At first, Ambien was a wonder drug. It was designed to have the same efficacy as benzodiazepines, but without the habit forming characteristics. When doctors first began offering Ambien, it was touted as a less addictive substitute for benzodiazepines. Millions of people had become addicted to benzos, and a replacement was sorely needed. After all, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, there were almost 10,000 overdoses attributed to benzodiazepines in 2019.
Since its inception, the popular view of Ambien has changed immensely. Now, many in the medical profession consider Ambien to be just as addictive as some benzos. As a result, Ambien addiction treatment has become an enormous industry.
In this article, the reader will discover exactly why the medical profession has changed its opinion on Ambien. In addition, the article will detail the side effects of Ambien, as well as instructions on how to detect Ambien addiction and how to get it treated. Lastly, the article will illustrate what exact measures should be followed to ensure a safe and sober outcome for Ambien addiction.
Ambien is prescribed to patients who suffer from insomnia. Ambien, the brand name of zolpidem, is intended to help people with severe sleep disorders. The drug comes in two forms. Immediate-release Ambien is available in 5mg and 10mg oral tablets. Extended-release Ambien is available in 6.25mg and 12.5mg oral tablets.
When released into the body, Ambien latches on to receptor cells in the brain that are linked with gamma-aminobutyric acid, which, in turn, affects certain neurological activities, such as sleep. Doctors recommend that users take the medication right before they plan on going to sleep. They also recommend that users are prepared to have at least seven to eight hours of sleep the night that they take Ambien.
Ambien is a very effective sleep medication. It has several benefits.
Ambien is intended for and usually succeeds in helping patients overcome a temporary sleep disorder. However, those taking Ambien must be very careful. If the medication results in certain side effects, certain medical conditions, or if Ambien is not taken as prescribed, serious issues, including addiction, could develop.
Individuals have reported disturbing side effects as a result of taking Ambien, which will be discussed later in the article. In addition, because Ambien is such an effective sleeping medication, there is a high risk that individuals taking the drug will abuse it. Ambien usage should not last more than two weeks. If an individual continues taking Ambien every night for two weeks, there is a high possibility that they would have developed an addiction to the drug.
When consumed, Ambien slows down brain functions. The drug is considered a central nervous system depressant. As soon as Ambien enters the body, it connects to the receptor cells in the brain that bind with gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA). GABA blocks, or inhibits, certain brain signals. In effect, this decreases action in the nervous system and produces a calming effect in the body.
Because both short- and long-acting Ambien take approximately one and a half hours to reach maximum blood concentration, users are suggested to take the drug well before they intend to go to sleep. Half-life, in pharmaceutical terms, is the amount of time it takes for a medicine’s active substance in a body to be reduced by half.
According to a study conducted by California Northstate University, Ambien’s half-life is about two and a half hours in a healthy male. It takes five half-lives for a drug to be entirely cleared from the body. Hence, Ambien stays in the blood for approximately twelve and a half hours.
Many different factors determine how long Ambien remains in a body:
The half-life for Ambien is longer in an adult than in a child. Younger people generally have a more efficient metabolizing system. Hence, a younger body will metabolize Ambien quicker than an older person.
An individual just consumed their dose of Ambien. When and what they ate that day will be very important to figure out how quickly they will feel the effects. As with most drugs, the more empty a stomach is, the quicker it takes for Ambien to settle in.
The frequency a person takes Ambien will affect how long the drug stays in the body. In addition, different drugs a user might have consumed in addition to the Ambien will be a factor, as will the dosage of Ambien the user consumed.
Depending on how well a liver is functioning, will determine how long it takes for the body to break down Ambien. For example, as mentioned above, Ambien’s half-life in a healthy adult is about two and a half hours. Ambien’s half-life in someone with liver problems could be almost ten hours.
Ambien is intended and prescribed to be taken for a short period of time. If an individual takes the drug for more than two weeks, they risk suffering physical dependence. In addition, users that take Ambien for more than two weeks, risk becoming tolerant to the drug. In that case, the prescribed dosage will no longer provide the desired effect, and the user will be forced to consume larger doses of Ambien. The body becomes tolerant to Ambien when the brain becomes used to the sedative in the brain.
In the early 1990s, when Ambien, also known as zolpidem, was first starting to fill prescriptions, numerous laboratory studies revealed that human subjects with substantial drug histories demonstrated more abuse-related effects to Ambien than other hypnotics. Subjects without any drug histories, however, did not demonstrate such effects when using zolpidem. In other words, Ambien would only pose a risk of addiction to those with a history of drugs.
In 2011, a study in Behavioral Pharmacology, entitled “Modest abuse-related subjective effects of zolpidem in drug-naive volunteers”, questioned the popular belief that Ambien was not habit-forming in users who did not have a drug history. These studies examined individuals with no history of drug use who were prescribed Ambien for sleep problems.
