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Dangers of Mixing Ambien and Alcohol

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Last updated: 05/15/2019
Author: Medical Review

Reading Time: 2 minutes

There’s almost nothing worse than having trouble sleeping and it does more than just make you tired. It makes you groggy and makes it harder to pay attention. Your reactions are slower and you can’t concentrate. That’s why millions of people take prescription sleeping pills like Ambien.

But what many people don’t know are the dangers associated with mixing Ambien and alcohol.

What Is Ambien?

Ambien is a commonly prescribed sleeping medication. The active ingredient is zolpidem, a sedative that works on one of the three benzodiazepine receptors in the brain. Instead of actually putting you to sleep, zolpidem makes you relaxed and calm, making it easier to drift off. In 2010, five percent of adult women in America were taking sleeping pills on a regular basis.

The Dangers of Ambien and Alcohol

Both sedatives, alcohol, and Ambien depress the body’s systems and each intensifies the other’s effects. That means when you drink and take your Ambien, you’ll be more impacted by the alcohol and by the sleeping pill. This duel effect can have a wide range of consequences, including:

  • Drowsiness
  • Clumsiness
  • Poor motor control
  • Mild visual hallucinations
  • Memory loss
  • Falls
  • Shallow breathing
  • Loss of consciousness

Another side effect of Ambien is sleepwalking and other sleep activities like cooking, having sex and even driving. Add alcohol to the mix, and these things become even more likely. And while each one is dangerous on its own, they also lead to accidents, falls, and serious—and sometimes fatal—injuries.

And while it’s nearly impossible to accidentally overdose on Ambien alone, when combined with alcohol, it does happen. If you have a history of addiction, talk to your doctor before taking Ambien.

Alternative Sleep Solutions

Before opting for Ambien, try some alternative sleep solutions. Things like daily exercise, cutting caffeine and nicotine, and changing the temperature of your bedroom improve the quality and duration of sleep.

Most importantly, make and maintain a sleep schedule. Have a calm and relaxing ritual that starts at least 30 minutes before bed. Go to bed around the same time each night and get up around the same time each morning, and attempt to get between seven to eight hours of sleep a night.

There Is No Safe Level

We recommend not mixing Ambien and alcohol, and doctors agree. Most inform their patients of the dangers associated with combining the two and recommend not to take the sleeping medication at night, even if one alcoholic beverage was had earlier in the day.

Are You Mixing Ambien and Alcohol?

Because zolpidem, in large amounts, creates a high where users experience euphoria, hallucinations, and extreme relaxation, it is sometimes abused. If you’re taking more Ambien than is prescribed by your doctor, snorting the medication, or using alcohol to increase its effects, it’s time to find help.

How Our Helpline Works

For those seeking addiction treatment for themselves or a loved one, the helpline is a private and convenient solution.

Calls to any general helpline (non-facility specific 1-8XX numbers) for your visit will be answered by American Addiction Centers (AAC).

We are standing by 24/7 to discuss your treatment options. Our representatives work solely for AAC and will discuss whether an AAC facility may be an option for you. Our helpline is offered at no cost to you and with no obligation to enter into treatment. Neither nor AAC receives any commission or other fee that is dependent upon which treatment provider a visitor may ultimately choose.

For more information on AAC’s commitment to ethical marketing and treatment practices, or to learn more about how to select a treatment provider, visit our About AAC page. If you wish to explore additional treatment options or connect with a specific rehab center, you can browse top-rated listings or visit SAMHSA.

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