Trusted Content

The Dangers Of Snorting Ambien (Zolpidem Insufflation)

Joseph Sitarik, DO

Medically reviewed by

Joseph Sitarik, DO

April 2, 2019

Ambien (zolpidem) is a sedative-hypnotic medication, often prescribed to help people sleep. Snorting Ambien may lead someone to engage in risky behaviors while asleep, including driving, cooking, and eating. Snorting Ambien can also result in addiction and overdose.

When taken as directed, Ambien helps people fall asleep and experience deeper sleep. Some people experience feelings of euphoria and intoxication from Ambien, and may crush and snort the tablet in order to get high.

Ambien works by depressing the central nervous system. Even when taken as directed, Ambien can have significant effects on a person’s physical and mental well-being. If a person snorts Ambien, they may engage in risky behaviors, such as driving or cooking while asleep.

Ambien can lead to addiction, especially if it’s not taken as prescribed. If a person is snorting Ambien, they are more likely to struggle with dependence and abuse. Abusing Ambien through insufflation (snorting) can lead to nasal tissue damage, hallucinations, and suicidal thoughts.

Why Do People Snort Ambien (Zolpidem)?

Ambien is a sedative-hypnotic drug that comes in tablet form. People that abuse Ambien may crush and snort zolpidem tablets in order to amplify the drug’s sedative effects. People may also snort the drug to intensify and prolong feelings of euphoria.

Ambien may be prescribed in long-acting form, called Ambien CR. These extended-release tablets may contain a higher dose of the medication. If a person snorts long-acting Ambien CR, they could experience life-threatening symptoms.

What Happens When You Snort Ambien?

Ambien works to slow down activity in the brain, and help people fall asleep. Even when taken as prescribed, it’s not advised to take Ambien for more than two weeks. Individuals that take Ambien for longer than two weeks may experience diminished sleep quality.

Sedative-hypnotics are powerful drugs that change the way the brain operates. This class of medication can lead to significant side effects, and symptoms may worsen if a person snorts Ambien.

Side effects of Ambien (zolpidem) include:

  • dizziness
  • dry mouth
  • joint pain
  • nausea
  • constipation
  • extreme fatigue
  • staggering
  • stomach pain
  • hallucinations
  • headache
  • diarrhea
  • heartburn
  • uncontrollable shaking of a part of the body
  • strange dreams
  • heavy menstrual bleeding
  • ringing in the ears
  • burning or tingling tongue
  • muscle aches

Everyone’s bodies react differently to medication. If you are prescribed Ambien, it’s important to take the drug exactly as directed. When a person snorts Ambien, they are at an increased risk for experiencing hazardous side effects of this medication.

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Signs Of Snorting Ambien (Zolpidem)

More than 50 million Americans battle chronic sleep disorders, and Ambien is one of the most commonly prescribed medications for treatment.
People that begin snorting their Ambien prescriptions may display changes in mood or behavior. Abrupt changes in a person’s demeanor could be signs of Ambien abuse.

Additional signs of potential Ambien abuse include:

  • agitation
  • erratic behavior
  • bizarre thoughts or actions
  • low or depressed mood
  • supplies used for snorting medication, such as straws or rolled dollar bills

Sleep-Related Behavioral Effects Of Ambien (Zolpidem)

Ambien can lead to extreme drowsiness that may cause a person to feel drunk. Ambien intoxication can also cause people to have conversations or participate in activities that they don’t remember afterward.

These Ambien memory blackouts are called “complex sleep-related behaviors.” Periods of memory loss can occur when someone takes Ambien as prescribed, which means the risk is heightened for people who abuse this medication.

Ambien is associated with complex sleep-related behaviors that include:

  • driving while asleep
  • cooking while asleep
  • eating while asleep
  • having conversations while asleep, or “sleep talking”
  • engaging in sexual activity while asleep, or “sleep sex”

These behaviors can be extremely dangerous, and in some cases, life-threatening. High doses of Ambien may cause a person to drive while asleep, even if it’s the morning after their nighttime dose. The FDA now urges doctors to caution all patients about next-morning impairment.

A person who engages in sexual activity while asleep may expose themselves to several risks, including unprotected intercourse. This could result in an unintended pregnancy or the transmission of an STD.

People who suffer from Ambien-induced sleep complexities often report amnesia around these events. This means they have no recollection of cooking, eating, or driving while asleep, and usually have to be told about their behavior.

When people snort Ambien or use it other than how it’s prescribed, they have a higher chance of experiencing these troubling side effects.

Ambien (Zolpidem) Overdose Symptoms

Large amounts of this drug can be toxic, and snorting Ambien increases a person’s chance of overdose.

When Ambien is taken with another drug, overdose is even more likely. Many people who struggle with Ambien abuse also suffer from additional health conditions that require prescription pills, including psychiatric disorders.

It’s important to know the symptoms of an Ambien overdose, especially if a person takes more than one prescription. Half of all emergency room visits for zolpidem involved other medications, most commonly narcotic pain relievers (opioids).

Symptoms of Ambien overdose include:

  • drowsiness
  • collapsing
  • seizure
  • difficulty breathing
  • slowed heartbeat
  • coma (loss of consciousness for a period of time)

Women between the ages of 45-64 are especially at risk for Ambien overdose. If you or someone you love is struggling with snorting Ambien, knowing the signs of overdose could save a life.

Getting Treatment For Ambien (Zolpidem) Addiction

Ambien was initially created to mimic the effects of benzodiazepines, without the potential for abuse and addiction. However, this medication is now known to be habit-forming, and Ambien abuse is on the rise.

Formal addiction treatment centers can help individuals and families that are struggling with Ambien abuse. Inpatient rehab centers provide counseling, 12-step support, and medication-assisted treatment in a comfortable, supervised setting.

Many public and private insurance plans can help offset the cost of addiction treatment. Additionally, most states offer insurance vouchers to help ensure treatment is available for those who need it.

For more information on the dangers of snorting Ambien, reach out to one of our treatment specialists today.

Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration - Emergency Department Visits for Adverse Reactions Involving the Insomnia Medication Zolpidem

Medline Plus - Zolpidem

U.S. Food & Drug Administration - FDA requires lower recommended doses for certain drugs containing zolpidem (Ambien, Ambien CR, Edluar, and Zolpimist)

U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health - Zolpidem Induced Sleep-related Eating and Complex Behaviors in a Patient with Obstructive Sleep Apnea and Restless Legs Syndrome

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