Ambien Symptoms and Warning Signs
Ambien is a brand name for zolpidem; it is a prescription medication typically prescribed to those with sleeping problems. It is a sedative drug that helps to regulate sleep patterns, but it should only be used for a short period due to a quite high risk of addiction. In a nutshell, long-term use of Ambien can lead to an increased tolerance, followed by dependence and addiction.
However, it must be said that Ambien is a commonly abused drug, typically taken in large enough doses that result in longer sleep for the user. It is important to recognise though that a tolerance to Ambien can build quite quickly, often resulting in users increasing their dose. But as mentioned above, dependence can build up quite quickly, and in fact, an addiction to Ambien can develop in as little as two weeks.
Even those taking the medication exactly as prescribed by a medical professional may become physically dependent. It is only when trying to quit the drug and noticing withdrawal symptoms that these individuals realise there is a problem.
Other Names for Ambien
- Ambien CR
Recognising the Common Warning Signs of Ambien Abuse
As a tolerance to Ambien can develop quickly, you may find that the dose you were initially prescribed is having less of an effect as time goes by. This often happens with Ambien, so the temptation may be to increase the dosage. But doing this without first speaking to a doctor is classed as prescription drug abuse.
If you take Ambien in any other way than prescribed by a doctor, you will be in danger of developing a full-blown addiction, particularly if you are using the medication as an escape from your problems. What you need to know is that if your use of Ambien is having a negative impact on daily life, it is time to seek out some professional help.
Being a sedative drug means that Ambien can impair reactions and rationale. It is not uncommon for the effects to linger upon waking in the morning. These longer-lasting effects are more common in women or an extended-release version of the medication is taken.
Not everyone who takes Ambien does so to help with a sleep condition such as insomnia. In fact, there are some individuals who do not feel sleepy or tired when taking Ambien; instead, they experience feelings of euphoria. It is this emotional state that causes the user to want to keep taking the drug.
If you are experiencing such symptoms and are feeling a need to continue using Ambien, despite the risk of some of the negative consequences mentioned above, it is extremely likely that you are on the way to developing an addiction.
Call our admissions line 24 hours a day to get help.
The Dangers of Ambien Abuse
Due to the way in which Ambien affects judgement, reactions, and thinking, there is a risk of finding yourself in danger when under the influence of the drug. This is particularly true if you are taking it in large doses. In this case, the sedative effects are increased further, and you may end up engaging in risky behaviour without remembering anything about it afterwards.
It is not uncommon for those under the
influence of Ambien to engage in activities such as driving, having sex, eating, or even having conversations without being fully aware or conscious about what they are doing. Some of these activities can have serious consequences, not only for the user but also for those around him or her.
Ambien sedative effects are similar to those caused by alcohol intoxication. But because of the way in which the drug can suppress breathing, taking Ambien with other depressant substances could result in death from asphyxiation.
Recognising an Ambien Addiction
It is quite difficult to tell when an addiction to Ambien has developed, particularly if you are taking the drug exactly as prescribed by a medical professional. Most people who take prescription medications underestimate the risk of addiction as they believe that anything prescribed by a doctor is completely safe to take. It is only when they try to quit do they realise they having difficulty coping without their medication.
Most individuals who take prescription medication will be unaware that their current use of it could be classed as abuse and so are shocked to find that they have developed an addiction. But how you use your medication can give a clue as to whether you are affected. For example, if you are taking higher doses of Ambien than prescribed by your doctor, it could be because you have built up a tolerance to it and are now finding that it is not offering the same effects as it once did.
However, if you have progressed to taking Ambien during the day and are now taking it for reasons other than to help you sleep, you more than likely already have a problem. Another sign of Ambien addiction is if you become panicky or irritable when coming to the end of your prescription. You might visit different doctors to ensure that your prescription is refilled, or you might consider alternative methods of sourcing your medication if your doctor stops the prescription.
Another sign of addiction is if you continue using the medication despite knowing that doing so will have negative consequences for you and/or those around you. You might have tried to quit or cut back on your use but found that you were unable to do so. The reason for this is that your body is likely craving Ambien when you are not using it.
Ambien Addiction and the Brain
Ambien activates the GABA neurotransmitter in the brain. By increasing the production of GABA, the activity associated with insomnia is inhibited. In layman’s terms, Ambien slows down activity in the brain, thus helping to initiate sleep.
Nonetheless, Ambien can affect other areas of the brain as well. In some cases, it can stimulate the reward or pleasure centre, causing the brain to release a surge of feel-good (dopamine) chemicals. It is these chemicals responsible for the feelings of euphoria that some people experience when taking the drug.
As the brain quickly adapts to the presence of Ambien though, the production of dopamine decreases and there is then a temptation to increase the dose to achieve the desired effects, usually resulting in physical dependence.
