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Ambien for Opiate Withdrawal: Sleep-initiating drug, fight sleeplessness!

Last Updated: March 5, 2024

Reviewed by David Levin

What is Ambien?

Zolpidem is the generic name for Ambien, which was introduced to the public in the 1990s. It was initially prescribed to treat sleeping disorders such as insomnia. After it proved helpful as a sleep-inducing medication, which induces its sedative effects within 15 minutes of intake, a few slight changes had to be made. In 2013, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) mandated to decrease the recommended dose for women by half. This recommendation was based on clinical trials and driving simulation studies, which showed that zolpidem levels in women may be high enough to impair alertness in certain tasks after waking up, including driving.

Furthermore, research showed that Zolpidem has particular muscle relaxant and anticonvulsant properties, which can be very useful for muscle relaxation or for preventing seizures. However, the dosage needed to achieve these effects would have to be increased by 10 and 20 times, an unsafe amount, making it unsuitable as a method of treating seizures.

Using Ambien For Opiate Withdrawal

Drug withdrawal can cause many severe side effects, some of which include low energy, irritability, anxiety, agitation, and insomnia. Due to its sleep inducing properties, Ambien has been used to help patients struggling with insomnia during periods of opiate withdrawal.

However, Ambien use carries a certain risk which is that it can also be habit forming. So, a patient who overcame an opiate addiction may be susceptible to forming a dependence on Ambien. Overall, one should bear in mind that Ambien consumption during opiate withdrawal is not necessarily a win-win situation, though the benefits may be worth the risk.

What To Do Before Taking Ambien for Opiate Withdrawal?

taking ambien
It is recommended that you consult with a doctor about taking Ambien to treat opiate withdrawal symptoms. Every patient recovers from an addiction differently and their withdrawal symptoms may differ from the norm(s). Only a doctor can tailor a recovery plan to suit individual needs.  Only take Ambien with a doctor’s prescription.
Also, let your doctor know if you have any of the following conditions:

  • Kidney disease
  • Liver disease
  • Asthma, bronchitis, emphysema
  • Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)
  • Sleep apnea
  • Myasthenia gravis—neuromuscular disease
  • History of depression
  • Alcohol addiction

Ambien Side Effects

Like most medications, Ambien can also cause a host of side effects which include:

  • Daytime drowsiness
  • Dizziness
  • Weakness, feeling “drugged.”
  • Tired feeling
  • Loss of coordination
  • Stuffy nose
  • Dry mouth
  • Dry nose or throat irritation
  • Nausea
  • Constipation
  • Diarrhea
  • Headache
  • Muscle pain

If you experience any of these side effects while taking Ambien, consult with your doctor.

Page Sources

  1. Herbert D. Kleber. Pharmacologic treatments for opioid dependence: detoxification and maintenance options. Dialogues Clin Neurosci. 2007 Dec; 9(4): 455–470. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3202507/

Published on: March 1st, 2024

Updated on: March 5th, 2024

About Author

Juliette Siegfried, MPH

Juliette has been working in the health communications field since 1991, when she began working at the National Cancer Institute of the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Maryland. Her initial campaigns focused on smoking cessation and cancer prevention. Juliette later moved to the corporate side of health communications, including working at Kaiser Permanente, where she designed interactive computer-based training for health education.

Medically Reviewed by

David Levin


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