According to the results, anyone who took Ambien was at risk of becoming addicted. In fact, many of these test subjects, with drug-free backgrounds, began taking excessive amounts of Ambien, well over the required dosage. Many of these test subjects who began to abuse Ambien developed a physical dependency on the drug. Similar to Xanax, Ambien addiction led to serious withdrawal issues.
In 2020, of the most prescribed drugs filled through Single Care, excluding opioids and weight-loss drugs, alprazolam, also known as Xanax, was the 32nd most popular. Despite its overwhelming popularity, Xanax is very addictive. Ambien was originally developed to replace the far-sweeping benzodiazepine Xanax.
The drug was advertised as having the same medicinal benefit as Xanax, minus the addiction. However, now Ambien is recognized to have similar potential for abuse as benzos. After all, the Drug Enforcement Agency ranks Ambien and Xanax both as Schedule IV controlled substances, which are classified as substances with “low potential for abuse and low risk of dependence.”
Ambien and benzodiazepines are different in that Ambien is a sedative hypnotic while benzodiazepines are central nervous system depressants. Central nervous system depressants cause drowsiness, while sedatives are used to treat sleep disorders.
Another major difference between the two drugs is that while Ambien is only used to treat insomnia, benzodiazepines are used to treat a host of medical issues including anxiety, seizures, muscle spasms, alcohol withdrawal, and more.
Ambien, like any other prescription pill, has many side effects users need to take into consideration. Lightheadedness, dizziness, constipation, uncontrollable shaking, and continued sleepiness into the next day are just some of the common side effects of using Ambien.
In rarer cases, Ambien is known to cause some weird and unusual side effects. Parasomnia is a rare sleep disorder, in which people do weird things in their sleep, like cook, eat and even drive. Parasomnia can be caused by Ambien, but unless one is being studied in a lab, it is hard to determine the cause or even if parasomnia is taking place.
Insomnia is another strange side effect to be caused by a sleeping pill. As noted above, often people who take Ambien choose to abuse it. In that case, tolerance can quickly develop, and users will not be able to sleep unless they consume the right dosage of Ambien. Sometimes a drug can cause the opposite effect of what it is intended to do in a body. In such a case, Ambien could cause insomnia.
When Ambien first arrived on the marketplace, it was proclaimed to offer the same euphoric results of benzos, but without the crippling addiction propensity. Almost thirty years later, numerous studies and experiments prove that Ambien is very addictive. Ambien addiction also has similar withdrawal symptoms to benzos, such as Xanax. According to Harmony Ridge, more than 500,000 Americans abuse Ambien. Between 2005 and 2011, there were 20,000 Ambien-related hospital emergency visits.
Even if one is living with someone taking Ambien, it could be difficult to observe the telling signs that they require Ambien addiction treatment. For example, knowing the exact dosage of Ambien one takes could be difficult to tell. However, if someone needs to take more Ambien to produce the desired effect, this is an excellent indicator of whether or not someone requires Ambien addiction treatment.
The mode of consumption can be another significant indicator of Ambien addiction. When Ambien addicts require a stronger effect to overcome a tolerance, they might crush the pill and snort it.
Social and lifestyle behavior can be more indicators of Ambien addiction. For example, is the user isolating themselves from loved ones, or is the individual spending much more money on Ambien?
Rehab serves to defeat addiction in so many ways. Therapy, medicine, programs as well as interaction amongst fellow recovering addicts will all serve to strengthen an individual.
“In treatment I was surprised to find I wasn’t the only Ambien addict, not by a long shot: Some people mixed it with something more insidious — cocaine, meth or, like me, alcohol — but sleeping pills were a popular crutch.”
– writer and former addict Laurie Sandell, Glamour, 2008
Most treatment centers can help with Ambien addicts. However, some treatment centers are better prepared and are staffed with medical professionals more experienced in Ambien addicts than others. To achieve sobriety, it is essential that an addict undergoes the correct detox and treatment. Recovering addicts have seemingly an infinite selection of rehab for Ambien addiction. Researching all of them can become a daunting task. In addition, by taking on this monumental task on your own, you run the risk of skipping some very effective treatment centers.
Treatment directory services exist to narrow this wide ocean of various treatment centers. Call an operator at a treatment directory service, and they will hear the specifics of your case and suggest clinics that are best suited to help you or your loved one achieve sobriety.
The first step in rehab for Ambien addiction is going to detox. A good detox program will prevent dangerous withdrawal symptoms. Intrepid Detox Recovery has earned the highest level of accreditation in healthcare. In addition, we have been helping people find sobriety for decades. Call us today to find out what the hundreds of success stories are all about.