Ambien is a brand name for zolpidem. Doctors prescribe it to treat people with insomnia or other sleep disturbances, and the sedative-hypnotic properties provide short-term relief. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) states that more than one-third of all adults do not get enough sleep. Substance use disorders (SUDs) involving Ambien usually start with prescribed medication.
Experts recommend Ambien use be limited to 35 days or less, but many doctors prescribe for six months or longer. Unfortunately, some people become unable to sleep without taking the drug, which leads to dependency and potential addiction. In some cases, when their short-term prescription ends, people who have developed a SUD purchase illegally obtained Ambien, steal prescriptions from friends and family, or go “doctor shopping” online and in-person to get access from unsuspecting medical professionals.
The deliberate long-term use or abuse of Ambien can have potentially severe and deadly consequences. According to information provided by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration in 2010, Ambien and similar drugs were responsible for approximately 20,793 emergency room visits related to overmedication. Common causes of Ambien overmedication include:
Rebound insomnia is a syndrome discovered relatively recently. Once you stop taking Ambien, insomnia and sleep disturbances usually return and increase in severity for several days after the last dose. The rebound period is when many people relapse, overmedicate, or overdose.
More research still needs to be done on rebound insomnia caused by the cessation of sleep aids. However, current studies indicate only a small percentage of people experience the syndrome with Ambien. The statistical likelihood of the average person going through rebound insomnia even after prolonged use of Ambien is low except in cases where they took large amounts of the substance over a long period. You should not ignore the dangers associated with rebound insomnia despite how rarely it occurs. Speak with your doctor to learn more and determine your susceptibility to the condition.
Ambien is a sedative-hypnotic and becomes dangerous when mixed with alcohol or other drugs that cause similar effects. Zolpidem works by causing a chemical reaction in the brain that slows down activity in the central nervous system. Staying awake after taking Ambien creates feelings of calm and extreme tiredness. If you ingest other substances while in that state, you increase the risk of adverse reactions.
Alcohol enhances some unfavorable side effects of Ambien, leading to severe injury or even death. Zolpidem use is known to cause the following in some individuals:
Some people should not take Ambien or similar sleep aids because of the high risk of current co-occurring conditions. People with the following health complications should avoid Ambien:
Extreme tiredness throughout the day is a typical result of insomnia and other sleep disorders treated by Ambien. Sedative-hypnotic effects of the drug mean it has the potential to cause extreme tiredness in anyone misusing zolpidem. Other known health side effects include:
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports the following demographics are especially susceptible to using legal and illegal Ambien:
Insomnia and substance use disorder both require individual treatment. The most common treatments for Ambien addiction include psychotherapy, alternative therapies, relapse education, and medication-assisted treatment (MAT). Standard behavioral and alternative therapies include: