The Dangers of Mixing Ambien and Xanax

Ambien (zolpidem) and Xanax (alprazolam) are both central nervous system (CNS) depressants. While they are prescribed to treat different conditions, they both pose a risk of dependency. Because of this, they are both controlled substances available by prescription only.

Because both substances can be habit-forming, individuals may become addicted to these medications. Mixing Ambien and Xanax is never recommended because mixing the two drugs causes an increased risk of addiction and overdose.

According to the Drug Abuse Warning Network, 50% of patients seeking emergency treatment for Ambien abuse also had other drugs (like Xanax) in their system.[1]

What is Ambien?


Ambien (zolpidem) is a prescription medication intended to treat cases of insomnia in adults. This substance belongs to the sedative-hypnotic drug class, meaning it has a calming effect on the brain.

Ambien is known to be habit-forming. As a result, it is only intended for short-term use. Individuals who have been prescribed Ambien may struggle with withdrawal symptoms if they suddenly stop using the drug.

Similar to Xanax, Ambien is a central nervous system depressant. Both substances enhance the effect of GABA, a neurotransmitter that helps regulate the central nervous system, on the brain.

GABA is a neurotransmitter that reduces neuronal excitability by inhibiting nerve transmission. When GABA is reduced, people feel sleepy, relaxed, or calm. This is why Ambien is so effective in treating insomnia.

Side-Effects of Ambien

Ambien is intended to help individuals who struggle with insomnia to fall and stay asleep. However, some unintended side effects are possible.

The possible side effects of Ambien include:[2]

Possible Side Effects of Ambien

  • Drowsiness or tiredness
  • Headaches
  • Dizziness, unsteady walking, or lightheadedness
  • Feeling “drugged”
  • Nausea, diarrhea, or constipation
  • Changes in appetite
  • Unusual dreams or night terrors
  • Sleepwalking
  • Tremors
  • Dependency
  • Hallucinations
  • Anxiety or agitation
  • Suicidal ideation

Ambien has been known to cause hallucinations, episodes of sleepwalking, violent tendencies, or enhance pre-existing mental health conditions like depression and anxiety. Mixing Ambien with other central nervous system depressants like Xanax can increase all of these risks.

What is Xanax (Alprazolam)?


Xanax (alprazolam) is a benzodiazepine drug and one of the most commonly prescribed medications in America. Despite its popularity, it is extremely habit-forming. As a result, the medication is only intended for short-term use.

Xanax is typically prescribed to treat panic attacks for individuals who suffer from anxiety disorders. However, some individuals are given Xanax to treat seizure disorders as well.

Xanax is similar to Ambien, as it is also a central nervous system (CNS) depressant. Xanax also increases the effects of the neurotransmitter GABA and promotes sedation.

The addictive qualities of Xanax make it a popular drug of abuse. However, taking too much of this substance commonly results in fatal overdoses. Mixing Xanax with any other substance (unless directed by a doctor) is never recommended.

Side-Effects of Xanax

Xanax is intended to calm an individual’s CNS, resulting in decreased anxiety or preventing seizures depending on the patient’s needs and dosage. However, like any medication, there are additional side effects to be aware of.

The common side effects of Xanax include:[3]

Common Side Effects of Xanax

  • Drowsiness or tiredness
  • Dizziness and lightheadedness
  • Headache
  • Irritability
  • Talkativeness
  • Dry mouth or increased salivation
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, or constipation
  • Changes in appetite and weight
  • Blacking out
  • Unpredictable or impulsive behavior
  • Suicidal ideation
  • Dependency

If an individual takes too much Xanax, overdose is possible. This happens because the central nervous system has been depressed past its breaking point, causing several vital bodily functions to slow or shut down completely.

What are the Dangers of Mixing Ambien and Xanax?

Mixing Ambien and Xanax is extremely dangerous. Because both substances are CNS depressants, individuals combining the drugs are at serious risk of overdosing. Additionally, both drugs are habit-forming, increasing the likelihood of developing an addiction.

What are the side effects of mixing Ambien and Xanax?

  • Severe drowsiness or sedation
  • Severe impairment in thinking, concentrating, judgment, and motor coordination
  • Trouble breathing
  • Irregular heartbeat
  • Central nervous system (CNS) depression
  • Respiratory depression
  • Coma
  • Death

Individuals who abuse more than one substance are suffering from polysubstance abuse. When someone struggles with polysubstance abuse, they are at an increased risk of experiencing psychological, physical, emotional, and social consequences. Additionally, polysubstance abuse tends to complicate treatment.

Thankfully, polysubstance abuse is treatable with the help of a professional addiction treatment program. Individuals who mix Xanax and Ambien should seek professional help as soon as possible.

How Does Treatment for Xanax and Ambien Addiction Work?

Individuals suffering from both Xanax and Ambien addiction will begin treatment in a medical detox program. Because the withdrawal symptoms of both substances are difficult to deal with, patients are usually tapered off of the two drugs. Individuals may be given FDA-approved medications to soothe symptoms of withdrawal and eliminate drug cravings.

Once individuals have completed their medically-assisted detox program, they will attend an inpatient addiction treatment center. During inpatient treatment, individuals will attend individual therapy and group counseling sessions. Evidence-based behavioral therapies are utilized to break unhealthy patterns of thinking related to substance abuse and teach patients healthy ways of coping.

Find Addiction Help for Yourself or a Loved One Today

If you or a loved one suffer from addiction to Ambien, Xanax, or a combination of the two, professional addiction treatment is necessary.

However, we understand that finding a drug addiction treatment center that suits your needs can be difficult. That is why we have dedicated our program to providing individuals with addiction intervention services and resources to reputable addiction treatment programs.

Contact Addiction Intervention today for help planning an addiction intervention or setting up placement in a drug or alcohol rehab program. We’re always here to help.



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