Although used as a common prescription medication for acute insomnia, Ambien is dangerously addictive. If taken for more than two weeks or at an increased dosage, individuals can build a tolerance and experience withdrawal. Learn more about Ambien addiction, its symptoms, health risks, and treatment information.
What Is Ambien?
Considered a sedative-hypnotic, Ambien was at first marketed as a safer alternative to benzodiazepines. However, as Ambien continued on the market and became an often-prescribed treatment for sleep issues, it became clear that it was and still is a hazardous drug.
Ambien, the brand name for zolpidem, is crafted to help users fall asleep and stay asleep. This drug can come in two forms: fast-acting tablets or extended-release pills. The former is prescribed for those having trouble falling asleep, while the latter is meant for those who struggle to stay asleep throughout the night. Yet, both are equally a risk for addiction and misuse.
As a sedative-hypnotic drug, Ambien works to slow down the brain and central nervous system. This effect is what makes it an effective sleep-inducing drug. However, Ambien is only meant to be taken for a short-term period. Using it over an extended amount of time can make falling asleep naturally even more difficult for users, leading to dependence.
Besides its proclivity to build tolerances in users, Ambien is often abused to produce a euphoric high and even hallucinatory effects. Ambien is prescribed to be taken immediately before going to bed, yet users have discovered that taking it earlier can produce a pleasurable high. This high can cause people to lose self-inhibition and partake in dangerous or risky behavior, including driving or making phone calls that they won’t remember the day after. Short-term amnesia is common with Ambien abuse.
Symptoms of Ambien Addiction
It may be difficult to detect an addiction to Ambien as many don’t discover there is an issue until they stop taking the drug. Once the drug is ended, users can experience withdrawal symptoms and worsened symptoms of insomnia. Some signs of Ambien addiction include:
- Increased irritability
- Short-term memory loss
- Convulsions or seizures
- Refilling prescriptions too often
- Frequently taking larger doses without a doctor’s supervision
Aside from these addiction and withdrawal symptoms, Ambien can often be abused by mixing it with alcohol or other drugs. As someone’s tolerance begins to build, Ambien’s effectiveness will lessen. This results in either taking more than prescribed or mixing with alcohol in order to fall asleep quickly.
Mixing Ambien with other substances is extremely dangerous and a sign that recovery treatment is needed. Not only will an Ambien addiction affect a person’s work, school, or personal life, it can be a fatal health risk. Addiction to Ambien is apparent when the user is fully aware of its detriment to their emotional and physical health but continues to take the drug.
Dangers of Ambien Abuse
When taking too high of a dosage, Ambien can cause a person to experience a significantly slower heart rate and breathing. Due to having a direct effect on the central nervous system, Ambien misuse can cause a major risk of respiratory failure and lethal overdose. Ambien addiction and abuse can also cause direct damage to the brain, lungs, and heart.
Ambien and alcohol affect the central nervous system and can increase these fatal health risks. Ambien is often mixed with benzodiazepines such as Xanax or Valium, which can lead to an overdose. As central nervous system depressants, combined drugs can cause a dangerously low heart rate and slowed breathing that can ultimately be fatal.
The National Survey on Drug Use and Health has estimated that over 500,000 people in the United States abuse Ambien and other similar sedatives. In addition, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) has reported that there has been a 220% increase in Ambien-related emergency room visits from 2005 to 2010.
Signs of Ambien Overdose
Detecting if someone is experiencing an Ambien overdose can be challenging as the symptoms resemble a common Ambien high. However, the overdose symptoms to watch for include the following:
- Slowed breathing
- Severely slowed heart rate
- Extreme drowsiness
- Loss of consciousness
Ambien Addiction Treatment and Recovery
Recovering from Ambien addiction may be daunting, but it is not an impossible goal. Discovering the path to a healthy, drug-free life is possible at Avalon Malibu. Our compassionate and trained staff work to include enhancing treatment retention and decreasing mental symptoms and crises. Avalon Malibu’s first-class therapists and mental health professionals also guide patients to improve healthy coping mechanisms and reduce drug-related behaviors.
We work to support positive habits and support each person in implementing holistic alternatives to Ambien addiction. While undergoing a detoxification program from Ambien, patients can access multiple therapeutic activities such as cognitive-behavioral therapy, art therapy, acupuncture, and more. Avalon Malibu ensures that each person at our facility has everything they need to flourish in sobriety.
Ambien addiction is a serious health concern, which becomes harder to treat with prolonged dependence. If you or a loved one is struggling with an addiction to Ambien, our experts at Avalon Malibu are here for you. Avalon Malibu will help you through addiction recovery with positive coping skills, inpatient/outpatient therapy programs, an extensive alumni network, and relapse prevention education. With the help of Avalon Malibu’s compassionate, empathetic staff and understanding peers, you will be offered the opportunity to develop healthy habits that will combat your addiction. If you are ready to begin treatment for Ambien addiction or learn more about our different programs, you can call Avalon Malibu today at (844) 857-5992.