Ambien (zolpidem tartrate) is a sedative-hypnotic drug that has a depressant effect on the central nervous system.
It is intended for short-term treatment of insomnia. It slows down brain activity, making it easier to fall asleep and to sleep for longer periods.
Ambien has a high potential for developing dependency with tolerance and withdrawal symptoms. One should avoid taking high doses or using it for longer than the prescription period. Treatment periods are usually limited to two weeks or less. Selling or giving it away, may cause harm to others and is against the law.
There are numerous reports of people abusing Ambien as a recreational drug. Understanding its side effects may help to discourage non-medical users from taking this drug recreationally.
Recreational users often crush Ambien tablets into a powder and snort it. Although it is classified as a sedative, high doses of it can cause a rush of energy and euphoria. Mixing it with other drugs, such as alcohol, hypnotics and tranquilisers, compounds the effects of Ambien and the other drugs. Using it this way also significantly increases the risk of interaction, dependency and overdosing.
After taking Ambien, the person may get out of bed and perform activities while not fully awake. The next day they may not remember any of these events (also known as “Ambien blackout”). This is even more prevalent when alcohol is also used. Reported activities include:
Research has exposed a very long list of possible side-effects. Among them are:
In primarily depressed patients, worsening of depression and suicidal thoughts and actions have been reported.
An overdose of Ambien can be fatal. Symptoms of an Ambien overdose include extreme drowsiness, unconsciousness, compromised heart and breathing functions, and coma.
Following a decrease or discontinuation of Ambien, withdrawal symptoms may include:
Insomnia or a disrupted sleeping pattern may be caused by underlying physical and/or psychological disorders. If treatment with Ambien fails to restore a normal sleeping pattern, then the patient should be carefully evaluated by suitably qualified health professionals, to determine if there is an alternative source that promotes the sleep disorder.