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Quitting Ambien: Withdrawal Symptoms, Side Effects and Tips on Healing

How to Stop Taking Ambien

An estimated 446,000 people in the United States were current misusers of Ambien (zolpidem) and other sedatives in 2015.1 A dangerous dependency on Ambien can develop after just 2 weeks of use. Don’t attempt to stop taking zolpidem without proper knowledge and before putting a medical treatment plan into place. You may be wondering how to quit Ambien use. Getting off Ambien is hard, but it is possible for anybody with the right help.

Weaning Off Ambien and Addiction Treatment Options

You may be wondering how to wean off Ambien. Treatment for Ambien addiction typically begins with a medically assisted detox program where your Ambien dosage is gradually decreased, or tapered, over time. After weaning off slowly, you can stop taking Ambien with minimal risk of experiencing potentially dangerous withdrawal symptoms.

For some people, this tapering-off process may take only a couple of weeks. For severe users, the successful completion of detox – including the full resolution of associated withdrawal symptoms – may take several months or even longer.

Coming off Ambien cold turkey or without medical care can be dangerous (see the “Quitting Ambien Cold Turkey” section below). Users can experience withdrawal symptoms, seizures or other medical complications. The safest approach is to work with a medical professional who has experience tapering people off Ambien and dealing with withdrawal.

A formal detox is frequently combined with various forms of behavioral therapy, counseling and/or support group participation. With these approaches, you and a therapist begin identifying psychosocial features that contribute to your addiction. The therapist teaches you coping skills to help manage stress and limit other maladaptive behaviors.
2 weeks time it takes regular users dependent on Ambien.

There are a variety of treatment programs available for Ambien addiction, including:

  • Inpatient rehab centers: Residential treatment programs provide you with structure and routine to help you establish healthy sleep habits. Inpatient Ambien addiction treatment usually lasts from 30 days to 60 days to 90 days and may include medically assisted detox, counseling and support groups.
  • Outpatient rehab centers: Some cases of mild to moderate Ambien addiction are managed at outpatient addiction treatment centers. This form of treatment allows you to maintain your home and professional life. Some outpatient programs can usher you through a formal detoxification process while providing some combination of individual and group therapy.
  • Group counseling: Support groups and group therapy programs can aid in recovery and prevent relapse by providing a strong peer support system.
  • Individual therapy: Therapy for Ambien dependence addresses the psychological aspects of addiction. Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) techniques help you learn new sleep habits and stress reduction techniques, while counseling addresses emotional concerns, such as anxiety and mood swings.
  • 12-Step programs: Twelve-Step programs, such as Narcotics Anonymous or All Addicts Anonymous, help you address your dependence under a set of established support guidelines, often with an added spiritual perspective.

Strengthening Your Ambien Recovery With Aftercare

Various forms of aftercare programs may also be important to prevent relapse and help you maintain sobriety. Work with your therapist or another alcohol or drug addiction professional in your treatment program on an aftercare plan for Ambien recovery that works best for you.

Aftercare options include:

  • 12-Step programs.
  • Extracurricular recovery programs.
  • Crisis intervention measures.
  • Cellphone-based support.
  • Relapse prevention support groups.
  • Counseling.
  • Relaxation therapy.
  • Mindfulness-based stress reduction.
  • Sober living communities.

Ambien Withdrawal Symptoms and Effects

man abusing Ambien with his head in his handsWhen you stop using Ambien or attempt to come off it, your brain may struggle to re-establish normal levels of activity without the influence of the drug.

As these changes are taking place, a variety of mental and physical Ambien withdrawal symptoms can occur, ranging from the uncomfortable to the potentially dangerous. 3

The withdrawal symptoms of mild Ambien addiction include:

  • Rebound insomnia.
  • Anxiety.
  • Irritability.
  • Stomach cramps.
  • Nausea and vomiting.
  • High blood pressure.
  • Sweating.
  • Fatigue.

When addiction is acute, more severe zolpidem withdrawal symptoms may occur, such as:

  • Panic attacks.
  • Fever.
  • Psychosis.
  • Suicidal thoughts.
  • Uncontrollable crying.
  • Seizures.

