Can't Sleep? Ambien and Alcohol Don't Mix

Thursday, August 27, 2020 at 4:08 pm in
two brown dogs, one sleeping and one awake

Roughly 80 million Americans experience periods of time when they have trouble sleeping. Lack of sleep affects our mood, immune system, blood pressure, and often results in difficulty concentrating and remembering things. Sleep is important for your overall good health and well-being.

If you are experiencing sleeplessness and are seeking medication from your doctor, or are already taking medication, you should be aware of the dangers of using Ambien and other related sedatives. You should also be aware that mixing alcohol and sedatives can be a deadly combination.

Ambien is the brand name for a pharmaceutical known as Zolpidem, which is a drug generally prescribed for people with sleep disorders. The drug acts as a sedative on the central nervous system and slows down brain activity. It can be very effective for inducing sleep states.

Although many people use Ambien safety, for some the drug can prove both habit-forming and addicting. People who drink frequently, people in addiction recovery, or those with a history of substance use disorders should be very careful. For some individuals, Ambien abuse can trigger the desire to use other depressant drugs.

Both Ambien and alcohol are sedatives that lower heart rate and blood pressure and induce drowsiness. But taken together, the effects of Ambien and alcohol are exponential, meaning the effects of both are amplified. This mixture can lead to overdose and death.  Combining any amount of the two is never safe and the risk of overdose is always there.

If you do drink alcohol, you should ensure all the alcohol is out of your system before taking Ambien (or any sedative). As a guide, it generally takes a couple of hours for your body to metabolize one drink, glass of wine, or beer. If you have more than one drink, it will likely take several hours.

Sleeplessness can be safely and effectively managed naturally for most people, and helpful practices are taught as a part of addiction treatment because sleep problems are very common for people with substance use disorders. Although these practices aren't specific to addiction treatment, they are particularly important for people in recovery in order to avoid triggering medications. Relaxation techniques to calm the mind and body, regular exercise, avoiding eating three hours prior to bedtime, resisting daytime napping, and establishing a consistent sleep schedule are all helpful to overcome sleeplessness.

If you become addicted to a sedative such as Ambien, or if you experience withdrawal when discontinuing use, consult with your doctor or an addiction specialist to receive safe, medically-supervised care to manage any complications.


Concerned about substance use?

Reach out to Valor Recovery Center for answers and help at 330-330-8777.

You don't need to manage the situation alone. Substance use disorders are common and treatable, and there is no shame in needing help. We're here for you.