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Updated on September 13, 2023
4 min read

Is It Safe to Mix Ambien & Alcohol?

Can I Mix Ambien and Alcohol?

Doctors will instruct those taking Ambien not to consume alcohol. The prescription drug has central nervous system (CNS)-depressant effects, and mixing it with alcohol can increase the risk of severe health problems. 

Alcohol is a substance that influences the central nervous system to slow brain activity. Ambien can impair psychomotor skills and decrease inhibition. When you drink alcohol, these side effects can increase in intensity. 

Additionally, older or debilitated individuals who take Ambien face a higher risk of serious alcohol-medication interaction. When you age, the body cannot metabolize alcohol or Ambien as effectively. This effect means both substances remain in the body longer, and alcohol and Ambien continue interacting. 

Side Effects of Ambien and Alcohol

Taking Ambien can cause the following side effects:

  • Drowsiness
  • Fatigue
  • Headaches
  • Memory loss
  • Sleep disorders, such as sleepwalking
  • Dizziness
  • Lightheadedness
  • A feeling of being drugged
  • Trouble walking straight
  • Balance issues
  • Nausea
  • Constipation
  • Diarrhea
  • Gas/heartburn 
  • Abnormal dreams or thoughts
  • Dry mouth or throat
  • Heavy menstrual bleeding
  • Palpitations

When you consume alcohol with Ambien, these side effects can worsen. Alcohol is also a diuretic, so women on their period are at an increased risk of dehydration. 


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Dangers of Mixing Ambien and Alcohol

Mixing Ambien and alcohol increases the risk of several health consequences.

Sleep-Related Disorders

Drinking alcohol or taking other central nervous system depressants may raise the risk of sleep-related disorders.

For example, “sleep-driving” has been known to occur in individuals taking Ambien at prescribed doses. Sleep-driving is when someone is asleep and gets behind the wheel of a car.


Drinking alcohol may increase the risk of Ambien overdose. Some of the symptoms associated with overdose include:

  • Loss of consciousness (sleepiness or coma)
  • Cardiorespiratory depression (slowed breathing or heart rate)
  • Death

Liver Injury

It takes longer to eliminate Ambien from the bodies of cirrhotic (diseased liver) patients. The elimination half-life of Ambien was 9.9 hours in cirrhotic patients instead of 2.2 hours in normal, healthy individuals.7 If individuals with liver damage consume alcohol and take Ambien, more injury to the liver may occur. 

How Long Should I Wait to Take Ambien After Drinking?

Healthcare professionals will recommend not taking Ambien with alcohol. If individuals drink a standard alcoholic beverage (12 oz.) earlier in the day or before bed, they should not take Ambien. 

Wait for the alcohol to metabolize and clear out of your system before taking Ambien. If you’ve had a large amount of alcohol, it may take longer for your body to remove it from its system.


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What is Ambien?

Ambien is the brand name for zolpidem tartrate, a type of sedative-hypnotic. Healthcare professionals prescribe it to help slow brain activity and treat insomnia. 

Like benzodiazepines and barbiturates, Ambien affects the CNS. However, their chemical structures vary and will engage with specific bodily structures differently.


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Is Ambien Addictive?

Ambien can become addictive if you use the drug for too long. Individuals with a substance abuse history also face a higher risk of misusing it.

This prescription drug is a Schedule IV controlled substance by the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA), meaning it has a low potential for abuse. However, when individuals misuse Ambien or take it with other substances, the risk of severe side effects or developing a substance use disorder (SUD) increases.

Tell your healthcare provider if you have a history of addiction or abuse so that they can more closely monitor you.

Withdrawal Symptoms of Ambien

After sudden discontinuation, sedatives/hypnotics like Ambien may produce withdrawal signs and symptoms.

Some of Ambien’s withdrawal symptoms include:

  • Mild dysphoria (unease or dissatisfaction)
  • Insomnia 
  • Stomach and muscle cramps 
  • Nausea/vomiting
  • Sweating
  • Tremors 
  • Convulsions
  • Fatigue
  • Panic attacks
  • Nervousness

However, these adverse events are uncommon. There is not enough available data to give a reliable idea of the incidence of Ambien dependency at recommended doses. 

Alcohol and Ambien Addiction Treatment

If you or a loved one has an addiction to Ambien and alcohol, you have different options to treat the condition and recover.

Before quitting, contact your nearest healthcare provider to discuss drug discontinuation. Prescription medication like Ambien and alcohol use can lead to withdrawal symptoms, that, if not monitored, may result in overdose. 

These professional treatments are available for those with alcohol use disorder:

  • Inpatient treatment: You can attend an inpatient rehab facility for a 30-day or longer stay. During this time, you will receive 24/7 medical supervision.
  • Outpatient treatment: You remain home and commute to a drug rehab center for regular therapy sessions. This type of treatment is suited for those with milder forms of addiction.
  • Medication-assisted treatment: It utilizes medications to help reduce cravings and manage withdrawal symptoms. 
  • Behavioral therapy: Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and other forms of treatment help you identify the root causes of your addiction. These allow you to develop coping strategies for long-term recovery.


Ambien and alcohol use can be a dangerous combination. Mixing the two substances increases your risk of various health problems.

If you or someone you know is struggling with addiction, seeking professional help is essential. Individuals can learn how to manage their addiction and live healthy lives with the right treatment plan.

Updated on September 13, 2023
7 sources cited
Updated on September 13, 2023
All Alcoholrehabhelp content is medically reviewed or fact checked to ensure as much factual accuracy as possible.

We have strict sourcing guidelines and only link to reputable media sites, academic research institutions and, whenever possible, medically peer reviewed studies.
  1. “DailyMed - AMBIEN- Zolpidem Tartrate Tablet, Film Coated.” U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health, 2020.
  2. “NDA 19908 S027 FDA Approved Labeling 4.23.08 .” FDA. 
  3. “Zolpidem: MedlinePlus Drug Information.” MedlinePlus, U.S. National Library of Medicine, 2019.
  4. Edinoff et al. "Zolpidem: Efficacy and Side Effects for Insomnia." Health Psychol Res, 2021.
  5. Licata et al. "Modest abuse-related subjective effects of zolpidem in drug-naive volunteers." Behav Pharmacol, 2011.
  6. “Understanding Alcohol Use Disorder.” National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, 2020.
  7. Kirkwood et al. "Zolpidem modified-release in insomnia." Neuropsychiatr Dis Treat, 2007.
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All content created by Alcohol Rehab Help is sourced from current scientific research and fact-checked by an addiction counseling expert. However, the information provided by Alcohol Rehab Help is not a substitute for professional treatment advice.
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