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Addiction and Substance Abuse

Ambien drug testing

08/28/2006

Question:

how is ambien tested for in the body? I have been told by the Caron drug treatment center that it is hard to detect for many reasons, one being that it is stored in your fat cells and can give positive readings when you are negative. They also said the very little is known about the life of ambien in the system. Any thoughts?

Answer:

Ambien (generic name: zolpidem) can be tested for by either a blood test or a urine test. In general, this is a test that has to be specifically requested (and sometimes sent to an outside laboratory) since it is not a drug that is commonly tested for. Whether it is tested by blood or by urine, the method of testing is called 'gas chromatography', which is like having a highly specific 'fingerprint' for the drug.
 
Zolpidem is converted in the body to inactive metabolites and is excreted primarily through the kidneys. I did not find any information to indicate that zolpidem can be stored in the fat cells of the body and cause 'false positive' drug tests.

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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