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Can Ambien Be Abused?

Ambien is a brand name medication; the generic form is known as zolpidem. It is used to treat certain sleep issues (e.g., insomnia). Ambien belongs to a class of medications known as sedative-hypnotics which are used to induce and/ or maintain sleep. Ambien is a central nervous system depressant that works by acting on certain neurotransmitters in one’s brain, specifically the GABA-A (gamma-aminobutyric acid-A). When Ambien binds to this receptor it elicits a calming effect as it slows down excessive brain activity and inhibits the specific brain activity associated with insomnia. The United States Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) classifies Ambien as a Schedule IV Substance, which are defined as “drugs with a low potential for abuse and low risk of dependence.” Ambien is not intended for long-term use; rather short treatment periods lasting one to two weeks long, or less are most common. When Ambien is taken exactly as directed, under strict supervision of a qualified medical professional, it can be a highly effective medication.

What Is Ambien Abuse?

When posed with the question: Can Ambien be abused? The answer is yes; anyone could abuse Ambien, even in situations where an individual is prescribed the medication. It is considered substance abuse when an individual consumes Ambien in a way other than directed by her prescribing physician (e.g., crushes a pill and snorts it instead of swallowing it). It is considered Ambien abuse when an individual increases the dosage she ingests without approval from her prescribing physician. An individual that mixes Ambien with other substances (e.g., drugs and/ or alcohol) is abusing the substance. It could be considered Ambien abuse when an individual continues to use the medication beyond the length of time prescribed. When a person without a valid prescription takes Ambien, she is abusing the substance. There are many additional ways an individual could intentionally or unintentionally abuse Ambien. 

Signs and Symptoms

Every individual is different and may exhibit a unique set of signs and experience a combination of varied symptoms when it comes to the abuse of Ambien. Common examples of signs and symptoms that may indicate Ambien abuse, provided by the National Institute on Drug Abuse, could include, but are not limited to, the following: 

  • Vomiting
  • Increased heart rate
  • Excessive sweating
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Memory loss
  • Appetite changes
  • Headaches
  • Shaking
  • Dizziness
  • Coordination problems
  • Dry mouth
  • Weakness
  • Constipation 

Ambien can have many side effects that may occur even when using the medication as prescribed. Abuse of Ambien, however, can lead to a plethora of adverse short and long-term effects.

For Information and Support 

Substance abuse and addiction can be incredibly dangerous and can result in severe short and long-term consequences. If you or someone you know is suffering from substance abuse or addiction, please get help as soon as possible. The earlier you seek support, the sooner you and your loved ones can return to leading happy, healthy, and fulfilling lives. There is no reason to go through this alone, and we are here to help. Please feel free to reach out to us for further information or with any questions regarding substance abuse or addiction. We are available anytime via telephone at: 213-389-9964, or you can always email us at:

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