Zolpidem Addiction Treatment

What is zolpidem addiction and how can it be treated? Read this COMPREHENSIVE GUIDE on zolpidem addiction, rehabilitation treatment, and aftercare services for long-term recovery.

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Reviewed by: Dr. Manish Mishra, MBBS

ARTICLE SUMMARY: A brief review on the best practices in the treatment of zolpidem addiction. Get the scoop on the evidence-based medical treatments available. Also, learn what every reputable rehab should have in place before you go. Finally, we’ll cover how you can help a loved one cope with addiction.


Addictive Potential

Is zolpidem addictive?

YES! In fact, zolpidem is more addictive than most people would think.

Zolpidem [brand name: Ambien] has been classified as a Schedule IV drug by the Controlled Substances Act, meaning that it may lead to limited physical or psychological dependence. But, there are many examples that prove otherwise.

The British Journal of Clinical Pharmacology published a study in 2007 that highlights zolpidem’s significant potential for dependence and abuse. Moreover, it is well established that zolpidem can produce many of the signs and symptoms of addiction even if you take it as prescribed at therapeutic doses. People who take it longer, more frequently, and in larger doses than prescribed are especially at risk of experiencing:

  • Addiction
  • Cravings
  • Dependence
  • Tolerance
  • Withdrawal

…and other common psychological, physiological, and behavioral side effects that follow zolpidem abuse and addiction.

However, not everyone will experience the same reactions or side effects to zolpidem, nor the same degree of dependence and withdrawal. This leads to the conclusion that there are more factors that influence a person’s likeliness of developing addiction. Some of those factors include:

Gender: Women do not metabolize zolpidem with the same efficiency as men. This results in plasma concentrations that are up to 50% higher than an equivalent dose/lbs for men.

Genetics: People with a family history of substance abuse disorders (especially parents or closest relatives) have a 50% higher chance of developing addiction themselves.

Mental health issues: Mood disorders such as chronic anxiety and depression can trigger zolpidem addiction problems.

Trauma experienced at a young age: People who go through trauma are more susceptible to addiction than others; this includes psychological trauma, abuse, loss of a loved one, high stress living environment, and/or dysfunctional family dynamics.

Your individual biological makeup: Some people experience super-sensitivity to the rewards of drugs like zolpidem or to “the way the drug makes you feel.” These individual drug reactions make some people more likely to become addicted than others.

There are a lot more factors that can be the causes of addiction. The above items are some of the most commonly reported reasons by people seeking addiction treatment in most cases. But, regardless of what lead you to addiction, achieving recovery requires professional treatment for addiction, dependence, or withdrawal…even for those with no history of addiction or clinical use of other drugs.

So, if you feel like your life has been thrown off course due to zolpidem addiction, don’t panic. Recovery can get you back on track.

Who Becomes Addicted

Addiction occurs when you use a psychoactive drug like zolpidem for its effects on the brain. It can start with prescription use that turns to abuse, or it can start when you start taking zolpidem to get high.

Why does addiction occur? Even after first use, zolpidem starts to stimulate the GABA receptors in the brain. With time and repeated use, the medication can change the structure and function of your brain in lasting ways…making it extremely difficult to live without zolpidem.

However, people who abuse zolpidem face the highest risk of becoming addicted. Examples of abuse include:

  • Mixing it with alcohol and/or other drugs.
  • Taking it more frequently than recommended.
  • Taking it for reasons other than what it was prescribed for.
  • Taking it recreationally to feel sedated and high.
  • Using more zolpidem than prescribed.

Luckily, with the right treatment program and aftercare services you can quit zolpidem for good! Continue reading to learn more, and remember to send us your questions via the comments section at the bottom of the page. For inquiries about rehab options call our helpline immediately.

Facts & Statistics

Do you think that you are alone in this? No, you are not…

According to the Institute of Medicine Committee on Sleep Medicine and Research 50 to 70 million Americans chronically suffer from a disorder of sleep and wakefulness.

But how many used this medication incorrectly?

The 2014 National Survey on Drug Use and Health reported that about 330,000 people aged 12 or older were nonmedical users of sedatives in 2014. That number has increased in even a couple of years. The 2016 National Survey on Drug Use and Health reported that 497,000 people aged 12 or older were misusing sedatives such as zolpidem in the past year. The numbers break down by demographic into:

  • 23,000 adolescents aged 12 to 17.
  • 50,000 young adults aged 18 to 25.
  • 425,000 adults aged 26 or older.