How Long Does it Take to Get Off Ambien?

You may be wondering, ‘how long does Ambien withdrawal last?’ In most cases, the timeline of Ambien withdrawal may range from a few days to several weeks. If you took Ambien CR (controlled release), you may experience a slightly longer withdrawal period since the drug remains in your body longer than the short-acting dose. To minimize withdrawal symptoms of any type of Ambien, establish a taper schedule with your physician. Heavy users – those who took larger doses for a longer period of time – usually experience more intense, longer-lasting withdrawal symptoms than mild users. An especially lengthy, “post-acute” withdrawal syndrome (PAWS) has been noted in some heavy Ambien abusers.

Ambien Withdrawal Timeline

The Ambien withdrawal timeline looks something like this:

First 4-8 hours: Severe users may begin to notice mild withdrawal symptoms.
ambien withdrawal timeline

24-48 hours: Users will typically begin to fully experience withdrawal symptoms (such as difficulty sleeping, craving, anxiety, tremor, heart palpitations, delirium and sometimes seizures or psychosis) from 24-48 hours after their last dose.

3-5 days: Symptoms often peak at 5 days after discontinued use. 2

Quitting Ambien Cold Turkey

Some people experience seizures during withdrawal from Ambien.

You may be wondering how to quit Ambien on your own. Perhaps you are wondering, ‘can you just stop taking Ambien?’ Stopping Ambien use cold turkey is potentially dangerous. Suddenly quitting Ambien without supervision can increase the risk of experiencing difficult withdrawal symptoms. One of these symptoms – severe seizures – has resulted in a few reported fatalities. Medically assisted detox is a safer alternative. A physician can help you gradually taper off Ambien and may temporarily prescribe other medications, such as longer-acting benzodiazepines, the benzodiazepine antagonist flumazenil or certain antidepressants, to help ease withdrawal symptoms, manage insomnia and minimize other forms of discomfort.

Benefits of Stopping Ambien Use

The biggest benefit of stopping Ambien use is that you can regain control of your life and your sleep. Recovery from Ambien abuse can greatly benefit your long-term mental and physical health.

No Longer Feel Trapped

You may feel trapped by your use of Ambien because of the difficult withdrawal effects you encounter when you try to quit on your own. You may feel there is no choice but to continue the drug, regardless of any problems, or side effects, use may cause.
446,000 people in the U.S. misuse Ambien
Successfully recovering from an Ambien addiction can put an end to the compulsive cycle of drug use to prevent the arrival of insomnia and other withdrawal symptoms.

Avoid the Side Effects of Ambien

Withdrawal symptoms aren’t the only troubling feature of Ambien abuse. Many Ambien abusers also experience a wide range of harmful side effects, including performing unconscious activities while sleeping. These activities can include eating, talking on the phone and driving. One user even reported sexually assaulting his roommate with no conscious recollection of the event.

Tapering off Ambien can help you avoid these side effects.

Other side effects of being addicted to Ambien may include:

  • Memory loss.
  • Mental confusion.
  • Hallucinations.
  • Mood swings.
  • Depression.
  • Guild or shame over Ambien use and associated behaviors.
  • Uncontrollable shaking.
  • Nausea and vomiting.
  • Heartburn.
  • Diarrhea.
  • Muscle weakness.
  • Muscle and joint pain.
  • Cravings for other drugs.

Prevent Long-Term Effects of Ambien

Long-term health effects that can result from Ambien abuse include:

  • Sleep apnea.
  • Sexual dysfunction.
  • Immunosuppression.
  • Paranoia.
  • Increased agitation.

American Addiction Centers maintains a strong partnership with a large group of insurance companies at our addiction treatment facilities. Start the journey to recovery and find out instantly if your insurance provider may be able to cover all or part of the cost of rehab and associated therapies.

How to Get Off Ambien

doctor talking to patient about quitting ambienYou may be wondering how to stop taking zolpidem. Here are some suggestions you might find help helpful as you begin the process of getting off Ambien and staying clean.

