Woman sleeping

Zolpidem tartrate is a popular sleep aid sold under the brand name Ambien. In clinical trials, zolpidem was shown to be safe and effective for a four-week period when used to initiate sleep.

However, many healthcare providers recommend using the drug for only one week to 10 days to avoid side effects, withdrawal or dependence. No matter how much or how little of the drug you take, taking it for longer than recommended can result in “too much” of the drug. You may find yourself struggling with substance abuse or addiction. The more of the drug you take during this time, the more likely potential side effects become.

Correct dosage of any drug depends on your medical needs and your age, gender, current health, personal history, and more. There is no guarantee against overdose other than not taking the drug. However if you communicate with your medical professionals and carefully follow all instructions, you face a very low risk. As soon as you take more of the drug than recommended, taking it more frequently than prescribed, combine it with other substances, or use it without a prescription, you are abusing it. Drug abuse puts you at increased risk for serious health and life consequences including overdose. You are at risk of severe central nervous system depression, loss of consciousness and death.

Zolpidem abuse is increasingly common. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration[1] shares, “The number of zolpidem-related emergency department (ED) visits involving adverse reactions increased nearly 220 percent from 6,111 visits in 2005 to 19,487 visits in 2010.” Overdose statistics continue to rise as people take too much of this prescription medication.

An Ambien overdose causes extreme drowsiness, loss of motor coordination, unconsciousness, respiratory arrest and death. When combined with alcohol or other sedatives, the risk of a fatal overdose is even greater. Scientific American explains that alcohol, “interacts with anti-anxiety drugs (including Xanax), antipsychotics, antidepressants, sleep medications and muscle relaxants—intensifying the drugs’ sedative effects, causing drowsiness and dizziness, and making falls and accidents more likely.” Additionally, “People who visited an emergency room after taking too much of the sleeping drug Ambien were more than twice as likely to end up in an intensive care unit if they had also consumed alcohol, compared with Ambien-takers who had not had anything to drink.”

Any amount of Ambien is too much Ambien if you are also drinking or using other substances. Polydrug use also makes it harder to identify an emergency situation. You have to be able to think clearly to identify an overdose. If you’re drinking heavily, abusing sleeping pills, or ingesting a combination of drugs and alcohol, it’s hard to recognize the signs of trouble in yourself or someone else. A zolpidem overdose requires immediate attention. Call emergency services or a national poison control hotline if you suspect someone has overdosed. If the person has stopped breathing or lost consciousness, call 911 immediately.

The most effective way to avoid a zolpidem overdose is to avoid using the drug. If you and your doctor have determined that Ambien is necessary for your overall health, make sure you only take the drug as prescribed. If you are currently misusing or addicted to Ambien, take action to regain control over your life.

Black Bear Lodge offers a safe haven for healing and recovery. Our Ambien rehab programs address physical addiction as well as its emotional and spiritual causes. Call us to find out how our individualized treatment plans can help you find a safe, hopeful, and rewarding future.


[1] “Emergency Department Visits for Adverse Reactions Involving the Insomnia Medication Zolpidem.” Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. 1 May 2013. Web. Accessed 24 May 2017.

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