pink bell alarm clock showing 2:10
grayscale photo of sleeping woman lying on bed

Ambien helps people sleep. It’s done that since 1992 when the drug launched on the market, giving it the nickname “zombie pill.”

This medication has long been the subject of controversy, and you might have heard the horror stories.

  • The woman from New Jersey who drowned while sleepwalking. (She had taken Ambien earlier that day.)
  • The Rhode Island senator who crashed his car near the U.S. Capitol after taking the drug.

Perhaps you or someone you know has experienced these side effects:


Night terrors. 


Or maybe you know about other extreme side effects.

Memory loss. Anxiety. Depression. Suicidal thoughts.

But how common are these reactions?

And what are the short-term side effects of Ambien abuse? What are the long-term side effects of Ambien abuse?

The team at Windward Way Recovery, part of the Zinnia family of brands, has over 150 years of combined substance abuse recovery time. Some of us experienced the short-term and long-term side effects of Ambien before we started our roads to recovery.

Now our counselors, psychiatrists, interventionists, nurses, psychologists, and support workers can help you or a loved one conquer an Ambien addiction for good. That way, you no longer have to experience any side effects associated with this drug.

In this guide, learn about the short- and long-term side effects of Ambien and why enrolling in an California rehab treatment center for drug and alcohol addiction could be one of the best decisions you ever make.

Ambien, Explained

Ambien is the brand name for a sedative-hypnotic medication called zolpidem. It affects brain chemicals in people who have insomnia or trouble sleeping. Ambien, as a central nervous system depressant, can influence mental functions, even when it’s taken under the supervision of a doctor.

That brings with it a whole range of side effects.

Some of these side effects are short term. Other reactions happen with continued use of the drug. If someone abuses Ambien, they might experience more severe side effects. (We’ll explain more later.)

Ambien comes in two types:

  • Ambien
  • Ambien CR, a controlled-release form of the drug

Some people can develop an Ambien addiction if they take the drug for too long.

Doctors prescribe Ambien for insomnia and other sleep-related disorders. But sometimes, patients take these drugs for longer than they should. Other people seek out Ambien on the black market and take it without a prescription, which is against the law.

Here are some quick facts about Ambien:

  • Ambien dosage depends on the user’s age and specific medical condition. Users shouldn’t increase their dosage or take the drug for longer than prescribed.
  • Users should take Ambien orally on an empty stomach. Not snort it. Or inject it.
  • Doctors should only prescribe this sleeping pill for 1-2 weeks. However, many users continue to take the drug for much longer than that, which results in dependence and addiction.

“Take Ambien exactly as prescribed by your doctor. Follow all directions on your prescription label,” advises “Never take this medicine in larger amounts, or for longer than prescribed. The recommended doses of zolpidem are not the same in men and women, and this drug is not approved for use in children. Read all patient information, medication guides, and instruction sheets provided to you. Ask your doctor or pharmacist if you have any questions.”

Here at Windward Way Recovery, we have years of experience with Ambien addiction, and our professional team can customize a treatment plan for someone dependent on this drug. We also guide the loved ones of Ambien users who have developed an addiction to this sleeping pill.

If you think you have an addiction to Ambien or want to help someone taking this drug, contact Windward Way Recovery. Email us or call (855) 491-7694 now for a 15-minute assessment.

What Is Ambien Abuse?

Ambien abuse can happen in these circumstances:

  • Someone takes a higher dose of the drug than recommended.
  • Someone takes Ambien for longer than prescribed.
  • Someone takes Ambien without a prescription from a doctor.

Ambien abuse can lead to dependence on the drug, which can then result in an addiction. The user might be unaware they have a problem or be in denial about their Ambien addiction.

The first step to overcoming Ambien abuse is to get professional help and enroll in a treatment program. This process can be difficult for the person abusing Ambien because it involves reducing their dosage or giving up the drug, bringing unwanted withdrawal symptoms. However, some of our team of specialists have undergone this process in the past, making them a valuable source of help on the road to recovery.

We know how difficult Ambien withdrawal can be. That’s why we provide those who abuse this drug with ongoing support. We judge no one who walks through the doors of our California drug and alcohol rehab center, and we customize our treatment plans based on a patient’s lifestyle, experiences, and circumstances.

It’s what we’ve done for thousands of people. Now we can do the same for you.

Ambien abuse can also result in various short-term and long-term side effects, and we can help users manage any reactions to this drug. We explore these side effects below.