If you’ve been treated unsuccessfully for addiction, if your current addiction is very serious or if you’re concurrently abusing other drugs as well, the intensity and immersive environment of an inpatient rehab program may benefit your efforts to get off Ambien.

How to Taper Off Ambien Use

  • Talk to your doctor or a mental health professional about your addiction.
  • Follow your doctor’s guidance to taper off Ambien and allow your brain to adjust slowly to normal.

Staying Off Ambien

  • Attend Pills Anonymous meetings or join another kind of support group.
  • Regularly remind yourself why you are choosing to get off zolpidem.
  • Work with a professional to identify and address any underlying emotional problems.
  • Use your support system and talk through your cravings for Ambien.
  • Learn to recognize and avoid cues, such as any thoughts, feelings or emotions that will make you want the drug.
  • Minimize general stress in your daily life.

Developing New Habits

  • Speak with your prescribing physician about referral to a sleep therapist, who can assist with non-pharmacologic improvements for good sleep hygiene.
  • See a counselor to learn stress reduction techniques, such as deep breathing and guided meditation.
  • Establish a routine sleep schedule.
  • Find ways to fall asleep without Ambien, such as substituting warm milk or using soothing sleep tapes.
  • Manage and distract yourself from Ambien cravings by establishing a nighttime ritual.
  • Practice healthy habits, such as routine exercise, playing sports or taking up a hobby.

How to Help an Addict Quit Ambien

Many people addicted to Ambien do not recognize they have a problem because their doctor prescribed the drug. Talking with someone about a potential problem may help them determine the severity of the problem and if it requires seeking Ambien dependence treatment.
Here are some ways to approach someone who may have a problem with Ambien.

  • Approach the person 1-on-1 before attempting an intervention with several people, which can be intimidating and cause the user to become defensive. A personal conversation improves your chances of getting through to the person and encouraging them to quit zolpidem use.
  • Do not confront the person with judgment, anger, blame or threat – these are menacing attitudes that will not help and may make matters worse.
  • Be genuinely compassionate, gentle, caring and helpful. Show that you are coming from a place of concern rather than judgment.
  • Explain why you are concerned about the addictive behaviors.
  • Bring up specific behaviors or incidents that have personally affected you or others in your circle.
  • Encourage them to seek Ambien dependence treatment.
  • If they are not responsive to your suggestions, consider seeking a professional who can help stage an intervention.
  • If the person chooses to seek treatment, stay involved and offer support to help them quit Ambien when possible.
  • Learn to let go when necessary, and remember only the person is responsible for his or her behavior.

Frequently Asked Questions

Will I Get Rebound Insomnia if I Stop Taking Zolpidem? How Long Does It Last?

Rebound insomnia is the most common withdrawal symptom when stopping zolpidem use. Because Ambien is a drug designed specifically to treat insomnia, quitting its use means the insomnia will return, often worse than before.

With proper management, normal sleep can return within a few days to a few weeks for those with a mild zolpidem addiction. For those with moderate to severe addictions, insomnia may persist for several weeks to a few months. Encouragingly, most people find that their quality of sleep improves after the withdrawal period.

How to Find a Recovery Center to Get Off Zolpidem

Recognizing that you may have a problem with Ambien can be an important step toward recovery. If you need help quitting or want to help someone you care about get off zolpidem, speak with an admissions consultant at a treatment center of your choice.

Be ready for your call by having some pieces of information on hand, such as:

  • How long you’ve taken Ambien, how much you use and how often.
  • Whether you’ve been abusing other drugs.
  • Any medical or mental health disorders that will also need treatment.
  • Your age.
  • Where you live.
  • Your insurance plan information.
  • When you can enter treatment.

You can contact American Addiction Centers (AAC) for free for help locating the best treatment centers to suit your individual requirements. Call for free at . You can also check your insurance coverage online now to determine whether your insurance provider will cover Ambien detox or rehabilitation.

There are also free drug abuse and alcohol addiction hotline numbers you can contact.

Health Insurance Providers That May Cover Ambien Treatment

Learn more about how to pay for rehab with these insurance providers:

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