Ambien Addiction, Statistics, Abuse, Symptoms & Side Effects

What is Ambien?

Ambien is a brand name for Zolpidem, which is part of a class of medications called sedative-hypnotics. Commonly prescribed to treat insomnia (difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep) and some brain disorders, Ambien is used to effectively initiate and maintain sleep by slowing activity in the brain. Like all prescription durgs, it runs the risk of developing an Ambien addiction. Common street names for Ambien include “No-Go Pills”, “A-minus”, and “Zombie Pills”. If taken outside the parameters of a doctor’s prescription or against medical advice, Ambien can be abused recreationally when taken to achieve a “high” or a feeling of euphoria. Misuse of the drug can occur when taken without a prescription, beyond recommended use, for purposes other than a sleep aid, or if inhaled or injected. It can become habit forming if used for an extended period of time, even if taken in prescribed dosages. Abuse of Ambien can lead to devastating consequences if not addressed or treated effectively.

Ambien Treatment and Help

Ambien is one of the most abused sleeping pills on the market today and can become highly addictive. Abuse can result in physical and psychological destruction. Fortunately, help is available to those who desire freedom from an Ambien addiction. The first step towards overcoming an addiction to Ambien is to recognize the problem at hand. Having professional assistance is critical in dealing with the complications that may have resulted from Ambien abuse. While an addiction can be overwhelming for you or your loved one, this battle does not have to be fought alone. Having the support of a professional treatment team at an Ambien rehab center can allow for the best care and ultimately, give you the hope and resources you need to overcome this addiction.

Ambien Abuse Statistics

According to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health, over half a million individuals abuse Ambien and other sedatives [1]. Other important statistics to be aware of regarding the drug are as follows:

  • Ambien sales have generated more than 2-billion dollars yearly, making it one of the most popular sleeping pills in the United States [4].
  • According to the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, drugs such as Ambien are becoming the most common date-rape drug [2].
  • In 2006, Ambien was estimated to be involved in 17, 257 emergency visits in the United States [3].
  • Non-medical use of drugs like Ambien is becoming progressively more common in countries like the United States, Canada, and the United Kingdom, as recreational users seek to achieve “elicit vivid visuals” and a “body high” [4].

Causes of Ambien Addiction

Taking Ambien outside prescription instructions, without a prescription, or for other reasons than the intended use, can contribute to the development of an addiction. A man or woman can develop an addiction to Ambien if underlying issues have not been properly addressed. These issues can be caused by various factors, such as biological, psychological, or environmental reasons. An example of a biological factor that can contribute to the development of an addiction would include a genetic influence. Psychological issues that can influence the progression of Ambien abuse can include unresolved traumas, anxiety, depression, or cases of abuse. Finally, an addiction  can be caused by environmental factors, such as poverty, homelessness, or peer pressure. An Ambien addiction can be a co-occurring disorder, meaning another type of addiction can be present as well, such as alcohol abuse. The nature of addiction is characterized by many factors, and it is common that abusers may struggle with more than one form of addiction.

Signs and Symptoms of Ambien Addiction

If you or a loved one is unsure that you are struggling with an Ambien dependence, it may be helpful to evaluate any signs or symptoms you may be experiencing. The following are some signs and symptoms that may occur as a result of drug abuse:

  • Feeling “drugged”
  • Uncontrolled shaking of one or more body parts
  • Intense drowsiness
  • Weakness
  • Slowed breathing or heartbeat
  • Altered judgment and reasoning
  • Short term memory loss
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Coordination problems
  • Delusions or hallucinations

If you or a loved one is experiencing any of these side effects as a result of an Ambien addiction, it is crucial that you seek medical attention as soon as possible.

Ambien Effects

An addiction to Ambien can lead to hardships that go beyond physical complications, such as severed relationships, lost job opportunities, or difficult financial situations. Continued abuse will lead to ongoing physical, psychological, emotional, and social damage if left untreated or unaddressed. If you are ready to treat an addiction, it is important that you recognize the severity of the problem. This is the first step to overcoming an addiction. Men and women with addictions are more likely to overdose or inflict harm to their bodies, and procuring the help of a professional treatment team will promote lasting recovery.

Ambien Withdrawal

When taken long term or used recreationally to achieve a high, Ambien has a potential for medical misuse. Withdrawals can occur when a man or woman suddenly ceases using the drug after continued use. Since it is not intended for long-term use, it is often abused by those who become addicted to it. The severity of symptoms experienced from Ambien withdrawal is dependent on the dosage and length of time it has been abused. Withdrawal effects can include the following:

  • Hallucinations
  • Tremors
  • Stomach cramps
  • Sweating
  • Fatigue
  • Insomnia
  • Nausea
  • Panic attacks
  • Loss of personal identify
  • Worsening depression
  • Limited memory loss
  • Agitation
  • Reckless behavior, suicidal thoughts

Because of the severity of the symptoms that can result from withdrawals, it is important for the detoxification procedure to occur under the supervision of a treatment facility. Treatment programs for an Ambien addiction will be able to help with withdrawal symptoms as well as in overcoming the vicious cycle of abuse.

Other Articles About Ambien


[1]: National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH)

[2]: National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH)

[3]: Drug Abuse Warning Network (DAWN)

[4]: “Ambien Abuse on Rise Among Teens”:

Last Updated & Reviewed By: Jacquelyn Ekern, MS, LPC on March 27, 2014
Published on, Drug Addiction Informational Guide