Statistics show that people who take zolpidem for recreational reasons frequently combine this sleep aid with alcohol or other drugs. Data from the Drug Abuse Warning Network (DAWN) indicate that in 2010, about 50 percent of the patients who sought emergency treatment for zolpidem abuse also had additional drugs in their systems, including prescription pain relievers, sleeping pills and anti-anxiety medications. Mixing zolpidem with other substances that suppress the activity of the brain and nerves can slow down your vital functions to a dangerous rate.
Zolpidem tartrate, or Ambien, is a hypnotic drug prescribed on a short-term basis to help people fall asleep. Zolpidem is similar to tranquilizers like Valium, Ativan and Xanax — drugs classified as benzodiazepines — in that it can make you feel drowsy and tranquil by activating the brain cells that bind with GABA, a neurotransmitter that helps with sleep. Zolpidem is considered to be less addictive than benzodiazepines, barbiturates and other prescription sleep aids. However, this medication can still cause harmful side effects, especially when you take it in combination with other drugs or alcohol.
Taking Zolpidem with Alcohol
In a safety advisory about Ambien CR, the extended-release form of Ambien, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration cautions that mixing alcohol with Ambien increases the drug’s sedative effects on the central nervous system. Like Ambien, alcohol is a depressant that can make you feel sleepy, uncoordinated, confused and disoriented. When you combine the two drugs, their impact on the brain and body is amplified.
When taken together, alcohol and zolpidem cause severe physical and cognitive impairment. The National Traffic Highway Safety Administration warns that drivers who consume alcohol while taking zolpidem show decreased psychomotor coordination and a high risk of motor vehicle accidents. The risk of accidental falls or drowning is also increased.
Both alcohol and zolpidem can harm the liver, an organ that plays a major role in detoxifying the body. Over time, zolpidem and alcohol abuse can contribute to liver disease, a condition linked to many alcohol-related deaths.
Mixing Ambien with Other Drugs
Polydrug abuse is common among recreational Ambien users. Ambien is combined with other prescription medications and illicit drugs for a number of reasons:
When you take Ambien with other drugs, especially street drugs whose ingredients are unknown, you’re taking the risk of unknown reactions. While the interactions of zolpidem with other prescription medications have been analyzed, the effects of combining this sleep aid with illicit drugs are less predictable.
We do know that combining Ambien with benzodiazepines, opioid painkillers, marijuana, alcohol or other addictive substances makes you extremely vulnerable to cognitive and psychological side effects such as:
- Memory loss
- Learning problems
- Psychological dependence
- Delusional thinking
The risk of chemical dependence and addiction is multiplied when you take Ambien along with other drugs. Breaking free from polydrug addiction is extremely challenging, but with the support of compassionate professionals, you’ll begin to regain your physical and mental health.
A rehab program must engage the body, mind and spirit in order to be effective over the long term. Black Bear Lodge provides comprehensive zolpidem addiction treatment in a secluded, tranquil setting in the mountains of Georgia. If you’re searching for recovery services for yourself or a loved one, we’re here to help. Call our toll-free number to speak to one of our admissions coordinators today.