So, you are not alone in facing a problem…

Signs of a Problem

To get the answer to your biggest question: “Do I have a problem?” you need to get honest with yourself first. Then, take a look into the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-V) that can help you verify if you have a problem. This manual offers 11 criteria for the diagnosis of an addiction. Take a look at the following. Do you…

  1. Take the drug in larger amounts or longer than intended?
  2. Want to cut down or stop using drug but fail to succeed?
  3. Spend a lot of time obtaining, using, or recovering from the use?
  4. Experience cravings and an uncontrollable need to use the drug?
  5. Fail to perform normally at work, home, or at school due to drug use?
  6. Continue to use, even when it causes problems in relationships?
  7. Give up important social, occupational or recreational activities because of use?
  8. Use the drug again and again, despite being aware of harmful risks and side effects?
  9. Continue to use despite the risk of developing health problems or worsen physical or physiological condition?
  10. Need more drug to get the desired effect (tolerance)?
  11. Experience withdrawal symptoms which can be relieved by taking higher dose (dependence)?

If you have some of these criteria, you may need to see a doctor to diagnose the severity of your problem.


Be careful when you use zolpidem. Besides its addictive potential, it may lead you overdose, or unwanted ED visit. In fact, the 2013 DAWN Report on Emergency Department Visits for Adverse Reactions Involving the Insomnia Medication Zolpidem reported that the number of zolpidem-related ED visits increased 220% from over 6,000 visits in 2005 to almost 20,000 visits in 2010.

Additionally, female users are accounted 68% of all zolpidem-related ED visits in 2010. Plus, many people dangerously mix Ambien with other medicines. Half of the visits involved other substances combined with zolpidem, including opioid painkillers (26%) and other insomnia aids and anti-anxiety medications (16%).

How Do I Get Better?

Has your zolpidem use led you down a dark, unwanted path to addiction? We’ve got good news. You can get better! In fact, addiction is a medical condition. When treated medically, you can live a life of purpose and satisfaction. You can live totally drug-free.

So, if you have dealing with zolpidem addiction on your own, it may be time to seek help. Trying to quit by yourself can be difficult and less effective than seeking professional help. So, if you’ve tried (and failed) to quit zolpidem in the past, we encourage you to think about seeking help.

You can get better… with help!

When zolpidem starts to take a toll on your health, relationships, and financial stability…it’s causing more harm than good. So, the first thing you can do to get the help you desperately need is stop being in denial about the problem you are battling. Nobody chooses to become an addict, BUT you can choose to get treatment and get better.

If you are ready to get help, call our hotline for a free and confidential conversation. Simply pick up the phone and talk to a trained counselor to determine the next step and find a zolpidem treatment facility that suits your needs.

What happens when you call our hotline?

Calling a helpline and speaking with a recovery support specialist can save time and make you feel more comfortable. Hotline staff understand addiction. They know that is it a medical condition. They will not judge or shame you. When you call the hotline, you can talk openly and honestly about:

  1. Your zolpidem abuse and addiction.
  2. How long you’ve been using the medication.
  3. How much and how often you take zolpidem.
  4. Whether or not you’re drinking or using other drugs.
  5. Other mental health issues you’re battling.

When you call, we’ll listen. We know that it can be hard to pick up the phone. So, expect to talk with a caring and non-judgmental person. Hotline staffers have been trained to understand addiction as a medical condition and will offer strategies and information about treatment services that can best help you. The call is:


If you are ready to turn your life for the better, don’t wait any longer. We’ll work to get you the help you need. Contact us today and let us help you get on the right track.

You are not alone.

Overcoming Fear of Withdrawal

If you’ve ever attempted to quit zolpidem suddenly and on your own, you may know that the extreme panic can feel overwhelming. Often, rebound insomnia can make it difficult or impossible to sleep for days on end. This discomfort is temporary, but often triggers relapse. So, what can you expect during the course of zolpidem withdrawal?

