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Ambien Addiction Signs and Symptoms

Ambien addiction is built into the drug. In order for the drug to work, the brain has to develop a kind of dependence on it. This dependence can form in as little as two weeks, and it’s a sign that the drug is working properly. 

If you’re taking Ambien without a prescription, using it up faster than your prescription allotted, or becoming intensely dependent on Ambien, you need to speak with your doctor or seek treatment.

What is Ambien?

Ambien is a sedative hypnotic drug designed to be an alternative to benzodiazepine drugs like Xanax. Benzodiazepine drugs are known to be highly addictive and have a higher potential for abuse than most prescription drugs. Despite this, Ambien is still often abused.

The sleep medication is prescribed for patients experiencing regular bouts of insomnia. It works on the neurotransmitters of the brain, slowing them down to forcefully induce relaxation. It dulls down the sense of alertness in both the body and the mind.

Ambien is designed for the temporary treatment of insomnia. It will not help people with chronic insomnia develop better, healthier sustainable sleep patterns in the long term. Ambien is more like a bandage, rather than a healing solution. 

Is Ambien Safe?

Ambien is an FDA-approved drug, but it comes with a laundry list of side effects that may be dangerous. Some of the recognized side effects of Ambien include rapid heartbeat, anxiety, emotional blunting, nightmares, hallucinations, memory loss, trouble concentrating, double vision, uncontrollable body movements, disorientation, nightmares, depression, and suicidal thoughts. 

While the drug does ultimately help its users get to sleep, it certainly doesn’t come without consequence. Some people experience worsening side effects with time and want to discontinue taking Ambien, but they fear that the side effects of withdrawal will be just as bad as the side effects of the drug.

There have been multiple reports of people taking Ambien who live hours of their life that they cannot recall in an intense form of sleepwalking. Some have conversations they don’t remember. People have driven on Ambien with no recollection of having done so, some waking up behind the steering wheel shocked to find themselves in their cars. 

Ambien can also induce an eating disorder called night eating disorder. Some people prepare and eat large quantities of food while under the influence of Ambien but cannot recollect doing so. They only become aware when they notice food missing or experience a significant unexplained weight gain. 

If Ambien is taken in conjunction with drugs like opioids, side effects will stack. Both Ambien and opioid drugs can slow your respiration. In concert, they can slow your respiration dangerously. This increases the risk for death by overdose and brain or lung damage from oxygen deprivation. 

People who take Ambien without insomnia or an on-label condition Ambien can be used to treat are certainly not safe. Exposing yourself to the potential for such serious side effects without a medical need for the drug is a completely unnecessary danger.

Is Ambien Addictive?

Ambien is not intended for long term use, but many patients become dependent on the medication anyway. It cannot work without altering your brain, and any drug that alters the brain can cause physical addiction. 

Despite the fact that Ambien was designed to be less addictive than benzodiazepine drugs, the addiction and abuse rate is almost on-par with the very thing it was designed to replace.

Ambien’s efficacy tops out after just a few short weeks. After that, it stops helping with insomnia. Some patients report that their insomnia is worse, and they need to continue taking Ambien to get the bare minimum of low quality sleep. 

It isn’t an effective long term solution for sleep disorders, and its lengthy list of side effects may mean that it causes more problems than it solves for many patients. 

Although Ambien is intended to be taken immediately before bed, some people will take the drug and remain awake for a few hours. The effect is a kind of euphoria that some describe as being similar to an “out of body” experience. Ambien can cause a high just like any benzo drug will. Some people will inevitably become addicted to this high. 

How Can I Tell If I’m Addicted to Ambien?

You can technically become addicted to Ambien simply by taking it for more than two weeks. If you’ve been using the medication as prescribed but for a long period of time, this could be considered an Ambien addiction. If you find yourself taking more Ambien than prescribed to attempt to sleep better after its effects fade, this would also qualify as Ambien addiction.

Some people have no idea that they’re addicted to Ambien. One of the best ways to tell if you’re addicted to the medication is to stop taking it for one night. 

If you’re completely unable to sleep without Ambien, this means that your brain has developed a significant dependence on Ambien’s dulling effect to fall asleep. Your brain will struggle to sleep naturally, and you’ll find that you need to resume taking it.

If you are purchasing Ambien on the street or deliberately taking large doses to experience the side effects, this is a very dangerous form of Ambien addiction. Ambien is a dangerous drug in the sense that it is harmful to more than just the person who takes the drug. 

You aren’t in control of your behavior during an Ambien blackout, and this can create terrifying situations. If you take Ambien and drive in your sleep, you could kill someone and not remember. 

Will I Experience Withdrawal Symptoms If I Stop Taking Ambien?

Most people report mild physical side effects from stopping Ambien abruptly. Among these symptoms are tremors, the return of their insomnia, muscle cramps, nausea, and vomiting. The psychological side effects include depression, anxiety, panic attacks, and obsessive thoughts about Ambien.

It’s best not to attempt to stop taking Ambien without the supervision of a medical professional. 

Persistent discomfort and vomiting combined with lack of sleep and panic attacks can be an extremely distressing scenario. Many people will feel the urge to resume using Ambien just to make these symptoms stop.

In a controlled setting, a detoxification professional can help you manage the side effects of Ambien withdrawal to make the process a little more bearable. If the symptoms can be significantly diminished, it’s easier to see the detoxification process through to the end.

How Do I Get Help For My Ambien Addiction?

Many people become addicted to Ambien because they struggle with insomnia. Insomnia is a serious condition that can be difficult to live with. Lack of quality sleep can lead to both short term and long term damage to your mind and body. 

After a while, Ambien stops working for insomnia and you’ll need to stop taking it. An important part of getting help for your addiction is getting help for your insomnia. 

Work with a doctor to discuss alternatives to Ambien. Natural ingredients like melatonin and valerian root can safely be used as an alternative to sleep inducing drugs.

Some people experience insomnia under the umbrella of a different condition. People with generalized anxiety disorder and post traumatic stress disorder often have trouble sleeping. A cure to your insomnia may come in the form of mental health treatment for the disorder contributing to your insomnia. 


People who are addicted to Ambien without an official insomnia diagnosis, such as those who purchase it on the street, will need to pursue help through a drug rehabilitation facility. If the Ambien you use wasn’t prescribed to treat insomnia, your main ailment is drug abuse disorder.

Therapists work with patients living with drug abuse disorders to discover the root cause of the problem. Some people are considered dual diagnosis or dual disordered patients. This means they’re using a drug to self medicate as a means to escape from the emotional pain of a mental health disorder. If this is the case, your substance abuse therapist will treat the addiction and the mental health condition simultaneously. 

People without mental health conditions also develop drug use disorders. If you fall into this category, your substance abuse therapist will work with you to help you understand the problematic aspects of your behavior that make it difficult for you to abstain from drugs. He or she will help you find healthier coping mechanisms and develop a path to living a healthy, happy, and productive life without drugs

Conclusion

Ambien comes with a complex set of strange and dangerous side effects, even when taken exactly as directed. Using Ambien as a recreational drug is even more dangerous, as you’re putting yourself at risk for these side effects without a purpose. 

If you would like to stop taking Ambien, whether it was prescribed by your doctor or purchased on the street, you should immediately seek professional assistance from a reputable drug rehabilitation program.

Sources:

https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/sleep-related-eating-disorder/symptoms-causes/syc-20356019

https://www.huffpost.com/entry/ambien-side-effect-sleepwalking-sleep-aid_n_4589743

https://www.healthline.com/health/food-nutrition/valerian-root