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Ambien Withdrawal Timeline, Symptoms, How Long Does Ambien Withdrawal Last?

Ambien withdrawal symptoms can be extremely dangerous and life-threatening if not treated effectively. Get the facts about Ambien withdrawal symptoms, timeline, side effects, and treatment options.

By We Level Up | Editor Yamilla Francese | Clinically Reviewed By Lauren Barry, LMFT, MCAP, QS, Director of Quality Assurance | Editorial Policy | Research Policy | Last Updated: December 30, 2022

What Is Ambien?

More than one-third of Americans suffer from insomnia or other sleep disorders with a large population struggling with insomnia and alcohol abuse. Zolpidem is the most commonly prescribed medication to treat insomnia (difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep) and other sleep disorders.

Zolpidem, commonly sold under the brand name Ambien, comes in many forms. Tablet forms (Ambien) and an extended-release (long-acting) tablet (Ambien CR) are both taken by mouth. Zolpidem also comes as a tablet to be placed under the tongue (Edular, Intermezzo) and an oral spray (Zolpimist).

Ambien is classified as a sedative-hypnotic, a class of drugs prescribed to help individuals with sleep disorders fall asleep and/or stay asleep throughout the night. It works by increasing gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) in the brain which slows activity in the brain and the central nervous system (CNS), working quickly to initiate sleep.

Like all sleep aids, Ambien is intended for short-term use (typically no more than two weeks), not a long-term solution or cure. Research indicates that there might be a link between those who take Ambien or other sleeping pills daily and an increase in mortality rate.

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How Addictive Is Ambien?

Ambien is a non-benzodiazepine sedative most commonly prescribed for treating insomnia and other sleep disorders. Ambien addiction, however, is becoming more common as Ambien abusers become addicted to Ambien’s effects. Ambien addicts use Ambien because it gives them a sense of euphoria and relaxation that they cannot achieve naturally or through other means such as alcohol or illegal drugs.

Ambien also causes the Ambien addict to feel sleepy and lethargic which can cause Ambien addicts to become very reliant on Ambien. Ambien comes in three forms: an immediate-release tablet that is usually prescribed for initiating sleep, a sustained-release form that is commonly used for maintaining sleep, and a 12-hour extended-release Ambien CR also used for maintaining sleep. Ambien addiction occurs when Ambien addicts cannot function without Ambien and Ambien becomes more important than family, friends, or career.

Ambien is classified as a sedative-hypnotic, a class of drugs prescribed to help individuals with sleep disorders fall asleep and/or stay asleep throughout the night.
Ambien is classified as a sedative-hypnotic, a class of drugs prescribed to help individuals with sleep disorders fall asleep and/or stay asleep throughout the night.

Ambien is a brand name for Zolpidem Tartrate, a sedative drug that is prescribed to treat insomnia. It is one of the varieties of prescription drugs that can cause severe addiction. In the scientific piece ‘Zolpidem dependence, abuse and withdrawal: A case report, M. Heydari, M. Saberi, published by The Us National Library of Medicine, the authors showed that zolpidem can exert abuse capability, euphoric mood, tolerance, and withdrawal syndrome.

Ambien is in a class of drugs known as Sedative-Hypnotics. It works by activating the neurotransmitter GABA, which slows down the brain and the central nervous system (CNS). Ambien is used to treat insomnia but is only intended for short-term use. There are two forms of Ambien, a quick-release form that is helpful for initiating sleep and an extended-release form that is helpful for maintaining sleep. Use of either form can lead to Ambien addiction.

This non-Benzodiazepine “Z-Drug” was designed to have the same medical effect as Benzodiazepines, like Xanax, without the same hazardous and habit-forming properties those drugs are known for. The makers of Ambien designed and marketed the drug as a less addictive alternative to Benzos for people with acute insomnia. However, while it generally takes users longer to develop an addiction to Ambien, than to Benzos, and withdrawal symptoms of Ambien are generally less severe and dangerous than Benzo withdrawal, Ambien is still an addictive substance. In fact, it is now recognized that Ambien has a similar abuse potential to Benzos.

The physical dependence on Ambien can form in as little as two weeks, whether the user is following a prescription or abusing the drug. Ambien dependence is characterized by tolerance, whereby the user requires larger amounts of the substance to feel the same effect and withdrawal symptoms that appear if the user stops taking the drug or reduces their dosage.

