Ambien is often prescribed for individuals who struggle with falling asleep and chronic insomnia.
Ambien is only supposed to be used as a sleep aid for a couple of weeks or less, and it is important to find a different treatment for sleep if insomnia is still a problem. Ambien, the name brand for zolpidem, is a medication that can lead to addiction. Even people who don’t have a history of addiction discover that there is a high produced by Ambien abuse that leads to addiction.
Doctors prescribe Ambien for people who have a hard time falling asleep, and it needs to be taken close to going to sleep for the night. When Ambien is taken with stimulants or at higher doses, the high produced from Ambien is enhanced. The medication is designed to break the cycle of insomnia, and is not recommended beyond ten days of use. If the patient shows signs of psychological impairments, this is often a sign that the Ambien is becoming addictive or being abused.
Withdrawing From Ambien
You can begin to feel symptoms of withdrawal from Ambien within the first 48 hours since the last time you took the medication. Symptoms of withdrawal from Ambien include:
- Anxiety that leads to more difficulty sleeping
- Mood swings or irritability that is hard to control
- Physical problems such as nausea, cramps, sweating or tremors
- Panic attacks with a rapid heart rate or heavy breathing
- A strong craving for more Ambien
In rare cases, people trying to withdraw from Ambien will experience a seizure. This occurs in roughly 1% of the cases where people are withdrawing from Ambien, and it is a medication not recommended for people who already have a seizure disorder. In order to safely withdraw from Ambien, it is important not to stop the medication abruptly. Weaning of Ambien will ease the withdrawal symptoms, making it easier to come off of the medication.
The Timeline of Ambien Withdrawal
It takes about 7-14 days for the symptoms of Ambien withdrawal to go completely away. The worst and most dangerous of the symptoms peak around the 3-5 day mark from your last use of Ambien. It isn’t easy to withdraw from Ambien on your own. For some people, the psychological symptoms of anxiety, panic attacks, and mood swings will last for months The symptoms you experience from Ambien withdrawal are impacted by:
- The length of time you were taking Ambien. This is why it is recommended that the medication is prescribed for ten days or less.
- How much Ambien you were taking. If you were abusing Ambien and taking high doses, your symptoms of withdrawal will be heightened.
- Your tolerance of Ambien and how much you needed to feel euphoric will impact your withdrawal.
- The type of Ambien you are abusing makes a difference. If you are abusing the extended release Ambien, you can expect that withdrawal will be more difficult.
- If you are abusing other medications or substances at the same time, withdrawing from Ambien will result in more intense side effects.
Statistics on Ambien Abuse in the United States
According to a report written by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration1, the number of emergency department visits that involved zolpidem, the generic name for Ambien, increased close to 220 percent from 2005 to 2010. It was reported that 19,487 people went to the emergency department in 2010 because of zolpidem reactions.
Other statistics regarding Ambien related emergency department visits from SAMHSA the DAWN Report, include:
- In 2010, 68 percent of the visits to the emergency department for Ambien related medical issues were female.
- 74 percent of the people who went to the emergency department for Ambien adverse reactions were 45 and older, while people 65 and older were about 1/3 of the overall visits.
- Half of the emergency department visits for Ambien related medical emergencies involved the use of other medication and an adverse reaction to the combination of medications.
- 26% of emergency room visits involved Ambien and the use or abuse of narcotic pain relievers.
Sleep problems are common. Many people who get addicted to Ambien started off by trying to get help for a sleep disorder. When Ambien is used in the short-term, it is an effective sleep aid. Once Ambien is used for more than ten days, the tolerance of the individual prescribed Ambien goes up.
Treating Ambien Withdrawal Symptoms With Medication
People dealing with severe symptoms from Ambien withdrawal may benefit from medication to reduce anxiety, panic attacks or depression if these symptoms are present. For some people, mood stabilization medication will support the withdrawal process. For people who are experiencing seizures during Ambien withdrawal, seizure medication will be used to try and control the seizures.
Individuals who are struggling with an addiction to Ambien should seek professional help when trying to wean off of the drug. It is a difficult drug to withdraw from, and relapse is common when you try to stop abusing Ambien on your own. Professional support can give you the tools you need to withdraw safely from Ambien, and ensure that you get the treatment you need if an emergency arises.
