Ambien Addiction: Symptoms and Treatment
Ambien is a prescription medication given to help people deal with insomnia. For some, however, with a tendency towards addiction, it can quickly become necessary for them to sleep. You can develop an addiction to Ambien without realizing it and quickly come to rely on it even after your prescription runs out. The Center for Disease Control estimates that 40-60 million Americans have some kind of sleep disorder, so it’s not surprising that many people are taking Ambien to help them sleep.
If you’re interested in recovering from prescription-drug addiction, read on to find out about how you can get the treatment you need or help your loved one start their journey towards a healthier lifestyle and drug-free sleep.
Ambien is the brand name for zolpidem, a common sedative used to help you quickly fall asleep and stay asleep all night. If abused, it can be highly addictive. Abuse can start by simply taking an additional pill occasionally and then needing it more and more frequently.
Symptoms of Ambien Abuse
Ambien is a drug you may not realize you’re addicted to when it happens. You get a prescription of Ambien to help with a legitimate concern and then find yourself relying on the medication more and more to fall asleep. Symptoms include:
- Taking more Ambien than prescribed, even if it starts as an extra pill on occasion
- A feeling of panic if you don’t have Ambien to help you sleep
- Taking Ambien during the day
- Buying or attempting to buy Ambien on the street
- Abuse of legal sleep aides
- Taking Ambien then trying to stay awake
- Taking too much Ambien and running out before your refill is due
- Experiencing a feeling of guilt over taking the drug
- Suffer depression which gets worse when not using Ambien
While these may seem like small actions compared to some drug abuse, your body is already starting to depend on the Ambien rather than its natural processes. Your brain will begin to think that it needs Ambien to function.
If you believe your loved one is addicted to Ambien, you can look for the following signs:
- Bloodshot eyes
- Morning headaches
- Muscle or joint pain
- Stomach pain
- Loss of appetite
- Loss of coordination
These signs will be most noticeable in the morning and will linger for several hours after someone awakes.
Problems of Ambien Abuse
The side effects of the drug include a type of amnesia where the drug user will get up at night and carry on all sorts of normal activities, but have no memory of their actions. This can be anything from walking around and talking to people to driving and having sex. Ambien use can also cause people’s inhibitions to lower, causing them to interact in an inappropriate fashion, get into fights, have risky sex, or neglect their children.
Once you realize you’ve started down the path to addiction, it’s important to start looking at your options and seeking appropriate treatment.
In homes where the adults are using Ambien, teens are more likely to have access to and abuse Ambien. They do this by taking the pills directly or crushing and snorting the pills. When the pills are crushed, the drug is absorbed into the system rapidly, creating a strong sedative, creating symptoms similar to alcohol. However, it also creates the possibility of an overdose, causing the person to die as the body forgets to even continue breathing. This is even more likely when Ambien is combined with other drugs that have a sedative effect. It can also be used as a date-rape drug since it wipes the memory of the person that consumes it.
According to the FDA, side effects for the Ambien user can include (along with the activities done in your sleep) memory loss, anxiety, and abnormal behavior. Used for a longer period of time, it increases your physical dependence and odds of overdosing.
Overdosing on Ambien can be life-threatening. It can cause your heart to weaken, your breath to weaken, you to fall into a coma, experience extreme drowsiness, or have respiratory depression.
If you’re experiencing any of these symptoms, call 911 immediately and get medical attention. While your first misuse may seem like no big deal, you don’t want to start the pattern that leads to overdosing and loss of life.
Understanding Ambien Addiction
Becoming addicted to a substance is not something about which you should be ashamed. Ambien, when used properly, can provide tremendous benefits. However, it’s a drug that can easily create an addiction, and this can happen to anyone.
Don’t feel ashamed to find yourself addicted to Ambien, just learn how to take the steps you need to get back to a healthy sleep pattern.
Once you realize you’ve started down the path to addiction, it’s important to start looking at your options and seeking appropriate treatment. The sooner you start treatment, the easier it will be to quit, plus you lessen the likelihood that misuse will have a detrimental effect on your long-term health.
For family members and friends who see a loved one suffering from an Ambien addiction, you want to look out for the signs and communicate with them when you think they need help. There are things you can do that are helpful to show your love and prove you’re there to help them find a way to recover.
