The Basics of Ambien Rehabilitation

This guide was written to provide an overview of the Ambien rehabilitation process, as well as to offer helpful resources for persons recovering from Ambien addiction.

Because of the potential dangers involved in Ambien withdrawal, it’s often best to tackle Ambien abuse with the help of addiction specialists. This may include admittance to a treatment facility. In that case, rehabilitation would begin with an orientation and thorough assessment. Once a personalized treatment plan is in place, a medically-managed detoxification period follows so that the user can clear his or her system of Ambien and start the healing process without any unnecessary discomfort or risk.

Many treatment plans include a combination of behavioral therapy, support groups, and other treatments aimed at the underlying sleep disorder. Developing healthy new habits and receiving ongoing social support that continues even after discharge can be an essential part of achieving optimal recovery and preventing relapse.

four steps of rehab process

What Makes Ambien Rehabilitation Difficult?

The United States Drug Enforcement Agency classifies Ambien as a Schedule IV drug, meaning it has a lower potential for abuse when compared to Schedule III drugs, such as Suboxone, anabolic steroids, hydrocodone and acetaminophen combinations, and ketamine.

Tackling Ambien abuse is particularly difficult because the medication is most commonly prescribed to help users address a primary issue: insomnia. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says adults need at least seven hours of sleep every night to function optimally, yet 35.2% of Americans 18 years of age and older sleep less than that amount.

While Ambien use may begin appropriately, lingering insomnia can lead to long-term use, which then leads to dependency. Lowering the dosage or abruptly ceasing Ambien consumption can provoke severe withdrawal symptoms; users hoping to avoid those symptoms are then more prone to relapse.


The Unique Struggle of Ambien Addicts
  • used long-term can lead to tolerance and dependency
  • alters brain chemistry and can cause physical and psychological cravings even after detox
  • is used to treat legitimate sleep disorders, which must also be addressed to prevent relapse
  • withdrawal symptoms can be severe and difficult with which to cope

Ambien Rehabilitation Statistics

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) estimated in 2015:

  • 18,564,000 individuals 12 years of age and older used prescription sedatives such as Ambien, equivalent to 6.9% of the population.
  • 1,511,000 individuals 12 years of age and older misused prescription sedatives such as Ambien, equivalent to 0.6% of the population.
  • 2,801,000 individuals 12 years of age and older misused sedatives/hypnotics such as Ambien and sought treatment as part of a dedicated rehabilitation program.

Ambien Treatment Admissions by Gender

47.9% Male
52.1% Female

Demographics of Individuals Seeking Treatment for Ambien Addiction

According to a 2017 SAMHSA report that charts admissions to and discharges from publicly funded substance use treatment facilities, women are considerably more likely to seek treatment for sedative abuse, which includes Ambien. The gender breakdown of treatment admissions for sedatives/hypnotics was 47.9% male and 52.1% female. While sedative addiction occurs in all age groups, the most common age group admitted to a treatment facility was individuals aged 25 to 29, with 42 being the average age of all individuals from all age groups who are seeking rehabilitation.

Sedative Treatment Admissions Percentages by Age Group, 2017
Age at the Time of Treatment Admission Percentage of Sedative Treatment Admissions
12-17 6.3%
18-24 15.2%
25-34 25.6%
35-44 15.8%
45-54 10%
55-64 7.8%
65+ 19.7%

Ambien Detoxification & Withdrawal Process

Recovering from Ambien addiction starts with detoxification, a process — usually medically-managed — during which the body is cleared of Ambien. How long that process takes depends on a number of factors, including how long the user has been taking Ambien, how much the user has been taking, and when the user took his or her last dose. Ambien has a half-life of about 2.5 hours, meaning it takes 2.5 hours for half of the substance to leave the body. Initial detoxification typically takes about 14 hours, but withdrawal symptoms may linger for a week or longer.

In some cases, withdrawal symptoms are severe, especially when the user has a long history of Ambien use or abuse or if the drug is stopped abruptly. Symptoms such as delirium, memory loss, confusion, and mood swings can continue for even longer than the typical one-week withdrawal period and require additional medical supervision and/or intervention.

Withdrawal Symptoms

Body Mind
Short-Term Symptoms Shakiness
High blood pressure
Stomach cramps
Long-Term Symptoms Seizures
Overactive reflexes
Gastrointestinal disturbances
Continued sleep disturbances
Chronic fatigue
Severe cravings
Panic attacks

Dangerous withdrawal symptoms linked to Ambien detoxification

Ambien is classified as a central nervous system (CNS) depressant. Long-term use can lead to dependency. Abruptly stopping or significantly lowering the dosage is known to cause a wide range of withdrawal symptoms, some of which can be debilitating or even dangerous. Hallucinations, anxiety, panic attacks, and increased heart rate and blood pressure can all put the user at risk.

Withdrawing from Ambien may cause physical discomfort

Individuals experiencing Ambien withdrawal may also experience digestive problems, such as nausea, vomiting and stomach cramps. Fever and flushing are not uncommon, and some persons have reported muscle weakness, tremors, and even convulsions.

Ambien withdrawal can lead to hallucinations and/or delirium

Some studies indicate that Ambien withdrawal can cause the user to develop delirium, a shift in brain activity that exhibits as mental confusion, emotional disturbances, and difficulty focusing. Though delirium is not a common Ambien withdrawal symptom, it is possible, especially if the user has been taking large amounts of Ambien or misusing the medication for a long period of time.

