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Ambien® and Ambien CR (controlled release) are brand names of the prescription drug zolpidem, which is also available in a variety of generally less-expensive generic versions. Ambien® is used to treat insomnia in adults. It helps those who have trouble falling asleep get to sleep faster, so they can get a better night's rest.

Zolpidem is in a class of drugs called sedative-hypnotics. Ambien® acts on the brain to produce a calming effect, and slows down mental activity. Ambien® use is usually limited to short treatment periods of one to two weeks or less. It can cause dependence, and its effectiveness decreases over time.


Brand name for Zolpidem Tartrate
Manufacturer Sanofi
Generic available? Yes. On April 23, 2007 the FDA approved 13 generic versions of zolpidem tartrate.[1]
Uses Treats insomnia
Common side effects Nausea, vomiting, headache, stomach pain or tenderness, changes in appetite, constipation, diarrhea, unusual dreams.[2]
Major side effects Retrograde amnesia, hallucinations, delusions, altered thought patterns, clumsiness, walking or performing other activities while asleep
Warnings Ambien is a controlled substance, and has a high potential for abuse.[3]
Disclaimer The information provided by PharmacyDrugGuide is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Do not take any action based on the information on this page without consulting a physician.
Author Hugh Shiebler


Ambien Abuse

Ambien® has a high potential for addiction, and taking it for too long or in too high a dosage can cause dependence. Misuse is more prevalent in those who have been dependent on other drugs in the past, but tolerance and drug dependence also occur in those without a history of drug abuse. Physical dependence may cause severe withdrawal symptoms, including seizures, if zolpidem is abruptly discontinued.[4]

As is the case with many prescription sedative/hypnotic drugs, Ambien® is sometimes used to "come down" after taking stimulants such as amphetamines, methamphetamine, cocaine, and MDMA or ecstasy.

Ambien Patient Assistance Programs

Ways to save on Ambien

Ambien Side Effects

  • Common Ambien® side effects are amnesia, clumsiness, balance issues, exhaustion, headache, dizziness, gastrointestinal issues such as gas or heartburn, and strange dreams.
  • Some of the severe side effects of Ambien® include pain in the chest, rapid or pounding heartbeat, hoarseness in the throat, trouble breathing, trouble swallowing, upset stomach, hives, skin rash, and changes in vision.[3]
  • Some people who take Ambien® have reported performing normal waking activities like walking, talking on the phone, having sex, or even driving in their sleep. Typically, they had no recollection of their activities after they woke up.[3]
  • Ambien® is only recommended when the patient has at least seven or eight hours to devote to sleep.[3]

Ambien Sleep Driving

All sedative-hypnotic sleeping pills can potentially cause users to drive in their sleep, and this side effect has garnered particular concern over Ambien®. In 2006, politician Patrick Kennedy had a car crash after taking the drug. In 2007, FDA neurology chief Dr. Russell Katz reported that there were more than a dozen cases of Ambien® users driving in their sleep. The risk is higher among those who take too high a dose, or who mix the sleeping pills with alcohol. Other products that may cause sleep driving include Lunesta®, Sonata®, Prosom®, Seconal® and others.[5]

In an interview with CBS, forensic toxicologist Laura Liddicoat reported that in the state of Wisconsin, the 53 most-extreme cases of erratic behavior from impaired drivers were related to Ambien®. In these cases, the Ambien® users had not allowed a full eight hours of rest after taking Ambien, or had taken high dosages. Drivers used the wrong side of the road and exhibited other "bizarre" behaviors that often resulted in head-on collisions, according to Liddicoat.[6]

A spokeswoman from Sanofi reported that fewer than one in 1,000 Ambien® users experience somnambulism, the state of performing activities like driving while still asleep.[5]


About Ambien

Ambien® is a CNS (central nervous system) depressant, and was approved by the FDA in 1992. It is designed for the treatment of insomnia. Ambien® is a non-benzodiazepine hypnotic that belongs to a class of drugs called imidazopyridines. The typical Ambien® dosage for adults is 12.5 milligrams, taken once each day before going to bed. The elderly, as well as debilitated patients, are usually prescribed half that dosage.[7]

Also See: Ambien Free Samples, Ambien Patient Assistance Programs, Ambien Coupons, Ambien Side Effects, Ambien and Pregnancy, Lunesta Free Samples, Lunesta Side Effects



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