Ambien, the brand name for the generic zolpidem, is a hypnotic sedative drug. Doctors prescribe Ambien to patients who experience insomnia. While it has been studied for a few other uses, so far Ambien’s primary usage is for sleep induction. The drug works by reducing the amount of time that it takes for the patient to fall asleep. It’s important to keep in mind, however, that Ambien is not intended for long-term use. Instead, patients should use Ambien as a temporary solution while they pursue long-term sleep solutions such as Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. Ideally, an individual should only have to use Ambien for two weeks, and a patient certainly should not use Ambien for more than six weeks.
In 2012, one study found that Ambien users were nearly five times more likely to die young than non-users.
Though not as common as with some other prescription drugs, some people do misuse Ambien for recreational purposes. People without prescriptions may try Ambien if they’re inclined to experiment with medication that belongs to relatives or roommates. As a hypnotic sedative, Ambien produces the opposite effect of stimulants like cocaine or meth. Ambien users report feelings of calm, reduction in anxiety, and relaxation of muscles. Like some other drugs, Ambien does produce a euphoric “high” feeling, and some people who try Ambien recreationally may be seeking that high. However, the high is fairly mild compared to other medications, especially opioids. Ambien, therefore, can act as a type of “gateway drug” into more addictive medication.
Do you think you might have an addiction to Ambien or other sleep medication? Call 800-492-QUIT to get help today.
Is Ambien Addictive?
The short answer is yes. The longer answer is that while Ambien is addictive, it’s addictive in a different way than drugs that hijack the brain’s opioid receptors or dopamine receptors. Ambien does alter brain chemistry in a way that causes tolerance and dependence. Although a patient should not take Ambien for more than a few weeks, it’s common for sleep issues to persist for much longer periods of time, leading them to continue their Ambien usage longer than the recommended time.
An individual may eventually find that he or she needs Ambien to fall asleep at all.
Furthermore, the original dose may not work as well as it did when the individual first obtained the prescription. He or she may seek increasingly high doses to get the same degree of relief that the original dosage used to provide.
Patients whose doctors won’t prescribe more Ambien will sometimes resort to illicit means to obtain more. Some buy the drug illegally from people who sell their own prescriptions. Others try “doctor shopping,” or visiting multiple doctors in hopes of getting more prescriptions.
Is Rehab an Option?
Since Ambien addiction doesn’t get the same publicity as addiction to opioids or street drugs, people don’t always consider rehab for Ambien addiction. However, rehab is, in fact, an option. Both physical and mental health professionals can help you find a solution for your addiction and insomnia. Start by calling 800-492-QUIT.
Ambien Side Effects
Even those who use Ambien for legitimate medical reasons should watch out for potential side effects. Ambien comes with a long list of potential issues, which include but are not limited to the following:
- Next-day drowsiness
- Breathing trouble
Sleepwalking and hallucinations are fairly common, and some people have even reported cooking, driving, having sex, and doing other potentially dangerous activities while sleeping. Those who experience such effects usually report that they don’t remember engaging in these activities after waking up.