Ambien Overdose: Amount, Symptoms, Treatment, and Prevention

Last Updated: February 5, 2021

Authored by Sharon Levy, MD, MPH

Reviewed by Isaak Stotts, LP

Despite its status as a relatively safe sleep aid drug that provides relief from sleepless nights, anxiety, and depression, Zolpidem brings a high risk that individuals may abuse the drug as a coping mechanism. According to SAMHSA, approximately 20,793 of the 64,175 (one-third) emergency department visits occurred in 2010 due to Ambien-related overmedication, an intense 220% increase in five years. 

It suggests that once an individual develops the habit of consuming modular to fall asleep, it will likely lead to addiction and overdose.

Can You Overdose On Ambien?

Like many other sedatives, overdose on Ambien is possible. This can happen when a large amount of Ambien is mixed with alcohol or other substances. It is safe, and there are minimal risks for overdose (OD) if the drug is taken in prescribed doses. Once this dosage is exceeded, the risk for adverse Ambien adverse effects and OD is dramatically increased.

White Ambien pills in a transparent glass on a black background.

Ambien use is associated with potentially serious dose effects, even when taken at low doses. Hence, it is essential to pay attention to how it affects the individual. Sleeping pills that include zolpidem may increase the risk of heart attacks by affecting the cardiovascular system. 

Even though the drug is eliminated relatively quickly, individuals are advised to take it only when they can stay asleep for 7-8 hours to allow the drug to be eliminated appropriately from their system. So there are no aftereffects or chances of an OD on the next consumption the day after.

Risk Factors of Ambien Overdose

Zolpidem is a prescribed short-term treatment drug for insomnia. Hence, it should not be taken every night if the sleep patterns worsen until 7-10 days of consumption. It is likely to turn into an Ambien lethal dose by developing tolerance to the drug and consuming extra amounts to get the desired effects. In a study, sleeping pill users showed a two-fold risk of early death.

Additional risk factors that can increase the risk of zolpidem overdose include:

  • Gender — Women are typically more sensitive to Zolpidem and are often prescribed lower doses of the drug. Women who take more Ambien than what is prescribed may be more likely to OD than men.
  • Overmedication — Exceeding what is prescribed or recommended can put a person at a high risk of OD.
  • Combining Ambien With Other Substances — Using Zolpidem in conjunction with other substances, most notably alcohol, can drastically contribute to its potential.
  • Substance Abuse History — People with a history of abusing substances may be at an increased risk of Ambien overdose, as they are more likely to misuse the drugs.

Zolpidem Overdose Amount

Usually, the initial dose of zolpidem is between 5 and 10 mg per day. When this level is surpassed, the drug becomes dangerous to the user’s health without the doctor’s recommendation.

The result may not be lethal at these levels, but the side effects might be permanent, including memory loss, anxiety, depression, or nightmares.

Signs and Symptoms of Ambien OD

In case of an OD, Ambien can elicit serious and sometimes unusual psychological and physical effects. Every person is different, and their bodies react differently to excess zolpidem in their system. However, some reported symptoms of OD include:

Psychological Symptoms:

Zolpidem acts on receptor cells in the brain that influences sleep and other neurological activities. Users may experience adverse cognitive or psychological side effects due to their OD, such as:

  • Confusion
  • Irrational thoughts
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Significant loss of reflexes and coordination
  • Delusions and hallucinations

Physical Symptoms:

When taken higher than directed, Zolpimist can have serious overdose side effects on the cardiovascular, respiratory, digestive, and sensory systems. 

Some of the potential reactions to Edluar OD include:

  • Seizure
  • Coma
  • Extreme drowsiness
  • Abnormal breathing
  • Slowed heart rate
  • Slowed blood pressure
  • Slurred speech
  • Joint pain, especially in the neck or back
  • Diarrhea
  • Headache

Can Zolpimist Overdose Lead to Death

High doses of zolpidem regularly can prompt a lethal result. However, even low doses may involve a fatal outcome. According to a report, approximately 7,000 overdose deaths in 2013 related to anxiety and sleep medications like zolpimist. A lethal dose relies upon some variables like age, body weight, resistance level, gender, and other medications’ concomitant utilization.

According to some experts, the highest Ambien lethal dose is around 2,000 mg, but 300 mg is enough to kill a person in some cases. In 2018, zolpidem was among the top 10 most used drugs for suicide attempts in the US. 

Treatment And Prevention Of Edluar OD

Intake of sleeping pills like intermezzo on a long-term regular basis can increase a person’s risk for sleeping pill addiction. Hence, the user forms cravings for sleeping pills, take larger or more frequent doses than necessary.

There is no specific treatment for zolpidem overdose, but there are general recommendations approved by the FDA. 

They include:

  • Immediate gastric lavage if needed
  • Symptomatic treatment accompanied by supportive measures.
  • Intravenous administration of fluids if needed
  • The use of flumazenil to contract sedation (should be used with caution as flumazenil can contribute to neurological complications such as convulsions)
  • The patient’s state is monitored continuously.
  • The drugs with sedative effects are not recommended to use
  • A patient is closely monitored for hypotension and CNS depression

Recovering From Intermezzo Overdose

To fully recover from zolpimist OD can be time-consuming, but a medical detox program can provide medical treatment and clinical care for the individuals going through Ambien withdrawal. Tapering the dosage schedule for 3-5 days is an alternative, especially if there is a risk of withdrawal seizures. However, it depends on how much amount of the drug has been consumed.

Ambien white pills close up.

Moreover, depending on the severity of a person’s consumption and condition, medical detox may be necessary to ensure physical comfort and safety during withdrawal. This procedure needs to be done under supervision from consulting physicians who can ensure the process is safe.

What To Do When Overdose Occurs

If an Ambien overdose is suspected, Call 911, it’s essential to seek medical help immediately. One should monitor respiration, pulse, blood pressure, and other appropriate signs of overdose. Also, inform the physician about the last drug taken and its dose.

The sooner Ambien overdose treatment is received, the more likely they will make a full recovery. Professional rehab centers should be approached to get the right support and treatment needed to overcome the sleeping pill addiction.


Page Sources

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Published on: June 30th, 2020

Updated on: February 5th, 2021

About Author

Sharon Levy, MD, MPH

After successful graduation from Boston University, MA, Sharon gained a Master’s degree in Public Health. Since then, Sharon devoted herself entirely to the medical niche. Sharon Levy is also a certified addiction recovery coach.

Medically Reviewed by

Isaak Stotts, LP

Isaak Stotts is an in-house medical writer in AddictionResource. Isaak learned addiction psychology at Aspen University and got a Master's Degree in Arts in Psychology and Addiction Counseling. After graduation, he became a substance abuse counselor, providing individual, group, and family counseling for those who strive to achieve and maintain sobriety and recovery goals.