Dangers of Mixing Ambien & Alcohol
Last Updated Dec 2, 2021
Mixing alcohol with zolpidem can create a variety of negative effects, ranging from dizziness to a potential intensive care unit visit in serious cases.
What Happens When You Mix Ambien & Alcohol?
Zolpidem is a common drug prescribed to patients who struggle with insomnia or have problems sleeping at night. Because alcohol is so commonly used, people may think about having a drink after taking Ambien.
According to the safety information provided by Sanofi, the company that produces zolpidem under the brand name Ambien, consuming alcohol while taking Ambien can have dangerous and unwanted effects.
Ambien is considered a depressant, meaning it slows functions of the brain. When mixed with alcohol (another depressant), the depressant effects of the two drugs can compound, creating an unhealthy and dangerous situation in which important brain functions may be inhibited.
According to Sanofi, when Ambien is taken with another drug that may make you dizzy or sleepy, including alcohol, the combination can severely increase your feelings of sleepiness or dizziness.
Short-Term & Long-Term Effects of Ambien & Alcohol Use
According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, the following are some common symptoms that may occur if you mix Ambien and alcohol:
- Drowsiness, dizziness, or sleepiness
- Slow breathing or having trouble breathing
- Difficulty with motor functions
- Issues with memory
- Abnormal behavior
In addition to this, people have been reported to sleepwalk under the influence of Ambien. In more severe cases, people have completed complex activities while asleep after taking Ambien. In these cases, patients reported having no memory of completing these complex activities.
In some cases, this may be mild, including eating while asleep. However, some people have been reported to drive and later have no memory of having done so while under the influence of Ambien. This is especially dangerous when mixing alcohol with Ambien due to the normal effects of alcohol consumption on driving skills.
In some cases, people have consumed alcohol without memory of doing so while under the influence of Ambien. While it is possible that Ambien itself may lead to sleep driving, current studies seem to indicate that consuming alcohol or other drugs while taking Ambien can lead to the risk of sleep driving.
Due to this, it is important to inform your doctor if you drink alcohol before being prescribed Ambien. It is also important to inform your doctor if you have any history of substance abuse. They may recommend a different medication or other approaches to enhancing your sleep.
It’s possible to experience an overdose when combining alcohol and Ambien. A 2013 study found that alcohol was one of the most common drugs mixed with Ambien in cases where Ambien may have contributed to a patient’s death.
While these results may indicate a correlation, more research must be completed before a clear connection can be made between the two substances and overdose.
Signs That a Person May Need Help
In cases where people have driven or walked around while under the influence of Ambien, people have been confused and potentially incoherent. The severity and likelihood of these effects increase if Ambien is combined with alcohol.
In a broader sense, studies have found that people who suffer from insomnia are more likely to have anxiety and depression. People who suffer from insomnia may consume significantly more alcohol than those without insomnia.
If you notice changes in someone you know and suspect they may be misusing substances, it might be time to have a conversation about it. Signs of a potential problem with substances, including alcohol and Ambien, include the following:
- Relationship issues
- Work problems, including missing work or showing up late
- Falling behind at school or work
- Bloodshot eyes
- Failing to complete obligations
- Sudden changes in weight, sleep schedule, or friend group
- Shift in personality
Remember that combining substances makes them more dangerous, potentially increasing the effects of each substance. Play it safe and don’t ever combine Ambien and alcohol. If you have a history of misusing substances, reach out for help today.
Zolpidem Misuse With Other Medications or Alcohol Frequently Results in Intensive Care Unit Admission. (July 2011). American Journal of Therapeutics.
Important Safety Information. (2022). Sanofi.
Harmful Interactions. (2014). National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism.
Zolpidem Ingestion, Automatism, and Sleep Driving: A Clinical and Legal Case Series. (December 2011). Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine.
In the Zzz Zone: The Effects of Z-Drugs on Human Performance and Driving. (June 2013). Journal of Medical Toxicology.
The Clinical and Forensic Toxicology of Z-drugs. (June 2013). Journal of Medical Toxicology.
Prevalence of Chronic Insomnia in Adult Patients and Its Correlation With Medical Comorbidities. (October–December 2016). Journal of Family Medicine and Primary Care.