Citation: Randy. "Nights of Insanity: An Experience with Zolpidem (Ambien) (exp81616)". Erowid.org. Jan 3, 2016. erowid.org/exp/81616
Towards the end of my second year of college I was diagnosed with insomnia and treated with Ambien. I had heard about its more bizarre effects and was interested in seeing them firsthand, so the first time (and, out of continued curiosity, every subsequent time) I stayed up until I felt something from it, and went to bed when I felt like I was finished experiencing it. That is to say, I only ever took it medically, but my intentions were also recreational. I would say I've probably taken Ambien about thirty times, which isn't a lot compared to some people, but I tend to get addicted to prescription drugs easily (I took vicodin for a week after getting my wisdom teeth out and had cravings for it months later) so I didn't want to take it too frequently.
Ambien isn't a very predictable drug. Partially this is because its more bizarre effects depend heavily on an empty stomach, but mainly it's because the defining aspect of any significant Ambien trip is confusion. I'll explain that more in a minute, but first, an overview of my first (and also strongest) experience:
I took one pill, by 15 minutes I was feeling sluggish and having trouble walking, by 30 I was in the fairly predictable pre-trip Ambien haze - every space feels a bit more confined, colors are washed out, strong relaxation, confusion. At 40 minutes I was having trouble reading, because I was convinced that the words on my computer screen were actually rocks in the snow. At 45 minutes, I was two different people: myself, and a laughing woman just outside of my peripheral vision. At 50, I was laying in my bed in the darkness, and I was a thousand tiny points of light. I listened to music and went on an adventure.
I've smoked quite a bit of pot since then and tripped on salvia, psilocybin mushrooms, and DXM. It was different than any of those. It isn't that it wasn't as strong, but it was so overwhelmingly and primarily confusing that it didn't even have the potential to be profound or frightening. It wasn't an enjoyable trip, but it wasn't negative either. This is characteristic of every time I've tripped hard on Ambien since. It's like sleepwalking while free-associating while awake. It's like a high fever.
The next night I took it, I decided to write while on it. This was the result. It's long, the ending is probably the most interesting part because it gets less coherent as it goes on, so I'll cut to that. It started as an attempt to document things but ended up feeling like automatic writing. I don't think I paused once, and I wrote a lot:
if yiu wrap your hand in, then you can't put your hand in, lucky duck, wrap your arms around you, wrap your arms around you, around you, now kik, ready, wait, fly, reach, court, bump, fly.this was not and wil never be the workds that responded to in ordert fir uoiu to insinuate that i tyyoped tht vrh jfmo ; eeve pretends that this is a possile wa ro pw halfd thjew qaT and I'm really just confused; because I don't know hpw I created this, and I don't known what I greated before this, I just see it rolled up in a notepad and I have no clue what its merits mahy be, but it was fun so it was a worthwhile experiment, even if half the time I felt like I was just presssing at keys blindly and hoping for wish I could look a pig in the eye and just tell it abruptly that tdsddreajth would be its ending ykno something that works. I'm no so veeeeeery high and one of the first thing that goes there is the lack of memoery of the locatipns of each of the keys on the keybaords, this feels like much more of a carnival, with all the hands just fingers and everyrhiun punching together in a way that seems almost warlike against each other.
Almost entirely incoherent, but I think the most important thing from there is the description: 'this feels like much more of a carnival.' Sounds strange, but I've talked to several different people who took Ambien and they've given the same description. I've tried writing on Ambien since and it's always ended up as a dialogue, some random nonexistent character ranting about bus stops or his children or something like that. Which brings me to my second stage of Ambien trips: Things talk to you.
I stopped getting hallucinations about myself, started getting conversations. Sort of. I didn't actually speak or actually hear them. Earlier I said it was like sleepwalking while awake, this was more like daydreaming, frantically, while awake. Vivid imaginations you get lost in. I would realize that I spent twenty minutes heavily engaged in something, when in reality I had just been curled up on my bed with my eyes open, staring at the wall or a pillow, maybe changing position a few times. This is a frequent thing, waking up and realizing I've lost a half hour, knowing that I was engaged in something but incapable of what it was I was doing a minute ago. There's the sensation of intense activity all around even when absolutely nothing is happening (hence the carnival comparison earlier), and it's impossible to pinpoint. It intensifies if I move at all. As far as conversations, I once actually had to leave the room I was trying to sleep in because I couldn't sleep, because I felt like the room was too crowded and everything in it had little faces (I didn't actually see them, just imagined them vividly) and was talking to me. I've frequently lapsed into conversations I don't remember with nonexistent people. I would say that I actually fell asleep for short periods of time, except that once I fall asleep on Ambien, I'm out for 8 hours.
Ambien causes memory loss. I've taken videos of myself and uploaded them on the internet without remembering it happening. It's hard for me to really describe the sensation of Ambien, besides a mixture between tripping and daydreaming, mainly because I don't really remember what it feels like. And I've taken it, as I said, about 30 times. All I can really remember are the hallucinations, which are both real and demanding, yet clearly imaginary and nonexistent. If I focus hard, everything looks normal. It's my interpretation that changes, a constantly wandering and free-associative mind.
Emotionally, the experience is blank. Not happy, not unhappy, just relaxed. There's a strange desire to dance. I walk and I'm tripping because my balance is shot to hell, but I have the strange desire to turn every mis-step into a dance step. Everyone else I've talked to about it has had the same sensation. Along with voices and conversations and everything else, I imagine music.
As I continued taking Ambien, I got increasingly bad hangovers. It was summer and I had insomnia a second time, and was trying to fix my sleep schedule, which had shifted to 9AM-4PM, in time for school. I would take Ambien and sleep at a normal time, but I would end up so groggy that I couldn't get up until early afternoon anyway. I would have mild nausea and no appetite until dinner time.
The night that really made me decide I was done with it for good, I took it and tried to sleep, but couldn't. The hallucinations were so vivid and so frantic that they kept me up for four hours. I felt like my head was racing, like I was watching every individual synapse fire, like I was a large group having a heated conversation with each other. My brain refused to calm down, and at 3AM the Ambien had worn off entirely. I gained lucidity and discovered that my bed was soaked so heavily with sweat that I couldn't sleep in it.
Ambien works. It got me to sleep when even being up for 48 hours straight and working 16 hours wasn't enough to knock me out. But the side effects are absolutely not negligible, at least for me, and it got to the point where they negated the medical benefits. I've heard people describe Ambien as a fun drug. I've never taken it in a social setting, so I wouldn't know. It's interesting, kind of, but it's far too confusing and far too difficult to remember to really be enjoyable. I really need to reiterate the confusion of it. The hallucinations are more realized and bizarre than anything else I've taken (except for salvia), but I'm so confused during it that the trip isn't nearly as intense. It's more like a fever than a drug, and it feels more like daydreaming and sleepwalking at once than tripping. I don't feel fucked up, just dazed. This isn't something I would recommend for recreational purposes.
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