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Addiction and Substance Abuse

Half life of medication

09/06/2006

Question:

MY 17 YEAR OLD SON DEVELOPED A PROBLEM WITH THE MEDICATION AMBIEN. HE IS NOW IN AN OUTPATIENT TREATMENT CENTER AND A RAMDOM DRUG SCREEN IS TAKEN WEEKLY. THE TEST IS SENT OUT FOR SPECIAL TESTING SPECIFIC TO AMBIEN. MY QUESTION IS HOW LONG IS THE HALF LIFE OF AMBIEN. IF H WERE TO TAKE ONE ON A FRIDAY NIGHT (10 MG), HOW LONG WILL THAT SHOW UP IN HIS URINE SCREEN AS POSITIVE. THE LITERATURE HE HAS SHOWN ME FROM THE TREATMENT CENTER SAYS A HALF LIFE OF 2 HOURS BUT I AM NOT SURE HOW THAT RELATES TO HIS DRUG SCREENS. THANKS SO MUCH! A NERVOUS MOM

Answer:

The half-life of Ambien is about 2 hours. Most drugs are cleared from the body within 5 or 6 half-lives. Therefore, if he took the Ambien on Friday night, it should be out of his system within 10 to 12 hours. This is only an estimate however. Each individual person will metabolize drugs differently depending on things such as weight, liver function, kidney function, and other factors. The only way to be sure to have a negative test, is NOT to ingest any Ambien.

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Response by:

Christina M Delos Reyes, MD Christina M Delos Reyes, MD
Assistant Professor of Psychiatry
School of Medicine
Case Western Reserve University