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Ambien Addiction

With all that we hear about opiate abuse and addiction, it is sometimes easy to forget that there are many other addictive drugs and narcotics that people may not know the dangers of, or may even be struggling with. One example of a drug like this is Ambien.

What is Ambien?

Ambien is a brand name for a drug called zolpidem tartrate which is a sedative drug prescribed to treat people suffering from insomnia and help them sleep.

Some of the other brands that are made with zolpidem tartrate include:

  • Edluar – a tablet taken under the tongue.
  • Intermezzo – another tablet taken under the tongue, but which comes in various doses.
  • ZolpiMist – a formulation that comes in an oral spray.

Ambien and these other zolpidem drugs have largely replaced drugs made from benzodiazepines, such as Valium, which had previously been prescribed to treat insomnia. It is thought that these zolpidem drugs are safer and less addictive than the previous generation of benzodiazepines.

Ambien is a fast-acting hypnotic drug and is usually very effective in starting and maintaining sleep for a user. Ambien does, however, have a number of negative side effects that can come up.

Side effects can include:

  • Feeling sleepy the day after taking Ambien. This is especially true for extended-release forms of Ambien, such as Ambien CR.
  • Low energy.
  • Dizziness.
  • Delusions or hallucinations.
  • Gastrointestinal problems such as nausea and vomiting.
  • Problems with physical coordination.
  • Somnambulism (sleepwalking). In fact, this can become quite a bad problem, with people doing all kinds of things without knowing it and waking up in the morning with no recollection of doing them.
  • Amnesia or short-term memory loss.

These side effects can occur for any user of Ambien but are more likely and more pronounced for those who use Ambien for longer periods of time or those who abuse it. While Ambien is thought to be safer than other drugs that came before it for treating insomnia, it is still a narcotic and needs to be treated and used with caution.

Ambien Addiction and Abuse

If taken for longer periods of time, Ambien can indeed be habit forming. Also, because some users experience a euphoric “high” from using Ambien, it also has a potential for being abused. Just like other drugs that have a potential for abuse and are habit forming, Ambien and other zolpidem drugs have risks that go along with their normal use and even more so if they are abused.

The effects of long-term zolpidem and Ambien use or abuse include:

  • Dependence. This is the name for the process of the body becoming accustomed to the presence of the drug in its system, and coming to rely on it being there to continue operating. Dependence can also often have a mental aspect, where the person feels that they need to have the drug or its effects to go on living their life.
  • Tolerance. This is when the body has had the drug in its system consistently for some time and either becomes depleted or begins to build up a resistance to the chemicals of the drug. When this happens, the user must continue to increase the frequency and size of the doses they take in order to still get the same positive effects that they desire.
  • Overdose. When someone has built up a tolerance to a drug and they begin to take more, and larger doses, they are at much higher risk of taking too much and overdosing. Another common cause of an overdose is taking larger amounts of a drug in an attempt to achieve a greater “high.” Overdosing on zolpidem drugs like Ambien can occur by itself, but is more common when Ambien is taken in conjunction with alcohol, other drugs, or other intoxicating substances.

    Symptoms of Ambien overdose may include:

    • Dangerously slowed breathing, and subsequent low oxygen levels in the blood.
    • Extreme drowsiness.
    • Slowed heart rate.
    • Coma from insufficient oxygen to the brain and other causes.
  • Withdrawal. When someone who has become dependent on a drug like Ambien tries to stop taking or can no longer take it for any reason they are very likely to experience uncomfortable and unpleasant symptoms as their body adjusts to no longer relying on the drug in its system. These symptoms may last as long as a few weeks. However, because of the risk of seizures and convulsions, it is highly advisable to receive a medical assessment before attempting a withdrawal from Ambien to determine if you are at risk.

    Symptoms of withdrawal from zolpidem drugs may include:

    • Insomnia. Because the body may have come to rely on the drug to fall and stay asleep, problems with sleeping during withdrawal are common.
    • Cravings for more of the drug.
    • In instances of severe abuse or addiction, there may be a risk of seizures or convulsions during a withdrawal. In this case, it is strongly recommended that such an individual only undertake a detox under close medical supervision for their safety.
    • Nervousness.
    • Agitation and irritability.
    • Delirium.
  • Addiction. This is when a drug abuse problem starts to take over a person’s life. Despite all of the negative effects the drug or substance is having on them, they cannot bring themselves to stop.

Another risk of taking Ambien is that sometimes it can cause mental fatigue and short-term memory loss. If a user takes their normal dose and then forgets that they took it and take another dose, they increase their risk of unhealthy side effects or even overdose. The risks of taking Ambien go beyond the simple physical side effects and risks of addiction common with narcotics.

People who take Ambien have often reported waking up only to find evidence of very strange behavior that they do not remember doing while they apparently “slept.”

Here are a few of the strange things people have reported while taking this drug:

  • Making elaborate meals.
  • Driving while asleep and leaving your car parked in odd places.
  • Having sex that they later can’t remember.
  • Having hallucination “dreams” or trips.
  • Working out.
  • Getting injured.
  • Shooting guns.
  • Having conversations.

Addiction Stories

There are numerous stories of what has happened to people on Ambien. Many times, stories like these can be funny, but many are not, and some are downright horrifying. The sobering truth is that these people were acting and living their life while asleep and totally out of the control of their conscious minds.

For one young woman, Ambien use got far out of control and became an addiction. After years of having sleep problems and trying natural solution as well as other drugs, her therapist prescribed her Ambien. At first, this was good and helpful as it allowed her to sleep, but over time she began to abuse it for the high she felt when taking it.

Over time, this habit of abuse became worse and she began to have episodes that she could not remember in the morning. Things like bloody injuries, unknown sex partners, going on walks nearly naked in bad parts of town and waking up wearing clothes she didn’t recognize. Eventually, she was able to tell her therapist and get herself off Ambien but she knows it would be all too easy to go back and only stays off out of fear of what she might do in the future while asleep.

What Can Be Done About Zolpidem Addiction?

Addiction to these drugs is no joke and should be approached with the same seriousness and care of other addictions. It is recommended that someone looking to recover from an Ambien addiction seek help from a medically overseen program while they go through a detox and withdrawal period. Then go through standard addiction recovery treatment to address anything that may have caused them to become addicted and to learn how they can go forward in life and remain drug-free. Call New Beginnings today and let us help you.

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