As addictive and legal substances, Ambien and alcohol both have the potential to inflict harm on the user; however, the possibility of harm increases exponentially when they are combined.  Being legal substances, these two drugs are easily accessible and commonly mixed without the user having knowledge of the many potential health risks. To understand the danger associated with this combination, it is important to examine the unique effects each drug has on the body, as their interaction can have deadly consequences. 


Clinically known as Zolpidem, Ambien is a prescription sleep aid used as a short-term treatment for sleep disorders such as insomnia.  Zolpidem and its by-products are classified as Schedule II substances by the Drug Enforcement Agency due to their habit-forming nature and potential for causing withdrawal symptoms upon the discontinuation of use. According to the Food and Drug Administration, approximately ten million prescriptions are filled a year in the United States, making it the 60th most commonly prescribed medication in the United States. 


Due to its accessibility, alcohol is ranked the number one addictive substance in the world. As a central nervous system depressant (CNS), alcohol impacts brain function, motor skills, and cognitive functioning. When used in excess, alcohol is likely to act as a poison to the physical body, causing the user to vomit or become unconscious. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, approximately 95,000 deaths each year are attributed to alcohol consumption. These fatalities include alcohol-induced traffic accidents, liver failure, and alcohol poisoning, among others.   


Ambien and Alcohol 

The simultaneous ingestion of alcohol and Ambien is hazardous as they both actively suppress the body’s respiratory systems. When used in combination, breathing suppression and cessation is much more likely to occur, causing fatality. While the dangers of alcohol misuse are widely known, Ambien and other Zolpidem by-products are not.  According to the International Journal of Neuropsychopharmacology, drugs such as Ambien produce withdrawal symptoms upon discontinuation, creating a high risk for dependence. Drug misusers may also be attracted by Zolpidem because they are not typically monitored during drug treatment programs. 

 Another common side effect of this substance combination is Somnambulance, the act of performing tasks while asleep. Somnambulance is a common cause of Zolpidem-related emergency room visits. Individuals under the influence of this substance combination often find themselves in compromising situations, some of which can be fatal.  The Food and Drug Administration’s  Adverse Event Reporting System has reported approximately 700 impaired driving or traffic accidents involving Ambien use alone. The presence of alcohol significantly increases the chances that an individual will experience an event such as somnambulance as both alcohol and Ambien cause mental impairment.

Addicted to Sleeping Pills

Asheville Recovery Center Can Help  

Ambien and alcohol are dangerous when abused on their own, but especially when combined. It is extremely important to seek help immediately if you or a loved one is struggling with any substance addiction. At Asheville Recovery Center, treatment specialists have developed a unique, hybrid model of treatment which combines a traditional 12-step program with holistic rehabilitation. A multitude of services, programs, and therapies are offered, including the Partial Hospitalization Program, Residential-style treatment, outpatient rehabilitation, and more. 

The founders of Asheville Recovery Center, as well as many of our addiction therapists, have struggled with addiction and now enjoy life in recovery. They understand the struggles of addiction and how difficult it is to overcome alone. If you feel that you or a loved one is struggling with substance abuse, our specialists are on standby and ready to help. Call (828)518-6996 and speak with an addiction expert today so you can take the first step towards a rewarding life of sobriety.

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