Ambien Addiction And Treatment Options

Ambien is a z-drug, or sleep medication, that produces dangerous side effects when abused. Although considered not as addictive as benzodiazepines and opioids, Ambien addiction and withdrawal is possible and should be treated professionally.

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Ambien Uses And Effects

Ambien is the common brand name for the generic drug Zolpidem. As a sedative-hypnotic, Ambien acts as a central nervous system (CNS) depressant on the brain that slows activity and allows sleep.

Ambien is primarily used and prescribed to treat insomnia, or difficulty sleeping or staying asleep. People suffering from insomnia will often be prescribed Ambien for short-term use, between 7-10 days. Like all prescription drugs, Ambien is urged to always be taken as directed. Taking more Ambien than directed, or for long periods of time, can lead to addiction and abuse.

Ambien generally comes in tablet form, but may also be prescribed as an oral spray. The drug should only be taken once a day, and immediately before bedtime. The person is likely to feel very sleepy and disoriented after taking Ambien, and will stay this way for some time after.

While Ambien is not thought as addictive as its CNS relative benzodiazepine, Ambien is still considered a controlled substance with addictive properties. According to the Controlled Substances Act, Ambien is a Schedule IV hypnotic, and though uncommon, can still lead to physical dependence, addiction, and abuse. Someone suffering from Ambien addiction is likely to show various and signs and symptoms of misuse.

Signs And Symptoms Of Ambien Addiction

Addiction is a brain disease that occurs from genetic, social, and environmental factors. Ambien addiction can be exposed through broad behaviors such as constantly craving the drug, compulsively using it, continuing to use it despite harmful effects, and exhibiting impaired judgement.

If someone is suffering from Ambien addiction, they will likely feel sleepy and drowsy at all hours of the day, or daytime drowsiness. Some symptoms of Ambien addiction include:

  • Dizziness
  • Weakness
  • “Drugged feeling”
  • Lightheadedness
  • Loss of coordination
  • Tired feeling
  • Unsteady walking
  • Difficulty keeping balance

These symptoms of various tiredness or drowsiness will likely show up regularly if the person is struggling with Ambien addiction. Their behavior will appear lethargic and slowed, and they may often seem drugged and sedated.

The more physical signs of Ambien addiction include nausea, constipation, diarrhea, vomiting, upset stomach, muscle pain, headache, uncontrollable shaking of a body part, gas, heartburn, redness of the tongue, dry mouth or throat, and eye redness.

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Other symptoms may include unusual dreams, changes in appetite, and decreased inhibition, or an unusual extroversion or talkativeness that seems out of character. A person suffering from Ambien addiction will likely experience amnesia, or not remember things like making phone calls or having sex.

If any signs or symptoms of Ambien addiction are observed in an individual, it’s recommended to seek treatment immediately. Although Ambien doesn’t run the same risks of addiction as other prescription drugs, there are still serious dangers that come along with use.

Dangers Of Ambien Addiction

Ambien addiction can lead to complex, dangerous behavior that can be life-threatening. People abusing Ambien may try and do normal, day to day type things, like driving or preparing food, while they’re actually still asleep. The individual will likely not remember doing these things. This effect is very dangerous because the person is not aware of what they’re doing.

“Sleep driving” is one of the most dangerous behaviors resulting from Ambien addiction. “Sleep driving” occurs when the person feels the effects of Ambien and is not fully awake once behind the wheel. This is obviously extremely dangerous because an unaware person with impaired reaction and judgement may cause an accident. They are then likely to experience amnesia of the event.

There are serious risks of overdose and death from Ambien addiction when the drug is taken along with other CNS depressants. For example, if a person takes Ambien with Xanax, they increase the risk of experiencing chest pain, shortness of breath, and coma. This is also true for alcohol and barbiturates.

Persons taking Ambien with a history of mental illness are also at risk. They may experience depression and suicidal thoughts and actions. People with mental illness or depression are more likely to intentionally overdose on Ambien and complete suicide.

Although the dangers of Ambien addiction may include overdose and death, a person should never abruptly stop taking the drug. This can lead to painful and debilitating withdrawal.

Ambien Addiction Withdrawal

Withdrawal occurs after a person has developed a physical dependence on a drug, and then stops using it. A person suffering from Ambien addiction may not know it until they experience withdrawals after a rapid decrease in dosage. This is because z-drugs, or sleep medications, are generally perceived as far less addictive than benzodiazepines, opioids, and other prescription medications, and becoming addicted may take people unawares.

Withdrawal symptoms of sedative-hypnotics like Ambien include abdominal and muscle cramps, vomiting, sweating, convulsions, and tremors.

Many symptoms of withdrawal are likely to occur within 48 hours of stopping use. These include flushing, nausea, fatigue, lightheadedness, uncontrollable crying, stomach cramps, nervousness, and panic attacks.

The best way to avoid Ambien addiction or abuse is to slowly decrease the dose of the drug over time, also referred to as medically supervised detoxification.

Ambien Addiction Detoxification

Detoxification, or detox, is the body’s way of getting rid of harmful and addictive substances. Detox should be medically supervised, meaning detoxification takes place in a professional environment like a rehab facility. The ultimate purpose of detox is to treat an addiction in a safe and effective way.

Detox also helps manage the physical pain and symptoms experienced from withdrawal. It’s the first step in treatment, allowing the person to combat the inevitable pain of withdrawal after stopping use. Detox is not a cure for Ambien addiction, and will do little to prevent further abuse without additional treatment.

Ambien Addiction Treatment

Generally speaking, treatment options for Ambien addiction, and other prescription drugs, are split into two main categories: behavioral and medically assisted. Most medically assisted treatments are combined with behavioral treatments in order to treat the addiction long-term.

Medically assisted treatments (MAT) focus on using opioids like naltrexone, methadone, and buprenorphine to relieve painful symptoms of withdrawal and persistent cravings. This should always be done with the aid of professionals so they can adequately monitor dosage and progress.

Behavioral treatments come in many forms. Some of the more common forms of behavioral treatments include outpatient therapy, inpatient treatment, and support groups.

Out of all available treatments, inpatient treatment is likely to be the most successful in preventing relapse and treating Ambien addiction in the long run. Inpatient treatments take place in safe and comfortable environments where medical care is available 24/7. They will also likely include cognitive-behavioral therapy, which aims at modifying the person’s thinking and behavior, and addressing skills and tactics for dealing with life stressors that can cause relapse down the road.

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Call Now To Overcome Ambien Addiction

Ambien addiction can be dangerous and should be treated immediately. It is unsafe and ineffective to try combating addiction on your own. Treatment options are endless and useful to all individuals suffering from the disease that is addiction.

Call now and receive guidance for choosing the best treatment option for you or your loved one. Making that initial call can be difficult, but is likely to ultimately fight addiction and prevent future relapse.

 


Sources

National Institute on Drug Abuse – What are CNS depressants?
MedlinePlus – Zolpidem
Mayo Clinic – Ambien: Is Dependence A Concern?

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