Addiction Helpline and Resource Center

Ambien Abuse Help

Ambien abuse helpAmbien is a brand name for zolpidem, a powerful hypnotic drug used most often as a sleep aid. Zolpidem is the most commonly prescribed sleep aid. It is often recommended over benzodiazepines, another class of drugs often used to treat insomnia, as there are perceived to be fewer and less harmful side effects and a lower dependence and addiction potential.

When zolpidem was first released, it was reported as harmless. However, further studies have shown Ambien to have negative side effects and the potential for addiction. As the effects of Ambien continue to be studied, the abuse potential is found to be greater than previously thought. Ambien is recommended for short-term, as-needed treatment of insomnia, typically less than four weeks.

Negative Side Effects with Ambien Use and Abuse

Side effects can include the following symptoms:

  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Headache
  • Dizziness
  • Drowsiness
  • Drugged feeling
  • Delirium
  • Nightmares
  • Hallucinations
  • Behavioral changes
  • Compulsive activity
  • Amnesia
  • Sleep-walking or sleep-eating

Signs of Ambien Abuse and Addiction

Although often touted as a less addictive and safer alternative to benzodiazepine, the World Health Organization believes Ambien to have a similar rate of abuse and dependence. Tolerance and physical dependence to Ambien do not typically occur during short-term use. However, those taking excessive doses, using the drug for greater than 6 months, or in combination with other medications may begin to develop tolerance and dependency. Signs of developing Ambien abuse include the following signs:

  • Taking high doses of the drug
  • Lying to obtain more Ambien
  • Changes in an individual’s behavior or personality

Doctors should monitor for these changes if they are prescribing Ambien to a patient. However, Ambien abuse is often difficult for others to recognize. Most people who form an addiction to Ambien have a history of alcohol or other substance abuse, although this is not a necessary requirement for Ambien addiction.

Withdrawal and Recovery from Ambien Addiction

If taken in small doses (10mg per day) and for less than a month, Ambien users rarely experience withdrawal. However, when used in excessive doses, for long periods of time, or if use is stopped abruptly, withdrawal symptoms similar to those of benzodiazepines develop. Ceasing excessive use abruptly can even result in seizures. Withdrawal treatment often involves replacing Ambien with diazepam, a drug also used for benzodiazepine detox. A medical professional will administer diazepam, tapering the dose over 7 days. This method will remove the immediate physical dependency, but it is not a cure for addiction or abusive behavior and will not have long-term results.

Detox should be immediately followed by a drug treatment program that will involve counseling and therapy. Underlying causes of drug abuse should be explored and mechanisms to avoid relapse developed. Patients must learn how to cope without the use of Ambien and repair relationships with those who may have been hurt by addiction. Recovery from Ambien, or any, addiction is a long process that requires the right treatment program for each individual.

Need Help Overcoming Ambien Addiction?

If you or a loved one has an addiction to Ambien, please call our toll-free number. We are available to help 24 hours a day and can provide information about addiction help, recovery, and steps towards remaining drug-free. Don’t let addiction control your life, call us today.

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