Ambien (Zolpidem) is a sedative-hypnotic or Z-drug commonly prescribed to help people suffering from sleep disturbances. Snorting Ambien (Zolpidem) can lead to permanent damage to the nose and the surrounding tissues, dangerous behaviors while sleeping (somnambulism), and overdose. Administering Ambien in this way can also increase a person’s risk of becoming dependent, tolerant, or addicted to the medication.
Ambien works by reducing activity in the brain and body so that an individual can more easily fall asleep. Ambien is widely prescribed, and for this reason, it is frequently abused as a product of drug diversion or in ways other than intended.
Ambien was initially created to induce effects similar to benzodiazepines like Halcion, but without the relatively high potential for abuse and addiction. Despite this, as time passed and more research was conducted, it became evident that Ambien can be abused in ways that can lead to addiction.
People sometimes abuse this drug to achieve a sedated and euphoric state similar to being drunk. Ambien is prescribed in two formulas, one that is immediate-acting and one that is long-acting (Ambien CR). Both drugs have the potential for abuse.
A pharmaceutic drug is designed to be administered the way it is designed and prescribed. Altering its form, such as crushing it, or taking it in excessive doses can increase the risks associated with its use. Furthermore, when a pill is crushed, it’s harder to regulate the amount being consumed. This can lead an individual to snort more than they would have ingested orally and may increase the risk of overdose and other dangers associated with Ambien abuse.
Snorting Ambien Can Damage Cause Nasal Damage
When Ambien is insufflated into the nasal cavity, it irritates the mucous membranes. With repeated use, the likelihood of irreversible nasal damage and chronic inflammation increases significantly.
Many people who commonly snort Ambien will suffer from sores, infections, or frequent bloody noses. Various health complications can develop and become chronic, including a runny nose, halitosis (bad breath), and sinusitis. Snorting Ambien can also damage the small hairs (cilia) inside the nose, making it more difficult for the nose to filter and clean the air an individual breathes.
Snorting Ambien can obstruct nasal airways and cause passages to collapse, making it harder for a person to breathe. These structural changes can create whistling noises or alter the way an individual’s voice sounds.
Other possibilities include bone loss, perforated septum, perforated palate, reduced or loss of smell, and nasal structure deformity. An individual may continue to snort Ambien even having developed some of these issues, unfortunately, and doing so can cause irreversible harm. In certain instances, a person may require reconstructive surgery to repair this damage.
Ambien Can Be Dangerous Even While Sleeping
Ambien possesses a quality that makes it more dangerous than some other drugs of abuse. That is, it can cause people to behave in dangerous ways while they are sleeping. While under the influence, an individual using Ambien could experience what are called complex sleep-related behaviors. These include the following:
- Cooking and eating
- Making phone calls/texting
- Driving a vehicle
- Having sex
These behaviors have been linked to deadly auto accidents, fires, eating toxic substances, and accidental pregnancies.
Ambien May Increase The Risk of Cancer, Heart Attack, Dementia, and Death
Studies have shown that Ambien use may increase a person’s risk of death, certain forms of cancer, dementia, and heart attack—even when used as directed. Using excessive amounts could further increase these risks.
A BMJ Open article that examined the effects of hypnotic (including zolpidem) reported that the receipt of hypnotic prescriptions was “associated with greater than threefold increased hazards of death even when prescribed <18 pills/year.” The same research also found an overall cancer increase of 35% for persons prescribed high doses of hypnotics.
Additional Dangers of Ambien Abuse
Ambien is frequently abused to induce a sedated and euphoric state, which has been compared to being drunk. Like alcohol intoxication, Ambien’s effects can be dangerous and include lowered inhibitions, impaired judgment, impaired coordination, and slowed reflexes.
Ambien has been shown to persist in people’s bodies as long as the next morning. This is especially true with Ambien CR, which can lead to daytime drowsiness, driving under the influence, and an increased risk of falls and accidents.
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) reports that Ambien has been associated with behavioral changes, blackouts, hallucinations, suicidal ideations, and an exacerbation of depression.
Additional dangers and side effects of Ambien abuse can include the following:
- Gastrointestinal issues
- Memory lapses and amnesia
- Slow or shallow breathing
- Slurred speech
- Self-harm and violence
- Seizures upon withdrawal
Snorting the drug or misusing it in any other way may make these dangers more likely to occur or more intense. Also, due to the decreased inhibition, profound sedation, blackouts, and impaired judgment, which can result from Ambien abuse, an individual may contract a sexually-transmitted disease or experience an unwanted pregnancy if they have sex with another person while abusing this drug. Moreover, Ambien has also been used to facilitate sexual assault.
Ambien’s potential for overdose isn’t as high as some other drugs, such as opioids. Still, when used in excessive amounts or with multiple substances, the risk of an overdose will undoubtedly increase.
Ambien depresses or reduces activity in the CNS (central nervous system). This causes slowed blood pressure, heart rate, breathing, heart, and lower temperature that can intensify when the drug issues in larger doses.
Many people mix multiple drugs to intensify their high and feelings of reward. With Ambien, alcohol is a sought-after and dangerous combination, as are benzodiazepines and opioids. These drugs are potent CNS depressants that can cause Ambien’s potentially life-threatening effects to become more pronounced.
Signs and symptoms of overdose may include the following:
- Extreme drowsiness
- Loss of consciousness
- Slow heartbeat
- Slowed or stopped breathing
Ambien abuse can be dangerous for anyone. However, women and older persons may have slower metabolisms, so these groups should be particularly careful. An overdose can prove fatal. If an overdose is suspected, please contact emergency medical services immediately.
Getting Help for Addiction
Crushing and snorting Ambien or tampering with the product in any way constitutes abuse. Ambien should never be administered in any way other than prescribed by a doctor. This includes using Ambien with other substances, such as alcohol, without approval from a health provider.
Just Believe Detox and Just Believe Recovery centers offer those we treat with the very best, most modern care and support available. Those struggling with addiction and other mental health issues are urged to seek treatment as soon as possible. Services and activities we offer include, but are not limited to, the following:
- Behavioral therapy
- 12-step programs
- Individual/family counseling
- Relapse prevention
- Substance abuse education
- Health and wellness education
- Art and music therapy
- Aftercare planning