The Continuum of Care For Ambien Addiction and Recovery
The first step in a recovery program is to determine that you are dealing with an addiction. It doesn’t take long to get addicted to Ambien, and withdrawal symptoms can set in within a few days. If you are trying to stop taking Ambien, but the side effects are too much to handle, it’s time to get support to withdraw safely. You may need an inpatient, medically-assisted detox facility to go through the withdrawal process from Ambien. Once detox is complete, you have choices. You will work with a counselor to create a treatment plan that is specific for your needs.
Some people choose to go to a short-term drug rehab program for Ambien addiction once they complete a detox. This type of program offers you intense support as you try to cope with the emotional impact that addiction has had on your life. At Harmony Place in Woodland Hills, we understand that you might not be ready to return home right away. Treatment options give you the opportunity to grow in your recovery before you return to your everyday life.
Once you complete a week or two in a short-term addiction treatment program, you can go on to a longer term residential program. This is for individuals who don’t feel safe to return home, or don’t have the support services in place to prevent an Ambien addiction relapse. As you get stronger in your recovery, you will be ready to return home to the community successfully.
Sober Living and Your Recovery
If your Ambien addiction was significant and you want support after your residential program, you can go to a sober living community. This is a program where you slowly integrate into the community, and you live among your peers. In the early stages of your stay at a sober living program, you have more restrictions. As you work the program, you begin to go to meetings outside of the program, possibly have a job, and learn to live independently.
Support services while you transition home are essential to your success as a newly sober person. Begin working with a therapist when you are working through an Ambien addiction. This will give you the professional guidance you need as you go through your recovery. You will be able to learn from your peers in a sober living facility, and get the guidance you need to return home safely.
While you are in recovery, you will learn the importance of relapse prevention strategies. From detox to individual therapy when you are back home, you will keep hearing about ways to prevent a future relapse. It is important to remember that each strategy may work for a while, but that you should always try new ways to find peace and strength. Even if you suffer a relapse, remember that relapse is often a part of the recovery process. Common relapse prevention strategies can include:
- Developing strong peer relationships to grow your support system
- Learning a new skill to focus your energy
- Working with a therapist to address negative behavior patterns and thoughts
- Talking to a friend, going for a walk, or getting some exercise
If you are in a relapse, the best thing you can do for yourself is to get the help you deserve. While you may be angry at yourself, understand that moving forward will get you back to your sobriety. Reach out to people in your support network, or contact a detox program if you need help going through detox. You can recover from an addiction to Ambien, but it is a process. Each step you take in your recovery is progress, even when you slip from time to time.
Support Services For Ambien Abuse
When you are dealing with Ambien abuse, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, or CBT, can be a big help. When you work with a cognitive-behavioral therapist, you will work on the process of identifying your triggers. This form of therapy is beneficial for those with addictive tendencies, as it breaks down negative thought patterns in order to change behavior. While it isn’t easy to break free from Ambien addiction, it is possible with the help with a qualified therapist.
Group therapy is also a beneficial resource when you are dealing with an addiction. The peers you meet in addiction recovery are going to understand where you are coming from when you talk about your addiction and the situation you are in. Many people who are dealing with an addiction feel all alone. With group therapy, you are able to talk about your experiences and what led you down the path of addiction. You get the opportunity to get feedback from the group moderator, and you will learn from your peers about the struggles of addiction.
Whether this is your first time seeking treatment for an Ambien addiction, or you have had a recent relapse and need help, the right support is out there when you reach out. You can beat an addiction to Ambien, but you have to commit to the process of recovery. Each day is a new day to find your sobriety and live your best life. Get control of your addiction by getting the help you deserve.
Find the Addiction Treatment You Need Today
At Harmony Place in Woodland Hills, CA, we know what it takes to help you get the addiction treatment you need when you are struggling with an addiction to Ambien. From detox services to aftercare options, we are ready to provide the support you need to stop abusing Ambien and move forward in your life. Contact Harmony Place today at [Direct] and get started on your journey of recovery now.
1Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (2013). Emergency Department Visits for Adverse Reactions Involving the Insomnia Medication Zolpidem