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Is Ambien a Narcotic?

The word “Narcotic” came from the ancient Greek word “Narkos” which means “To make numb” or “To aid in sleep” which is not surprising to ask if Ambien is a narcotic.

Ambien is another name for the drug called “Zolpidem.” It’s used to cure insomnia by helping people relax, enough to trigger sleep. They don’t directly cause sleep like a tranquilizer would, they would only help you feel loftier, softer, warmer, just enough to facilitate slumber.

However, Ambien is not a Narcotic, despite the word meaning “To aid in sleep.” Narcotics were once used as a sleeping aid, but the effects and side effects proved both inefficient and risky. Narcotics can cause shallow breathing due to its effect on your breathing rhythm. Combine that with sleep and you raise the risk of Hypoxia, aka Lack of Oxygen, due to you not breathing deep enough.

Ambien is classified instead as a Hypnotic, as it manipulates or changes your perception of reality. It’s used to help people with insomnia or other sleeping disorders such as short sleep duration or sleep disturbance.

The difference between Narcotics and Ambien is how they affect the brain. Narcotics mimic chemicals in the brain that make it act a certain way called Neurotransmitters. Narcotics copy the ones that block pain and cause a flood of feel-good chemicals. (Endorphins and Dopamine respectively.) Meanwhile, Ambien only blocks actual brain activity, slowing it down by flooding the brain with neurotransmitters that limit the flow of information (known as gamma-Aminobutyric Acid, aka GABA.) Which helps you feel relaxed, effectively reducing anxiety.

Is it a Benzodiazepine?

Benzodiazepine is a class of drugs that affect your entire central nervous system. They mimic a natural brain chemical called gamma-aminobutyric acid, which is in charge of slowly brain and nerve activity. They are used to treat insomnia and anxiety, especially in severe cases. One of the more known forms of Benzodiazepine is Valium.

Ambien, also known as Zolpidem, has nearly the exact same effect. It affects the brain by mimicking GABA molecules and slow down nerve and brain function, so it has to be a type of Benzodiazepine, right?

No. Ambien is not a “Benzo” and is instead classified as a “non-benzodiazepine hypnotic.” This, however, is merely a blanket term for drugs that have the same effect but are not chemically similar to Benzo. These substances are antihistamines, which are known to cause lethargy, leading to sleep, and Ramelteon another drug that affects a different neurotransmitter but still induces sleep.

Antihistamines and Ramelteon act completely different compared to Ambien, which makes Ambien and all other non-benzo drugs that affect GABA, belong to another category. With this, they simply called them “Z-Drugs”

One problem that occurs with Ambien users is drug tests. They may come randomly, and Ambien users will willingly have themselves tested, only to find that they tested positive for Benzo. Without a proper prescription for actual Benzo, they find themselves in a tight spot.

It’s worth noting that Ambien may cause false positives on an initial Benzo test. It’s regulation that when the first test results in a positive, the test is done again with advanced procedures called gas chromatography. If an Ambien user is positive on the first test but has not taken any proper Benzo, the second test should result in Negative. No action should be done on a person until the second test is confirmed.

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