Lack of sleep can affect every aspect of your life—from your physical health and safety to your job performance, personal relationships and emotional well-being. Insomnia, or the absence of sleep, is extremely common in the United States. One study found that 33% of the adult population suffers from chronic insomnia. And of those found with the condition, 27% did not recognize that they had it.1

Chronic sleeplessness has been associated with an increased risk of depression, accidental injuries, illness, heart problems, absenteeism at work and a lack of satisfaction with life in general. For many people who can’t sleep, zolpidem tartrate (Ambien) provides much-needed rest. However,because Ambien use can also lead to dependence and addiction, this medication is classified as a Schedule IV drug under the Controlled Substances Act.2 Taking zolpidem without a prescription, or using the drug for recreational reasons, is not only dangerous, it’s against the law.

Trouble sleeping

Ambien as a Sedative

Ambien is approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for the treatment of insomnia. It is intended to be taken on a short-term basis, typically for up to four weeks. Clinical trials have shown that Ambien is effective at promoting sleep for a period of 35 to 40 days.3

The immediate-release form of this prescription medication can help you fall asleep more easily, but it won’t necessarily keep you from waking up at night. The extended-release version of Ambien may be more effective at ensuring a full night’s sleep.

Other Uses for Zolpidem

Ambien is only approved for the treatment of insomnia in people who have difficulty falling asleep. However, the drug is sometimes prescribed on an off-label basis for other uses. It is common to use Ambien as a way to minimize the effects of jet lag when traveling to new time zones disrupts natural sleep patterns.4 Zolpidem may help you get better sleep on long overnight flights, preparing you to function more effectively the next day.

Zolpidem has also been used on an experimental basis to restore consciousness in patients who have suffered severe brain damage due to a stroke or injury. A recent study by Stanford University showed that mice recovered much more quickly from a stroke on low doses of zolpidem.5 In the future, zolpidem could be proven to show similar effects in humans recovering from strokes.

Who Shouldn’t Take Ambien?

Ambien is safe for many individuals, but it’s not recommended for everyone. Other sleep aids should be considered for people with a history of drug addiction or alcoholism, patients who are experiencing depression or suicidal thoughts, people with severe respiratory illness or patients who have had an allergic reaction to zolpidem. Because alcohol increases the sedative effects of zolpidem, people who drink heavily may be at risk of over-sedation or an overdose.

If you have a problem with zolpidem, or you are abusing other substances, the treatment specialists at Black Bear Lodge are here to help. We provide compassionate, holistic care for patients with prescription drug addiction at an exclusive mountain retreat in the mountains of northern Georgia. Call us at our 24 hour, toll-free helpline at 706-914-2327 to learn more about how our rehab programs can help you recover from drug addiction on a physical, mental and spiritual level.


1 Bhaskar, Swapna, et al. “Prevalence of chronic insomnia in adult patients and its correlation with medical comorbidities.” Journal of Family Medicine and Primary Care. October-December 2016. Accessed 18 October 2017.

2Controlled Substances.” US Drug Enforcement Administration. 17 July 2017. Accessed 18 October 2017.

3Ambien.” March 2017. Accessed 18 October 2017.

4 Choy, Mary, et al. “Jet Lag.” Pharmacy and Therapeutics. April 2011. Accessed 18 October 2017.

5 Goldman, Bruce. “Stroke recovery in mice improved by Ambien.” Stanford Medicine, 18 December 2015. Accessed 18 October 2017.