Differences Between Side Effects of Ambien and Addiction Symptoms

Anxiety is a side effect of Ambien abuse

Regular Ambien use comes with a slew of possible side effects. Some of the most dramatic and publicized include sleep activities such as driving a car, eating, walking or talking while asleep. Users will wake with no memory of what they have done while sleeping. While this is a possible side effect of any Ambien use, likelihood increases with abuse of Ambien or use of Ambien in conjunction with alcohol or other drugs. Polydrug use and drug misuse can often lead to addiction and are signs that addiction has already developed.

Are Ambien Side Effects a Cause for Concern?

Common side effects of Ambien use include drowsiness, dizziness and diarrhea. These are cause for concern, but the Food and Drug Administration considers the following side effects cause for immediate concern, cessation of medication use and discussion with a medical professional:

  • Memory loss
  • Anxiety
  • Allergic reaction

Additionally, the FDA warns individuals to be aware of changes in thoughts or behavior including, “more outgoing or aggressive behavior than normal, confusion, agitation, hallucinations, worsening of depression, and suicidal thoughts or actions” (“Medication Guide: Ambien”). Age also changes how drugs affect the body, the rate of addiction development and possible signs of abuse. According to AARP, Ambien side effects may change to include, “powerful morning ‘hangovers,’ especially in older people, as well as memory loss (even amnesia), dementia and suicidal thoughts. Studies show that their use dramatically increases the risk of falls and fractures. Ambien can cause sleepwalking and the type of mania and hypomania that are associated with bipolar, or manic-depressive, disorder.

Are You Addicted to Ambien?

Changes in thought and behavior appear to be the most serious side effect concerns among Ambien users of any age. These effects are cause for cessation of medication use, as they indicate that Ambien is not working properly and are signs of addiction. Helpguide.org considers generic psychological signs of addiction to include the following:

  • Changes in personality or attitude
  • Sudden mood swings
  • Irritability or anger
  • Lack of motivation; lethargy
  • Hyperactivity or agitation
  • Feelings of fear, anxiety or paranoia

These closely mimic Ambien use side effects. Drowsiness and anxiety are listed among the most common Ambien side effects, while hyperactivity or mania is a common effect of Ambien use in older adults. Personality changes are also shared side effects of Ambien use and addiction in general. Because signs and symptoms of use and abuse overlap so closely, it is important to bring up any side effect or noticed physical or psychological change experienced while taking Ambien. Ambien should only be prescribed for short-term use, so if symptoms are experienced after extended use or misuse, they are more likely signs of addiction than side effects. If you are concerned about your or a loved one’s Ambien use and effects or symptoms you are experiencing, call our toll-free helpline. Our admissions coordinators can provide an addiction assessment and are here 24 hours a day to help you find drug abuse and addiction recovery resources.