Can You Get Addicted to Ambien?

addicted to Ambien

Can You Get Addicted to Ambien?

Ambien is a drug belonging to the sedative-hypnotics class. Ambien works by activating the neurotransmitter GABA, which causes the brain and central nervous system (CNS) to slow down. While Ambien is used to treat insomnia, it is only intended for short-term use. This is because Ambien can produce long-term side effects and symptoms of dependency.

There are two forms of Ambien. The first is a rapid release which helps initiate sleep. The second form is extended-release and helps to maintain sleep. People can get addicted to either type of Ambien if they abuse the medication or use it on a long-term basis.

While this medication is not a benzodiazepine, it was designed to have similar effects to benzodiazepines like Xanax. However, Ambien was created in hopes of eliminating the hazardous and habit-forming effects of benzodiazepine drugs as an alternative for insomnia patients. Unfortunately, Ambien is still addictive when misused.

Is it Possible to Get Addicted to Ambien?

Ambien addiction is possible, but how? First, the individual must develop a dependence on Ambien. This can happen once a person uses Ambien for a long time, or uses too much Ambien frequently. If an individual is suffering from Ambien dependency, that means that their body cannot function without it. Additionally, this means the individual would experience withdrawal symptoms if they missed a dose of their medication.

If a person who is Ambien dependent continues to use the medication, they will develop an addiction. Addiction causes a number of brain changes, making it very difficult for a person to control their Ambien use.

These changes may include brain alterations in the following areas:[1]

  • Frontal cortex
  • Amygdala
  • Nucleus accumbens
  • Hippocampus
  • Ventral pallidum
  • Others

Additionally, the structural changes that Ambien addiction causes lead to additional symptoms that make it difficult for the individual to quit using Ambien on their own. This may include concentration and memory problems, intense drug-related memories, a decreased ability to control impulses, and a strong drive to seek drug intoxication.

Who Abuses Ambien?

Ambien abuse is common among individuals who have been prescribed the medication for a long time. Additionally, individuals with a past history of substance abuse are at a higher risk for abusing the drug than their peers. However, there are many other individuals who abuse Ambien for varying reasons.

Important statistics on Ambien abuse:[2]

  • According to NSDUH, more than 250,000 people were abusing Ambien in 2013.
  • Emergency room visits related to Ambien abuse increased from 6,111 in 2005 to over 19,000 in 2010.
  • 68% of Ambien-related emergency room visits are women.
  • 74% of Ambien-related emergency room visits are patients over the age of 45 years old.
  • Half of Ambien-related emergency room visits involved a combination of over drugs, particularly narcotic analgesics, other sleeping medications, or anti-anxiety medications.

Signs of Ambien Abuse and Addiction

Whether a patient takes their medication as prescribed or abuses it, a physical dependence can develop in as little as two weeks. When a person is dependent on Ambien, it doesn’t take long for them to cross the line to a full-fledged addiction. This is because the withdrawal symptoms of Ambien are particularly difficult to deal with, causing the individual to continually abuse the drug for relief. In fact, Ambien withdrawal symptoms are dangerous, as delirium and seizures are possible.[3]

Unfortunately, many individuals are unaware they are addicted to Ambien because they are prescribed it by their doctor.

The signs of Ambien abuse include:

  • Refilling prescriptions early on a frequent basis
  • Regularly taking a higher dose of Ambien than recommended
  • Strong cravings to use Ambien
  • Putting oneself in risky situations with no recollection later on (i.e. driving while blacked out on Ambien and not remembering it later)
  • Isolation from friends and family
  • Slurred or fragmented voice
  • Exhibiting unusually high levels of energy and appearing perplexed
  • Showing signs of exhaustion
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Shaky limbs

The Side Effects of Ambien Abuse

The side effects of Ambien have the possibility of becoming very dangerous, especially when the drug is abused. Because it is a sleeping medication, users of Ambien have reported being in a “trance” or “sleep-like” state after taking this drug. However, instead of sleeping, they are driving their cars, going on walks, and putting themselves in dangerous situations without being able to recall what happened the next morning.

The side effects of Ambien abuse include:

  • Drowsiness throughout the day
  • Dizziness or weakness
  • Lightheadedness
  • Sleepiness throughout the day
  • Exhaustion
  • Coordination problems
  • Clogged nose
  • Dependency
  • Withdrawal symptoms
  • Addiction

If you or a loved one abuse Ambien, it is important to seek professional help. Ambien addiction can cause serious symptoms of withdrawal, which may become fatal without medical intervention.

Addicted to Ambien? Find Help Today

Ambien addiction requires professional treatment, especially during the withdrawal phases of recovery. Once an individual has completed detox, professional therapists and addiction experts can help them to unpack the root causes of their addiction.

Contact Florida Recovery Group today for more information on how to end Ambien addiction.


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