Is Ambien a Controlled Substance? Zolpidem Addiction & Withdrawals

Zolpidem or Ambien is one of the most recognizable drugs in the world. It’s visible in just about every facet of modern life including pop culture and internet culture. So much so that it even has an entire subreddit dedicated to things people have done while under Ambien’s influence. And while this may seem lighthearted in nature, it gives people a glimpse of what can go wrong when it comes to using Ambien. Trust us when we say that Ambien can be rather dangerous despite how common it is. In fact, reports have found that Ambien can stay in the bloodstream at levels high enough that can cause an increased risk for accidents.

Now, we aren’t here to demonize a drug as it has proved to be useful when it comes to helping people suffering from insomnia. However, it’s important to be informed about Ambien so that you can avoid any complications or avoidable accidents. This is why we thought it would be useful to further explore the drug so that we can reduce harm as much as possible. Along the way, we’ll also be answering some key questions such as what Ambien is and if it’s a controlled substance or not. If this is something you want to know more about, read on for a brief discussion on Ambien.

Is Ambien a Controlled Substance?

Ambien is a schedule IV controlled substance under the Drug Enforcement Agency’s classifications. Schedule IV drugs are substances or chemicals that have been deemed to have a low potential for abuse and a low risk of dependence or addiction. However, this doesn’t really tell the whole story when it comes to Ambien as it is known for being abused by its users as the drug can impart both euphoric and hallucinogenic effects.

While Ambien is meant to aid with sleep, some people take the drug hours before they head to bed so they can reap the benefits of the drug. People take it as an alternative to benzodiazepine sedatives which have similar effects to Ambien. And while Ambien is deemed to be safer due to the lower risk of overdose, Ambien can still prove to be harmful if taken incorrectly. It can lead to a slew of health complications or can cause a serious accident due to the person not being in the best state of mind while they are on Ambien.

What is Ambien?

Zolpidem or Ambien is used to treat sleeping disorders such as insomnia. If you have trouble falling asleep, Ambien will help you fall asleep more quickly. This is because this drug falls under a class of drugs called sedative-hypnotics. What it basically does is it affects your brain and induces a calming effect. Due to its effects, Ambien is usually limited to short treatment periods that don’t go longer than 2 weeks.

Ambien is taken orally, preferably with an empty stomach. Its effects are fast-acting so it would be best to take it right before you plan on going to bed. You shouldn’t be taking this drug if you won’t be getting a full night’s sleep. Be sure you’ll be asleep for around 7 to 8 hours when taking Ambien as waking up earlier than that may lead to memory loss. You also won’t be functioning properly while the effects of the drug are still present, which can lead to serious accidents if you aren’t careful. 

ambien and alcohol
is ambien a controlled substance

The dosage for Ambien differs depending on your gender, age, medical condition, and other medications you’re currently taking.  For the most part, women are usually prescribed a lower dose as the drug is expelled from their bodies at a much slower rate. The elderly are also prescribed a lower dose to help minimize the risk of side effects. You should never change the dosage and follow your doctor’s guidelines when it comes to taking Ambien. You also shouldn’t be taking more than 10 milligrams of Ambien per day. 

Taking Ambien for a long time will also build up your resistance to the drug. In some cases, Ambien’s effects may be diminished. If this happens to you, be sure to speak with your doctor. You should never try to solve this issue by yourself by upping your dose, as this can have pretty dire consequences.

What Are Ambien’s Side Effects?

While it is a schedule IV drug, Ambien has some pretty serious side effects attached to it. Aside from making you sleepy and sluggish, here are the most common side effects that come with Ambien use:

  • Dizziness
  • Memory loss
  • Erratic behaviour and mood swings
  • Depression
  • Confusion
  • Abnormal thoughts
  • Suicidal ideation

Take note that this isn’t a full list of side effects as Ambien tends to affect people differently. As you can see, these side effects can get rather serious which is why you should never take Ambien without the guidance of your doctor.

Can You Get Addicted to Ambien?

It’s unlikely to become addicted to Ambien. This is in large part due to its short-term use. To add to this, the British Journal of Clinical Pharmacology details that Ambien is well-tolerated. In fact, studies show that there is no reported evidence of the potential for abuse or dependence.  With that being said, there are conflicting reports when it comes to Ambien abuse. A number of cases of Ambien abuse have been reported in both Europe and the United States, which highlights how the drug does have the potential to be abused despite it being designed for short term use. 

While it’s unlikely, it is possible to be addicted to Ambien. Here are a few signs to watch out for:

  • Inability to sleep with Ambien
  • Lying to get more prescriptions
  • Spending a significant amount of money on Ambien
  • Failing to cut down on Ambien use
  • Continuing to take Ambien despite negative effects
  • Decrease in overall functionality at work, school, and at home. 

Will You Experience Ambien Withdrawal?

If you’ve been taking Ambien for a long time, it makes you vulnerable to withdrawal. Ambien withdrawal can occur as early as 48 hours after the final dose. Here are the most common withdrawal symptoms associated with Ambien:

  • Anxiety
  • Irritability
  • Excessive sweating
  • Tremors
  • Severe Fatigue
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Abdominal cramps
  • Depression
  • Delirium
  • Panic attacks
  • Rapid heart rate
  • Rebound insomnia
  • Seizures

While some of these symptoms are rarer than the others, seizures only occur in less than 1% of withdrawal cases, it would still be unwise to try and quit Ambien cold turkey. If you’re looking to ditch your addiction, it would be in your best interest to get professional help. Remember, drug addiction is a serious issue that needs to be dealt with with the help of medical professionals.


We hope this article has helped shed some light on Ambien. Now, we aren’t here to demonize this drug as it can and does help millions of people deal with sleeping disorders. However,  due to how commonly used it is, it would be in your best interest to know as much as you can about this drug. This information should prove to be useful in helping you avoid any dire side effects attached to this drug.