Eventually, Ambien dependence may become a full-blown addiction; this is characterized by tolerance, withdrawal symptoms, impaired control overuse, compulsive use, continued use despite harm, and cravings. Many people don’t know they have a problem until they stop taking the drug and realize they cannot sleep without it. 

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How Long Does Ambien Withdrawal Last?

Typically, the range of Ambien addiction withdrawal symptoms lasts about two weeks, but this can vary from person to person depending on various factors like:

  • The dosage of Ambien: If the dosage was higher and tolerance has been built, the withdrawal effects may be more severe physically and psychologically.
  • How long one has been using the drug: For those who’ve used Ambien for a short time, the withdrawal symptoms may not be as intense or as long.
  • Type of Ambien: Withdrawal symptoms tend to be worse for those that took the extended-release version of Ambien.
  • Were other drugs involved: Ambien’s withdrawal symptoms tend to be worse for those who mix other drugs with Ambien, including alcohol and illegal drugs. Quitting all of them at one time can cause more severe symptoms.
  • Genetics and Biology: Someone’s history of addiction, gender, age, metabolism, and race can affect Ambien’s withdrawal symptoms.
Typically, the range of Ambien withdrawal symptoms lasts about two weeks, but this can vary from person to person depending on various factors.
Typically, the range of Ambien withdrawal symptoms lasts about two weeks, but this can vary from person to person depending on various factors.

Ambien Withdrawal Timeline

Each person suffering through withdrawal will experience a different Ambien withdrawal duration for their timeline. However, this is an example of what is usual Ambien withdrawal timeline can include:

Days 1-2

How soon one will begin experiencing Ambien withdrawal symptoms depends on the severity of dependence. Those that have a heavy dependence may begin experiencing symptoms within four to eight hours after the last dose. However, most people begin to experience symptoms within 24 to 28 hours after the last dose, ranging from rebound insomnia, confusion, difficulty focusing, Ambien withdrawal headaches, and mood swings.

Days 3-5

The most daunting or acute physical withdrawal symptoms will occur around days three to five, possibly experiencing stomach cramping, vomiting, increased Ambien withdrawal anxiety, nausea, shaking, mood swings, trouble urinating, experiencing Ambien withdrawal diarrhea, depression, and generally feeling like you have the flu.

Days 6-2 Weeks

At around day six, symptoms should start subsiding. The physical withdrawal symptoms will likely be gone by the end of a couple of weeks, though psychological symptoms like sadness, insomnia, cravings, and anxiety may linger for several more weeks or months. If sleep is still an issue, consult a doctor regarding alternative treatment options.

Memory Loss

Ambien is a serious medication. There are always risks associated with taking it, and if taken in high doses, permanent memory loss can occur. There is also the risk of waking up in the middle of the night and sleepwalking, which can result in injury, sleep-driving, sleep-talking, and more.

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Symptoms Of Ambien Withdrawal

Various signs and symptoms of withdrawal may arise when Ambien’s use suddenly stops or if the dose is rapidly decreased. In some cases, the symptoms of withdrawal associated with relatively short-acting sedative-hypnotic medications like Ambien develop as soon as 6-8 hours after the final dose. These symptoms may include:

  • Sweating
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Hallucinations
  • Delirium
  • Seizures in rare cases
  • Anxiety
  • Insomnia
  • Hand tremor
  • Rapid heart rate and breathing
  • High blood pressure

In clinical trials, Ambien withdrawal was reported within 48 hours of the last dose and included symptoms such as:

  • Nervousness
  • Panic attack
  • Fatigue
  • Flushing
  • Lightheadedness
  • Uncontrolled crying
  • Stomach cramps

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Ambien Withdrawal FAQs

What Kind Of Medications Do You Use To Treat Ambien Withdrawal Symptoms?

To lessen the chances of a difficult or severe withdrawal, sedative-hypnotic withdrawal may benefit from medical monitoring and may need to be managed with benzodiazepines or other comparably long-acting sedative medications.

The best way to avoid withdrawal symptoms is to gradually stop using Ambien, which is something people who want to quit should discuss with their doctor.

How Long Do Ambien Withdrawals Last?

