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Signs and symptoms of Ambien addiction

Do you suspect that you or someone that you care about is addicted to Ambien? You’re in the right place.

Physical dependence on Ambien (zolpidem) IS DIFFERENT THAN addiction. Here, we review the most common signs and symptoms of addiction to Ambien, which include taking Ambien to get high. We begin with advice on how to recognize addiction, then we cover the signs of addiction, and finally list best treatments for Ambien addiction. Please save your questions for the end. We try to respond to all legitimate questions with a personal and prompt response.

Ambien addiction signs

Addiction IS NOT the same as physical dependence. Addiction is characterized by psychological symptoms, while dependence is a physical phenomenon. Dependence on Ambien occurs after regular, daily dosing of zolpidem for a period of about a month (more or less). When you are dependent on Ambien, the brain and central nervous system have adapted to the presence of zolpidem and compensate for the hypnotic in a few ways. So, when Ambien is not available, you experience withdrawal symptoms, which can manifest as “rebound insomnia”. While dependence can be present during cases of Ambien addiction, dependence ALONE is not a sign of Ambien addiction.

Ambien users are less likely to develop addiction when compared to other drugs prescribed for sleeping problems, such as Ativan. However, that does not mean that Ambien is not habit-forming or potentially addictive in cases where doses are abused. Still, it can be difficult to tell the difference between Ambien addiction and normal Ambien side effects…or to know when to get help for Ambien addiction.

In general, Ambien addicts usually take Ambien for non-therapeutic effect. And when it comes to Ambien abuse, addicts are taking the drug more often than recommended and in excessively higher doses. So one way to identify addiction is try to follow the dosing schedule. But taking Ambien in high doses is only one possible sign of problems with Ambien.

Symptoms of Ambien addiction

Ambien is a short-acting non benzodiazepine hypnotic, that works really quickly (within 15 minutes of ingestion) and has a half-life of 2 to 3 hours. Some people (even those with no drug abuse histories) increase Ambien intake gradually over time to reach supra-therapeutic doses ranging anywhere from 60 mg to 2,000 mg per day. But dose alone cannot indicate addiction. According to the DSM IV clinical criteria for Ambien addiction, which outlines the framework for Ambien addiction symptoms, symptoms of Ambien addiction include:

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  • constant, persistent, or continued use of Ambien for non-medical purposes
  • continued use over time despite negative consequences in social and private life, at school or work
  • increased Ambien doses administered more often than medically suggested
  • not being able to quit Ambien
  • buying Ambien illegally in order to maintain abuse
  • experiencing the psychological urge, craving and/or compulsion for Ambien use
  • the presence of withdrawal symptoms each time Ambien use is interrupted or doses are significantly lowered (dependence)

Ambien addiction symptoms: Can they be treated?

Yes. Ambien addiction symptoms can be treatment. In fact, drug addiction treatment can be generalized this way:

1. Detox

2. Physical stabilization

3. Pharmacological treatments

4. Psychological and behavioral treatments

During the first stage of treatment, attention is paid to the physical condition of the addict. During the period of detoxification, zolpidem leaves the body and the body manifests withdrawal symptoms. This is a period when medical supervision is crucial. Doctors will either set up a tapering plan or address symptoms of withdrawal as they occur.

During the weeks and the months after initial withdrawal, you can work with doctors, psychologists, and psychiatrists to address protracted withdrawal symptoms or underlying mental health issues. Addiction is often accompanied by mood disorders such as anxiety or depression, and can often be caused by childhood traumas. Getting help to even out your sleeping schedules, mental state, and moods is crucial during this phase.

Additionally, pharmacological approaches using prescribed stimulants, benzodiazepines, barbiturates, and other sedative-hypnotics may also be used to treat addiction. Be aware, though, of the risk of substituting one addiction for another. Prescribing doctors can help assess risk of prescription drug abuse when considering pharmacological interventions.

The main crux of addiction treatment is psychological in nature. Behavioral and cognitive treatments practiced in individual, group, or family counseling sessions are the most practiced and effective therapies for treating Ambien addiction. By engaging the individual into a therapeutic community, attending organized therapy session, setting up motivational actions and support groups, former addicts can adapt positive habits and behaviors for the future.

Signs of Ambien addiction questions

We managed to cover the key facts about signs and symptoms of Ambien addiction. After reading the text, if you still have questions related to Ambien addiction, please leave them in the comments section. We try to respond to all legitimate comments with a personal and prompt answer.

