Ambien is a medication that treats insomnia. It belongs to a class of drugs called sedative-hypnotics, which work by dampening arousal. Many doctors prefer Ambien to other prescription drugs because it onsets rapidly with few side effects, and metabolizes completely overnight. Additionally, it is less habit-forming than other medications for insomnia such as benzodiazepines. Nevertheless, risk of addiction increases under conditions including the following:
- When taking Ambien for two weeks at a time, or more
- When taking Ambien at higher doses than prescribed
Physical dependence to Ambien occurs when the body becomes unable to function correctly without the medication. In other words, an individual becomes unable to fall asleep or stay sleeping without the drug. Over time, he or she also begins taking higher doses of the drug to achieve the same effects.
Failure to take the drug triggers withdrawal symptoms that include the following:
- Agitation and irritability
- Convulsions or seizures
- Irrational belief that the drug is necessary
- Panic when the drug is not available
- Growing preoccupation with getting, using and maintaining an adequate supply of the drug
- Hiding drug use
- Obtaining prescriptions from multiple sources, including the Internet
Addicted individuals should never stop taking Ambien abruptly but instead should taper off the drug. Because it works by slowing the brain’s activity, stopping it causes an increase in activity that can rebound and trigger seizures. Medical oversight, ideally from a recovery center, is necessary to detox safely and avoid painful withdrawal symptoms.
Prescription Drug Abuse: Fast Facts
Although some people get addicted to Ambien because they illegally misuse the medication to get high, many accidentally stumble into dependence. Typically, these individuals fail to realize that prescription drugs can be just as dangerous as street drugs such as heroin or cocaine. They are also likely to believe that medication prescribed by a doctor cannot harm them.
Criteria that define prescription drug abuse and heighten risk of addiction include the following:
- Using a medication without a prescription
- Taking a medication in a way other than as prescribed
- Taking medication for the feelings or experiences it elicits
Prescription drug abuse can affect all age groups but is most common among young people. Early identification and intervention may prevent the problem from becoming chronic, so it is important to seek professional help at the first signs of addiction. The sooner a person becomes sober, the easier it may be to avoid worsening consequences and relapse.
Help for Ambien Addiction
If you or someone you love is struggling with addiction to Ambien help is available. Admissions coordinators at our toll-free, 24-hour helpline can guide you to wellness. Don’t go it alone when support is just one phone call away. Please call today to find out how you can find the road to recovery.