Insomnia and Ambien Addiction

Chances are, at some point in your life, you’ve experienced insomnia. One in three people complain of mild insomnia, and one in ten have chronic insomnia, defined as trouble falling or staying asleep for at least three months. The effects of insomnia are devastating to the body—impaired attention, focus, and reasoning, as well as  a host of physical tolls like high blood pressure and heart disease—which explains why so many people turn to prescription sleep aids or sedatives like Ambien to help them sleep well.


Ambien, a brand name for the drug zolpidem, is a sedative-hypnotic that depresses the central nervous system and produces a euphoric effect if the user can stave off sleep. Despite the fact that Ambien is regularly prescribed by doctors to treat short-term insomnia, the drug is addictive, and people can form an addiction in as little as two weeks.


As time goes on, the insomniac can develop a tolerance to Ambien and may resort to taking higher doses to fall asleep. Soon, they may be inadvertently addicted to a drug their own doctor prescribed. Unlike other drugs, most people who abuse Ambien acquire the pills from family or friends with legitimate prescriptions, or go doctor shopping to get several prescriptions. Oftentimes, these people—who started out with a desire for a good night’s sleep—must be admitted to drug rehab.


The people most likely to abuse Ambien appear to be females; 68% of ER visits due to zolpidem are from women. Older populations are also at risk for abuse, possibly because the occurrence of insomnia and other sleep disorders increases with age. 74% of Ambien-related ER visits are from people over 45 years old.


When abused, Ambien has disturbing effects. People who take Ambien and deliberately stay awake can experience hallucinations, sleepwalking, and frequent blackouts. Abusers report cooking meals, driving, and conducting phone calls while asleep, and oftentimes have no memory of their actions. Anyone with these symptoms should find an addiction treatment program immediately. It’s possible to overdose on Ambien because it depresses breathing and heart rate, slowing down each system to a potential failure, resulting in coma or death.


People addicted to Ambien may experience stomach cramps, irritability, nausea, dizziness, fatigue, mental confusion, and nervousness. Severe addicts can have suicidal thoughts, psychotic episodes, and panic attacks. However, anyone addicted to Ambien should not go cold turkey, as stopping use suddenly can result in serious withdrawal symptoms, including seizures. Clinical supervision at an addiction recovery facility is necessary for any detoxification.


What’s tragic about Ambien addiction is that it’s often fast-acting and accidental. Addictions to drugs like Ambien are serious and need to be treated right away. If you or someone you love is struggling with addiction, please contact Right Path Drug Rehab today to find an addiction treatment center that will take care of your individual needs, and take your first step toward recovery and a healthy life.

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