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Medically Reviewed

How Long Does Ambien Stay in Your System?

- 8 sections

Medically Verified: December 1, 2023

Medical Reviewer:

Sahil Talwar, PA-C, MBA

medically-verified

All of the information on this page has been reviewed and verified by a certified addiction professional.

Ambien is the brand name for a prescription sleeping pill called zolpidem. This medication belongs to the sedative-hypnotic class of drugs that work similarly in the brain as benzodiazepines.[1] Ambien can be addictive when used long-term or in large doses.

People who abuse Ambien might do so because they experience a euphoric and drowsy high when taking large amounts of it at once. Others who develop an addiction to Ambien might have been taking the medication too long, causing them to become dependent and tolerant of it. Either way, an Ambien addiction should always be treated by a professional drug rehab program.

If you or a loved one are addicted to Ambien, you might be wondering how long it stays in your system. Ambien can stay in your body for anywhere from 10 to 14 hours, however, metabolites can remain in your system longer, causing you to test positive on drug tests.

How Long Do the Effects of Ambien Last?

When you take Ambien, the effects will begin to take place 15 to 30 minutes after you consume it and will peak within 90 minutes. The fast onset is why doctors recommend their patients not to take Ambien until they are ready to go to sleep.

The common side effects of Ambien include:[1]

  • Dizziness and drowsiness
  • Tiredness
  • Headaches
  • Unsteady walking and coordination issues
  • A “drugged” feeling
  • Nausea
  • Constipation or diarrhea
  • Gas, heartburn, and stomach pain
  • Changes in appetite
  • Unusual dreams or sleepwalking
  • Muscle aches or cramps
  • Ringing in the ears

Typically, the effects of Ambien last 7 to 8 hours, just enough time to provide a full night of sleep. Doctors who prescribe Ambien warn their patients not to take Ambien unless they have enough time for 8 hours of sleep, as waking up early could cause them to continue experiencing mind-altering effects.

How Long Does Ambien Stay in Your System?

The half-life of a drug describes how long it takes your body to eliminate half of the substance. On average, it takes 4 to 5 half-lives for a substance to be completely rid of your body.

Ambien’s half-life is somewhere between 1.5 to 4.5 hours, depending on individual characteristics and the dose used. With that being said, the half-life is 2.5 hours on average.[2] In other words, it can take between 10 to 14 hours for your body to eliminate Ambien.

How Long is Ambien Detected on a Drug Test?

While Ambien leaves your system 10 to 14 hours after you consume it, metabolites may linger in certain parts of your body longer. These metabolites are what drug tests look for to determine if you have recently taken Ambien. Each type of drug test (i.e. urine, saliva, blood, or hair) can detect Ambien for varying amounts of time.

Urine

Each person might have a different metabolic rate, which means they may test positive longer than others based on their personal characteristics. For example, someone who has been taking high doses of Ambien for a long time might have it in their system longer than a first-time user.

Ambien can be detected by a urine drug test for 72 hours or 3 days.

Saliva

Saliva drug tests look for the metabolites of Ambien left behind in your mouth. Because this is one of the first areas Ambien is metabolized in, it can only detect it for a short period. However, saliva tests can begin detecting Ambien as quickly as 15 minutes after you consume it.

Typically, saliva tests can only detect Ambien for up to 24 hours after your last dose.

Blood

While Ambien can show up on blood tests within 30 minutes after you consume it, they can only detect it for up to 10 to 14 hours.

Blood tests are not commonly used to determine if you have been abusing Ambien. The most common setting blood tests are used in is during hospital stays when it is necessary to determine whether a substance is contributing to your symptoms.

Hair

Lastly, hair tests are the most reliable form of drug tests out there. Since they test for substances left behind in your hair follicles, they can find any substance you have used for up to 90 days after your last dose.

Find Help for Ambien Abuse and Addiction

If you or a loved one frequently abuses Ambien, you could be struggling with an addiction. Ambien addiction can be dangerous, as the substance is known to cause sleepwalking behaviors like driving cars while you are unaware of your actions. As a result, you should always seek professional help from a drug rehab facility.

At Mandala Healing Center, we prioritize each client’s needs by creating an individualized treatment plan. By offering you evidence-based behavioral therapies, group counseling, and relapse prevention planning, we can provide the strongest foundation of sobriety possible.

To learn more about our drug and alcohol detox program, contact Mandala Healing Center today.

References:

  1. Medline Plus: Zolpidem, Retrieved November 2023 From https://medlineplus.gov/druginfo/meds/a693025.html
  2. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA): Ambien Label, Retrieved November 2023 From https://www.accessdata.fda.gov/drugsatfda_docs/label/2016/019908s037lbl.pdf

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