If you think you have an addiction to Ambien, reach out to a professional team of drug and alcohol addiction specialists. E-mail Windward Way Recovery or phon (855) 491-7694 for a 15-minute assessment.

What Are the Short-Term Side Effects of Ambien Abuse?

There are many short-term side effects of Ambien abuse. A person might experience one or more of these side effects regardless of dosage and even when taking the drug as prescribed:

  • Fatigue
  • Sedation
  • Nausea
  • Lack of appetite
  • Fever
  • A loss of muscle control
  • Low heart rate
  • Low pulse
  • Irritability
  • A lack of interest in social activities

There is an increased chance of someone feeling these side effects when taking a higher dose of Ambien than recommended.

Because Ambien affects the brain and motor functions, users might sleepwalk or experience night terrors. Some users report talking on the phone or going for a walk after taking the drug and having no recollection of these activities the following day.

What Are the Long-Term Side Effects of Ambien Abuse?

People who take Ambien for longer than prescribed or take the drug for prolonged periods without a prescription might experience these side effects:

  • Falling unconscious
  • Breathing problems
  • Constant sedation
  • Severe memory loss
  • Excessive drowsiness
  • Dizziness
  • Extreme changes in mood
  • Stumbling
  • Becoming unresponsive to certain stimuli
  • Increased risk of cancer

A person who takes Ambien for a long time might fall asleep or become unconscious in dangerous situations, such as driving a car or operating machinery. Or a person might overeat when under the influence of the drug and gain excessive weight.

Unfortunately, dependence on Ambien can develop quickly, and many users increase their dosage of the drug to experience the same effects as when they first took it.

“Along with its needed effects, zolpidem (the active ingredient contained in Ambien) may cause some unwanted effects,” says “Although not all of these side effects may occur if they do occur they may need medical attention.”

Contrary to popular belief, there is no evidence that Ambien causes suicidal thoughts1 or suicide attempts.

How Windward Way Recovery Helps

As soon as someone contacts our rehab center, we can customize a treatment plan that increases the chances of successful withdrawal from Ambien. Our team adopts an evidence-based approach to recovery that finds the root cause of an Ambien addiction and invites loved ones to support someone in their recovery journey. Our high-quality patient care and staff-to-patient ratio ensure everyone who walks through our doors receives the attention they deserve.

We can also treat any co-occurring disorders that might influence an Ambien addiction. These disorders include bipolar and borderline personality disorder. Unlike some other treatment centers in California, we use a holistic approach to prescription drug addiction that results in more successful recovery outcomes.

Many substance users put off addiction treatment because they worry about the costs of visiting a rehab center. That’s why we work with most healthcare insurers in the United States, helping our patients cover some or all of the costs associated with treatment.

Windward Way Recovery also recognizes the importance of loved ones during someone’s recovery journey. Our family-based therapies can help a person with an Ambien addiction complete treatment.

What People Say About Windward Way Recovery

  • “Windward Way Recovery is an amazing facility with staff that really cares about each and every individual. If you need to learn the coping skills to overcome addiction like I did then I would highly recommend this facility.” — Teddy J.
  • “The staff at Windward Way Recovery was incredible! I can’t begin to explain exactly how much I got out of this program. It was informative, interesting and the staff made it fun. Thank you Windward Way Recovery staff and especially my house manager Christina. Would highly recommend this program to anyone serious about getting sober today!” — Sally P.
  • “I have had the privilege of working with some of the staff and speaking with some of the clients that are at Windward Way Recovery in California. They only have positive feedback to say about their facility. This is definitely recommended as a top-notch drug and alcohol rehab program.” — Brent L.
  • “I am so thankful for Windward Way Recovery! When I finally made that call for help, I had reached my bottom. After drinking for 35 years, I had enough and knew I had to take this seriously. I felt broken and alone. The decision was not easy but necessary. I stayed at Cardinal for 30 days and felt so welcomed. Everyone I came into contact with at Cardinal was caring and made everything I was going through a little easier.” — Carol L.
  • “I am employed at this facility and I am willing to offer all of my recovery experience. I would also recommend on the basis that we are a loving and caring community.” — Eric W.

Do you have an Ambien addiction? Do you know someone who is abusing this drug? Windward Way Recovery helps people overcome their addiction to Ambien and start a successful new life without depending on this drug. E-mail us or phone (855) 491-7694 for a 15-minute consultation. 

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