Zolpidem is a generic sedative-hypnotic prescription drug that is sold under the brand Ambien. Zolpidem has a calming effect on neural activity. As a result, it helps people fall asleep and stay asleep. Because the drug slows brain activity, zolpidem also reduces symptoms of anxiety.

When someone is prescribed zolpidem, there are a few things they should know. First, zolpidem isn’t intended to be a long-term insomnia treatment. It’s usually only prescribed for a few weeks of use. This is because people can develop a tolerance, which leads to addiction and dependence. A physician will also ask a patient if they are using any other substances, including prescription and non-prescription drugs. Also, a patient’s history or family history of substance abuse or addiction is important for doctors to know before prescribing zolpidem.

What Is Drug Dependence?

Drug dependence happens after someone’s brain and body have repeatedly been exposed to a substance. Due to that exposure, the body adapts to the presence of the drug. When someone is dependent upon the drug and suddenly stops using zolpidem, they may experience withdrawal symptoms. Withdrawal symptoms can also occur if someone suddenly lowers their dosage. Withdrawal occurs as the body tries to adjust without the presence of the substance it’s dependent upon. The best way to prevent dependence is to follow prescribing instructions and to use zolpidem only for a brief period.

Zolpidem Withdrawal

Zolpidem withdrawal symptoms can start to appear anywhere from a few hours after the last dose to several days later. Symptoms appear after different lengths of time, depending on the individual, the severity of use, and the type of zolpidem used. For example, extended-release zolpidem means withdrawal symptoms could take longer to start -within anywhere from 24 to 72 hours after the last dose. Zolpidem withdrawal symptoms include:

  • Anxiety
  • Confusion
  • Mood swings
  • Memory loss
  • Sleep disturbances
  • Shaking
  • Vomiting

Throughout the first week or so of withdrawal, zolpidem symptoms will include intense cravings, depression, paranoia and nightmares. As someone moves into week two of zolpidem withdrawal, symptoms can include feeling brain fog, depression, changes in mood and panic attacks. As the weeks go on, some people will experience persistent sleep problems and psychological zolpidem withdrawal symptoms. Zolpidem withdrawal can last for a few weeks up to a few months. One of the most common zolpidem withdrawal symptoms is called rebound insomnia. With depressant drugs like zolpidem, rebound symptoms are common. The symptoms the drug was used to treat actually reappear more severely during withdrawal.

Zolpidem Detox

When someone is going through zolpidem detox, it almost always involves a tapering-down approach. This means that rather than stopping zolpidem suddenly or “cold turkey,” the individual takes lower doses gradually. A tapering-down approach can mitigate zolpidem withdrawal symptoms and lower the risk of more severe symptoms. A medically-managed zolpidem detox is ideal, especially for people who have used large amounts of the drug over an extended time period. A supervised detox program can help a patient be more comfortable and can improve their chances of going through zolpidem withdrawal successfully.

During a medical zolpidem detox, medical professionals can also start working with patients on treating underlying mental health conditions that they may have. The benefits of a medical zolpidem detox include mental and physical stability. For someone who is abusing or addicted to multiple drugs, a medical detox is often best. Polysubstance abuse and addiction are more complex conditions that require a medical detox and addiction treatment.

The Recovery Village has a team of detox and treatment specialists who are available to talk and answer questions you may have now.

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.