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How Long Does an Ambien High Last?

How Long Does an Ambien High Last?

Ambien (generically known as zolpidem) is a central nervous system depressant that is used to help relieve the symptoms of insomnia and help facilitate sleep. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) asserts that between 50 to 70 million adults in America experience sleep deprivation or suffer from a sleep disorder, and nearly 38 million of them are prescribed Ambien. Ambien comes as a tablet in 5 mg and 10 mg dosages, both in immediate-release and extended-release forms. The effects of Ambien typically begin around 30 minutes after taking the medication. The average half-life, meaning the length of time the substance will remain in one’s system until the concentration in one’s blood has been reduced by half, of Ambien is about 2.5 hours. The sedative effects of Ambien can linger for over 8 hours after taking the medication. Self-reported accounts of getting high on Ambien claim that the length of an Ambien high is about 4-5 hours. However, due to its effects (e.g., memory problems, sleepiness, etc.), it can be difficult to say exactly how long an Ambien high will last. 

How Does It Work?

Ambien belongs to a class of medications known as sedative-hypnotics which are used to induce and/ or maintain sleep. As a central nervous system depressant, Ambien works by activating certain neurotransmitters in one’s brain, specifically GABA (gamma-aminobutyric acid). GABA reduces the excitability of nerve cells (neurons) in the brain, which plays a role in the transmission of pain signals. Although Ambien is categorized as a non-benzodiazepine sleep aid, it acts similarly to benzodiazepines by binding at the alpha-1 subunit of the GABA-A receptor. When Ambien binds to this receptor it interacts with the neurons in one’s brain to suppress and slow down electrical excitement in one’s brain and central nervous system (CNS).

How Much Is Too Much?

Ambien is not intended for long-term use; rather short treatment periods lasting one to two weeks long, or less are most common. The recommended dose of Ambien is one dose of 10 mg per day to be taken before going to bed. Any amount taken above this dose or extended duration of use can increase one’s risk of experiencing unwanted side effects. Ingesting 70 mg of Ambien at one time can cause health complications. A dose of 400 mg or above could cause severe health problems but is not considered a lethal dose. Ambien can become lethal when taken at doses of 2000 mg or more.

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