Ambien (zolpidem) is a sedative that belongs to a class of drugs called “z-drugs”. It is used to treat insomnia. Ambien works on the receptors in the brain that bind with GABA. GABA is a chemical in the brain that influences sleep and some other neurological activities. Ambien is similar to a benzodiazepine and is said to be less habit-forming, however, you can become dependent and get addicted to this medication. According to the Indian Journal of Pharmacology:
The Z-category hypnotics are promoted for their relative safety. However, this view is challenged by the emerging clinical evidence in the form of zolpidem related intoxication delirium and seizures, and dependence and complicated withdrawal. (NIH)
Ambien comes in two forms, regular Ambien and Ambien CR (controlled release). If Ambien is taken on a short-term basis only and used according to a doctor’s orders, then it is a relatively safe medication and dependence and addiction are unlikely. If an individual takes Ambien for longer than a few weeks, takes more than the recommended dose, or uses the drug recreationally or for nonmedical reasons then they can become chemically dependent and addiction can develop. Once a person becomes addicted or dependent on the drug, withdrawal symptoms will occur if it is abruptly stopped.
Ambien Withdrawal Symptoms
Ambien withdrawal typically has the opposite effect of taking the drug. When someone dependent or addicted to the medication abruptly stops taking it, more severe symptoms can occur. It can become more difficult to sleep than ever before, making you relapse and continue taking the drug. Ambien withdrawal can cause what is called “rebound insomnia”. Rebound insomnia is the inability to sleep, and it is often worse than it was before starting the medication. Ambien suppresses the central nervous system and reduces the firing of certain nerves in the brain. When a person that has become dependent on Ambien suddenly stops the drug, the diminishing effects of it suddenly dissipate and the nerves go into overdrive to try to overcome this change. Rebound insomnia can last for several weeks after the drug is stopped. Luckily, sleeping pill detox is possible to make the whole withdrawal process as comfortable as possible. With the right support and medical detoxification protocol, it’s possible to safely stop abusing Ambien and begin living a life without the drug. Some of the withdrawal symptoms of Ambien can include:
- High blood pressure
- Agitation and irritability
- Nausea and vomiting
- Stomach cramps
- Panic Attacks
The duration of Ambien withdrawal can last anywhere from a few days to several weeks depending on how much of the drug the individual was taking and for what length of time when it was stopped. The withdrawal symptoms for someone that was taking Ambien CR (controlled release) will last longer than someone that was taking regular Ambien. Ambien withdrawal typically starts about 48 hours after the last dose was taken. In the first 2 days of withdrawal the symptoms are usually mild, but start to increase. Days 3 to 5 are when the withdrawal symptoms fully manifest and are the most severe. Weeks 1-2 after stopping Ambien are when users begin to feel normal again, and by week 2 the symptoms have usually faded and the individual can start to sleep normally again.
Detox From Ambien Safely
Discontinuing Ambien abruptly can cause seizure activity, tremors, convulsions, and dangerously high blood pressure. Ambien can be tapered down through your doctor, but the safest way to detox is in a medically supervised treatment environment where the individual can be monitored and given medications to prevent the dangerous and uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms.
Treatment for Ambien Addiction
If you or someone you love is struggling with Ambien dependence, our addiction specialists are available around the clock to assist you. Evoke Wellness at Miramar offers cutting edge addiction treatment. We will help you get through the detox process with minimal pain and discomfort. We offer a safe environment and treat our clients with respect. Our mission is to help you build the foundation for long-term recovery. Your new life can start now if you give us a call today.