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What Is Ambien?

Ambien (zolpidem) is a commonly prescribed sleep aid in the United States.  As a Schedule IV controlled substance, it is thought to have a low potential for abuse.

However, many people misuse Ambien by taking more than prescribed to help them sleep when they are tolerant of it.  Others abuse it by taking it and purposefully staying awake.  This produces a euphoric, out-of-body effect, accompanied by strange behavior and short-term memory loss.

Ambien addiction can damage a person’s health and may lead to physical dependence and addiction.  Ambien may be used as a sleep aid or a euphoric drug by people who take it and intentionally stay awake.  Either form of abuse can lead to physical dependence and addiction and increase a person’s risk of overdose.

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Development Of Ambien Addiction

Drug abuse is defined as the ongoing or sporadically excessive use of a drug in a way that does not conform or correspond to acceptable medical practice, leading to clinically significant impairment or distress.

Zolpidem is a nonbenzodiazepine hypnotic which binds to the benzodiazepine binding site on the GABA-A receptors.  It was marketed in France in 1987 (Stilnox®). Benzodiazepines are still commonly prescribed for short-term insomnia.  Still, they are gradually being replaced for this indication by imidazopyridine zolpidem, the first short-acting hypnotic selective for the α subtype of the benzodiazepine binding site on the GABA-A receptor.

When someone takes Ambien in any way other than prescribed, it is considered abuse. Ambien addiction should not be taken lightly.
When someone takes Ambien in any way other than prescribed, it is considered abuse.

This compound is clinically effective, safe, and well-tolerated. It also has a favorable pharmacokinetic profile for use as a hypnotic (rapidly absorbed and eliminated), characteristics that have contributed to its popularity.  In addition, it is thought to be a safer drug than benzodiazepines because initial clinical trials have reported no evidence of abuse or dependence potential.

However, over the last few years, numerous cases of Ambien addiction or dependence have been reported in various European countries and the USA.

The World Health Organization (WHO) considered that the frequency of zolpidem abuse and dependence was similar to that of benzodiazepine;  on 15 July 2002, zolpidem was transferred to Schedule IV of the 1971 Convention (for drugs inducing dependence such as benzodiazepines). This convention aims to control both traffic and abuse of psychotropics.  [1]

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Signs Of Ambien Addiction And Abuse

Ambien is meant to be taken immediately before bed, but some people have been known to take the drug hours before sleeping.  This leads to a euphoria that washes away insecurity and self-conscious behavior. [2] Some people increase their dosage or take it longer than recommended and become mentally, physically, or both dependent on the drug. Some obtain it illegally, even if they’ve never had a prescription.

Ambien comes as a pill and is often abused orally, but some people dissolve it under their tongue or crush it into a powder to snort it in hopes of a more immediate effect. Ambien addiction is treatable.
Ambien comes as a pill and is often abused orally, but some people dissolve it under their tongue or crush it into a powder to snort it in hopes of a more immediate effect.

Other Signs Of Ambien Addiction And Abuse Include:

  • Obtaining prescriptions from multiple doctors
  • Continually increasing dosage
  • Inability to control use, even with negative consequences
  • Financial strain from buying Ambien
  • Secretive behavior
  • Loss of interest in hobbies
  • A constant state of sedation

Dangers Of Ambien Addiction

Ambien (zolpidem) is relatively safe when taken as prescribed.  However, it is generally not prescribed for longer than two weeks because the body can quickly become tolerant to its effects.  Instead, it is intended as a temporary sleep aid.

If a person continues taking it after their doctor recommends that they stop, they may become physically dependent.  This occurs when the body gets used to having Ambien sleep and has withdrawal symptoms, such as rebound insomnia, without it.

Because of how Ambien affects the brain, taking it in excess can cause changes in brain structure that makes the brain less efficient at operating without the drug.  When someone is not taking Ambien, the brain may be unable to properly regulate GABA, causing too much brain activity and cravings for the drug.

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Ambien Addiction Withdrawal and Treatment

If you have been using Ambien in large doses or for a long time, you may encounter more severe withdrawal symptoms.  Withdrawal may start within 48 hours of quitting or cutting back on Ambien’s use. 

Symptoms Of Withdrawal Can Include:

  • Agitation
  • Anxiety or Panic Attacks
  • Delirium
  • Disorientation
  • Hallucinations
  • Increased blood pressure, pulse, breathing rate, or body temperature
  • Sweating
  • Fatigue
  • Insomnia
  • Irritability
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Restlessness
  • Seizures
  • Stomach cramps and abdominal discomfort
  • Tremors

Medically managed withdrawal, also known as medical detox, is when you lower the use of a substance in a facility while under the care of trained medical staff.  Case report evidence confirms there is a potential risk of withdrawal seizures.  For this reason, medical management of Ambien withdrawal could be helpful as this is potentially a life-threatening complication.  Staff at a treatment or detox facility can administer medication and regular monitoring to guarantee your safety.

Ambien Addiction Recovery

Recovery from an Ambien addiction signifies learning to remain sober.  In addition, practicing ways to manage symptoms of insomnia can help you stay away from sleeping pills.  Recovery will also include learning about your diagnosis, what triggers your symptoms, and how to apply coping skills for someone with unmanaged insomnia.

In the short term, learning to live without Ambien can be stressful and frustrating.  You may experience intense cravings for Ambien and struggle to sleep. Some skills that you may exercise include:

  • Avoiding caffeine, exercise, or electronics before bed
  • Going to bed at the same time every night
  • Keeping your room cool and dark
  • Meditation
  • Relaxation Techniques
  • Using Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT)

It is crucial to make treatment a priority.  After treatment, many join 12-step programs or other mutual support groups.  These are usually similar to group therapy because you can share your trials and victories with peers recovering from abusing substances.

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Prescription drug addiction or Ambien addiction is a complex issue that requires long-term treatment – not a quick fix.  Therefore, the first step in overcoming Adderall addiction is to seek help from your medical provider or a trained professional.

For anyone who suffers from Ambien addiction, just the thought of having to stop using can cause severe mental distress.  Given that, the medical detox process is managed with the help of a medical detox center.  In addition, a comprehensive team prescribing medications can alleviate your withdrawal pains while monitoring your health 24 hours.  Thus, assuring both your safety and comfort.

This Ambien addiction treatment accompanies medical detox and is crucial in helping the guest overcome post-acute withdrawal symptoms (PAWS). The guest has to remain in our facility under 24-hour surveillance.
This treatment accompanies medical detox and is crucial in helping the guest overcome post-acute withdrawal symptoms (PAWS). The guest has to remain in our facility under 24-hour surveillance.

At We Level Up NJ, our thorough approach to rehabilitation supports several levels of care to ensure the best possible outcome for every client who enters our doors.  From an intensive and more supportive atmosphere for those in the early days of recovery to a comfortable residential-style living dynamic upon completion of detox, we are here to help guide you down the safe and results-based path to your sobriety.

Recovering from a substance use disorder does not need to be overwhelming or burdensome. With supervision from an inpatient drug rehab, like We Level Up New Jersey, you will be on the way to lifelong sobriety in no time.  As such, don’t hold advancing in your sobriety.  Instead, reach out today, and a dedicated and compassionate admissions specialist will answer any questions and handle any concerns you may have about going to an inpatient drug rehab for Ambien addiction.

Your call is private and confidential, and there is never any obligation.

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[1] Evidence of zolpidem abuse and dependence: results of the French Centre for Evaluation and Information on Pharmacodependence (CEIP) network survey – National Center for Biotechnology Information

[2] Ambien AddictionAmbien Addiction Treatment » Drug Alcohol Addiction Rehab (