According to the Drug Enforcement Agency’s classification under the Federal Controlled Substances Act, Ambien is not classified as a narcotic. It is a Class IV substance on par with other prescription medications.


Schedule IV drugs, substances, or chemicals are defined as drugs with a low potential for abuse and low risk of dependence. Other drugs in this class include Ativan, Darvocet, Darvon, Talwin, Tramadol, Soma, and Xanax. All of these drugs have approved current medical uses as well.


Ambien, or zolpidem is a common prescription medication used to treat insomnia. It is a fast-acting sedative that works by slowing the activity in the brain, allowing for a state of sleep. It should be used carefully and in the smallest dose possible in order to achieve the desired effects. The drug is strong, and its effects vary person to person, so the person taking it should have an available 8 hours available to sleep once taken. Ambien is strong enough to affect the person even the day after it’s taken, so it is advised to avoid operating heavy machinery or driving.


Common side effects experienced when taking the sleeping pill include:


  • dizziness
  • drowsiness
  • drugged feelings
  • diarrhea
  • headache
  • sleepiness during the day
  • tiredness


Serious side effects of taking Ambien include:


  • anxiety
  • memory loss
  • abnormal thoughts or behaviors, including agitation, aggressiveness, abnormal extroversion, confusion, hallucinations, and suicidal thoughts
  • performing unusual activities while not fully awake such as sleepwalking, driving a vehicle, and preparing and eating food
  • sleepiness during the day


While Ambien is safe to use when taking properly, it does have the potential to become harmful. Studies have shown tolerance to Ambien can develop after long-term use of the medication. Beyond tolerance, a physical dependence to the sleeping pill can also develop. This doesn’t necessarily denote an addiction, however. Signs of an Ambien addiction include:


  • craving the drug
  • being unable to stop using the drug
  • taking the drug for recreational purposes
  • continuing to take the drug even though it produces negative consequences


Experiencing withdrawal after discontinued use of Ambien also indicates a physical dependence may be present. Many argue the drug is dangerous enough to be considered a narcotic, while others state its medical benefits are enough to maintain its current class schedule.

Dealing with addiction is difficult, no matter the substance’s classification. Treatment Now has a staff of recovery professionals available to answer any questions, so call today.

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