Ambien Withdrawal Timeline, Symptoms, & Treatment

Fear of the unknown can keep people trapped in active Ambien addiction. Concerns about what happens during withdrawal, how painful it can be, and how long it lasts can stop a person from even trying to stop using this powerful prescription medication. This is why learning about the Ambien withdrawal timeline can be such an important step on the path toward effective treatment and successful recovery.

If you or a loved one are struggling with prescription drug addiction, call us now at 508-504-9137 or verify your insurance now.

What Is Ambien?

Ambien is the brand name of a prescription medication that is used to treat insomnia in adults. It was first approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in 1992. In 2005, the FDA approved Ambien CR, an extended-release version of the drug that is designed to help people who frequently wake up throughout the night.

Ambien contains zolpidem, which is classified as a non-benzodiazepine receptor modulator, a sedative-hypnotic, and a central nervous system (CNS) depressant.

A typical Ambien dose is 5mg or 10mg. For Ambien CR, the recommended dose is 6.25mg or 12.5mg. The medication should be taken by mouth once per day, immediately before going to bed:

  • When a person takes Ambien or Ambien CR, the drug promotes increased activity of a neurotransmitter called Gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA). 
  • GABA is an inhibitory neurotransmitter, which means that it interferes with neurons’ ability to send and receive messages. 
  • Increased GABA activity has a calming effect on the brain, which can help people get to sleep and stay asleep.

Ambien is not designed for long-term use. The medication’s prescribing information indicates that patients should be reevaluated if their insomnia persists for seven to 10 days after they begin to take Ambien. Some sources advise patients not to use the drug for longer than two weeks, while others put the maximum length of safe Ambien use at six weeks. 

Ambien Side Effects

Ambien use has been linked with a variety of short- and long-term side effects. 

Anyone who takes Ambien may be at risk for some side effects – but, as with almost all other prescription medications, the likelihood of negative outcomes may increase considerably if someone abuses the drug. This can include taking it in larger amounts, more frequently, or for a longer period of time than directed by their doctor.

Potential side effects of Ambien include:

  • Headache
  • Dizziness or lightheadedness
  • Impaired coordination
  • Double vision
  • Confusion
  • Nervousness and irritability
  • Hallucinations
  • Short-term memory loss
  • Sleepwalking or other activities that the individual cannot recall the next day
  • Suicidal ideation

If a person misuses Ambien either in an attempt to self-medicate or for recreational purposes, they also risk addiction, overdose, and death. 

Ambien Withdrawal Symptoms

Once someone has become dependent on Ambien, they will likely need to go through withdrawal in order to stop using it.

The Ambien withdrawal timeline can involve both physical and psychological pain. Examples of common physical symptoms include:

  • Elevated heart rate
  • Tics and tremors
  • Restlessness
  • Abdominal cramping
  • Nauseas and vomiting
  • Headaches 
  • Aching muscles
  • Excessive perspiration
  • Insomnia

The psychological impact of Ambien withdrawal may include:

  • Powerful cravings for Ambien
  • Agitation and irritability
  • Dramatic mood swings
  • Anxiety
  • Disturbing nightmares
  • Difficulty focusing or concentrating
  • Delirium
  • Hallucinations

Ambien Withdrawal Timeline

In addition to having an idea of what types of symptoms you might expect during Ambien withdrawal, it can also be valuable to know when these symptoms are likely to begin and how long they usually last. 

The type, intensity, and duration of Ambien withdrawal symptoms can vary from one person to the next depending on a variety of individual factors, such as:

  • Their age, gender, and metabolism
  • How long the person has been abusing Ambien
  • How much Ambien they have been taking
  • If they have also been using or become addicted to other drugs 
  • If they have any co-occurring or dual diagnosis disorders

With the understanding that these and other influences can alter the Ambien withdrawal timeline, here’s how this experience typically occurs:

  • A person may begin to feel the first withdrawal symptoms within eight hours after their last dose. If they have been abusing Ambien CR, it may take a bit longer for symptoms to appear, as this version of the medication isn’t eliminated from the body as quickly as standard Ambien is.
  • Symptoms can intensify over the next 72-96 hours, usually peaking no later than five days after the last time the person used Ambien.
  • Ambien withdrawal symptoms dissipate slowly. After they’ve reached peak intensity, it can take a week or two before they have fully disappeared. 

Treatment Options for Ambien Addiction

Treatment for Ambien addiction can take a variety of forms depending on how the individual has been impacted by their compulsive substance abuse. 

If a person has been unable to get through withdrawal on their own, they may need to begin treatment in a detox program

  • During detox, patients will be in a closely supervised environment under the care of a team of experienced professionals. 
  • Detox staff may offer both medical and therapeutic support to keep the patient safe, minimize their discomfort, and help them learn how to manage their symptoms.

Following detox (or for those who don’t need this type of care), patients may benefit from receiving care in one or more of the following environments:

During the post-detox phases of a person’s Ambien addiction treatment, they may participate in a variety of therapies and support services, such as:

  • Individual psychotherapy
  • Group therapy
  • Family therapy
  • Rational emotive therapy (RET)
  • Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT)
  • Dialectical behavior therapy (DBT)
  • Ego-modifying therapy
  • Social skills development
  • Role playing
  • Trauma-focused therapies

Learn More About Ambien Addiction Treatment in Massachusetts

If you have become addicted to Ambien or another prescription medication, Lake Avenue Recovery is here to help.

Our Ambien addiction treatment center Massachusetts, offers customized outpatient rehab programming, with both day and evening options. We understand that the impact of addiction can vary widely from one person to the next, and we are committed to providing you with a truly personalized experience while you are in our care. 

Don’t let untreated Ambien addiction rob you of one more day. To learn more about our programs and services, or to schedule a free assessment, please visit our Admissions page or call us today.