Ambien (Zolpidem) Addiction
Ambien is a sedative-hypnotic drug that is prescribed to treat insomnia. Similar to drugs like Lunesta and Sonata, Ambien is designed to be a temporary sleep aid and is not meant to be taken on a long-term basis. Although it is marketed as being a less-addictive and habit-forming drug than many benzodiazepines, Ambien users may still become dependent and addicted to the drug.
Ambien works by binding to neuroreceptors that slow brain activity. This, in turn, helps the user fall asleep more easily and stay asleep. It comes in tablet form and is designed to be taken immediately before the user goes to bed. Other brand names for the drug Zolpidem include:
Ambien is a Schedule IV controlled substance, which means it does have a potential for abuse. Although abuse of the drug may start off innocently (ie. taking an extra one for a little more help sleeping), taking more than the prescribed amount can lead to tolerance and dependency. Individuals may also find that they experience euphoria when they take Ambien without going to sleep immediately afterward. Of those who abuse it, many do so because it can cause feelings of euphoria as well as hallucinations when it is misused.
The following terms are street names or slang for Ambien:
- Zombie pills
- Tic Tacs
Although Ambien has been marketed as a drug that is much less habit-forming than benzodiazepines like Xanax or Ativan, it can still be addictive, especially if it is taken in ways other than prescribed.
The National Survey on Drug Use and Health estimates more than 500,000 Americans are abusing Ambien and other similar sedative drugs. Additionally, between 2006 and 2011, about 38 million prescriptions were written for zolpidem in the U.S., and ER visits increased by a whopping 220 percent between 2005 and 2010, according to SAMHSA.
Clearly, misusing Ambien in any way can be just as dangerous as misusing benzodiazepines, other sedatives, or any other prescription or illegal drug out there.
If a person is abusing Ambien, he or she will experience several unpleasant physical and psychological side effects.
Short-term side effects of Ambien abuse may include:
- Slow, shallow breathing
- Slurred speech
- Mood swings
- Muscle weakness
Long-term side effects of Ambien abuse may include:
- Lack of muscle control
- Suicidal thoughts
- Consistent headaches
- Digestion problems
- Extreme fatigue
- Physical dependence
Common signs and symptoms of Ambien addiction include:
- Crushing the pills and snorting them.
- Taking Ambien well before bedtime.
- Getting Ambien prescriptions from multiple doctors.
- Continuing to take Ambien despite dangerous behaviors like sleepwalking or sleep driving.
- Faking symptoms of insomnia just to get an Ambien prescription.
- Trying to limit Ambien use or stop completely but being unable.
- Spending a great deal of time and money trying to get and use Ambien.
Many people also abuse Ambien with other addictive substances like alcohol or benzodiazepines. This can be especially dangerous because abusing Ambien with other depressants can amplify the effects and cause overdose or death.
When Ambien addiction occurs and the abuse is suddenly stopped or slowed, the user will feel uncomfortable physical and psychological symptoms. These are known as withdrawal symptoms. Ambien withdrawal is characterized by the following symptoms:
- Rebound insomnia
- Stomach cramps
- Panic attacks
- Suicidal thoughts
Although the severity of withdrawal symptoms will vary based on a person’s drug abuse history, whether they are abusing more than one drug, and their current physical health, detoxing from Ambien can be a potentially dangerous process.
Recovering from Ambien addiction often begins with a medical detox program. Medical detox can help users overcome severe Ambien addiction and reduce uncomfortable withdrawal effects throughout the process. In addition to being more comfortable, medical detox is a safer and more effective way to detox from Ambien, as users have access to 24/7 medical care and sobriety support. Medical treatment for detox also reduces the likelihood of relapse by providing a substance-free environment in which the user can rest, heal, and recover from Ambien addiction.
4-8 hours after the last dose: Users may start to experience mild symptoms of withdrawal.
24-48 hours after the last dose: Users will start to experience stronger withdrawal symptoms, such as rebound insomnia, cravings, tremors, anxiety, and delirium. Seizures or psychosis may also be present in cases of severe addiction.
