Changes in appetite
  • Unusual dreams
  • Muscle aches or cramps

Long-Term Effects

Long term effects refers to the effects that develop after extended periods of regular use. These effects include:

  • Depressive symptoms
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Withdrawal symptoms if a dosage is missed

How Long Do Ambien Side Effects Last?

Ambien side effects will impact each user differently. The length and severity will vary greatly from one user to another. However, many report that these symptoms will subside after regular use of Ambien has stopped.

Rebound & Withdrawal Symptoms Associated With Ambien Dependence

As the body encounters a substance frequently, it will begin to require it to function correctly. This phenomenon is known as dependency. As someone becomes dependent on a substance like Ambien, there will be a period of readjusting if the substance use is suddenly stopped. This period is known as the withdrawal period (3). Throughout this time the body and brain will begin to experience unpleasant symptoms as it re-learns proper functions without Ambien.

Ambien Withdrawal Timeline

When someone is dependent on Ambien, they will begin to experience withdrawal symptoms within hours of their last dose. Physically they will begin to develop flu-like symptoms as their body starts the withdrawal process. These symptoms will last between a few days up to two weeks depending on a multitude of factors like amount used, user’s age, and user’s length of use. These symptoms will reach their peak approximately 72 hours after the last Ambien dose.

After physical symptoms have subsided, the period of psychological withdrawal will continue. This period can consist of difficulty managing emotions, mental fog, and trouble concentrating. These symptoms can last for weeks or months before the mind is fully able to recover.

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What Symptoms Are Caused by an Overdose From Ambien?

Ambien overdose (4) can be recognized by the user having similar symptoms as a benzodiazepine overdose. The user may begin to report drowsiness followed by slipping into stages of unconsciousness. The user may also become unresponsive and begin shallow breathing.

An important factor to note is the other substances present in the body. Often, an Ambien overdose can come as a result of mixing it with other substances. Depressants like alcohol and opiates will have a compounding effect on Ambien increasing the risk for overdose. Many users will accidentally overdose while taking a familiar amount of Ambien because of its compounding interactions with other drugs and alcohol.

What Should You Do if Someone Overdoses on Ambien?

If you notice someone is overdosing on Ambien it is important to contact emergency medical professionals immediately. The sooner that the person receives medical care, the higher their chances of survival. Unlike opiates, there is no reversal drug for the effects of an Ambien overdose. Medical professionals may perform procedures like intravenous fluids, pumping the stomach of its contents, or providing oxygen. Each of these steps can improve the chances of survival and recovery.

Ambien Abuse & Co-Occurring Mental Health Disorders

Ambien, even when used properly, can carry potential side effects. One of the side effects is the negative impact that it may have on mental health conditions. Ambien has been reported to cause users to have depressive symptoms and worsen already existing depressive symptoms.

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Ambien Addiction Treatment for Withdrawal Symptoms & Effects

Though it is not a benzodiazepine, Ambien withdrawal symptoms can be potentially dangerous. Because of this, it should be monitored by a trained staff of medical professionals. If you or someone you know has developed an Ambien use disorder, contact Guardian Recovery today. Our medical and clinical professionals are specifically trained to treat the Ambien  physical and mental withdrawal symptoms. Call today to speak with a treatment advisor to review your treatment options. They will be able to answer any questions you may have about the treatment process. They are even able to conduct a free insurance check with no obligation. Call today to begin your journey to a lifestyle of recovery.


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Disclaimer: Does not guarantee specific treatment outcomes, as individual results may vary. Our services are not a substitute for professional medical advice or diagnosis; please consult a qualified healthcare provider for such matters.


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Reviewed professionally for accuracy by:

Ryan Soave


Ryan Soave brings deep experience as a Licensed Mental Health Counselor, certified trauma therapist, program developer, and research consultant for Huberman Lab at Stanford University Department of Neurobiology. Post-graduation from Wake Forest University, Ryan quickly discovered his acumen for the business world. After almost a decade of successful entrepreneurship and world traveling, he encountered a wave of personal and spiritual challenges; he felt a calling for something more. Ryan returned to school and completed his Master’s Degree in Mental Health Counseling. When he started working with those suffering from addiction and PTSD, he found his passion. He has never looked back.

Written by:

Cayla Clark

Cayla Clark

Cayla Clark grew up in Santa Barbara, CA and graduated from UCLA with a degree in playwriting. Since then she has been writing on addiction recovery and psychology full-time, and has found a home as part of the Guardian Recovery team.

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