Ambien addictionAmbien, the brand name of the generic drug zolpidem, is a widely-prescribed, and also widely abused drug.  According to the National Center for Sleep Disorders Research at the National Institutes of Health, about 30-40% of adults say they have some symptoms of insomnia within a given year. Another 10-15% of the adult US population report chronic insomnia, which is defined as the inability to fall and/or stay asleep more nights than not, for at least 3 weeks.  Ambien is generally prescribed for insomnia and sleep issues, but unlike many other sleep aids classified as barbituates, it falls into a class of drugs called sedative-hypnotics.

As many of us know, insomnia and difficulty sleeping contribute to increased stress levels, depression, irritability and trouble functioning at work.  Making lifestyle changes takes time, and creating better sleep hygiene, exercising more and decreasing stress are often not easy to do.  Rather than wait weeks for results, many turn to the prescription drug Ambien for fast and effective relief.

The Dangers of Ambien/Zolpidem

One of the dangers of Ambien is its amnestic effect, in which someone under the influence of the drug can go into a blackout state and have no memory of his/her activities after taking Ambien.  This effect tends to be heightened when the drug is taken on an empty stomach.  Ambien’s warning label includes side effects of: sleep driving, sleep eating and sleep sex.  Once under the influence of Ambien, a user can easily forget that he/she has taken the drug and may take more.  It is also not uncommon for people to attempt to do regular activities after taking Ambien, such as making phone calls, writing emails, driving cars, completing things for work, etc. and then have no recollection of it the following day.  There have been numerous car accidents allegedly caused by the sleep driving effects of Ambien. The National Sleep Foundation has been an advocate about the dangers of drowsy driving and the dangers that are associated with it. They claim that drowsy driving is just as fatal as driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol, as drowsiness will effect your reaction time, the awareness of one's surroundings, and impairs your judgement.

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) reports the number of emergency department visits involving adverse reactions to the sleep medication zolpidem rose nearly 220% from 6,111 visits in 2005 to 19,487 visits in 2010.  SAMHSA also finds that in 2010 patients aged 45 or older represented about three-quarters (74 %) of all emergency department visits involving adverse reactions to zolpidem.

The United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recently required that the zolpidem dosage for females be cut in half, because zolpidem affects females differently from males.  It was found that the drug tended to be processed much slower in females.  Ellis Unger, MD, director of the FDA's Office of Drug Evaluation I reported it was unusual for the dosing recommendations to be different based on gender.

Ambien Addiction or Dependence

Many people do not know or do not fully understand that Ambien can be extremely habit forming.  Originally, it was thought that zolpidem was not very addictive, in comparison to barbiturates.  However, more studies are showing that dependence on Zolpidem can develop.  A Study indicates that the use of zolpidem among adolescents has become a dangerous concern.  Taking the drug on a regular basis almost always results in tolerance, meaning that more and more of the drug will be required to achieve the desired effect.

Ambien is prescribed to be taken immediately before bedtime because effects of the drug can be felt within minutes.  However, many people abuse the intense sedative and hypnotic effects of the drug and stay up in order to “overcome” the effects of the Ambien.  When purposely staying awake after taking Ambien, intense highs can be felt, leaving the user feeling euphoric and calm.

Like any other drug with abuse potential, it is very possible to become addicted and dependent upon Ambien, to the point that one cannot cut down or stop the use, becomes obsessed with obtaining and using the Ambien, and continuing to use Ambien despite negative consequences.  If you or someone you know may be addicted to Ambien, it is important to consider getting a chemical dependency evaluation to see if treatment may be necessary.  Once Ambien dependence is present, it can be very dangerous to stop the drug without the use of trained medical professionals. Remember, even if a drug is prescribed by a doctor, clients can abuse it or become dependent.

For more information about finding a treatment center right for you, contact New Hope Recovery Center. If you are concerned about yourself or a loved one, it is important to call and go in for an assessment with a professional.  All assessments at New Hope Recovery Center are confidential with no obligation for further treatment. Recovery is possible, let us help. Call us at 888-707-4673 or email us at info@new-hope-recovery.com.

Written by: New Hope Recovery Center

Want more information about prescription drugs? Check out our Journal for related articles or see below: 

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Prescription Drug Rehab: 5 Important Questions to Ask Looking for Prescription Drug Rehab?  You are not alone.  Prescription drugs have become a serious concern.  In 2013, nearly 60% of all drug overdose deaths resulted from prescription drugs. Approximately two thirds of prescription drug abusers get them from family and/or friends.  If you believe someone you know is abusing or addicted to prescription drugs, look for these prescription drug warning signs.

Most Abused Prescription Drugs The abuse of prescription drugs has been on an increase for many years.  Prescription drug abuse is the nation’s fastest-growing drug problem, and the Center’s Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has classified prescription drug abuse as an epidemic.  The National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) show that nearly one-third of people aged 12 and over who used drugs for the first time in 2009 began by using a prescription drug non-medically.

Warning Signs for Prescription Drug Abuse Prescription drugs are often abused or misused. Like all types of abuse and addiction there is usually a component of secrecy or denial surrounding the problem. According toFoundation for a Drug-Free World here are some warning signs that someone is abusing prescription drugs.