Ambien Overdose: Signs, Symptoms, and Treatment by Rehab Recovery Centers

The effects of untreated addiction to drugs or alcohol can be devastating. Addiction is a complex condition that impacts every aspect of a person’s life, including their mental and physical health. When most people picture an addicted person, they may imagine someone who abuses illicit drugs. However, prescription drugs are some of the most commonly abused substances.

Certain prescription medications can be addictive and cause severe damage to a person’s health and wellbeing if taken differently than prescribed. Some, including Ambien, can cause serious, even life-threatening side effects if someone takes more than prescribed or mixes it with other substances.

If you or a loved one takes this medication, it is essential to understand the risks of Ambien (Zolpidem)
abuse, recognize the signs of an Ambien overdose, and know what to do in an emergency.

What is Ambien (Zolpidem)?

Ambien is a prescription medication people take to treat insomnia. The medication slows down activity in some regions of the brain, which results in the person falling asleep faster and staying asleep longer. Many people use Ambien safely as prescribed, but this medication has the potential to be addictive.

While considered safe, Ambien-related medical issues are becoming more common. The number of hospital visits related to Ambien abuse or overdose tripled between 2005 and 2010. The majority (68%) of people admitted to the emergency department for Ambien-related problems were women. Half of these visits involved side effects related to mixing Ambien and alcohol.[1]

Ambien affects people differently. If you or a loved one take Ambien, you must recognize the signs of Ambien abuse and watch out for dangerous side effects.

Signs of Ambien Abuse

Regardless of a history of substance abuse or other risk factors, anyone taking Ambien may develop a dependence on it. People who take Ambien for an extended period may be at greater risk of developing an addiction and have an increased chance of overdose.

Some signs of Ambien abuse include:

  • Needing more Ambien to get the same effects (tolerance)
  • Taking more of the medication than prescribed
  • Taking the medication longer than recommended
  • Not being able to stop using Ambien if you want to
  • Experiencing withdrawal symptoms if you use less or stop using it
  • Continuing to use Ambien despite negative consequences

Using Ambien differently than prescribed is a sign of abuse and dependence. People who abuse Ambien are at increased risk of severe health complications and overdose.

What are the Signs of an Ambien Overdose?

Taking too much zolpidem or combining it with other substances can cause severe, sometimes dangerous, side effects. These include:[2]

  • Feeling sedated
  • Dizziness
  • Hallucinations
  • Headache
  • Neck, back, or joint pain
  • Poor balance and coordination
  • Constipation or diarrhea
  • Blurred vision
  • Ringing ears or ear pain
  • Tremors or shakiness
  • Muscle aches or cramps
  • Complex behavior while sleeping, such as driving

People who take Ambien should not drive or operate machinery until they know how the medication affects them. If you have any of these side effects, you must consult with your doctor.

An Ambien OD can be life-threatening. Taking too much of this medication or combining it with alcohol or other drugs can lead to severe health problems. These include:[3]

  • Slow breathing
  • Slow heart rate
  • Severe drowsiness
  • Loss of consciousness

A person experiencing an Ambien OD may slip into a coma. An overdose of Ambien is a medical emergency. You must call 911 immediately.

How to Treat an Ambien Overdose

If you are with someone who is having an Ambien OD, you must act quickly as the person may lose consciousness. Medical professionals can provide treatment that can keep the person alive. Your first step must be calling 911.

While waiting for emergency medical services, you can keep the person safe by maintaining a clear airway. Remove anything that may obstruct their nose and mouth, including clothing and jewelry. Loosen any tight clothing that could interfere with their breathing. Monitor their breathing and watch for signs that they are not getting enough oxygen. When EMS arrives, they will provide essential treatment to reverse the effects of Ambien overdose.

Prevention is the most critical step in preventing Ambien abuse and overdose. If you take Ambien, take it only exactly as prescribed. Talk to your doctor about any side effects you experience while taking the medication. Do not combine Ambien with alcohol or other drugs.

If you live with Ambien abuse, get treatment as quickly as possible to avoid potential risks to your health and wellbeing.

Learn More About Starting Substance Abuse Treatment

If you or someone you love requires treatment for Ambien abuse or other substances, reach out to Rehab Recovery Centers. We know that anyone can recover from addiction if they have the treatment and support they need. Our specialists will work with you to verify your insurance, recommend a treatment plan, and connect you with the programs and professionals you need to overcome substance abuse.

Reach out to us today to get started.



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