Zolpidem is the generic name for Ambien, a medication prescribed for treating insomnia. So if you hear of Zolpidem addiction, it is identical to Ambien addiction. It is considered a sedative-hypnotic and has been shown to be an addictive substance. Doctors often prescribe Ambien to help with short-term insomnia, but many patients begin taking it long-term. Often, they do not realize they are addicted to the medication until they stop taking it and withdrawal symptoms begin.
How Ambien Addictions Develop
Ambien is typically prescribed by doctors to treat occasional insomnia for a length of up to ten nights. The medication works by slowing brain activity, which in turn makes a person drowsy. Found to have fewer side effects than its counterparts, Ambien has become a popular medication used to treat insomnia.
The effects of Ambien on the brain can be considered relaxing and pleasurable, which can cause addiction. One study performed in France showed that certain individuals taking the medication never reacted to the doses by getting sleepy. Instead, the patients had feelings of euphoria accompanied by relaxation that helped them deal better with the life stressors they encountered.
Ambien was not developed for this type of use and is somewhat unusual. Addiction can begin to occur if a patient has this type of reaction or uses Ambien in the long-term. Long-term use can create a physical dependency that requires a person to use the medication in order to sleep. For this reason, many patients don’t know they have an Ambien addiction until they try to stop taking the drug and begin to suffer severe insomnia.
Side Effects Of Ambien
Ambien can have disturbing side effects, even when used properly. Possible side effects include engaging in activities unknowingly, such as sleepwalking, eating, having sex, driving, or having conversations. Some patients have experienced these events and have no memory of them occurring.
Other side effects of Ambien use include:
- Rapid heartbeat
- Impaired vision
Whether being used properly or improperly, Ambien has a long list of potential side effects. More severe side effects include allergic reactions and suicidal thoughts.
Ambien Withdrawal Symptoms
Withdrawals are more likely when a patient has been using the medication long-term, or at doses higher than prescribed. Symptoms of Ambien withdrawal can include insomnia, stomach cramps, nausea, nervousness, panic attacks and dizziness. The withdrawal process can have seriously detrimental effects on mood and depression disorders. The best method for stopping the medication is to slowly reduce the doses taken, to allow your body to adjust accordingly. If you or a loved one has been taking Ambien long-term, it’s a good idea to find a medical professional to safely help you through the process until withdrawal symptoms subside.
Ambien Addiction Signs
Often, addiction to Ambien goes unnoticed until the patient tries to stop taking the medication. Other times, addiction to the medication is revealed by some clear signs.
- Refilling Prescriptions Often
Ambien was intended for use as a short-term help for insomnia. Long-term use can be considered abuse, especially if the patient is getting refills at an unusually frequent rate.
- Taking Doses Larger Than Prescribed
The recommended dosage for women is 5 mg, while the recommended dosage for men is 5-10 mg. Using doses larger than this is considered abuse. If a patient has been using Ambien for more than two weeks, tolerance levels will increase, requiring larger than recommended doses to achieve the desired effect.
- Experience Cravings For Ambien
Waiting impatiently for the time to come to take Ambien is a warning sign of addiction. Just as with people suffering from other types of substance abuse, craving a drug indicates that a person is addicted. An individual can also begin to panic if they think they may not have the drug available to them.
- No Memory Of Dangerous Symptoms
One potential side effect of Ambien use is engaging in activities and having no memory of them. For a person not suffering from an addiction, this is scary and undesirable, causing them to quit taking the medication. For a person with an addiction, this is not a deterrent. They will keep taking the drug even though they experience memory loss.
- Hiding Ambien Use
When used as directed, Ambien is a useful drug for treating insomnia and its use is accepted by loved ones. If a person begins to hide the fact that they are using Ambien, it can signal an addiction to the substance has developed. Healthy use of Ambien does not require one to hide its use.
- Taking Ambien During The Day
The individuals who do not get sleepy from Ambien are more prone to take the medication during the day. The euphoric effects can cause these patients to use the medication all day, every day. Using any prescription drug for anything other than its intended use is a sign of an addiction.
Ambien Addiction Help
Receiving help for an Ambien addiction can be a life-saving measure. After a period of detoxification, a patient can choose to find an in-patient or out-patient program to help treat their addiction. Prescription drug addiction treatment steps are similar to treatment for other substance abuse. After detox, a patient will receive long-term individualized treatment and therapies to deal with the addiction and other underlying emotional issues the patient may have. To prevent relapse, it’s important to stay with a program long-term and make sure that a patient is active and engaged in their treatment.