Symptoms of withdrawal occur within 48 hours of the last taken dose. However, when managed medically, these symptoms can be less severe and intense. In fact, correct tapering of zolpidem and medical oversight during detox can reduce the severity or intensity of the following:

  • anxiety
  • abdominal cramps
  • cravings
  • delirium
  • depression
  • fatigue
  • irritability
  • mood swings
  • nausea or vomiting
  • panic attacks
  • rapid heart rate and breathing
  • rebound insomnia
  • seizures
  • tremors

We know that zolpidem withdrawal can be scary…but it doesn’t have to be.

A certified rehab program can make sure that your withdrawal experience is safe. Medical detox can help alleviate some of the discomfort with the use of psychological support and prescription and over-the-counter medications. In addition, a special diet and alternative medicines like acupuncture can also assist the withdrawal process.

Don’t let the fear of withdrawal keep you addicted! If you need help quitting zolpidem or want to get help for someone you care about, speak with a recovery support specialist.

Treatment Options

Treatment for any kind of addiction should address the underlying problems that are causing the drug use in the first place. Since everyone’s reasons for using drugs are different, treatment should be flexible to meet unique needs. Tailor-made treatment programs treat zolpidem addiction on a physical, mental, emotional, nutritional, and spiritual level by choosing the perfect mix of therapies for YOU.

What are some of the most effective treatments for addiction? Here are the basic choices you can choose from when looking for reputable addiction treatment that fits your needs.


Inpatient (residential) treatment is usually the best place to detox and withdraw from zolpidem, achieve physical stabilization, and continue the therapeutic part of the treatment program. At a residential rehab, you have no outside stressors, round-the-clock support from medical staff, and a limited access to the drug. Without this structured and supportive environment, relapse is a common outcome.

Outpatient treatment can be difficult to undertake when quitting due to the psychological side of addiction. The emotional attachment and behavioral habits can put a strain on you as you try to bnce you decide upon a treatment setting, you’ll need to commit to a length of time in treatment. Common durations for inpatient treatment are 30, 60, or 90 day episodes. Common durations for outpatient treatment average 3-4 months, but may be more effective over the course of 1-2 years. Longer rehab stays are more recommended for people with more serious zolpidem addiction as they offer significantly higher success rates and allow more time for physical and psychological stabilization, therapy, and education.


Reputable rehab centers facilitate individual and group therapy, skills training, and more. You’ll want to be sure that the rehab has some form of psychotherapy + access to doctors who can supervise detox and/or prescribe medications to help you during withdrawal or maintenance of sobriety. Some of the more common therapy methods used in rehab may include:

  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)
  • Motivational Interviewing (MI)
  • Contingency Management

…and other interventions.

In addition, addiction programs usually offer alternative holistic options such as yoga, mindfulness, meditation, art therapy, music therapy, and even animal therapy. When applied together, the mix of evidence-based and holistic therapies can maximize your chances of successful recovery and long-lasting sobriety.


Once you decide upon a treatment setting, you’ll need to commit to a length of time in treatment. Common durations for inpatient treatment are 30, 60, or 90 day episodes. Common durations for outpatient treatment average 3-4 months, but may be more effective over the course of 1-2 years. Longer rehab stays are more recommended for people with more serious zolpidem addiction as they offer significantly higher success rates and allow more time for physical and psychological stabilization, therapy, and education.

What Happens in Rehab?

Wondering what happens when you enter a treatment program? Here is what you can expect throughout a typical stay in addiction treatment.


The process of intake evaluation and assessment is the first step in any treatment program. At this time, you will be interviewed to provide the context necessary to create an individualized treatment plan FOR YOU. During this time, your physical and psychological state will be evaluated, and you might even be drug tested. Expect for the intake process to take a least a couple of hours.


Zolpidem detoxification consists of two stages:

Stage 1: Tapering off of zolpidem by taking progressively smaller dosages of the drug until its use can be stopped without triggering severe withdrawal symptoms. Your tapering schedule will be created with the help of a doctor and based on your daily dose and physical response.

Stage 2: Medical detoxification under the watchful eye of detox clinic staff to manage the onset of withdrawal symptoms after you come off zolpidem completely. Having a 24-hour supervision and support is crucial during this period as zolpidem is completely removed from your body.


