Cirque Lodge > Blog > Addiction > Dangers of Snorting Ambien

Ambien is a sedative-hypnotic drug that is commonly prescribed to help adults sleep. When used as directed, Ambien is a safe and effective medication that can help individuals experience deeper sleep. However, Ambien has been noted to induce euphoric effects, causing some people to crush and snort the drug.

Snorting Ambien comes with many health risks, including the development of a dependency on the drug. Read here to find out about the dangers of Ambien abuse, the effects caused by snorting Ambien, and the treatment options available.

What Is Ambien?

Ambien is the brand name for a drug called zolpidem, a sleep aid commonly used to help treat insomnia. Similar to benzodiazepines, Ambien depresses the central nervous system which slows down neural communication in the spinal cord and brain.

The drug also works on gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) receptors to help individuals sleep. Alcohol has also been noted to work in a similar way, which is why excessive alcohol consumption can produce drowsiness or sedation.

Similar to other sedative-hypnotics, Ambien (zolpidem) prescriptions are given to individuals who have difficulty falling or staying asleep. Non-benzo hypnotic prescriptions, such as zolpidem, are often referred to as 'Z drugs' as a lot of the medications contain the letter Z. Prescribed Ambien is available in two forms, regular and an extended-release version called Ambien CR, and both pose the risk of abuse.

Ambien Abuse

Ambien Abuse

When prescription medications are used as directed, they are safe and effective, however, if the drug is abused, there is an increased danger of experiencing a number of health risks. Ambien can be prescribed as extended-release tablets, also known as Ambien CR. The extended-release form contains a higher dose of medication; this increases the drug's sedative effects.

People abusing Ambien are trying to achieve a state that has been described as a similar experience to drunkenness. Altering the way that prescription pills are intended to be taken can increase the risks associated with the substance.

Someone who is abusing Ambien over a long period of time may need more of the drug to experience the desired effects of Ambien. If a person becomes addicted, they may begin crushing and snorting Ambien to feel the same effects as they once did by swallowing the drug.

Side Effects

The effects of Ambien are typically minor and diminish over time. However, Ambien abuse can cause people to become more susceptible to the different effects of the drug. Possible side effects of Ambien include:

  • Drowsiness or fatigue
  • Lightheadedness
  • Loss of balance or coordination
  • Constipation
  • Heartburn
  • Stomach cramps
  • Appetite changes
  • Strange dreams
  • Uncontrollable shaking
  • Muscle aches

Everyone reacts differently to medications and individuals may experience some or none of the above.

What Happens When You Snort Ambien

If a person snorts Ambien, the drug is absorbed quickly and directly into the bloodstream and brain. This results in stronger side effects. When people snort Ambien they are typically chasing reactions such as increased levels of sedation or euphoric effects. For those addicted to Ambien, snorting Ambien is simply a quicker way to get high.

Dangers of Snorting Ambien

Snorting Ambien causes more immediate and stronger side effects, increasing the risk of adverse reactions. Zolpidem insufflation (snorting) can also worsen or trigger symptoms of a mental illness. The most known dangers of snorting Ambien are the damage caused to the nose and the complex sleep-related behaviors that are associated with the drug.

Nasal Damage

It is no surprise that continually snorting drugs can cause damage to the nose and nasal passages, specifically the nasal cavity. If you regularly snort Ambien you can cause great irritation to the mucous membranes, increasing the risk of nasal damage and chronic inflammation.

People who are regularly snorting Ambien can experience frequent bloody noses and recurring sinus infections. Additionally, the small hairs found inside of the nose can become damaged, making it difficult for the nose to filter what a person is breathing. Snorting Ambien can also block the airways and can cause nasal passages to collapse, resulting in difficulty in breathing. Other effects on the nose include:

  • Decrease or complete loss of smell
  • Saddle nose deformity
  • Deviated septum
  • Developing a hole in the roof of the mouth

Ambien is prescribed for chronic sleep disorders but too much of the drug can cause extreme drowsiness that can make an individual feel like they are drunk. Ambien abuse can cause people to participate in activities or have conversations that they cannot remember afterward.

These types of blackouts are referred to as 'complex sleep-related behaviors' and are characterized by periods of memory loss. During these periods, individuals have been noted to partake in risky behaviors that can have extremely dangerous consequences. Complex sleep-related behaviors associated with Ambien abuse include:

  • Sleep driving
  • Cooking or eating
  • Having conversations
  • Engaging in sexual activity

Ambien Overdose

Drug abuse of any kind always comes with a risk of overdose, especially when taken in larger quantities than prescribed. Ambien slows down the central nervous system, causing decreased blood pressure, slowed breathing, and lowered body temperature.

When Ambien is taken alongside other drugs, there is an increased risk of an Ambien overdose. When Ambien is taken alongside other CNS depressants, such as alcohol or benzodiazepines, there is a risk of experiencing potentially life-threatening symptoms. Signs of an Ambien overdose include:

  • Loss of consciousness
  • Decreased heartbeat
  • Slowed breathing
  • Seizures
  • Bluish fingertips or lips

Someone who has had an overdose can be given flumazenil to mitigate symptoms and reverse the effects of intoxication.

Treatment for Ambien Addiction

Chronic misuse of Ambien can result in physical dependence and addiction. This means that when an individual attempts to stop taking the substance, they are likely to experience withdrawal symptoms.

Withdrawal symptoms can be difficult to manage, but with the right help and support, you are able to detox from the substance and receive addiction treatment to support you in recovery.

The first stage of any substance use disorder treatment is detox. A medically assisted detox allows your body to rid itself of any remaining substances in a safe and comfortable environment. Here, you will be able to learn how to effectively manage any adverse withdrawal symptoms.

Treatment centers can provide help for individuals and families that are struggling with substance abuse. There are a number of therapies that are proven to be effective in treating addiction, these include:

  • Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT)
  • 12 step program
  • Family therapy
  • Experiential therapy
  • Group therapy

Treatment at Cirque Lodge

Treatment at Cirque Lodge

Cirque Lodge offers addiction treatment programs in a beautiful location set in the idyllic and serene Rocky Mountains of Utah. This is a rehabilitation experience in the most peaceful setting.

We understand that substance use disorders differ for everyone, and no two experiences are the same. This is why we create individualized treatment plans for all of our clients, combining a range of therapies to find the most effective treatment for you.

We know that addiction is not a choice and aim to provide the most effective treatment in a supportive environment to help you on your road to recovery. If you believe you or a loved one is living with a substance use disorder, contact us today to see how we can help you.

About Cirque Lodge
Cirque Lodge is a recovery retreat providing cognitive and experiential therapies, in the pristine natural beauty of Utah’s Rocky Mountains.

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