- What Is Ambien?
- Signs and Symptoms of Abuse
- How is Ambien Abuse Diagnosed?
- What Are the Effects of Abuse?
- Combining with Other Substances
- Who is at Risk for Addiction?
- When to Seek Help
- Help for Addicted Friends and Family
- Ambien Rehab and Treatment Options
- Teen Ambien Abuse and Addiction
What is Ambien Abuse?Though some Ambien addicts use the drug on a recreational basis, most people with an Ambien addiction become addicts accidentally.
With prolonged use of 3 months or more, the likelihood of developing an Ambien addiction increases exponentially.
What Is Ambien?
10% of Americans struggle with chronic insomnia, with even more--between 30% and 35%--occasionally struggling to fall asleep. Ambien, the branded version of the drug zolpidem, has quickly become one of the most popular sleeping aids.
Though it can help people who struggle with insomnia finally get some shuteye, it also has a very high addiction rate, especially if taken in excess of prescribed doses or duration.
Signs and Symptoms of Abuse
Ambien helps users sleep by slowing down activity in the central nervous system. Thus, users feel sleepy and may appear sluggish or exhausted.
Some signals that a person you love may be abusing Ambien include:
- Frequent sleepiness.
- Unusual nighttime behavior--prolonged Ambien use can lead to:
- Even having sex, eating, or driving while sleeping.
- Difficulty concentrating.
- Taking sleeping pills along with other drugs, such as alcohol.
- Taking more than the prescribed dose of Ambien.
How is Ambien Abuse Diagnosed?
Ambien abuse is a disease, which means that it produces predictable changes in your mind, body, and life.
The process begins with a chemical dependency that convinces you that you need Ambien to feel "normal."
From there, you may continue using Ambien in spite of negative consequences such as a lost job or strained relationship.
It's up to you to determine when your Ambien use crosses the line, but the sooner you seek treatment, the less challenging the journey of recovery will be.
What Are the Effects of Abuse?
Though many users can use Ambien without a problem, it's safest when used as a short-term sleep aid.
Some users find that therapy, lifestyle changes or changing their sleep habits can help them get back on track and that Ambien assists them through this process. For users who get no relief from other measures and who must continue taking Ambien, though, the results are often more pronounced.
With long-term usage or if you take more than the recommended dosage, some possible effects include:
- Changes in personality.
- Sudden death.
- Feeling sluggish or depressed.
- Increased difficulty sleeping.
- Brain damage; long-term use of sleep aids may interfere with your memory.
- Difficulty concentrating.
- Organ damage.
- Weakness and exhaustion.
- Accidental overdose, especially when combined with other drugs.
Combining with Other Substances
Thousands of people accidentally overdose every year by combining Ambien with other drugs.
Mixing sleeping pills with any other drug--legal or not--is extraordinarily dangerous, unless you have your doctor's explicit permission.
Though Ambien wasn't around in Marilyn Monroe's time, it was the combination of Ambien-like sleep aids with alcohol and other drugs that ultimately killed her.
Every year, thousands of people accidentally overdose by combining Ambien with other drugs. Even if you manage to survive such a dangerous combination, you can still suffer prolonged mental and physical health difficulties.
There is no benefit to combining Ambien with any other drug, and plenty of risks, so no matter how much trouble you have sleeping, remember that mixing drugs is simply not worth it.
Who is at Risk for Addiction?
History of Insomnia
Since most Ambien addicts have valid medical prescriptions, a history of insomnia is a significant risk factor for Ambien addiction, especially if your insomnia is not well controlled with therapy or other measures.
History of Abuse
Though anyone can become an Ambien addict, some other experiences--such as a history of abuse or a stressful living environment--can make addiction seem like a more viable option.
Family history also plays a role; a family history of addiction can indicate a genetic tendency toward addiction, but also indicate early exposure to an addicted family member.
Social influences can make the addiction seem "normal," thereby increasing your odds of turning to drugs.
When to Seek Help
It's not easy to admit that Ambien has overtaken your life. In a world where drug addicts are derided as moral failures, a hefty dose of shame may even compromise your willingness to seek help.
Treatment for your addiction, though, is the first step on the road to a happier, healthier life.
Some signs that you need treatment include:
- Experiencing withdrawal symptoms when you attempt to stop using Ambien.
- Difficulty concentrating when not under Ambien's influence.
- Suffering medical, family, legal or financial difficulties due to your Ambien abuse.
- Feeling like you'll never be able to get clean.
- Hurting yourself or someone you love because of Ambien.
Help for Addicted Friends and Family
If someone you love is an addict, it's easy to take the addiction personally. Maybe, the thinking goes, if you were more loving or helpful, the addiction would go away.
Ambien can cause users to disconnect, and neglect their families, thus hurting them immensely.
Addiction is solely the responsibility of an addict, and you cannot force anyone to get sober. However, this doesn't mean that addicts deserve your contempt.
Addiction is a disease, not a choice, and like other diseases, it necessitates professional treatment. The most loving and helpful thing you can do for your loved one is to encourage him or her to seek prompt treatment.
Ambien Rehab and Treatment Options
If you're ready to get sober, there's good news. A wide variety of treatment options can help you start anew. The key is to find a treatment facility that feels safe and comfortable to you.
Outpatient treatment allows you to continue living your normal life while receiving assistance managing your addiction.
Many addicts group all inpatient treatment options under the general umbrella of "rehab," but inpatient treatment is anything but one size fits all.
Most inpatient programs blend a combination of:
- 12-Step Programs.
- Support groups.
- Medical care in a drug and alcohol-free environment.
Every program offers a unique approach. Some highlight the value of healthy living. Others are influenced by specific religious or philosophical ideologies.
Teen Ambien Abuse and Addiction
Teens are increasingly raiding parents' and grandparents' drug cabinets to get high, so if you take Ambien and have a child, secure your prescriptions. It's also wise to periodically count your pills to ensure they're not disappearing.
If your teen has an Ambien addiction, no amount of punishment, pleading, or yelling will convince him/her her to stop using.
Instead, she needs prompt and skillful treatment. For many teens, inpatient rehab is ideal since it offers a break from peer pressure as well as a chance to escape any stresses your child faces at home.
You'll need to act quickly since Ambien is especially dangerous for developing teens. It can:
- Stunt brain development.
- Impede your child's ability to learn.
- Lead to emotional challenges that compromise their academic performance and relationships with peers.