Typically, the range of Ambien withdrawal symptoms lasts about two weeks, but this can vary from person to person depending on various factors like:

The dosage of Ambien: If the dosage was higher and tolerance has been built, the -withdrawal effects may be more severe physically and psychologically.

-How long one has been using the drug: For those who’ve used Ambien for a short time, the withdrawal symptoms may not be as intense or as long.

Type of Ambien: Withdrawal symptoms tend to be worse for those that took the extended-release version of Ambien.

Were other drugs involved: Ambien’s withdrawal symptoms tend to be worse for those who mix other drugs with Ambien, including alcohol and illegal drugs. Quitting all of them at one time can cause more severe symptoms.

Genetics and Biology: Someone’s history of addiction, gender, age, metabolism, and race can affect Ambien’s withdrawal symptoms.

Can You Use Ambien For Alcohol Withdrawal?

When compared to benzodiazepines, which are frequently recommended for insomnia, Ambien can be a more effective sleep aid with fewer adverse effects. However, Ambien has addictive properties, mainly when used with alcohol, another substance that depresses the central nervous system, makes Ambien more potent, and exposes users to a higher risk of overdose. When an Ambien addiction is identified, residential treatment offers the best chance for recovery and long-term abstinence, whether or not the addiction also involves alcoholism.

Is One Of The Side Effects Of Ambien Withdrawal High Blood Pressure & Are Ambien Withdrawal Seizures Rare?

Yes to both questions.

Various signs and side effects of Ambien withdrawals may arise when Ambien’s use suddenly stops or if the dose is rapidly decreased. In some cases, the symptoms of withdrawal are associated with relatively short-acting sedative-hypnotic medications like Ambien withdrawal and how long to develop as soon as 6-8 hours after the final dose. These symptoms may include:

-High blood pressure
-Sweating
-Nausea or vomiting
-Hallucinations
-Delirium
-Seizures in rare cases
-Anxiety
-Insomnia
-Hand tremor
-Rapid heart rate and breathing

What Are Ambien Withdrawal Symptoms?

Various signs and symptoms of withdrawal may arise when Ambien’s use suddenly stops or if the dose is rapidly decreased. In some cases, the symptoms of withdrawal associated with relatively short-acting sedative-hypnotic medications like Ambien develop as soon as 6-8 hours after the final dose. These symptoms may include:

-High blood pressure
-Sweating
-Nausea or vomiting
-Hallucinations
-Delirium
-Seizures in rare cases
-Anxiety
-Insomnia
-Hand tremor
-Rapid heart rate and breathing

In clinical trials, Ambien withdrawal was reported within 48 hours of the last dose and included symptoms such as:

-Nervousness
-Panic attack
-Fatigue
-Flushing
-Lightheadedness
-Uncontrolled crying
-Stomach cramps

Are Ambien Withdrawal Nightmares Common?

Nightmares are among the most harmful adverse effects of sedative-hypnotic drugs like Ambien. This broad word includes sleepwalking or other types of abnormal sleep behavior, nocturnal terrors, and disoriented arousals.

How Is It Like To Go Through Ambien Withdrawal Cold Turkey?

Zolpidem, the drug’s scientific name, departs the bloodstream fast when you stop taking Ambien abruptly. A body dependent on zolpidem may start to suffer Ambien withdrawal symptoms in as little as 4 hours as a result of this rapid depletion. Your body struggles to function without the medicine, which makes your central nervous system overreact and develop coping mechanisms. This reaction results in withdrawal symptoms from Ambien and may also have unfavorable side effects, such as panic attacks, nightmares, and a relapse of sleeplessness that may be worse than the initial episode.

Can Ambien Help With Alcohol Withdrawal?

When compared to benzodiazepines, which are frequently recommended for insomnia, Ambien can be a more effective sleep aid with fewer adverse effects. However, Ambien has addictive properties, mainly when used with alcohol, another substance that depresses the central nervous system, makes Ambien more potent, and exposes users to a higher risk of overdose. When an Ambien addiction is identified, residential treatment offers the best chance for recovery and long-term abstinence, whether or not the addiction also involves alcoholism.

