Ambien (also known as zolpidem) is a sedative/hypnotic used to treat insomnia. This type of drug affects chemicals in the brain that may be unbalanced in people who have sleep issues. Zolpidem and other sedative medications have been used as an alternative to benzodiazepines because they are considered more appropriate for short-term use and are supposed to be “safer” than benzodiazepines. Other brand names consisting of zolpidem are: Edluar (a single tablet), Intermezzo (a single tablet with various dosages), and ZolpiMist (an oral spray medication).
Ambien is fast-acting, and is composed of two layers: one layer that assist the person with falling asleep, and another layer that assists the person with staying asleep. However, Ambien can be highly addictive if taken for extended periods of time and with improper dosages. For example, someone can become addicted to Ambien within a span of 2 weeks – they may not realize it until they stop taking the drug and find that they have trouble sleeping without it. This may cause the individual to want to take more as their body continues to increase its tolerance to the drug.
If a loved one is concerned that someone is addicted to Ambien, here are some initial warning signs that they should look out for:
- The person is refilling their medication more often than normal
- The individual is taking larger doses than prescribed
- The person has cravings often for Ambien
- The individual is partaking in dangerous activities without any recollection of it happening
- They are spending copious amounts of money to buy the drug
- They are isolating themselves from family and friends
The biggest sign of an addiction problem is if the person is experiencing withdrawal symptoms. These may include, but are not limited to: anxiety, mood swings, irritability, sweating, tremors, nausea/vomiting, abdominal cramps, uncontrolled crying or depression, delirium, face flushing, panic attacks, rapid heart rate, returned insomnia, and (rarely) seizures. Overdose is another major concern with Ambien – if someone overdoses, they may experience extreme drowsiness, dangerously slow breathing, slow heart rate, or could even go into a coma.
It is important for an individual to contact a doctor right away if they believe themselves or their loved one is addicted to Ambien. This type of addiction is very common and there are a wide variety of resources available. Treatment typically includes Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) to assist the person in changing their perceptions about themselves and the world, and a medical detox if often recommended. Further comprehensive treatment is often enacted and it is recommended that the person join a support group to assist in recovery.
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