Effects and Side Effects of Ambien Abuse

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  1. Immediate Effects and Adverse Effects of Ambien Use
  2. Long-term Effects of Ambien
  3. How Addiction Changes your Life
  4. Ambien Addiction and Mental Health

What is Ambien Used For?

Ambien is a sedative medication meant to be used short-term to treat insomnia.

It comes in 2 different forms:

  • Quick release, which is helpful to initiate sleep.
  • Extended release, which is helpful to maintain sleep.
What is Ambien Used For?

Immediate Effects and Adverse Effects of Ambien Use

The disruption in motor skills, short-term memory and extreme sedation can lead to adverse consequences.

It is the sleep medication known to cause sleepwalking, sleep eating and even sleep driving after use, with no recollection of doing so the next day.

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The disruption in motor skills, short-term memory and extreme sedation can lead to adverse consequences, like car accidents or falls.

Ambien takes about 15-30 minutes to have an effect. Since Ambien is prescribed to treat insomnia, the common effect of it is drowsiness.

Staying awake to experience the full effects of Ambien is becoming more popular among adolescents and young adults. These effects include:

  • Dizziness.
  • Light headedness.
  • Feeling like the room is spinning and double vision.

Users should only take Ambien if they have a full 7 or 8 hours of sleep as lingering effects of drowsiness or dizziness may be present upon waking up.

In January 2013, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) required the manufacturers of Ambien to lower recommended doses because of these lingering effects.

Long-term Effects of Ambien

Ambien is clinically indicated for use no longer than 4-6weeks due to unwanted long-term effects.

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These effects include:

  • Confusion.
  • Abdominal pain.
  • Headaches.
  • Dry mouth.
  • Muscle aches.
  • Cramping.

Other effects include:

  • Mood swings.
  • Loss of appetite.
  • Problems with coordination.
  • Loss of energy.
  • Loss of memory.

According to a study by the University of Colorado at Boulder (2011), Ambien leads to imbalance and cognitive impairments, increasing a user’s risk of injury.

Ambien also depresses the respiratory system and if the underlying cause of insomnia is sleep apnea, this can reduce the drive to breathe.

  • Craving

    Users may crave the effects of Ambien and when they do not have the drug, it is possible this craving may lead users to seek access of it outside of a doctor’s prescription.

    Someone abusing the drug may experience a craving to take more than prescribed in an effort to increase the effects of it.

  • Dependence

    As with any other mind-altering drug, the potential for dependence on Ambien is a risk. Users who enjoy the effects of Ambien may start to use the medication while staying awake to experience the high associated with it.

    Because stopping Ambien can lead to returning sleep difficulty, a user may psychologically depend on it to use for longer than indicated.

    Withdrawal symptoms may also cause users to start taking it again in an effort to prevent experiencing these symptoms.

  • Tolerance

    Tolerance to Ambien is rarely reported but usually involves taking the medication for longer than indicated. This can lead Ambien to lose its effectiveness and a doctor may recommend discontinuation of the medication to prevent tolerance.

    It can be dangerous for someone to double their dose as this can lead to worsening of side effects. Tolerance may be described as no longer being able to fall asleep as quickly or not being able to stay asleep on it.

  • Withdrawal

    Withdrawal symptoms from Ambien may include:

    • Agitation.
    • Restlessness.
    • Anxiety.
    • Tremors.
    • Rebound insomnia.

    Most research into Ambien withdrawal symptoms is based on case studies, however research into other sedatives indicates the risk of seizures during withdrawal.

    Withdrawal symptoms are less likely to occur with shorter duration of treatment (Freidman, et al. 1996). High-dose withdrawal symptoms of Ambien can lead to prolonged impairment of psychomotor cognitive functioning up to six months after withdrawal.

If Ambien use has progressed from a short-term sleep aid to a troublesome routine, that includes intense cravings and an inability to function without it, you could benefit from the services of an Ambien recovery program.

Call 1-888-993-3112Who Answers? any time of the day or night to speak to someone about Ambien addiction treatment programs.

How Addiction Changes your Life

As mentioned above, Ambien is the sleep medication known to cause sleepwalking, sleep eating and sleep driving which has serious and sometimes fatal consequences. Sleep driving can lead to car accidents and lingering effects of Ambien the next day can impair driving leading to arrests for driving under the influence. Ambien addiction that leads users to sleep eat on a regular basis can impact a person’s physical health.

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Negative health effects include:

  • Increased levels of cholesterol in the blood.
  • Elevated insulin levels.
  • High blood pressure.
  • Unhealthy increases in weight.

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Financial consequences of Ambien addiction include costs for:

  • Monthly prescriptions.
  • Hospital visits from adverse effects.
  • Hospital visits from accidents.
  • Addiction treatment.

A study published in 2012 on the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) website indicates that almost 19,500 emergency room visits were linked to Ambien.

Because a user can experience blackouts and amnesia, it is possible to engage in behaviors that impact relationships with friends, significant others and family members. There have been reported cases of compulsive shopping, infidelity, gambling and texting or emailing under the influence of Ambien.

Ambien Addiction and Mental Health

Increasing numbers of military veterans are abusing substances to relieve symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

According to SAMHSA, in 2012 a national survey on drug use and health indicated the prevalence of co-occurring mental illness and substance use disorders was higher in adult men than adult women.

Increasing numbers of military veterans are abusing substances to relieve symptoms of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). They are more likely to experience insomnia as a symptom related to PTSD and may be more likely to abuse Ambien.

Insomnia can also be a symptom of someone with clinically diagnosed depression, which increases a person’s risk for becoming addicted to Ambien in order to relieve insomnia.

Ambien can worsen a user’s depressive symptoms leading to a loss of motivation and interest in activities, and make one feel generally 'numb.' Worsening in depression has led to an increased risk of suicide among Ambien abusers.

If the negative effects of daily Ambien use are interfering with your routine, but you feel helpless to quit taking it, it might be time to seek out some professional recovery options.

Speak to a treatment support specialist at 1-888-993-3112Who Answers? about Ambien abuse treatment programs today.

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