Ambien Addiction: Signs of Sleep Medication Abuse
Zolpidem is a hypnotic drug that was originally marketed as Ambien, and is now available all over the world under various brand names. This powerful sedative is primarily prescribed for sleep problems such as insomnia. For medical use, Ambien should only be used for short periods. However, many people become dependent on the drug to help them sleep, which can ultimately lead to abuse. Prescription drug abuse is a very serious problem today, so we should be aware of the dangers of many medications.
The medication is so powerful that in 2013 the FDA required manufacturers to decrease the recommended dose for women by half. Studies had shown that the drug could actually leave people drowsy in the morning and at risk for motor vehicle collisions.
Ambien Addiction and Abuse
People go as far as to purchase Ambien on the streets when they cannot obtain a prescription. Some may think that such a well-known medication wouldn’t be addictive, but reviewing medical publication shows that long-term use of zolpidem is associated with:
- Heightened drug tolerance
- Substance dependence
- Rebound insomnia
When trying to determine if someone is using Ambien illicitly, be aware of the signs of Ambien abuse, such as:
- Bloodshot eyes
- Headaches the morning after
- Loss of coordination leading to unsteady walking
- Stomach pain
- Appetite changes
- Pain in muscles or joints
Sometimes these symptoms linger for several hours after a person gets up after an Ambien-induced sleep, so keep an eye out as they may be most severe in their waking hours.
Ambien Addiction and Amnesia
One of the most outstanding side effects of Ambien addiction and abuse is amnesia. Similar to an intensified state of sleepwalking, the user may get up at night and cook, drive, talk on the phone or carry out any number of other actions without any memory of it. Some cases have even pointed to individuals engaging in criminal activity with no memory of their actions. Because Ambien also can trigger irresponsible, uninhibited actions, a person could:
- Injury through accidents or acts of violence
- Have unsafe sex
- Neglect children, the elderly or pets
So abusing this drug someone could find themselves out of control in their own risk behaviors, and having no idea how serious their actions were or how they ever happened.
Ambien Withdrawal Symptoms
Just like with any other drug, Ambien addiction means there is an element of physical dependence. When this occurs, withdrawal symptoms can closely resemble those seen during benzodiazepine withdrawal. Surprisingly, someone can experience withdrawal symptoms even if they have just been using Ambien for a short period of time. Even a few weeks is enough. The more minor symptoms of Ambien withdrawal include:
- Worsened insomnia
- Stomach cramps
More severe signs of Ambien withdrawal include:
- Panic attacks
- Suicidal thoughts
A person who has never been depressed in the past may suffer sudden depression as a result of taking Ambien. Instances of suicide attempts and completed suicides as a result of Ambien abuse have been reported.
Ambien Addiction: Overdose
An Ambien overdose cause by zolpidem is also extremely dangerous. The powerful sedative will produce several symptoms similar to others in its class, including:
- Excessive sedation
- Pin-point pupils
- Depressed respiratory function
Death is the most extreme of course, but if mixed with other drugs Ambien addiction is even more likely to result in fatal overdoses. This includes drugs such as:
- Other depressants
People with a history of drugs are alcohol increase their risk. Specifically, alcohol has cross tolerance with GABA receptor positive modulators such as the benzodiazepines and the non-benzodiazepine drugs. For this reason, alcoholics or recovering alcoholics may be at increased risk of physical dependency on zolpidem. Those you have a history of substance abuse should definitely be very cautious before getting involved in Ambien over an extended period.
So far the prescription drug problem, aligned with the opiate epidemic, has been very costly to American life, while tearing apart families. At the end of the day, we cannot afford to underestimate any prescription drug or potent medication. And with that, we have to be able to provide more effective and comprehensive treatment options. If you or someone you love is struggling, please call toll-free 1-800-777-9588