Although many Americans see nothing wrong with taking a pill to help them sleep, long-term use of Ambien, Ambien abuse or turning to Ambien as a first reaction to insomnia can lead to dangerous complications. Learning about the drug and possible consequences of use can help you make the decision to seek help to end yours or a loved one’s Ambien use.
Ambien Abuse Can Put You in the Hospital
According to studies reported in Men’s Journal, “emergency room visits stemming from Ambien use skyrocketed 220 percent between 2005 and 2010 […] 74 percent of ER visits were by people age 45 and up” (“The Rising Misuse of Ambien”). Ambien abuse and health complications related to Ambien aren’t just problems for reckless youth or irresponsible adults. As Ambien and other sleep-aid prescriptions become more common, attitudes towards these powerful drugs become more cavalier. Users may not stop to think about the dangers that may arise if they drink or use other drugs, prescribed or not, while on Ambien. They may gradually increase the amount of Ambien they take, if they continue to have trouble sleeping. Even an over-the-counter drug with sedative properties, such as Benadryl, can interact with Ambien and depress the central nervous system to dangerously slow levels. Ambien overdose can occur, even if individuals believe they have been using the drug responsibly.
Ambien Abuse Can Lead to Accidents
Everyone knows about the dangers of drinking and driving, but taking sleeping pills like Ambien can be even more detrimental to reflexes, perception and safety. The drug takes at least eight hours to leave an individual’s system, and that is when the drug is taken in correct amounts and at the right time. In January 2013 the recommended Ambien dosage for women was, “cut in half for female patients based on lab studies and driving tests that confirmed a risk of next-day drowsiness. (Women eliminate Ambien at a slower rate than men, the FDA said, and some still have enough in their system after eight hours to impair driving.)” (Elle, “The Awakening,” April 17, 2013). Even if individuals believe the drug is out of their system, their ability to drive or avoid other accidents may still be altered. Scientists are still learning about, and reporting on, the potential effects of Ambien, and even a prescribed dose may be anything but safe when mixed with motor vehicles or other dangerous situations.
Ambien Abuse May Cause Cancer
The short-term effects of Ambien abuse, such as sleepwalking, driving or eating, have been widely published, reported on and even joked about, but drug use is not a sensational or laughing matter. Immediate injury, overdose and accidents can occur and put users and those around them in danger, and even those who avoid the short-term consequences are at risk for long-term health problems. Elle reported on studies that show that Ambien and other hypnotic drugs, “might have carcinogenic properties—and, indeed, significantly higher rates of certain cancers, including lung, lymphomas, and colon, were detected.” Studies published in medical journals such as the Journal of Sleep Research corroborate this information, sharing that “Three epidemiologic studies observed that hypnotics consumption specifically predicted cancer deaths” (“Possibility That Certain Hypnotics Might Cause Cancer in Skin,” August 2008). Ambien abuse puts your short and long-term health at risk, and avoiding the consequences becomes more difficult as use and abuse continue.
Get help for yourself or a loved one today, and end the complications of Ambien abuse. You can get a good night’s sleep, and you can do so without depending on a dangerous drug. Call our toll-free helpline to learn more about your options for addiction treatment, outpatient recovery support or family intervention. We are here 24 hours a day, so call any time, day or night.