Zolpidem is classified as a sedative and hypnotic which promotes insomnia or the inability to sleep. This prescription drug is available in fast-acting and extended-release versions. While fast-acting Zolpidem serves as a sleeping pill, the extended-release tablet enables users to not only fall asleep but to also stay asleep via gradual dissolving process.

Brief History of Zolpidem

Zolpidem tartrate was first synthesized in France in the eighties. This drug was developed to exceed the ability of benzodiazepines by allowing:

  • Instant, yet restricted mechanism of action
  • No active metabolites

From a group of chemical compounds known as imidazopyridines, zolpidem emerged as a safe, effective hypnotic when tested on animal subjects. Zolpidem reduced the number of sleep disturbances without affecting the quality of REM sleep, making it especially useful for patients suffering from insomnia. In 1992, Ambien® became available in the United States, and made generic by 2007.

DEA Drug Class

Zolpidem is a Schedule IV Substance listed under the Controlled Substances Act under Schedule IV. Schedule IV drugs meet the following criteria:

  • Current medical application in the U.S.;
  • Low potential for abuse;
  • Possibility of limited physical or psychological dependence

Brand Names for Zolpidem

  • Ambien®
  • Ambien CR®
  • Edluar®
  • Zolpimist®
  • Intermezzo®

Forms and Routes of Administration

  • Tablets – Zolpidem tablets are used immediately before bedtime. The maximum allowable dosage is 10mg/day.
  • Sublingual tablets – Dissolving tablets are placed under the tongue before bedtime at least 7-8 hours prior to scheduled wake-time. This form should NOT be used with water.
  • Spray – One spray of Zolpidem is used orally immediately before bedtime.

Uses for Zolpidem

While Zolpidem was originally used exclusively for FDA approved management of insomnia, this drug has other applications:

  • Restless Leg Syndrome
  • Catatonia
  • Parkinson’s Disease

Street Names for Zolpidem

  • A-minus
  • No-Go pills
  • Sleep-Easy
  • Tic-Tacs
  • Zombie Pills

Zolpidem Drug Type

Zolpidem is a sedative, a group of drugs that behave as central nervous system depressants which slow brain function to induce deep relaxation. Other known depressants include:

Zolpidem and Pregnancy

Zolpidem use is discouraged among expecting and nursing mothers since the drug can affect fetal development and contaminate breastmilk.

Zolpidem and Alcohol

Zolpidem should never be used in tandem with alcohol, as they are both depressants. The combination of these two drugs may be lethal as side effects are exacerbated/enhanced. Zolpidem and alcohol should never be used if operating vehicles or machinery due to their main side effect of drowsiness.

Short & Long Term Effects of Zolpidem

Common short and long-term side effects of Zolpidem use include:

  • Shortness of breath
  • Chest pain or irregular heartbeat
  • Hives or swelling of face, throat, lips and tongue
  • Constipation or diarrhea
  • Dizziness or drowsiness
  • Dry mouth
  • Headache or lightheadedness
  • Loss of coordination
  • Nausea and upset stomach
  • Congestion
  • Aggression or agitation
  • Anxiety and depression
  • Changes in personality
  • Confusion or hallucinations
  • Fewer inhibitions and risky behavior
  • Memory problems
  • Suicidal thoughts

Zolpidem Abuse & Addiction

Zolpidem is usually only prescribed for a limited timeframe. Symptoms of Zolpidem addiction include:

  • Hallucinations
  • Bloodshot eyes
  • Changes in appetite
  • Diarrhea
  • Headaches
  • Heartburn
  • Loss of coordination
  • Muscle and joint pains
  • Shakiness/unsteadiness
  • Nausea

Zolpidem Withdrawal Symptoms

People who have been taking Zolpidem for extended periods can develop a dependence on the drug. They are advised not to completely cease use without medical supervision. Withdrawal symptoms include:

  • Agitation/Irritability
  • Cravings
  • Delirium
  • Nervousness
  • Rebound insomnia
  • Seizures

Signs of Zolpidem Overdose

Uncontrolled use of Zolpidem or taking more than the prescribed dosage can lead to the following side effects. If you believe you or a loved one is overdosing on Zolpidem, call 911 immediately:

  • Extreme drowsiness
  • Weakened breathing
  • Weakened heart function
  • Coma or death

Types of Testing for Zolpidem Use

Urine Testing

Urine drug tests are commonly used to test for Zolpidem.  ZPCA, a metabolite of Zolpidem, can be traced in urine up to 72 hours post-use.

Hair Testing

Hair follicle drug tests are ideal to determine the long-term, 90-day history of Zolpidem use.

Saliva Testing

saliva drug test is the quickest way to detect Zolpidem in oral fluids up to 8 hours after use. Specimen collection is easy and non-invasive with saliva drug testing.

Screening Cut-off and Detection Time for Zolpidem

In drug testing, the cut-off level marks the point at which a drug metabolite is detected without a doubt that it might be a false positive. A negative result does not mean the sample is drug-free, only that the concentration level may be too low that it falls below the established cut-off.

Metabolism is a major factor when it comes to determining how long Zolpidem can be detected in the body. Other individual factors for detection times:

  • Age
  • Body mass
  • Body fat %
  • Food and fluid intake
  • Organ function
  • Dosage
  • Frequency of use
SpecimenConcentration Cut-off LevelDetection Time
Urine300 ng/ml Up to 72 hours