Ambien or zolpidem is a prescription drug that is classified as a sedative hypnotic. Doctors typically prescribe it for the management of insomnia because it can increase inhibitory brain activity.
We can help. You can overcome drug addiction and have a better life than you ever thought possible!
When Ambien first came on the market, it was initially promoted as being safer than benzodiazepines in the sense that it had a lowered risk for tolerance and addiction. Studies since then, however, have shown that using this medication in the long term can come with serious health risks. It could also potentially increase the likelihood that you will suffer infections, reflux, and respiratory issues.
The medication works in the same way as benzodiazepines. However, it has a lower likelihood of making you experience dependence or feel groggy the day after. Since it is a sedative hypnotic, it is similar to other drugs like Ativan, Lunesta, Restoril, Sonata, Valium, and Xanax.
When you take this drug, you need to be aware that it has some side effects and risks just like any other medication. Further, it comes with some potential for psychological dependence, tolerance, misuse and abuse, and withdrawal symptoms.
If you take Ambien exactly as your doctor prescribed - and for a valid reason - you will experience a number of benefits. For instance, it can help you sleep better at night or stop experiencing interruptions to your sleep.
However, the moment when you start abusing the drug outside the recommendations that your doctor gave, there is a risk that you may experience some - if not most - of the following side effects:
If you are struggling with insomnia and you take this drug as your doctor advised, it may help you sleep. However, when you start abusing it or taking it longer than your doctor recommended and you try to stop abusing it, it is highly likely that your insomnia is going to worsen.
The other additional risks that are associated with this medication include laryngitis, coughs, chronic sinus infections, reflex, and worsening sleep apnea. Over time, you may also develop tolerance to its effects. When this happens, you will find yourself using it in higher doses or more frequently than you used to before you can experience the effects that you desire.
The abuse of this drug will typically follow the usual pattern of a substance use disorder or an addiction. According to the British Journal of Clinical Pharmacology, about 43 percent of the people who develop an addiction to this medication also have a past history of ongoing substance abuse.
At the moment, however, the reasons why the use of this drug is problematic among people who have a past history of drug abuse are still unclear. However, it is a cause for concern. For this reason, it might be in your best interests to not take Ambien if you have struggled with a drug or alcohol addiction in the past.
As we mentioned earlier, Ambien is typically prescribed by health care professionals such as doctors for the management of insomnia and other sleep issues. However, you will only be required to use the drug over the short term.
This is as a result of the fact that the medication has a high addictive potential. When you continue using it, you will develop physical tolerance to its effects. This means that you will have to take it in higher doses or more often than you used to before you can experience its pleasurable effects.
Over time, your physical tolerance will be turned into physical and psychological dependence. At this stage, it will be next to impossible for you to stop abusing Ambien without suffering adverse withdrawal symptoms.
The presence of these symptoms whenever you try to reduce your use of the drug or completely stop using it means that you would already be struggling with a substance use disorder involving Ambien.
However, you need to keep in mind that just because you have developed tolerance to this medication after using it regularly, it does not necessarily mean that you have been struggling with a substance use disorder.
Tolerance simply means that your bodily system has become accustomed to the drug. As a result, you would have to take it in higher doses or more often than you used to in the past before you can experience its effects.
The important thing to remember is that although tolerance does not equate addiction, you should only use Ambien in the short term and while following the exact instructions that your doctor gave you. Tolerance simply means that you have been using this medication longer or more often than your doctor prescribed or in ways other than a doctor advised.
When you are psychologically dependent on this drug, you will start feeling that it is impossible for you to fall asleep or make it through a normal day unless you take it. At this point in time, you would already have developed an addiction.
In case you have been abusing this drug and developed tolerance, dependence, and addiction as a result, you may start displaying some of the typical signs and symptoms of a substance use disorder. Some of the ways that you can tell that your Ambien use has turned into a substance abuse problem include:
- Visiting multiple doctors, or doctor shopping, for new prescriptions of the drug
If you start using the drug much more consistently than usual, it will typically lead to the development of a substance use disorder, or Ambien addiction. Usually, doctors will recommend a dose of about 10 mg of the drug.
However, in case you are already addicted to it, you may find yourself taking more than this amount on a regular basis. On the other hand, when you take the medication with other substances - such as alcohol and other drugs - it is highly likely that you will experience amplified effects.
In case you use Ambien in excess, without the express instructions of a doctor, or in any way other than your doctor advised, there is a risk that you may suffer a drug overdose. This could be accompanied by the following signs and symptoms:
Once you have developed an Ambien addiction, you need to seek help from a qualified addiction treatment and rehabilitation center. There are many viable options that can help you overcome your growing substance use disorder.
Typically, the treatment program will go through two primary stages - detoxification and ongoing counseling and therapy (either on an inpatient or an outpatient rehabilitation program).
Detoxification refers to the process through which your body will be thoroughly cleaned of Ambien and all its harmful toxins and resultant traces. When you have been struggling with an addiction to this drug, you will have to get rid of it from your system so that you can get started on the recovery journey.
Based on the level and severity of your substance use disorder, the drug detoxification might present with some medical complications that will come in the form of intense substance cravings and withdrawal symptoms.
During detox, there is a high probability that you may develop the following withdrawal symptoms. This is particular true if you have been taking the drug for a long period of time or in higher doses than a doctor would normally advise. That said, the following are the withdrawal symptoms associated with Ambien addiction:
For this reason, it is recommended that you enroll in a medically managed detox program - typically offered by addiction treatment and rehabilitation facilities. This way, you will receive round the clock medical care, supervision, and monitoring.
While struggling with Ambien addiction, it might be in your best interests to choose inpatient or residential addiction treatment. This means that you will be living in the treatment center.
Effectively, you will be able to pay more attention to the various underlying problems and issues that are linked to your substance abuse. Inpatient care will also provide you with a structured recovery environment where you can focus on the group and individual therapy sessions that are offered.
In the course of your treatment, you will delve deeper in the origins of your substance abuse problem. Further, the inpatient care center will help you develop the healthy coping mechanisms that will reduce your risk of relapse.
Inpatient treatment is recommended if you have a severe Ambien abuse and addiction problem - or one that has been ongoing for a long time. It might also work well if you have other co-occurring medical or mental health disorders over and above your substance use disorder.
Typically, you will go to an outpatient treatment program after you have completed inpatient drug rehab. This is because outpatient care is usually provided as a continuum of care for people who have already been through inpatient treatment.
Depending on the intensity and severity of your substance abuse, however, you might still be able to go straight from the detox program to outpatient treatment. This is particular true if your addiction is not severe or long standing enough to require inpatient care. It would also work well if you do not have any other co-occurring medical or mental health disorders and you just need to overcome your growing Ambien dependence.
An outpatient program will allow you to work on managing your substance abuse problem while also meeting your daily responsibilities and obligations. This way, you can still get help for your addiction without letting your life be completely disrupted.
In case you have been struggling with a substance use disorder involving this drug, it is recommended that you seek help from a professional treatment and rehabilitation center or program. This is the only safe way that you are going to be able to overcome your growing Ambien addiction problem before it gets out of hand.