Since addiction can cause other mental health issues, it can be very difficult to talk to someone with an problem. In any conversation you have, make sure they understand that you want to be supportive of them. Sometimes it can help to show how their addiction is affecting you. When offering them ideas on treatment and support on their journey, make sure that you are clear that they are not bad and should not be ashamed for their problems.
Remember not to raise your voice or cause a tense situation. It is often better to have a discussion about treatment and rehabilitation when they are not under the influence of Ambien. They may try to convince you that they are OK, but you should be patient and persistent. Don’t make them feel bad, just offer your help and support.
Many people have issues in addition to their Ambien addiction and would benefit from appropriate treatment and rehabilitation. Working with a therapist, they can explore different approaches including behavioral therapy, family therapy, support groups, and sleep-hygiene training. The therapist will work with the patient to determine the treatment plan that is right for them.
If you’re addicted to Ambien, it is wise to quit Ambien while under medical supervision. Quitting Ambien cold can be dangerous and counterproductive. Instead, your doctor can help you wean off the drug slowly and safely. This is generally done in an inpatient or outpatient treatment situation where a doctor can monitor you for side effects and help you get your cravings under control. Your doctors and therapists are all interested in helping your body get back to healthy, normal functioning. It may help to find a rehab center that is comfortable for you and gives you the space and time you need to be successful.
Even if you’ve only been using Ambien a few weeks, you may face a withdrawal period if you stop using the drug. Symptoms of withdrawal can include:
- Panic attacks
- Stomach cramps
- Suicidal thoughts
- Worsened insomnia
- In rare cases, some users experience seizures during the withdrawal process
Even individuals who have never suffered depression may suddenly become depressed when taking Ambien and attempt suicide as a result of their Ambien abuse. A lawsuit filed in 2012 claimed that the makers of Ambien knew this side effect and suppressed it in their studies and published information. There have been a series of lawsuits from individuals who have done things while under the influence of Ambien or had things done to them.
Recovering From Ambien
To fully recover from Ambien takes appropriate treatment and rehab. You have to learn how to sleep again without the drug and deal with the problems that caused you to reach for the drug in the first place. Physical damage done by the drug will have to be addressed, plus a commitment to and plan for aftercare reached.
While it can be scary to make the decision to enter a rehab program, it can be an important and lifesaving decision. Start by talking to a trusted counselor who can educate you about the problems with the drug, possible side effects, and treatment options.
You’ll start with an intake process or assessment, generally done by the professionals at the treatment facility you attend. Be honest during this process so they can design a program that will work for you. Then you’ll move into detox, where your body starts to withdraw from the Ambien. This could take days or weeks depending on your addiction. Once you finish withdrawing, you’ll enter rehab to learn about addiction and get support from therapy to help you learn how to live without the drug.
After you’ve finished your time at the treatment facility, you’ll begin aftercare or recovery, where you move back into your normal life and practice the skills you learned during rehab. You’ll still participate in some forms of therapy to help you learn new skills and discuss how you’re feeling.
This whole process is neither quick nor easy, but it’s essential to get back to a normal and healthy life. Don’t feel ashamed to find yourself addicted to Ambien, just learn how to take the steps you need to get back to a healthy sleep pattern.
The main purpose of Ambien is to treat insomnia, but dependency followed by withdrawal often leads to an inability to sleep or “rebound insomnia,” which is often worse than the original problem. This insomnia can last up to several weeks after quitting, but eventually, you will learn to sleep naturally and hopefully better than you did previously.
Payment for Ambien Treatment
Thankfully, just as most insurance covers your prescription to Ambien, many will often cover your substance-abuse treatment and rehabilitation. At Rehab-Finder.Org, we can look up your insurance and find treatment options that work with your budget and resources while still giving you the treatment you need. Realizing you’re addicted and looking into treatment is the first step to getting healthy, so let us help you make it easy to do the research and find the right option.
The location and length of the treatment you need will certainly impact the cost. There are free and reduced-price state-sponsored centers and then there are luxury facilities that are more like resorts that can run up to $80,000 per month! Inpatient and outpatient options are available and some churches offer centers with financial aid available to those who cannot afford treatment.
Whatever your financial situation, make the effort needed to get treatment and aftercare so you can get your life back on track. Awareness of the problem, education about the options, and a willingness to find treatment goes a long way towards recovery. So start the process today and commit to following through with aftercare.
If you want help looking through your options and narrowing them down to those that will work for you, give us a call today at 877-251-4813!