Citation: Insomniac. "Why I Love and Hate It: An Experience with Zolpidem & Alcohol - Wine (exp65910)". Erowid.org. Sep 26, 2018. erowid.org/exp/65910
Driving while intoxicated, tripping, or extremely sleep deprived is dangerous and irresponsible because it endangers other people. Don't do it!]
I've been taking Ambien nearly every night for four years because of chronic insomnia. The first time I took it, I took a 10 mg caplet, picked up the phone to call a family member, and that's the last thing I remember. Apparently, within 15 minutes, I was slurring my words and blacked out. I continued to take it regularly, often with several glasses of wine. Complete amnesia once it kicked it. I'd wake up to find myself in bed with wine spilled all over my pillow. I'd apparently pass out while holding a glass, and it would just drop. It definitely worked for my insomnia, but the other effects sucked. It wasn't until later that someone told me I was doing things completely inconsistent with my character and personality. I would take it and lie in bed, but I later heard reports that I would then be up and roaming, saying shocking and inappropriate things to people I would never, ever say straight. Much later, I heard about the Ambien side effects of sleepwalking, sleep driving, and sleep eating. I've done all of those. Except I wasn't asleep, I was addled by Ambien. Thinking about it terrifies me. My wife says that I would even push her aside and laugh--something I would never do in a million years if I knew what I was doing.
My tolerance grew much higher, so after taking a 10mg caplet, it would sometimes take two whole bottles of wine before the effects kicked in. I eventually cut my dose to half a caplet (roughly 5 mg). One reason was the degree of the side effects. Another was simply that my insurance company will pay for only a certain number each month, and to make them last to the next refill, I can't take a whole pill every night.
Even on half a pill, though, if I drink (which I do a lot of every night), the effects aren't much less than on a whole one. I'll wake up the next day to find I put the pretzels in the refrigerator, the milk in the laundry room, a box of crackers in my sock drawer, and spilled a glass of wine on the carpet without cleaning it up--or remembering I spilled it. They must have all seemed like good ideas at the time, I don't know. I'll wake up to find a McDonald's bag that wasn't there as of midnight the night before. I'll wake up and realize I decided to try a handful of my dog's kibble (to see what it tastes like maybe? It sure doesn't smell good). I'll look in my sent mail folder and feel mortified at the ridiculous e-mails I sent and don't remember.
Ambien works for insomnia, no doubt about it. I wish my tolerance hadn't gotten so high so that it takes so much longer for the effects to kick in. I have no trouble with withdrawal when I don't take it--just sort of a panicked fear that I won't be able to sleep, and I usually experience what the insomnia med companies call 'rebound insomnia.' What I really hate, though--and what scares me--is this amnesia thing and doing stuff I would never dream of doing and having no memory whatsoever of a block of time in my life. Actually, that terrifies me and, more than once, has humiliated me. My tolerance grows too high too quickly on nearly every drug or alcohol. Doctors get frustrated when even my dentist has to give me a third shot of novacaine partway through a procedure that usually requires a single shot. Other insomnia meds I've tried, if they work at all, work only for a few doses before my body starts just sticking its tongue out at them and laughing at their naive believe that they can affect me. Still, if I could find anything else in the world that would help me with my insomnia, I would gladly leave Ambien behind.
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