3-5 days after the last dose: Ambien withdrawal symptoms typically peak around five days after the last dose. In some instances, withdrawal symptoms may last for several weeks, but medication-assisted treatment can help minimize discomfort while clients continue their addiction treatment.
Upon completion of detox, the best way to address severe Ambien addiction is with long-term treatment. This can often be achieved with 90-day inpatient or outpatient rehab. Although many rehab programs only offer 30-day programs, research shows most people need at least 90 days to permanently change addictive behaviors.
In rehab, people who are addicted to Ambien will work with addiction counselors, sober coaches, recovery specialists, and their peers to overcome the various aspects of their addiction. This could include physical cravings, negative emotions, trauma, and/or behavioral problems. Drug rehab addresses these issues with:
- Educational lectures on chemical dependency
- 12-Step Program work
- Relapse prevention techniques and practice
- Life skills development
The primary purpose of drug rehab is to help people overcome their addiction and return to society as high-functioning individuals. This can be achieved with either inpatient rehab or outpatient rehab.
Inpatient rehab for Ambien addiction consists of an addiction treatment facility where clients live throughout the duration of the program. Men and women are treated separately for the most effective results and clients follow strict daily schedules. Most often, each day consists of a variation of the following few things:
- Meal times
- Personal time
- Group/individual counseling
- Process group
- Education group
- 12-Step Group
Outpatient rehab for Ambien addiction, like inpatient treatment, offers intensive group therapy to address the psychological and behavioral aspects of addiction. However, the main difference is that clients have the flexibility to live at home while they are enrolled in treatment. This allows for the ability to attend work, school, or sustain childcare duties and other responsibilities without neglecting addiction treatment.
Clients have several different payment options to cover the cost of rehab. They include:
After rehab for Ambien addiction is complete, treatment may still continue, depending on the client’s needs and financial ability. In many cases, a person’s treatment team may recommend that the client continues with their addiction treatment by enrolling in a sober living program and/or Aftercare. Both types of programs are designed to help individuals maintain their sobriety after rehab and reintegrate back into society as a sober person.
Sober Living Programs
A sober living program (also sometimes called transitional housing, transitional living programs, or halfway houses) provides safe, sober, and supportive group housing for people in recovery. The main benefit of these programs is that they offer accountability and a sober environment for people who are newly sober and don’t have a lot of experiencing sustaining their abstinence from drugs and alcohol.
Sober living homes are also particularly great for people who struggle with chronic relapse and need extra support to stay sober after rehab.
While enrolled in sober living, clients receive many different support services to help them sustain a lifestyle of sobriety. These recovery support services include:
- Regular drug testing
- Tiered recover programs
- Personal monitoring
- Volunteer, employment, and education assistance
- Family support
These support services, in addition to the amenities offered by the transitional housing program, are often much less expensive than renting a house or apartment after completing rehab. As a result, sober living homes provide sobriety support, personal support, and financial support to people in recovery.
Although the cost of a sober living home is often less expensive than traditional housing options, the cost will vary based on the location of the home, the amenities offered, and the recovery support services that are provided.
Aftercare programs, much like sober living programs, are designed to support people in recovery. However, they are often tailored to people who have already completed rehab for Ambien addiction and are in various stages of their sobriety. For example, a person might enroll in Aftercare after completing a transitional housing program. Or a person may start Aftercare after a recent relapse.
Much like an intensive outpatient program, aftercare programs consist of a series of outpatient group meetings in which adults in recovery discuss recovery-related issues, achievements, and challenges. Groups meet for about eight weeks and serve as a safe and supportive space where clients can discuss personal issues related to their recovery.
In some cases, overcoming severe Ambien addiction will require a comprehensive long-term addiction treatment plan. Although it will take time, effort, and a willingness to commit, it is possible to recover fully and live a sober life.
If you or a loved one is addicted to Ambien, call Nova Recovery Center today. Our admissions team is standing by ready to receive your call.
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