Ambien is a powerful sedative that assists people in their sleep insomnia. Many don’t realize the implications of taking higher doses than prescribed. It is recommended only for short-term use at low doses. However, if one does overdose it’s important to be aware of implications and call 911 immediately. One may not even realize they have overdosed. The effects of the overdose will vary depending on a number of factors, including how much Ambien is taken and whether it is taken with any other prescription medicines, alcohol and/or drugs.
Ambien (generic name: Zolpidem) belongs to a class of medicines that effects the central nervous system called sedative hypnotics. Ambien is closely related to a family of drugs called benzodiazepines. These drugs cause sedation, muscle relaxation, act as anti-convulsants (anti-seizure), and have anti-anxiety properties. Ambien has selectivity in that it has little of the muscle relaxant or anti-seizure effect and more of the sedative effect. Therefore, it is used as a medication for sleep.
People experiencing an overdose may become excessively sleepy or even go into a light coma. The symptoms of an Ambien overdose are more severe if the person is also taking other drugs that depress the central nervous system. Some cases of multiple drug overdoses have been fatal. When abused, Ambien tablets are taken orally, crushed and then snorted, or dissolved in water and “cooked” for intravenous injection.
What are the Symptoms of Ambien Overdose?
People who take too much Ambien may become excessively drowsy or even slip into a light coma. The symptoms of overdose are more severe if the person is also taking other central nervous system (CNS) depressant drugs and can prove fatal. In rare cases, loss of life has been reported in people who took an Ambien overdose. These cases have involved overdoses on several medications, including Ambien.
If a person overdoses on Ambien, the symptoms can vary. Some reported symptoms include but are not limited to:
- Excessive tiredness
- Light coma
- Heart failure
- Lung failure
- Difficult or slow breathing
- Severe nausea or vomiting
- Slowed heart rate
Ambien Risk Factors
Use extreme caution when using Ambien if you have the following risk factors. These cautions put you at a great risk for overdosing:
- Alcohol abuse or drug abuse(or history of)
- Emphysema, asthma, bronchitis or other chronic lung disease
- Mental depression
- Sleep apnea
- Kidney or liver disease
Ambien and the Elderly
One of the segments of the population that is susceptible to Ambien overdose is the elderly. In fact, the recommended dosage for the elderly and disabled is 6.25 milligrams (mg); about half the recommended dose for other adults. Even with this reduced dosage, the elderly are at risk for several side effects as identified by researchers at the National Institutes of Health (NIH):
- Motor impairments - trouble standing or walking the following day after taking the drug
- Central nervous system side effects – a pattern of dizziness while lying down and when getting up in the morning. Headaches are another common side effect, while other seniors experienced heart palpitations, impaired vision and upper respiratory infections.
- Cognitive side effects – trouble with memory, speech or other mental functions. For seniors who suffer from depression, Ambien can deepen the sadness and increase the depression. They may begin to have suicidal thoughts.
- Emotional or mental issues – common in elderly patients; includes aggravation and increasingly aggressive behavior
- Other side effects – frequent dry mouth, back pain, abnormal thirst and nausea. Some people in the research study experienced diarrhea, hiccupping and high blood sugar.
As is true for any person taking Ambien, it is recommended that you do not drink alcohol, that you allocate seven to nine hours to sleep after taking Ambien and that you do not engage in any other activity after taking the drug. In addition, there are several medications including antidepressants, anxiety medications and antibiotics that a person should not take in conjunction with Ambien.
As the elderly are typically taking more medications that the rest of the population, extreme caution should be exercised so that the senior does not inadvertently overdose.
Treating an Overdose of Ambien
The treatment for an Ambien overdose will vary. If the overdose was recent, the healthcare provider may give certain medicines or place a tube into the stomach to “pump the stomach.” However, once it has been absorbed into the body, there is no treatment that can remove it quickly. Therefore, in these cases, treatment involves supportive care, which consists of treating the symptoms that occur as a result of the overdose. Treatment for an Ambien overdose also involves closely monitoring the heart and lungs.
Ambien Addiction Treatment
If you or someone you know is struggling with an Ambien addiction, we can help. Please call our toll free number at (888) 371-5716. We are available 24 hours a day to answer your questions on ambien addiction and treatment.