Addiction to Ambien, a popular sleeping pill that contains zolpidem, can begin sometime after a person has trouble sleeping at night. Ambien is commonly prescribed by doctors because, if taken as directed, it is usually not addictive. Long-term use can lead to dependence, however, and some find that they cannot sleep without taking it after a period of weeks or months.
How Ambien Works
Ambien is classified as a sedative-hypnotic drug, which works in a similar way to benzodiazepines or barbiturates, while not causing as much susceptibility to dependence and addiction. It works by slowing down the nervous system to induce sleep.
Part of the reason why Ambien can be habit-forming is that there can be a rebound effect, causing even more severe insomnia the night after taking the drug. The rebound effect increases dependence on the drug since it becomes more and more impossible to sleep without it.
It is dangerous to mix Ambien with alcohol, benzos, or barbituates because it may depress breathing too much and intensify the drug’s effects.
When Ambien Becomes Addictive
Many regular users of Ambien find that they become tolerant to the drug’s effects, so that more of it is needed for them to get the same effect, i.e. sleep. Taking more Ambien than prescribed or mixing it with other drugs and/or alcohol can be dangerous and can increase dependence on the drug.
Some users even crush and snort Ambien pills to get a stronger effect from the drug, which is a sure sign that abuse is occurring. Other symptoms of Ambien abuse may look similar to alcohol intoxication and may also include using Ambien recreationally, having withdrawal symptoms, or repeatedly failing to cut back on using the drug.
Some users may have episodes of sleepwalking or eating in their sleep even with normal use. Hallucinations are sometimes reported by those who are abusing Ambien.
Treatment For Ambien Abuse
Withdrawal symptoms from Ambien use include mood swings or uncontrollable crying, nausea, vomiting, lightheadedness, flushing, seizures, and of course, trouble sleeping.
It is important to be monitored when stopping the use of Ambien because of the possibility of seizures and other dangerous effects. In many cases, the Ambien is tapered off slowly to avoid severe withdrawal symptoms, and sometimes a drug with similar effects but less severe withdrawal symptoms is given in place of the Ambien and then tapered off.
In the case of an Ambien overdose, flumazenil has been used to block the dangerous depressant effects of the drug and reverse the overdose.
Other aspects of treatment for Ambien abuse include therapy methods like cognitive behavioral therapy and lifestyle changes like exercise, which can help reduce stress levels so that sleep will come more naturally to those affected. Having a sleep routine, avoiding caffeine later in the day, and avoiding alcohol and smoking are also recommended for those with insomnia after Ambien abuse.
Dual diagnosis treatments for co-occurring mental health conditions that may have contributed to insomnia and Ambien abuse are also part of treatment.
Recovery Village at Palmer Lake provides comprehensive substance abuse treatment including treatment for Ambien abuse and co-occurring disorders. Contact us today to learn about your treatment options!