Is Ambien a Controlled Substance?
Although Ambien is a controlled substance, it is considered a Schedule IV drug because the potential for abuse is low. Unlike Schedule II medications, prescriptions for Ambien can be filled up to six times total, and the prescriptions can be faxed, phoned, or written. If you are concerned about using this controlled substance, discuss your issues with your healthcare provider prior to beginning treatment.
Ambien® (zolpidem tartrate) is a prescription sleep medication. Like many other sleep medications, it is a controlled substance in the United States. Officially, it is classified as a Schedule IV controlled substance.
Like other Schedule IV controlled substances, Ambien has some abuse potential, but less than Schedule I, II, or III controlled substances. As with all controlled substances, there are special rules and regulations concerning the prescribing and use of Ambien.
Prescriptions for Ambien can be written, phoned, or faxed to your pharmacy ("hard copies" are okay but not required). Your healthcare provider may give you up to five Ambien refills (plus the original fill) on a single prescription.
All Ambien prescriptions expire six months from the date written. After all the refills are used up or the six months expires, whichever comes first, your healthcare provider will need to write you a new prescription.
Ambien Abuse Potential
Although Ambien certainly may be abused (see Ambien Addiction), the medication is much less likely to be abused compared to Schedule I medications like marijuana, Schedule II medications like morphine, or Schedule III medications like hydrocodone/APAP.
The use of Ambien is unlikely to raise any "red flags" with most healthcare providers. The vast majority of people take this drug occasionally or even on a long-term basis without any hint of any problems with addiction or abuse.
Nonetheless, if you have had problems with drug abuse or addiction, Ambien might not be the best choice for you. It would be a good idea for you to have an honest discussion of the benefits and risks of Ambien with your healthcare provider before even trying this medication.