Quitting Ambien Cold Turkey

Ambien is classified as a sedative-hypnotic prescribed to treat short term insomnia. Ambien contains benzodiazepine qualities which impact withdrawal symptoms. An individual is not recommended to quit Ambien cold turkey as it can be quite dangerous due to the severity of withdrawal symptoms. Learn more about why quitting Ambien cold turkey is not recommended and what other options exist.


Quitting Ambien Cold Turkey

After just a short period of time following the last dose of Ambien, a person can experience severe withdrawal. Ambien is known for having high dependency rates and potential for abuse. Quitting Ambien for the benefit of a person’s health means a rapid reduction of zolpidem in the body which can start a dangerous process within the body as it is used to having the drug in the system.


What Happens

The body cannot compensate for the lack of zolpidem in the system when Ambien is quit cold turkey. The body’s central nervous system is trying to figure out how to behave without the drug. The body is flooded with information and, depending on the intensity of the withdrawal, it is usually more severe when done cold turkey versus the tapering method. When Ambien is quit, withdrawal typically begins with 4 hours following last dose. The following starts to happen within the body:

  • Withdrawal acute symptoms can peak and last a couple days following peak withdrawal
  • Severity of withdrawal may even out within a week
  • A few weeks following last dose, an individual may experience a continuation of withdrawal symptoms


Ambien Withdrawal Symptoms

Withdrawal from Ambien can vary from individual to individual but depends greatly also upon whether a person tapers or gets off Ambien cold turkey. Some of the withdrawal symptoms a person may experience can include:

  • Continued mood swings
  • Nightmares
  • Insomnia lasting longer than a few weeks
  • Abdominal cramps
  • Anxiety
  • Apprehension
  • Convulsions
  • Dysphoria (extreme dissatisfaction with life)
  • Exacerbated insomnia
  • Fatigue
  • Fear
  • Hallucinations
  • Mood swings
  • Muscle cramps
  • Nausea
  • Nightmares
  • Panic attacks
  • Shaking, sweating or tremors
  • Vomiting

Physical dependence upon Ambien can greatly impact a person’s ability to withdraw from the drug without some of the more severe side effects and may require assistance to do so.


Risks of Quitting Ambien Cold Turkey

Some of the risks of quitting Ambien cold turkey range in severity for the individuals affected but can include the following:

  • Extreme nightmare
  • Panic attacks which compromise health
  • Convulsions
  • Fatigue
  • Lightheadedness
  • Nervousness
  • Panic attacks
  • Relapse to stop feeling withdrawal effects


A person should be in good health prior to quitting Ambien as it can stress the body. Withdrawal also brings up many things a person may or may not be prepared to handle. Consultation with a treating physician can support a person’s recovery with proper advice prior to quitting Ambien cold turkey. A doctor may be able to offer a tapering schedule which is individualized for the person quitting Ambien with less risk factors than quitting cold turkey. The goal is to quit Ambien for good and support a person’s health and long term recovery.


Hired Power provides resources and information for families who have loved ones with addiction. If you or a loved one need help quitting Ambien, call us to find out how we can help you on the journey to recovery that is healthy and long lasting.

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