Ambien Detoxification Medications

While there is no widely accepted medication regimen to help facilitate Ambien withdrawal, some medical professionals may use pharmaceuticals to treat or at least control withdrawal symptoms. These measures may include anti-anxiety medications to manage stress and panic attacks, beta-blockers to manage high blood pressure, and anti-emetics to soothe digestive woes.

For more information about withdrawal, read our guide on Ambien Addiction.

Treatment for Ambien Addiction

While there is currently no standardized pharmacological approach to treating Ambien addiction, there are other methods that are widely used and have been known to encourage successful recovery. The backbone of Ambien addiction treatment is behavioral therapy to treat the addiction itself and the underlying issue of insomnia. These therapies can be conducted on an inpatient or outpatient basis.

Rehabilitation Settings

Within either an inpatient or outpatient setting, treatments such as detoxification services, behavioral therapies, and medication-assisted treatments are offered for varying lengths of time.

Inpatient treatment involves living full time (including overnight) at a treatment facility for a set period of time. Outpatient treatment involves scheduled appointments at a facility in which you are free to come and go. Within each category, there are several distinctions.

Ambien Treatment Programs
Setting Type of Treatment Description Duration Time Commitment
Inpatient Short-Term Residential Intensive treatment, sometimes in a hospital setting. Therapies offered are extensive. Medication-assisted treatment is available to patients who qualify. 14-30 days Hours Per Day:


Days Per Week:


Long-Term Residential Intensive treatment in a non-hospital setting, most often a therapeutic community with other patients. Therapies offered are extensive. Medication-assisted treatment is available to patients who qualify. 3-12 months Hours Per Day:


Days Per Week:


Partial Hospitalization Intensive treatment in a hospital setting. Patients do not stay overnight. Considered inpatient due to the hospital setting. Extensive services are provided and require a near full-time commitment every week. Medication-assisted treatment is available to patients who qualify. 14-30 days Hours Per Day:


Days Per Week:


Outpatient Intensive Day Treatment Extensive services of an inpatient program but patients return home each day following treatment. After completion, patients often transition to less intensive counseling. Therapies offered are extensive. Medication-assisted treatment is available to patients who qualify. 3-4 months Hours Per Day:


Days Per Week:


Counseling Both individual counseling and group counseling focus on short-term behavioral goals to develop coping strategies. Therapies offered are moderate. Medication-assisted treatment is not available. As long as desired Hours Per Day:


Days Per Week:


Support Groups Support groups center on maintaining abstinence after another form of treatment. Typically meet one day a week for 1-2 hours. As long as desired Hours Per Day:


Days Per Week:


Behavioral and Medication-Assisted Therapies

Behavioral therapy for substance addiction seeks to identify and manage addictive behaviors that lead to use and prevent relapse. Behavioral therapy is based on the concept that all behavior is learned, and, thus, unhealthy behavior can be changed through learning coping skills and increasing awareness of negative thoughts and beliefs that contribute to substance abuse.

Behavioral Therapies for Ambien Addiction
Type of Therapy Definition
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

Further reading:

Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) seeks to address psychological issues and other problematic behavioral patterns by changing the patterns themselves. CBT may involve developing new problem-solving skills, facing long-buried fears, role-playing to learn new coping strategies, and learning new relaxation techniques to use as an alternative to substance abuse.

CBT can also be used to treat insomnia, the disorder most commonly treated by Ambien. Ideally, using CBT to develop new sleeping habits can eliminate the primary need for prescription sleep aids altogether.

Contingency Management Interventions/Motivational Incentives

Further reading:

Contingency management (CM) discourages substance abusers from relapsing by using positive reinforcement as an incentive. Every time participants demonstrate a pattern of good behavior or achieve an important milestone, such as clean drug tests or regular support group attendance, they receive a reward, like a prize or sought-after privilege.

While CM is not necessarily a cure-all, it can provide an extra layer of motivation to keep patients on track and headed toward long-term recovery.

Lifestyle Changes

Further reading:

Learning and implementing lifestyle changes can help recovering Ambien abusers improve sleeping habits and decrease the sleep-related need for sedatives like Ambien. These changes are somewhat dependent on the individual but may include limiting stimulants such as caffeine and tobacco, creating a bedtime routine, and exercising earlier in the day.
12-Step Facilitation Therapy

Further reading:

12-step facilitation therapy, also known as a 12-step program, is a form of self-help therapy that takes place in group settings. By sharing addiction stories in a guided peer-to-peer setting, participants obtain community-level support and access to real-world examples of healthy lifestyle behaviors to aid in the pursuit of life-long recovery.

How to Find Help

Finding a Rehabilitation Center for Ambien Addiction

It’s important to find a rehabilitation center that not only knows how to treat Ambien addiction but is also staffed by addiction specialists able to offer comfortable, safe detoxification. Having medical professionals – including a psychiatrist – on staff ensures any complications can be addressed swiftly and that each patient’s mental, emotional, and physical needs will be tended to promptly.

Next, look for rehabilitation centers that offer behavioral therapy and several types of support. Ambien misuse often stems from insomnia treatment, so treating sleep issues concurrently with addiction treatment can help ensure a lasting recovery and minimize the chances of relapse.

Our Directory

Our directory of rehab programs includes a comprehensive list of available treatment centers and programs as provided by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). In the directory, you will find tools to filter the programs by setting, price, and location.