Zolpidem, also known as Ambien®, is a prescribed hypnotic used to help people combat insomnia on a short term basis. Typically, it may create dependency if used for more than one month or at continuously high dosages. Even without true dependency, a person may experience symptoms of withdrawal if he or she attempts to stop taking Zolpidem without first lessening dosages. The most common Zolpidem withdrawal symptoms include, but are not limited to, changes in behavior, fatigue, stomach pains or muscle cramps, panic attacks, and nausea, which is usually followed by vomiting. Insomnia may also return for a period of time, and in more severe cases some symptoms may also include seizures, neurosis or hallucinations.
Most of the common withdrawal symptoms will cease on their own over time, with no additional medical help required. This is especially true if the medication was taken for only a short period of time, such as after the normal prescribed time period of two to three weeks. The symptoms that usually disappear on their own include reoccurring insomnia, sweating, anxiety and behavior changes. If the dependency on Zolpidem was short-lived, then these symptoms may disappear after a few days. Overall, the length and severity of withdrawal symptoms are dependent on how long the medication was taken and how high the dosage was during this period.
It may take only a few weeks to form a dependency on Zolpidem; this is especially true if the stronger 10mg pill is taken. With long term use, withdrawal symptoms may become severe only after a few days and may persist for weeks or longer and continue to worsen. If a person has formed an emotional or physical dependency and chooses to discontinue the medication without weaning, then withdrawal symptoms usually include hallucinations, neurosis, seizures, and on occasion, depression. Doctors highly recommend seeking professional help to taper off Zolpidem to lessen symptoms.
Some doctors and addiction counselors recommend that anyone dependent on Zolpidem who wishes to stop taking the sleeping aid should consider using Diazepam. This should help to lessen severe Zolpidem withdrawal symptoms, such as psychosis, hallucinations, depression, and physical pains like muscle and stomach cramping. Diazepam works similarly to Zolpidem and is sometimes used alongside Zolpidem when a person tries to stop taking the sleeping aid, because Diazepam is less addictive. Some people occasionally find it emotionally difficult to quit Diazepam after having quit Zolpidem.