After you successfully complete detox, you will move on to the next stage of treatment and attend therapy sessions and counseling. During therapy, you will learn a multitude of useful techniques and skills that help you build a life that doesn’t depend on zolpidem. Therapy can be done one-on-one, in a group, or involve the whole family. When the family remains active in their loved ones zolpidem addiction recovery, it usually results in better treatment outcomes. Main goals of therapy in addiction treatment include:

  • Acquiring positive and sober habits.
  • Anger and stress management skills.
  • Eating right.
  • Engaging in wellness activities.
  • Managing your cravings.
  • Minimizing relapse.
  • Uncovering and resolving the underlying causes of addiction.


Treatment for addiction often continues after you leave a facility. In fact, aftercare and relapse prevention are a crucial step of the recovery process and can increase your chances of rehab success. Aftercare typically includes a stay in a sober house, continued counseling/talk therapy.

Luxury Rehab

If running your business and keeping a low profile are some of your concerns when thinking about going to rehab, then a luxury or executive treatment center may be right for you. This type of upscale rehab offers numerous amenities and high-end services so that the rehabilitation process complements your responsibilities. While these amenities do come at a higher price, many individuals find that these extra comforts allow them to get the most of their substance use recovery.

Reputable executive programs include the following features:

Business amenities: Luxury and executive treatment centers usually feature workspaces, meeting rooms and access to the Internet. They also allow you to bring your smartphone and laptop with you and use it on a limited basis during the stay, so you can continue to operate your business while working through the treatment program.

Confidentiality: Luxury and executive private rehab programs offer the highest amount of security available. These facilities are located in secluded resort-like areas, offer private transport, and place confidentiality as their top priority.

Fewer patients: Upscale rehabilitation facilities maintain a lower staff-to-patient ratio to make sure they offer the most personalized care. This way, medical staff have more time to dedicate to each individual patient’s needs, rather than running you through a standard treatment protocol.

High-end services: Executive and luxury programs tend to include:

  • Acupuncture
  • Fitness and nutritional counseling
  • Larger and more private rooms
  • Private trainers
  • Professional chefs
  • Spa treatments
  • Yoga and meditation classes

…and many other services.


There are two main medications that are used to manage withdrawal from zolpidem:

Clondine: This detox medication is prescribed to help you deal with nausea and vomiting.

Buspirone: This medicine is prescribed for the regulation of generalized anxiety disorder. Buspirone can relieve emotional effects of withdraw, and it is a safe medication because it doesn’t cause dependence. NOTE: It takes 2-3 weeks before for buspirone to begin produce its effects. Patents that are going through zolpidem withdrawal may start taking this medication as they taper down the drug.

Psychological support can help you deal with Ambien withdrawal, as well. The main psychotherapies that can help you deal with anxiety and insomnia include relaxation techniques, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for sleep problems, and combination programs that look at goal-setting, discontinuation management and coping with anxiety.

Tapering Guidelines

Tapering a drug refers to gradually and slowly weaning off a medication. This is the main way to minimize withdrawal effects so that you can successfully come off the drug. According to the PubMed Health website the safest way to stop taking sleeping pills including zolpidem is to slowly taper the dose supervised by a doctor. This tapering process may last over a period of several weeks or months.

Generally speaking, gradual tapering of the dose is suggested until you reach 5mg per day. Then, you may need to withhold the dose every other or every third day.
Zolpidem acts similar on receptors in the brain like benzodiazepines. This means that a standard tapering protocol used to quit benzodiazepines in useful in lowering down zolpidem doses. Moreover, the tapering schedule should be individualized for the needs of the patient, and their length depends from the level of dependency and health conditions. So, always consult a prescribing doctor or pharmacist before attempting to lower or taper doses of Ambien at any time.

Custom Rehab is Best

If you want to reach long term recovery, the best addiction treatment for you is the one made just for you. Individualized rehab program will walk you on the stable recovery path. The right services are customized on several factors including:

  • The severity of the addiction
  • The history of drug abuse
  • The family history of addiction disorders
  • Co-occurring mental health disorders

In fact, every person who enrolls into a treatment program should be carefully evaluated. An effective rehab addresses addiction on every level: physical, emotional, and spiritual. So, if you do not receive a full assessment upon entry into a rehab…this is a red flag!