Reference Sources: National Institute on Drug Abuse: Prescription Drugs: Abuse and Addiction
NCBI: Modest abuse-related subjective effects of zolpidem in drug-naive volunteers
Toxnet Hazardous Substances Bank: ZOLPIDEM TARTRATE

Photo credit: Guilia Forsythe

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7 Responses to “Signs and symptoms of Ambien addiction
Sherry
8:44 pm April 1st, 2014

I need help to get off ambien. I have been taking it for over a decade, its the only thing to works for me, have tried everything..I am now up too 30mg at night and sometimes, popping/ chewing up a half one during the day just to relax. Plus the bottle of cough syrup with 10% alcohol….. I can drink a half bottle in one night. I feel like i am losing my mind, can’t remember one day to the next, I admit I love the high, great trips or visions. I am also taking celexa 40mg, amytripline 100mg a day and paxil 50mgs,,,,,,,feel like nothing is working on my anxiety attacks, so i chew up half an ambien in the day time just to relax…..I have the shakes and I’m just 42 can’t remember anything, have had discussions that i can’t remember, know as the ambien call!!! Eating in my sleep….where do I start, how do i start??

10:02 am April 2nd, 2014

Hello Sherry. Good for you. You can start by learning about Ambien withdrawal. It takes time to come off Ambien, especially after long term, high dosage use. Check in with a pharmacist or your prescribing doctor for an individualized tapering plan. Then, you’ll need to address the underlying anxiety. Trauma, especially early life events, can be resolved through psychotherapy.

Getting off Ambien is more than addressing the physical dependence. You’ll need to take a look at changing your entire lifestyle. You can try to treat the issue independently, and seek outpatient treatment at an addiction clinic, with a psychotherapist, or a psychiatrist. Or you can look into inpatient treatment. Do you have a preference at the moment for either?

Paul
4:41 pm August 25th, 2014

I am a 73-year old man and have been taking 10 mg of Ambien each night for about 6 years. Although I had experienced bouts of insomnia previously, the primary reason I started taking it was to overcome jet lag after frequent, long, overseas business trips. I retired last year and am no longer traveling regularly, but am still taking Ambien because I sleep extremely well with it. To my knowledge, I am not experiencing any side effects, other than insomnia when I stop taking it. Since retirement, I have been taking half of a 10 mg tab of the generic zolpidem tartrate at bedtime around 10 p.m. and the other half at about 2 a.m. after getting up to go to the bathroom. This usually gives me 7-8 hours of very restful sleep. I feel great in the mornings and have noticed no problems driving. Is there any valid health reason why I should try to give up Ambien or reduce my dose? I don’t believe I am truly addicted to Ambien, although I admit to some physical dependency. For my perspective at age 73, getting a good night sleep is much more important to me than have a physical dependency, unless I can expect more side-effects as I get older. Please advise. Thank you.

Carol
11:11 pm March 6th, 2015

I have been taking Ambien for over 20 years. I am extremely tired always. I want to get off of it but, I don’t know if I need a medical hospitization to do this. I am a recovering alcoholic and have had problems recently with prescription drugs. I ended up in ICU twice. I have tried to reduce this medication on my own but became very ill. I do not want to jeopardize my sobriety and wanted to know what you would recommend. Thanks, Carol

3:51 pm March 12th, 2015

Hi Carol. Doctors usually don’t recommend quitting two substances at the same time. But, if you are in recovery from alcoholism, your brain is still not being fully recovered under the influence of other chemicals. Recovery is about leaving substance dependence behind you and starting over. Will you need medical assistance? Yes, most probably. But, at least you will be able to overcome all dependencies at once. I suggest your first point of contact to be your doctor, who can further refer you to a treatment facility in your area. Good luck to you, Carol!

anonoymous
2:54 am April 10th, 2015

2 warnings. The withdrawal from this dangerous drug is beyond vicious. Started at 10 mg and then worked up to 12.5 CR after 8 months I found out how dangerous this drug is., started to taper and no sleep for days.Had to get clonidine to get some rest.Plus abusers don’t post your drug abuse tales unless from a anonymous computer, say at a library. Its easy to find you and its against the law.Talk to a doctor privately.

Jan
3:26 pm February 17th, 2016

I have foolishly got myself involved with zolpidem 10mg and now find it has taken hold of me, and a absolutely desperate for some respite. obviously money is limited but I will have to beg steal or borrow, to get back some normality..please I beg for some recognitionand any guidelines that I can follow. please look on me in a favourable manner…kind regards

jan

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