Ambien is one of the most commonly prescribed drugs in the United States, with over 9 million people holding prescriptions for the sleeping aid in 2013 alone. While Ambien (a brand name of Zolpidem) is one of the most common sleeping aids, it’s also highly addictive, often abused, and recommended for short-term use only. Despite that, many medical professionals prescribe Ambien for long-term use, simply because they have no better option to help patients with sleep issues, and many people become addicted. 

If you or a loved one is addicted to Ambien, there is help. Understanding Ambien addiction, how detox and treatment work, and your options will allow you to make the right choices. 


Ambien is a brand name of Zolpidem, which is also sold as Edluar, Intermezzo, and ZolpiMist. Each of these drugs is prescribed for sleep issues. The drug is intended for short-term use, where patients can use Ambien to aid in sleeping while seeking out alternative therapies such as behavioral or counseling to ensure sleep. Ambien is also prescribed for long-term intermittent use, where the patient is expected to use the drug only when they cannot sleep. 

However, Ambien can quickly become tolerant and then dependent, with addiction occurring in as little as 12 weeks in some patients. Many also find that the effects of Ambien decrease very rapidly and that they must increase their dose over the prescribed amount to continue to get to sleep.


This quickly builds further tolerance, dependence, and addiction. Because long-term Ambien use makes it less likely for patients to fall asleep without the drug, this becomes a vicious cycle.


Ambien addiction is characterized by a consistent pattern of abuse and reckless behavior. Here, most symptoms of Ambien addiction will relate to actual drug-use, rather than symptoms of having used Ambien, such as being confused.

Someone may be addicted to Ambien if they: 

  • Take more than their prescription suggests

  • Take Ambien every day

  • Take Ambien outside of recommended times (e.g., during the day)

  • Use their prescription too quickly

  • Purchase Ambien or other drugs such as non-prescription drugs in combination with Ambien

  • Drink with Ambien

  • Go into withdrawal when they stop taking Ambien

  • Attempt to quit and fail

  • Use Ambien despite it harming their personal life or relationships

In any case where someone is using Ambien outside of their prescription, they are abusing the drug. They may need help. Ambien is highly addictive and even temporary abuse of the drug can cause long-term problems. 


Detoxing from Ambien can be dangerous and difficult. It is therefore not recommended at home without medical supervision and tapering to reduce the severity of detox symptoms. Ambien withdrawal symptoms begin within 48 hours of the final dose, escalate over the first 3-5 days, plateau, and then gradually disappear. 

Symptoms include: 

  • Anxiety and panic attacks

  • Mood swings

  • Shaking and twitching

  • Abdominal pain and craping

  • Respiratory problems

  • Rapid heart rate

  • Depression

  • Insomnia or sleep problems

  • Irritability

  • Seizures (in about 1% of cases )

Here, the longer the individual has been using and the higher their Ambien dose, the more severe withdrawal symptoms will be. Most medical professionals recommend a strict tapering program to reduce Ambien intake before cutting the drug completely. 


If you or a loved one is addicted to Ambien, there is help. A rehabilitation facility will offer a personalized detox schedule including either tapering off the drug or medical support to reduce symptoms to move individuals safely through detox. Once withdrawal is complete, Ambien addiction treatment works to tackle the underlying problems behind the addiction, with cognitive behavioral therapy, counseling, and skills training such as Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction. 

Ambien addiction can significantly impact the quality of life for users, can damage health, and will affect their ability to live in a happy and healthy way. At the same time, most cannot detox on their own. If your loved one is addicted, getting them into treatment