Ambien and Alcohol

by on May 1, 2012

Can I drink alcohol while taking Ambien?

No, you should not drink alcohol during treatment with Ambien. Healthcare providers recommend avoiding alcohol throughout the treatment program to prevent negative effects.

According to its manufacturer, Ambien increases the CNS effects of alcohol that include:

  • Decreased awareness
  • Drowsiness
  • Lack of coordination
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Memory blackout
  • Severe depression
  • Speech problems

Similarly, alcohol potentiates some of the pharmacologic effects of Ambien, more specifically, its CNS depressant effect that include:

  • Impaired judgment and thinking
  • Decreased movement

Both of these substances affect the chemicals in the brain. Combining these substances has been associated with a variety of behavioral changes and abnormal thinking. Sedatives and hypnotics are especially known for causing CNS depression. There are also some patients who report of decreased inhibition such as increased aggressiveness and showing extrovert activities that seem out of character – similar to effects caused by other CNS depressants and alcohol.

Preventing Ambien-Alcohol Drug Interactions

First of all, patients taking Ambien must be warned of its potential interaction with alcohol. Patients must be warned to limit or avoid consumption of alcohol. It is important to check the contents of foods and food products consumed. Some of these foods may actually contain alcohol.

Caution must be taken in people who have history of substance or alcohol abuse. This particular patient population is at increased risk of developing dependence on sleep medicines. Inform your healthcare provider if you have had such problem in the past. Your healthcare provider must consider this possibility before prescribing this medication for more than a few weeks. Normally, patients who are at increased risk of becoming drug dependent are put on close monitoring. Some healthcare providers may even recommend counseling.

If you consumed alcohol while on Ambien treatment, you must not engage in any hazardous activity that requires motor coordination and mental alertness. The effects of combining alcohol and Ambien can last for several hours after you have awakened. To avoid potential problems, it is best to avoid engaging in any hazardous activity.

If you experience excessive or prolonged adverse effects after taking alcohol, contact your healthcare provider right away.