Ambien and Dependence
Ambien, or the generic zolpidem, is a prescription sedative and hypnotic medication. Pharmaceutical companies have studied Ambien for a few different uses, but so far, they’ve only approved of this medication for sleep induction. The medication works by enhancing the reaction of the brain’s GABA receptors, prompting earlier sleep onset.
The US doesn’t have much of a problem with recreational Ambien use, at least not compared to other prescription drugs such as painkillers. However, some people who have misused Ambien cited the drug’s hypnotic properties and its ability to produce a “high” as their reason for using it. The bigger problem with Ambien is misuse among people who take the medicine for a legitimate sleep disorder.
Older patients may have a higher risk for Ambien dependence. Over half of Ambien users are over the age of 60.
Ambien does indeed help patients find relief from insomnia. However, doctors warn that patients should only use Ambien for two to six weeks while they seek out more permanent solutions. Many patients develop a tolerance to the drug, meaning that their brains and bodies get used to the medication. Once a person builds up a tolerance to Ambien, he or she may require larger and larger doses to achieve the same level of insomnia relief that smaller doses used to provide. This pattern is called dependence, and it can lead to an addiction.
Instead of tapering off the medication, this person might seek more pills. If his or her doctor won’t prescribe any more, this individual may try other ways to obtain more Ambien. Some methods include buying the medicine illegally or “doctor shopping,” which is when patients visit more than one doctor to obtain multiple prescriptions.
If you’re worried that you might have an addiction to Ambien, Rehabinfo.com can help.
Detox and Withdrawal
As with any drug, a person who stops taking Ambien after a long time will enter a phase called detox. Ambien detox has to happen before any other phase of recovery can begin. With Ambien detox, the drugs leave the addicted person’s body. The amount of time that this process takes depends on the drug’s half-life. While many other drugs can remain in a person’s system for days or even weeks at a time, Ambien has a half-life of only a few hours, so the detox process happens fairly quickly. However, that doesn’t mean that Ambien detox doesn’t come with withdrawal symptoms.
During withdrawal, one experiences negative reactions to detox. When a body gets used to operating under the influence of certain drugs, it doesn’t react well once the drug supply stops. A former drug user can experience a range of symptoms that usually depend on the individual’s drug of choice.
For former Ambien users, the worst and most common withdrawal symptom is called rebound insomnia. Numerous people who quit Ambien develop insomnia again, and this insomnia is sometimes even worse than the insomnia that caused them to seek an Ambien prescription in the first place. Rebound insomnia is incredibly frustrating, and people tend to take more Ambien during this part of detox just to get relief.
Former Ambien users might also experience any of these withdrawal symptoms during detox:
- Cravings for Ambien
- Anger, irritability, and mood swings
- Anxiety and/or panic attacks
- Stomach problems
Potential symptoms are not limited to the above list, and former Ambien users may experience other symptoms during withdrawal.
Assuming that the individual does not have access to more Ambien, the detox process will happen whether or not he or she seeks medical help. However, detoxing in a dedicated medical facility has several benefits over trying to detox alone. First, a doctor in a medical detox facility may use a “tapering off” method to reduce withdrawal symptoms. With this method, a doctor prescribes smaller and smaller amounts of Ambien, allowing the patient to get used to decreased doses until he or she no longer needs the medicine at all. Under medical supervision, the patient cannot give in to the temptation to take larger doses than prescribed.
Second, the staff in medical detox facilities have specific training in the treatment of detoxing patients. They’ll know how to anticipate withdrawal symptoms and how to provide relief safely. If an emergency should happen, such as a seizure, medical staff will know how to treat it.
Finally, a patient undergoing medical detox will receive the support, care, and comfort that he or she needs to get through this tough phase in the recovery process. After detox, the staff at the facility may recommend further treatment at a rehabilitation program.
Do You Need Help with Ambien Detox?
If you’re looking for support and care to help you detox from Ambien, Rehabinfo.com can help you find the right facility. Our caring staff specializes in getting to know substance-dependent people and matching them to the program that best meets their needs.