Ambien is not necessarily a safe alternative to drugs like Valium. Even if you cannot sleep, taking drugs can have scary, even dangerous side effects. It may be an easy fix to help you learn to sleep better without drugs or may take other things to treat insomnia, but turning to medication may have unforeseen consequences.


One of the most popular sleep aids is Ambien (zolpidem tartrate). This sedative is used to treat insomnia. An estimated 50 to 70 million Americans suffer from sleep disorders. Nearly 4 percent of Americans use prescription sleep aids. Although Ambien is often regarded as safer than benzos, you should be aware it comes with its own risks. Before taking Ambien, you might consider:

  • Increased risk of sleep driving. The FDA warns people who take Ambien should not drive or engage in activities that require mental alertness. Many people take Ambien to help them sleep and the day after they wake up and drive to work. This is dangerous due to impairment from medication and lack of awareness while driving.
  • Sleepwalking. It is not uncommon for people to do or say things they would not normally do while on Ambien. One of the more serious side effects of taking Ambien is getting out of bed not fully awake. People report doing activities they were not aware of at the time and make food or cook while not fully awake.
  • Sexual inhibitions. Taking this drug can be scary if you are in an environment where you don’t know people because it lessens inhibitions. Although sex is not scary, the fact is there are reports of Ambien being used as a date rape drug or an excuse to take advantage of another person.
  • Risk of abuse. To continually increase your dosage to get the desired effects of Ambien, you may have developed a tolerance to the drug. This can lead to physical dependence, which means needing Ambien in your system to function. Addiction is very serious and doctors are not always excited to prescribe Ambien for this very reason.
  • Unpleasant withdrawal symptoms. If you developed a dependence to Ambien, you may experience uncomfortable symptoms. Withdrawal from Ambien can be dangerous and result in seizures or delirium.

Knowing the risks and challenges of taking prescription medication for sleep or anything else can help a person decide if it is worth taking the risk or they can wait to use this drug while trying other means to sleep better. Sometimes drugs only mask or make a problem worse, rather than make it better. The goal is to focus on making recovery and sobriety as healthy as possible without increasing the risk to your overall health and wellness.

A Step in the Right Direction provides quality care for clients seeking support for addiction recovery. Our programs are tailored to help you learn how to live sober in recovery while providing tailored, unique programs for each individual. Our recovery program is staffed by people who understand the power of addiction. For more information sober living programs for men and women as well as recovery programs, call (877) 377-3702.