How much will good treatment cost? On average, you can expect a stay in a residential rehab to cost around $20,000. Inpatient programs cost around $6,000 average. Generally, inpatient rehabs are more expensive than the outpatient rehabs because they offer 24​/7 medical care. Broken down, typical rehab service costs are:

Detox: This is one of the most costly services, because it requires medication and 24-7 medical supervision. The price of a treatment episode in detox ranges between $6-12K.

Psychotherapy: Costs may start from almost free to $150 + per hour. You may be able to arrange for insurance coverage of this therapy, or ask for financial backing from employee assistance programs.

Outpatient treatment:  This program varies from $50-$135 per day. A typical 10-12 week program can cost anywhere from $3,000-$6,000.

Inpatient treatment: It costs from $235-700 per day, or around $20,000 for a full month’s stay. This is the most expensive type of treatment because it integrates residential board and room.

Find more information about the costs of addiction treatment:

How to Help a Loved One

If you suspect that a loved one is abusing zolpidem, you need to understand that you cannot make someone get help. Addiction treatment needs to be willing in order to be successful. So, what are some first steps to take?

First, talk about your concerns directly. You can approach them personally and try to discuss their willingness to get help. Your conversation should be calm and objective. Confronting your loved one with judgement, anger, blame or threat does NOT help…in fact, it can only make matters worse. Keep these phrases in mind:

“It really is up to [NAME] to decide to make this change.”
“No one else can do it for them.”
“No one else can make anyone go to rehab.”


When the person is not responding to your suggestions, you can consider an intervention with the help of a licensed interventionist AND seek professional help from a psychotherapist or treatment center. When you are seeking professional help to assess and evaluate a loved one’s problem, there are typical asked questions:

  1. Which substance/drug does the person abuse?
  2. What other drugs or alcohol do you think they’re using?
  3. How do they abuse zolpidem?
  4. How long they’ve been showing signs of addiction?
  5. How much can they afford to pay for treatment?
  6. Is insurance an option?
  7. Could you (and/or other close family members) help them out financially?
  8. Does the addicted individual suffer from any mental, behavioral, or co-occurring disorders?

In the meantime, you can additionally emphasize personal choice and control by looking into the Community Reinforcement and Family Training or the CRAFT Model of therapy. CRAFT helps families move their loved one toward treatment while improving their own lives.

Finally, when the person does choose to seek treatment, it’s important to stay involved and offer support when possible. You can encourage peer support for your loved one. Look into 12 Step groups like Alcoholics Anonymous or Pills Anonymous for them, and Al-Anon for you.

Ongoing Treatment

Ongoing treatment – a.k.a. aftercare – takes place after an initial addiction treatment program finishes. Aftercare programs provide a variety of services such as social networking and long-term therapy, and they can last for as long as you need. Ongoing support and treatment can come in the form of:

  • Alumni support
  • Touchup counseling
  • Sober living arrangements
  • Support groups

Relapse prevention is another crucial part of aftercare programs. During relapse prevention training, you will learn techniques that help you alter your behavior in order to avoid high-risk situations, and respond in healthy ways. Here is what a relapse prevention plan usually consists of:

  • Learning about the relapse process.
  • Training in identifying warning signs and high-risk situations.
  • Developing coping skills and stress-management skills.
  • Addressing pleasant memories of stimulant use.
  • Reminding users not to test the limits of their sobriety.
  • Developing a lifestyle that’s protective.
  • Coaching in addressing slips.

This is a long task list, which is why aftercare help extends into the weeks and months that follow formal treatment.

If you or someone you care about needs help with zolpidem addiction, you can always call for help in finding the right addiction rehab and aftercare program.

Reference Sources: NCBI: Prescription Sedative Misuse and Abuse
NCBI: Zolpidem dependence, abuse and withdrawal: A case report
NIH: Treatment Approaches for Drug Addiction
NIH: Principles of Drug Addiction Treatment: A Research-Based Guide (Third Edition)
SAMHSA: Treatments for Substance Use Disorders
About the author
Lee Weber is a published author, medical writer, and woman in long-term recovery from addiction. Her latest book, The Definitive Guide to Addiction Interventions is set to reach university bookstores in early 2019.
Medical Reviewers
Dr. Manish Mishra, MBBS serves as the Chief Medical Officer of the Texas Healt...

All of the information on this page has been reviewed and verified by a licensed medical professional.

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