I take Zolpidem CR. Can I cut the tablets in half to stretch out usage?
At a glance
- Zolpidem CR (or by the brand name Ambien CR) is an extended release tablet.
- Breaking the tablet would destroy the extended release mechanism and result in all the medication being released immediately.
- In general, extended release, delayed release, or specially coated medication should not be broken or cut unless otherwise specified.
Hi Julie and thanks for reaching out to us. I appreciate you asking. I sometimes find out after the fact that my patients have cut a medication in half which can potentially be unsafe.
Zolpidem CR (or by the brand name Ambien CR) is a medication taken at bedtime to help treat short term insomnia. CR stands for controlled release. Zolpidem CR has a unique release mechanism. It releases some drug immediately to help you fall asleep, then a small dose releases over the course of the night to help you stay asleep. It is usually prescribed for folks that are experiencing difficulty falling and staying asleep.
Because of its release mechanism, it is not safe to cut or break the tablet. Doing so would destroy the extended release mechanism and would result in “dose dumping” or all of the medication being released immediately.
In general, extended release, delayed release, or specially coated medications are not safe to cut in half. However, exceptions do exist, so please continue to double check for each individual medication.
If you are currently taking the Zolpidem CR 12.5mg tablets, a lower dose is available, 6.25mg. They cost a similar amount, so it probably wouldn’t be much cheaper to change to the 6.25mg, but if you feel like the 12.5mg is too much medication or it hasn’t entirely worn off by the time you wake up, you might want to speak with your physician about the lower dose option.
I hope this helps! Feel free to write us again in the future.
- Ambien CR Prescribing Information, FDA
- Do not crush list 2020, ISMP (subscription required)
- Product availability search, Cardinal Health (Contract required)