Ambien is the brand name for the prescription drug called zolpidem. Sometimes referred to as a “downer,” Ambien is a hypnotic drug that is typically prescribed for sleep disorders such as insomnia. The drug works by sedating your central nervous system and inducing a deep state of relaxation and sleep. Many people who suffer from frequent sleep disturbances find it difficult to reach this level of relaxation or sleep and may require drugs like Ambien. However, while nearly 10 million Americans are prescribed Ambien, it is a drug that is frequently misused. One of the most common ways people misuse Ambien is by mixing it with alcohol. When combined with alcohol, Ambien can have extremely dangerous, sometimes fatal, side effects. Below is everything you need to know about why you shouldn’t mix Ambien and alcohol.
What Happens When You Mix Ambien and Alcohol?
There’s a reason doctors who prescribe patients sleeping medications like Ambien forbid the use of alcohol while using them. Ambien can become extremely addictive after only a few weeks of usage, and as you build a tolerance, you may find yourself using more to achieve the same deep sleep. Due to this, Ambien is typically only prescribed for one to two weeks at a time.
Extremely serious, sometimes fatal interactions can occur when you mix Ambien and alcohol. As you build a tolerance to Ambien, you may turn to alcohol to help increase its sedative effects. This is extremely dangerous and can oftentimes be fatal since Ambien and alcohol both affect your respiratory system. When combined, Ambien and alcohol significantly depress your central nervous system, slowing your heart rate and making it much harder to breathe. Mixing Ambien and alcohol can also cause physical and cognitive impairment, and can also cause permanent liver damage.
The most significant risk you pose when mixing Ambien and alcohol is your risk for overdose. Combining multiple downers can cause severe respiratory impairment, which can lead to slowed breathing, loss of consciousness, and in severe cases death.
Side Effects of Using Ambien with Alcohol
Ambien can negatively interact with many other substances. One of the most common substances used alongside Ambien is alcohol. When you take Ambien and drink alcohol, you can feel sleepy, uncoordinated, and groggy. When you add alcohol into the mix, the similar side effects it has can cause a domino effect of harmful consequences for your mind and body.
Someone who uses Ambien and alcohol together may experience some of the following side effects:
- Nausea or vomiting
- Extreme sleepiness or drowsiness
- Slowed heartbeat
- Difficulty breathing
- Loss of physical coordination
- Fainting or loss of consciousness
- Sleep apnea
- Loss of consciousness
Mixing any substances with Ambien is a bad idea. Not only does it increase your risk of experiencing adverse side effects, but it can cause permanent damage to your body. When alcohol abuse is present alongside prescription drug use, the chances for overdose increase significantly.
Signs and Symptoms of Ambien Overdose
One of the most dangerous aspects of mixing Ambien and alcohol is how they interact with each other. Specifically, the effects of both substances are significantly amplified when used together. Since both Ambien and alcohol are downers, using the two together can greatly increase your chances of an overdose. Below are some common warning signs and symptoms of an Ambien overdose.
- Pinpoint pupils
- Inability to wake up
- Irrational thoughts
- Slurred speech
- Depressed, slowed, or stopped breathing
- Ambien Withdrawal Symptoms
Many people who are prescribed Ambien will end up misusing it, and some will go on to develop an addiction. Ambien has a high potential for addiction, which means it can also cause severe withdrawal symptoms after someone stops using it. This withdrawal can be especially dangerous for those who may also be suffering from an alcohol use disorder (AUD). If someone is addicted to Ambien and is no longer able to use it, they may rely more heavily on alcohol. This downward spiral can not only cause more damage to the body but can make the symptoms of Ambien withdrawal worse.
Common Ambien withdrawal symptoms can include:
- Mood swings
- Cravings for Ambien
- Nausea or vomiting
- Panic attacks
- Rapid heart rate and breathing
- Rebound insomnia
- Uncontrolled crying or depressive episodes
If you or a loved one has noticed an addiction to Ambien, or if you’re mixing Ambien and alcohol, it may be time to get help. Getting treatment for prescription drug addiction can be difficult, but you don’t have to do it alone.
Get Help For Alcohol Abuse in Central Florida
Suffering from addiction to a combination of drugs like Ambien and alcohol can be hard to overcome. Thankfully, at the Blackberry Center, we are no stranger to addiction and are here to help you on your way to a healthy, meaningful recovery. At our treatment center, located just outside Orlando, Florida, we offer our patients a wide array of treatment options, all of which are specially designed to help overcome addiction in a safe, successful way.
The first step in treating addiction to prescription drugs like Ambien or alcohol is a drug detox. At the Blackberry Center, our expert staff offers medically supervised drug detox to help you slowly overcome withdrawal from Ambien addiction in a safe, secure environment. This type of treatment is recommended over quitting cold turkey, as withdrawals from Ambien can be especially difficult to cope with.
Once you’ve detoxed, the next step towards recovery is often inpatient addiction treatment. During this stage of recovery, the underlying causes of your addiction can be addressed. For some, that cause may be mental illness. In these cases, a dual diagnosis treatment is often the best course of action. Here, patients can safely overcome alcohol and drug addiction through evidence-based treatment options.
If you or someone you love is mixing Ambien and alcohol, the Blackberry Center can help. You can reach us by calling 888-512-9802, or you can contact us online using our confidential contact form. When you’re ready to take your first step, we’ll be ready to help you overcome your addiction.
Nestled in a tranquil setting just outside of Orlando, in Central Florida, our mental health facility provides patients with a safe place to reflect, reset and heal.