Beyond the possibility of a sleep-related injury, Ambien is a powerful sedative and hypnotic medication that, when taken in excess, can result in an Ambien overdose.

Zolpidem is a prescription-only sedative and hypnotic medication best known by its more recognizable brand name, Ambien. This medication helps improve sleep quality in people experiencing disrupted sleep patterns. Insomnia is the most common of these conditions. Ambien primarily works to help patients fall asleep but may also help keep them in a deep, restful slumber.

Though very similar to benzodiazepines regarding intended effects, side effects and usage, Ambien is considered a nonbenzodiazepine due to chemical dissimilarities.

Some users have reported engaging in dangerous activities while under the influence of Ambien. Sleepwalking, while potentially harmless in some scenarios, has led to accidental deaths when using the drug. Additionally, sleep-driving incidents have occurred, increasing the risk enormously. The sleep aid also disables basic functions while individuals are still awake. For these reasons, it is no surprise that physicians highly discourage Ambien users from operating vehicles or performing everyday tasks after taking the medication.

Beyond the possibility of a sleep-related injury, another consequence of Ambien use is a potential overdose. Ambien overdoses can occur when the medicine is misused at high doses. Discover how much Ambien it takes to overdose and what symptoms would look like.

Related Topic: Can you overdose on sleeping pills?

Drug overdose can be fatal. If you suspect someone is experiencing an overdose, call 911 immediately. Do not be afraid to seek help. If you do not have access to a phone, contact Web Poison Control Services for online assistance.

Article at a Glance

  • Taking high doses of Ambien may be dangerous and result in an overdose.
  • Certain Ambien overdose symptoms may mean a person has taken too much Ambien.
  • Using Ambien other than how it was prescribed increases the risk of overdose.

Can You Overdose on Ambien?

There is always a chance of fatal consequences whenever strong sedatives are involved, and Ambien is no exception. Nevertheless, the drug requires a significant amount before it becomes fatal.

Ambien is fast-acting and remains in the body for a short period. The medication will be gone entirely within a few hours. Thus, greater doses are needed in a short amount of time for it to become deadly. 

How Much Ambien to Overdose?

Ambien doses typically start at 5 mg for women and 5–10 mg for men. Zolpidem doses higher than 10 mg raise the risk of side effects and are not recommended. A case review of zolpidem overdoses revealed that amounts of 140–440 mg typically caused drowsiness; however, some overdoses in this dose range resulted in coma and breathing trouble. 

Unsafe use practices in a recreational setting can raise the overdose risk. Using Ambien in unintended ways, such as chewing, snorting or injecting the medicine, may cause high drug levels in the bloodstream. Taking other substances or mixing the medication with alcohol is more likely to result in a zolpidem overdose than high levels of zolpidem alone.

Ambien Overdose Symptoms

Taking too much Ambien can lead to an overdose. If you or a loved one experiences any of these Ambien overdose symptoms, seek immediate treatment from a medical provider.

  • Extreme drowsiness: This symptom can be the most difficult to identify because drowsiness is the intent of Ambien.
  • Confusion or loss of consciousness: Victims often appear visibly confused and have difficulty answering questions or recalling information.
  • Difficulty breathing: Abnormal breathing may result from overuse, which can take a turn for the worse very quickly. Be sure to remain vigilant and react accordingly.

True to its nature as a sedative, Ambien overdose symptoms directly correlate to its side effects. Neither an adverse reaction nor an overdose should ever be ignored. Remember, Ambien is a sleeping pill. If you do not promptly contact the proper medical help, you risk falling into a state far worse than simple sleep, like a coma or death.

What To Do During an Ambien Overdose

  • Call 911 immediately.
  • Ensure the person’s airway is clear.
  • Ensure the person can breathe by carefully removing anything from around the neck (such as a necklace or tie).
  • Monitor the person’s breathing and check for discoloration (such as a bluish hue) in the lips or fingertips. Do not give the person anything to make them vomit.

Ambien Overdose Treatment

Though Ambien is different from benzodiazepine compounds, they share a key similarity in overdose treatment. Physicians may administer an overdose antidote called flumazenil to counteract the victim’s sedation. If necessary, medical staff may entirely remove Ambien from the stomach in the most extreme overdose situations. From then, treatment transforms into monitoring a victim’s health and well-being until it is safe for them to leave medical supervision.

Because many people begin taking Ambien under a doctor’s care, it can be difficult to notice when addiction starts to creep in. If you’re struggling with a dependence on Ambien or any other substance, you’re not alone. Help is closer than you think. At The Recovery Village, clients heal from their substance use disorders under the care of compassionate clinicians and physicians. Reach out to an intake coordinator today for more information. 

Editor – Theresa Valenzky
Theresa Valenzky graduated from the University of Akron with a Bachelor of Arts in News/Mass Media Communication and a certificate in psychology. She is passionate about providing genuine information to encourage and guide healing in all aspects of life. Read more
Medically Reviewed By – Elizabeth Cambria

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Medical Disclaimer

The Recovery Village aims to improve the quality of life for people struggling with substance use or mental health disorder with fact-based content about the nature of behavioral health conditions, treatment options and their related outcomes. We publish material that is researched, cited, edited and reviewed by licensed medical professionals. The information we provide is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. It should not be used in place of the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare providers.