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How Addictive is Ambien? Exploring the Dangers and Risks

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In today’s day and age, Ambien is commonly prescribed by certified medical professionals for insomnia. But the question is, how addictive is Ambien? Especially when insomnia is a common sleep disorder, we must be aware of the dangers that Ambien poses.

With the advancement of medical science, there is a medicine for almost every disease. Doctors prescribe Ambien for insomnia. But how addictive is Ambien? Let us explore more about this drug and find out the answer to the question: how addictive is Ambien?

What is Ambien or Zolpidem?

As per studies, 14.5% of the adult population in the United States are not able to fall asleep. Moreover, an additional 17.8% of adults cannot stay asleep at night. Insomnia is widely prevalent today.

In extreme cases of insomnia, doctors prescribe a potent drug called Ambien to such patients. Ambien is a type of drug that is classified as a Sedative-Hypnotic. This drug is a brand name for Zolpidem which is a short-term solution for insomnia.

Ambien is classified as a controlled substance by the FDA. Despite this classification, many people have abused and misused this drug for recreational purposes. Ambien increases the dopamine levels in the brain drastically. Due to this increase in dopamine, users experience euphoria and hallucinations when they abuse this drug.

In the upcoming sections of this blog, we will discuss how Ambien works which will help us understand how addictive is Ambien.

What is insomnia?

To understand how addictive is Ambien, we must talk in detail about insomnia. Insomnia is a medical condition where an individual is unable to fall asleep despite being tired. It is a mental health disorder that affects the sleep of an individual.

Patients who suffer from insomnia might face the following symptoms:

  • They might find it difficult to fall or stay asleep
  • They might wake up after several hours of sleep still feeling tired instead of feeling refreshed
  • Individuals might suffer from persistent fatigue and impossible to complete their daily tasks

There are several causes for insomnia:

  • Stress is the primary cause of insomnia
  • Traumatic event
  • Drastic changes in sleep patterns
  • Chronic physical illnesses

Now that you have understood what insomnia is, let us explore the details of the most popular medicine used to treat insomnia: Ambien.

In the upcoming sections, we will elucidate how addictive Ambien is and how it works.

How does Ambien work?

Ambien, being a sedative-hypnotic, activates the neurotransmitters of the brain. This means that Ambien slows the brain down by acting as a depressant for the central nervous system. Certified medical professionals may prescribe Ambien as a temporary treatment for insomnia but only for the short term as it is extremely addictive.

Broadly speaking, Ambien comes in two forms. The first form of Ambien is called a quick-release form. This initiates sleep in the patient. The second form, which is the extended-release form, helps to maintain sleep.

Ambien was initially prescribed by medical professionals as it was considered less addictive or habit-forming than other drugs like Xanax and Benzodiazepines (Benzos). However, Ambien is still quite addictive. It may take as little as 2 weeks to develop a tolerance for Ambien.

Despite the potential risks and side effects associated with Ambien, withdrawal symptoms of Ambien are less in severity and danger compared to other drugs.

Now that we have understood how Ambien works, let us discuss how addictive is Ambien.

How addictive is Ambien?

Users of Ambien can develop a dependency on this drug in as little as 2 weeks. It does not matter whether they are abusing this drug by taking a higher dosage than recommended or whether they are adhering to the dosage prescribed by a certified medical professional. Ambien is highly addictive and habit-forming.

Ambien addiction depends on the tolerance of an individual to this drug. This means that if a patient requires a high dosage of Ambien for it to work, it is considered that they have a high tolerance to Ambien. In such cases, the user faces extreme withdrawal symptoms if they stop taking this drug or decrease their dosage.

If Ambien is used regularly for more than 6 weeks, it may lead to an addiction. The user will have to face several addiction symptoms like Ambien tolerance, withdrawal symptoms upon decreasing the dosage, and even losing control over the use of Ambien. They might crave this drug or use it compulsively.

The worst part about Ambien addiction is that users only realize how addictive is Ambien once they stop taking it.

Now that we have understood how addictive is Ambien, let us explain how addictive is Ambien compared to other sleep aid drugs like Xanax or Valium.

How addictive is Ambien compared to other drugs?

Broadly speaking, Ambien is not as addictive and habit-forming as Benzodiazepines. Benzodiazepines are medications that are used for treating mental health illnesses like anxiety, seizures, bipolar disorder, and tics. Xanax and Valium are the two of the most popular benzodiazepines.

