Ambien is a Schedule IV medication, meaning that it’s illegal to carry or use the substance without a prescription. If you’re about to take a drug test, for work, sport, or another purpose, you might be wondering: how long does Ambien stay in your system? You may also want to know when the effects of the substance will wear off so it is safe to engage in everyday activities.
This blog offers some information about the nature of the drug, the risks of addiction, and the length of time it stays in your body. The best way to guarantee that you have no traces of the drug in your body is to stop any illegal Ambien use. While for some people this can be hard, effective treatment programs can help you to overcome Ambien addiction and lead a sober life.
What Is Ambien?
Ambien is the brand name for zolpidem, a prescription sleep aid that doctors use to treat insomnia. Ambien is a central nervous system depressant that works by slowing down activity in the brain. Ambien comes as a tablet, either in an immediate-release version or an extended-release version called Ambien CR.
How Does Ambien Work?
Ambien works by increasing the availability of a neurotransmitter (brain chemical) known as gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA). GABA blocks some of the chemical messengers that different areas of the brain send to communicate with each other. This helps to slow down brain activity, producing a calming effect throughout the central nervous system and helping you to fall asleep.
Understanding Ambien Addiction, Dependence, and Abuse
If you take Ambien according to your prescription, you are unlikely to develop a dependence or addiction. Most doctors and other qualified healthcare providers will only prescribe Ambien for up to four weeks, limiting the risks of dependency.
However, if you abuse Ambien for its recreational effects or self-medicate beyond the scope of a prescription, you risk developing Ambien addiction or dependence. Ambien abuse is dangerous and may also lead to long-term health problems and the risk of overdose.
Ambien Dependence and Withdrawal
If you continually take Ambien for an extended period, your body gets used to the presence of the substance and begins to adjust its own functions in response. You develop a tolerance to the substance and eventually become dependent on the drug to sleep (and function) normally. If you then suddenly stop using Ambien, you experience withdrawal symptoms as your body readjusts.
Ambien withdrawal symptoms can be unpleasant and even dangerous, and may include:
- stomach cramps
While anyone can safely complete Ambien withdrawal and begin their recovery journey, you must seek professional medical advice before you begin the process. Licensed medical professionals can design a safe detox plan, help you manage withdrawal symptoms, and check for any medical complications.
Substance addiction is a psychological and behavioral health condition characterized by compulsive drug-seeking behavior. Addiction involves long-lasting physical changes in the brain that can make it hard to quit a substance without effective support. However, addiction treatment programs can help anyone to overcome addiction and achieve lasting recovery.
Ambien Use Disorder
Ambien use disorder is a type of substance use disorder (SUD). A substance use disorder is a medical diagnosis that encompasses addiction, dependence, and any other harmful relationship with a substance where someone has limited control over their substance use. A SUD is a mental health disorder that, just like anxiety or depression, usually requires effective medical support to make a full recovery.
How Long Does Ambien Stay in Your System?
The length of time that a substance stays in your system is determined by the half-life of the substance and its metabolites (the molecules that your body breaks the drug into). The half-life of a substance is the amount of time it takes for it to reduce to half the original amount. Ambien’s half-life ranges from one and a half to four hours, averaging about two hours.
In general, a substance no longer has a clinical effect (and can be considered “removed”) on the body after five-and-a-half half-lives. For Ambien, that equals about 11 hours.
However, it’s important to remember that every person is different. The elimination of a drug depends on various factors, such as:
- other substance use
Moreover, while you may not feel the effects of the substance after five-and-a-half half-lives, drug tests may be able to detect the substance for much longer.
How Long Can Drug Tests Detect Ambien?
Different types of drug tests can detect Ambien for different lengths of time.
- A blood test can typically detect Ambien for 20 hours after the last dose.
- A hair follicle test can usually detect Ambien for up to five weeks after the last dose.
- Saliva tests may be able to detect the substance within 15 minutes of taking Ambien and for about the next eight hours.
Remember that the best way to avoid a positive drug test is to stop using Ambien and other prescription medications or illicit drugs. There’s lots of help and support available to guide individuals away from substance abuse and towards their sober futures.
Ambien Addiction Treatment
In recent years, extensive medical research has uncovered a range of treatment options proven to support addiction recovery. Effective addiction treatment programs should be individualized and address an individual’s multiple needs.
Some addiction treatment options include:
- cognitive-behavioral therapy
- support groups
- couples or family therapy
- holistic treatment options such as yoga or meditation
- life-skills development
- experiential therapy
Addiction recovery is a long-term process that requires continued dedication and support. Substance abuse treatment programs typically offer comprehensive aftercare to support clients in the following months and years, guiding them through any challenges they face.
Private and Exclusive Treatment for Behavioral Health Conditions at Cirque Lodge
Cirque Lodge is a private and luxurious addiction treatment center in the heart of the Rocky Mountains of Utah. Our spectacular location in the depths of nature is the perfect place for you to begin your recovery journey. We replace the stresses and distractions of everyday life with serene natural beauty, helping you to focus and be inspired by the world around you.
At Cirque Lodge, we understand that every individual is different. Many of our clients prefer to learn by doing, exploring, and reinforcing skills they have learned in clinical sessions. We offer an unrivaled range of experiential activities, including equine-assisted therapy, high-ropes, and helicopter rides, to provide a holistic and transformative recovery experience.
If you’re struggling with alcohol or drug addiction, contact us today. Our expert and compassionate team of professionals is available 24/7 to offer advice and guide you through the next steps.