Learn the Immediate Side Effects of Ambien Abuse
Ambien abuse can lead to immediate side effects, including:
- sleep driving
- short-term memory loss
- loss of coordination.
Learn the Long-Term Ambien Abuse Side Effects
Ambien is meant for short-term use only. Nevertheless, those who abuse the drug over an extended period might experience the following side effects:
- Physical dependence
- Slow heart rate
- Slow breathing
- Excessive drowsiness
- Increased risk of coma
- Suicidal thoughts
- Panic attacks.
Intervention for an Ambien Addiction
If you are worried that someone you love is abusing Ambien, it is vital to try and seek out help as soon as possible. The risk of harm to your loved one and others around him or her is high with this medication, particularly if he or she is engaging in activities while under the influence.
If the affected individual’s behaviour has become erratic since he or she started to take Ambien, it is crucial to get some professional advice. The natural temptation may be to do nothing and hope that the situation will resolve itself, but things could spiral out of control if you do not act quickly.
Be prepared for your loved one to see things differently to the way in which you see them though. Addiction is not something that most people want to admit to and so the idea that a prescription medication could be the cause of such an illness is often difficult to come to terms with.
Talk to the person about your concerns and suggest that his or her use of Ambien is becoming an issue. You will probably be met with initial denial, but this is entirely normal. But even the process of raising the issue with your loved one could be enough to encourage him or her to see things differently and to accept help.
Detox and Withdrawal from Ambien
Quitting Ambien, particularly if you have been taking it for a prolonged period, can cause a range of withdrawal symptoms. These can include:
- trouble sleeping
- panic attacks
- abdominal cramps.
It is advisable to complete a supervised detox programme instead of trying to quit by yourself. But whichever way you decide to go, it would be beneficial to reduce the dose of Ambien slowly to help minimise the risk of severe withdrawal symptoms.
Call our admissions line 24 hours a day to get help.
Treatment and Next Steps
Getting better from an addiction to Ambien will entail a programme of treatment. As well as a detox, you will need rehabilitation to help you learn to live without chemical mood-altering substances.
Talking and behavioural therapies can help you deal with the underlying cause of your addictive behaviour, providing you with the skills required to avoid a return to this behaviour in the future. You can choose to have your treatment in an inpatient or outpatient facility, but which you choose will depend on individual requirements and circumstances.
Questions about Treatment
What if I cannot cope without Ambien?
It is natural to be worried about how you will cope when no longer taking a substance you have come to rely on. However, your use of Ambien is undoubtedly having a negative impact on your ability to enjoy life, but without it, your health and other areas of your life will greatly improve.
The aim of rehab is to help you learn how to live a substance-free life. With the help of counsellors and therapists who specialise in various therapies, you will learn how to cope without the crutch of Ambien. You can then start to enjoy your life once more.
Can I bring my mobile phone with me?
You may be asked to leave all mobile devices at home when you come for treatment. It is important that you are free from distractions when trying to recover from addiction. Having access to the internet or having the ability to make calls to people who might be detrimental to your recovery and could hinder your progress.
Nevertheless, should you need to contact family members during your treatment programme, you will be able to use the telephone in the clinic.
Will all my counselling sessions take place on a one-to-one basis?
Individual counselling sessions will take place between you and a counsellor or therapist, but your treatment programme is also likely to feature group therapy sessions. Group therapy is a valuable tool when it comes to addiction recovery and it can be hugely beneficial in terms of motivation and support, both essential for full recovery.
Individual counselling will help you to build up a rapport with your counsellor and will enable you to deal with issues that are personal to you. During group therapy, you will discuss common issues pertaining to your illness.
What type of treatments will I have?
Most rehab providers use bespoke treatment plans that are designed around the specific needs of individual patients. This means that you may not have the exact same treatments as everyone else. Counsellors and therapists have a range of therapies at their disposal, including psychotherapeutic treatments and holistic therapies, all of which are designed to offer a whole-person approach to recovery.
The type of treatments that are used for you will be the ones expected to have the most positive results. You may be treated with talking therapies such as cognitive behavioural therapy in conjunction with alternative therapies like yoga or mindful fitness. A comprehensive recovery programme will improve your overall wellbeing and reduce stress.
What about work?
You might be worried about taking time off work for a residential programme of treatment. What you need to remember is that you are suffering from a serious illness and one that will likely get worse if you do nothing.
If you were diagnosed with another illness such as cancer or a heart condition and told that you need to go to the hospital for several weeks, you would not think twice because you would understand you were facing a life or death situation.
You should think of addiction in the same way. Getting treatment is vital to your wellbeing and without it, your situation will probably deteriorate. You are entitled to take time off if you are unwell, and clinics can provide you with a certificate that you can give to your employer.
Call our admissions line 24 hours a day to get help.