How addictive is Ambien compared to Xanax?

Both Ambien and Xanax are used to treat insomnia. However, Xanax is more popular as a treatment for panic attacks and anxiety disorders.

How addictive is Ambien compared to Valium?

Ambien is used to treat insomnia. Valium is a medication prescribed for anxiety, muscle spasms, and seizures. It is also used to relieve the patients from symptoms of alcohol withdrawal.

How addictive is Ambien if there is a long-term use?

If you were wondering how addictive is Ambien if used for the long term, this section will convince you of the risks associated with the long-term use of this drug. These risks are prevalent even if the use is strictly adhered to the dosage and frequency prescribed by a certified medical professional.

There are a plethora of side effects associated long-term use of Ambien. Regular users may feel symptoms of Ambien addiction like fatigue, dry mouth, headache, muscle pain, dizziness, hallucinations, anxiety, nightmares, and confusion even when they take Ambien as per the advice of a doctor. Some patients even suffer from withdrawal symptoms between doses if they take Ambien for a long term.

There is no doubt that Ambien helps people suffering from insomnia fall asleep quickly and have a deep and satisfying slumber. However, given its dangers to addictions, it is not prescribed by doctors for more than 6 weeks.

If an individual uses Ambien for the long term, they may find it difficult and sometimes, impossible to sleep without taking this drug. This is one of the first signs when people realize how addictive is Ambien. These conditions are worse when people abuse this drug for recreational purposes.

Given that Ambien works by targeting the receptor cells of the brain, it affects the sleep cycles, emotional state, and even the consciousness of an individual. How addictive is Ambien can be understood by the fact that some long-term users of Ambien even start indulging in dangerous behaviors like cooking, driving, and doing their daily chores in a state of unconsciousness.


1. How addictive is Ambien?

The short answer to this question is, yes. If you are wondering how addictive is Ambien, consider that it depends on the usage and the dosage. Ambien is a short-term solution for insomnia. If the patient is adhering to the prescribed dosage, they do not have to worry about how addictive is Ambien.

2. How addictive is Ambien compared to Xanax?

Broadly speaking, Ambien is less addictive compared to Xanax.

3. Which organ does Ambien impact?

Ambien is a sedative-hypnotic and a central nervous system depressant. Such drugs, even if prescribed by a certified medical professional, can be detrimental to the health of your liver, kidneys, and other major organs.

4. Is there a safer alternative to Ambien?

Ambien is considered highly habit-forming. This means that even one dose of Ambien is enough to make the user dependent on it. Alternatives like antidepressants and antihistamines that are available at pharmacies are considered safer alternatives to Ambien. Additionally, melatonin supplements also help regulate sleep patterns. Having said that, one must consult a doctor before taking any medicine or supplements.

5. Does Ambien affect Dopamine levels in the brain?

Yes, Ambien affects dopamine levels by causing a dramatic increase in the dopamine levels of the brain. Hence, people who misuse Ambien by taking it for recreational purposes develop an unbending addiction to this drug.


By now, we are confident that you have understood how addictive is Ambien. There are two sides to every coin. While Ambien is helpful as a short-term treatment for patients suffering from insomnia, it can be extremely addictive and habit-forming. Even a bonafide user of Ambien may develop an addiction in as little as 2 weeks.

There are a lot of alternatives to Ambien like melatonin and magnesium supplements. However, because these supplements can potentially alter your sleep cycle, they should also be explored after consulting a certified medical professional.

Some people abuse Ambien for recreational purposes. They might find themselves coming back to this drug for its euphoric and hallucinatory effects. This is because this drug alters the levels of dopamine in the brain, which is potentially dangerous and fatal. Even regular users who take this drug on the advice of a doctor are at risk of developing a dependency or an addiction.

Along with Ambien, our experts at Avisa Recovery treat mental health and drug use disorders with utmost care and efficacy, taking into account their delicate and complex nature. Our goal is to support people in achieving a long-term recovery and better quality of life. Our program is an evolving, linked community of clinical and medical experts that incorporates the most recent findings and evidence-based practices. Participants in our program are given individualized treatment plans that incorporate various therapeutic modalities. Our comprehensive treatment approach takes into account the emotional, mental, physical, and spiritual needs of the patient to heal them as a whole.

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