Ambien Addiction and Abuse
Ambien is a brand name for zolpidem, a non-benzodiazepine sleep medication used in the treatment of sleep disorders such as insomnia. It belongs to a class of drugs known as sedative-hypnotics, and functions by slowing down activity in the brain. Ambien induces sleep, but does not result in prolonged, high-quality sleep resulting in dissatisfaction and Ambien addiction and abuse.
Ambien is available in tablet form in both fast-release and extended-release formulations, and is taken orally. As a sleep aid, it is intended to be taken once per day prior to going to sleep, and typically lasts around 7-8 hours. Ambien is intended to be used over relatively short periods, and tolerance to the drug may build if it is taken for prolonged durations.
Ambien works by suppressing the central nervous system, slowing down reception to stimuli along with the brain’s messaging. This results in a state of sleepiness or induced sleep.
Sleeping pills such as Ambien are widely used in the US, with 4% of Americans reporting taking sleeping pills. These numbers are at their highest among older adults and seniors, which is concerning given that older Americans are more likely to be concurrently taking other medications that may have a compounding effect.
If you’re wondering how to stop Ambien addiction, the answer is in the careful management of prescription of the drug, as well as ensuring that the drug is taken as prescribed and only for as long as recommended.
Common Street Names for Ambien
- No-Go Pills
- Zombie Pills
- chill pills
- french fries
- totem poles
Ambien and zolpidem fall under Schedule IV of the Controlled Substances Act, meaning that they are considered to have a low potential for abuse and addiction.
History and Trends in Ambien Addiction and Abuse
Sleep aids have been around since ancient times, with alcohol and opium among the earliest drugs used. The 1800s saw the rise of targeted sleep aid medications, but it was in the 20th century that medications specifically for the treatment of insomnia began to be developed. Largely consisting of barbiturates, these were used for both medical and recreational purposes. Ambien was approved as a drug in 1991; it has since been widely prescribed, but has also been widely abused. It has also made news for its role in behaviors such as sleep walking and sleep driving, and for its implication in date rape trials.
Side effects of Ambien Addiction and Abuse
Other than the intended sleep-inducing properties of Ambien, the side effects of Ambien can be wide-ranging. They include headache, dizziness, light-headedness, lethargy, difficulties with balance and coordination, gastrointestinal issues, heartburn, stomach pain, appetite changes, tingling in the extremities, vivid dreams, aural problems, muscle aches and cramps and heavy menstrual bleeding.
Some side effects such as swelling and itching, shortness of breath, chest pains, a rapid heartbeat or vision problems may indicate a serious reaction to the drug that requires immediate medical attention. An overdose of Ambien can result in slowed respiration and heart rate and even coma.
Some people prescribed Ambien have been known to perform dangerous activities such as sleep walking or driving in their sleep. Ambien can also have stronger side effects when combined with other medications or alcohol.
Withdrawal symptoms of Ambien
Ambien is habit-forming, and the symptoms of Ambien addiction can manifest in as quickly as two weeks. It is recommended that users speak to a medical practitioner before quitting the drug, as the withdrawal symptoms of Ambien can be uncomfortable.
They may include dysphoria, mood swings, trembling, lightheadedness, gastrointestinal issues, cramps and muscle pain, vomiting, sweating, flushing, lethargy, crying, anxiety, panic attacks, sleep problems and occasionally seizures.
Treatment for Ambien Addiction and Abuse
While Ambien has become a commonplace and widely accepted drug, it’s not without its risks. Taking Ambien for too long or against doctor’s orders can result in a physical or psychological dependence. Those with other drug addictions or without an understanding of the drug’s dependency-creating nature may find themselves at risk.
If you’re wondering how to stop Ambien addiction, the answer is with the assistance of trained professionals. In-patient detox programs can assist with helping manage withdrawal symptoms while also addressing the symptoms of Ambien addiction. They do so through supervision, counseling and behavioral therapy, along with the provision of a safe, structured environment in which to deal with the addiction.
If you or a loved one is addicted to Ambien, seek help. Contact White Sands Tampa at 1-877-640-7820 about our detox programs today.