How To Stop Ambien Withdrawal

Sedative hypnotic withdrawal may benefit from medical supervision and may require management with benzodiazepines or other relatively long-acting sedating agents to mitigate the risks of severe or complicated withdrawal. People who wish to stop using Ambien are encouraged to talk to their doctor about the potential for withdrawal symptoms and how to slowly stop taking the drug to best avoid withdrawal.

Ambien Withdrawal Treatment

Sedative hypnotic withdrawal may benefit from medical supervision and may require management with benzodiazepines or other relatively long-acting sedating agents to mitigate the risks of severe or complicated withdrawal. People who wish to stop using Ambien are encouraged to talk to their doctor about the potential for withdrawal symptoms and how to slowly stop taking the drug to best avoid withdrawal.

Ambien Detox Treatment

It might be risky to discontinue using Ambien suddenly, especially for people who have been taking it for a long time and at larger doses. Without medical supervision, stopping when physical reliance is severe may not be advised due to the possibility of experiencing potentially dangerous withdrawal symptoms, such as seizures.

Detoxification under medical supervision can make quitting Ambien easier. Although a period of closely monitored medical detoxification may be carried out in an outpatient setting, it may be safer to manage Ambien withdrawal at a detox facility or an inpatient addiction treatment facility when more serious withdrawal hazards are present.

Although detox is a crucial initial step, it frequently isn’t sufficient to help someone’s long-term recovery from drug addiction.

One-on-one sessions help people get to the root of their problems and address the psychological issues behind the addiction.
One-on-one sessions help people get to the root of their problems and address the psychological issues behind the addiction.

Continuous treatment can more thoroughly address the person’s underlying ideas, feelings, and behaviors that initially caused the Ambien usage in order to maintain recovery over time and prevent a recurrence. The skills required for long-lasting recovery can be learned through the use of an evidence-based rehabilitation program. Each person receives treatment in a different way, but it may include:

  • Inpatient rehabilitation. Inpatient care entails round-the-clock supervision in a residential facility, where therapies such as individual and group counseling, different therapies, psychiatric attention, education, and more may be used to help the patient comprehend and address the problems that contributed to their misuse of Ambien as well as help them build coping mechanisms.
  • Individual counseling and therapy. Individual sessions assist patients in identifying the source of their difficulties, addressing the psychological problems that underlie the addiction, and learning to change behavior in order to sustain abstinence and prevent relapse.
  • Group counseling and therapy. Some of the same techniques used in one-on-one counseling sessions are also effective in groups, where people may support and learn from those going through similar issues.
  • Twelve-step programs. Although not professional treatment in and of itself, these programs provide a template for a course of lifelong rehabilitation and work to supplement more formal professional treatment initiatives. Peers provide assistance for individuals. Some people choose a peer or sponsor who has made more progress in their recovery to support them in their efforts.

Aftercare services, which may include ongoing counseling, ongoing support groups, sober living communities, job placement assistance, and alumni events, help people sustain long-term sobriety following the formal treatment program.

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Sources

[1] ‘Zolpidem dependence, abuse, and withdrawal: A case report. M. Heydari, M. Saberi. – The Us National Library of Medicine (www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
Ruiz, Pedro and Eric Strain. Substance Abuse: A Comprehensive Textbook, Fifth Edition. Philadelphia, PA. 2011 – https://www.wolterskluwer.com/en/solutions/ovid/2712
Weaver, Michael F. Yale Journal of Biology and Medicine. (2015). – Prescription Sedative Misuse and Abuse. Retrieved on September 23, 2015 from: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4553644/


Food and Drug Administration. (2013). – Medication Guide: Ambien CR. Retrieved on September 23, 2015 from: http://www.fda.gov/downloads/Drugs/DrugSafety/ucm085908.pdf
U.S. National Library of Medicine. (2015). – Zolpidem. Retrieved on September 23, 2015 from: https://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/druginfo/meds/a693025.html
Psychiatry and Neurosciences. (2007). – Dependence on Zolpidem. Retrieved on September 23, 2015 from: http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1440-1819.2007.01644.x/full
Progress in Neuro-Psychopharmacology and Biological Psychiatry, Volume 21, Issue 2. (2007). – Seizure Following Sudden Zolpidem Withdrawal. Retrieved on September 23, 2015 from: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0278584606002971
Dailymed. (n.d.). – Ambien.
U.S. Federal Drug Administration. (n.d.). – Ambien.

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