Is It Safe to Combine Alcohol with Ambien?

Treating an Ambien AddictionMixing Ambien and alcohol is never recommended and can be life-threatening. 

According to CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention), 70 million U.S. adults experience chronic sleep problems like insomnia. Ambien (zolpidem) is the most prescribed sleep aid.

Data from NSDUH 2020 (National Survey on Drug Use and Health) shows that 28 million over-18s had alcohol use disorder in 2020.

With so many millions of people abusing alcohol and even more afflicted with insomnia, mixing alcohol and prescription drugs like Ambien is commonplace despite the dangers and long-term risks.


college drinkingAmbien, like other sedative-hypnotics, works by boosting production of GABA (gamma-aminobutyric acid) in the brain. This slows down activity in the CNS and brain, helping to initiate sleep. 

If you consume any amount of alcohol while taking Ambien, this can trigger severe adverse reactions. Alcohol, like Ambien, depress the CNS (central nervous system), slowing your heart rate and breathing rate. Mixing Ambien with alcohol intensifies the depressant effects.

Mixing alcohol and Ambien can also cause physical and cognitive harm, irreversible liver damage, and increases your risk of an Ambien overdose.

The FDA states that you should not take Ambien after consuming alcohol.

These are the most common alcohol and Ambien side effects:

  • Memory loss
  • Drowsiness
  • Sleepiness
  • Dizziness
  • Confusion
  • Disorientation
  • Hallucinations
  • Loss of motor control
  • Slowed breathing
  • Compromised breathing
  • Unusual behaviors

Dangerous interactions can occur after a single episode of mixing alcohol with Ambien.

Many factors impact the length of time it takes for Ambien to leave the system completely. These variables include:

  • Weight
  • Age
  • Any other medications
  • Existing medical conditions
  • Liver function
  • Kidney function

Research suggests that it takes an average of 14 to 17 hours for the body to eliminate 5mg to 10mg of Ambien.

Ambien mixed with alcohol, then, is always inadvisable. This applies to those with a legitimate prescription for Ambien as well as those who abuse the substance for recreational purposes.

Using Ambien in isolation sometimes causes side effects that manifest the following day. The hangover-like effects can impair your ability to drive, especially if you have slept for less than eight hours. Physicians aim to mitigate these effects by prescribing the lowest required amount of the medication – typically 10mg for men and 5mg for women. If you mix Ambien and alcohol, this may compound the after-effects on the following day.


If you mix Ambien and alcohol, combining these CNS depressants will increase the likelihood of Ambien overdose. In rare cases, this can be fatal.

The rapid onset of Ambien’s effects means you could quickly lose consciousness. Ambien overdose is characterized by the following signs and symptoms:

  • Irregular breathing
  • Shallow breathing
  • Skin, lips, and fingernails becoming pale or blue
  • Decreased levels of consciousness
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Difficulty waking
  • Slowed heartbeat
  • Coma

Ambien overdose should be considered a medical emergency. Call 911 immediately if you or a loved one exhibits the above signs.

Overdose is often treated by the stomach being pumped and the administration of intravenous fluids. Medical professionals will closely monitor pulse and breathing levels.


Although Z-drugs like zolpidem (Ambien) were marketed as a less addictive alternative to benzodiazepines, these claims were unrealistic.

The long-term use of sedative-hypnotics like Ambien can cause tolerance to form. This diminishes the sedative effects of the medication. Often, this leads people to increase the dose to initiate sleep. Other people try to harness the sedative effects of alcohol by combining the substances. Self-medication will do nothing to address the underlying insomnia and introduces an additional problem in the form of alcohol abuse. Beyond this, you will run the risks outlined above by mixing two CNS depressants.

If you continue taking more Ambien, you could become physically dependent on the medication. This means you will require Ambien to sleep and you will experience adverse withdrawal symptoms in its absence. These include:

  • Insomnia
  • Anxiety
  • Increased heart rate
  • Shaking
  • Delirium
  • Seizure

Long-term Ambien abuse can also trigger the development of chronic health conditions, including:

In addition to these risks, chronic alcohol abuse often leads to alcoholism, clinically diagnosed as alcohol use disorder. Defined by NIDA (National Institute on Drug Abuse) as a chronic and incurable brain condition, alcohol use disorder typically requires evidence-based treatment in an inpatient or outpatient setting.


A group therapy session, where adults are seeking help with alcohol and ambien addiction. Gratitude Lodge offers treatment options for co-occurring disordersIf you have been struggling with an addiction to alcohol, Ambien, or both, we can help you initiate your recovery at Gratitude Lodge.

Our affordable luxury rehabs are located in Newport Beach and Long Beach. All treatment centers provide a pet-friendly environment free of triggers and temptations. Engage with inpatient or outpatient therapy to address the physical and psychological aspects of addiction. 

Whether you require the support and structure of a 30-day inpatient treatment program, or the flexibility of intensive outpatient treatment, you can access the following services and interventions at Gratitude Lodge:

Stop combining alcohol and Ambien safely and create a sustainable foundation for sustained sobriety at Gratitude Lodge in Southern California. Call admissions today at 800-994-2184.