Ambien detox treatment

During Ambien detox, you can expect the recurrence of insomnia, as well as abdominal and muscle cramps, vomiting and tremors, or nervousness and panic attacks. More on how to treat these symptoms here.

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People who are physically or psychologically dependent on Ambien (zolpidem) find it very hard to stop using it or cut down because of withdrawal symptoms. In fact, suddenly stopping your use of Ambien can be dangerous. So, how can you detox from Ambien safely? Find out more here, with a section at the end for your questions.

Ambien detox: What to expect?

While no standard detoxification regimen has been proposed to date – despite the similarity of effects of Ambien and benzodiazepines at high doses – there are some general guidelines that you can follow. So what occurs during Ambien withdrawal syndrome and detox?

When you stop using Ambien after a period of physical dependence, you can expect first to experience a set of predictable symptoms.  This set of symptoms is called “withdrawal”. Withdrawal symptoms following abrupt discontinuation or significantly lowering doses of Ambien may include:

  • abdominal and muscle cramps
  • convulsions
  • insomnia
  • lightheadedness
  • mild dysphoria
  • nervousness
  • panic attacks
  • tremors
  • vomiting

Rapid Ambien detox treatment

An Ambien addict should undergo medically supervised detoxification, as the dosage of the drug should be gradually tapered until it is eliminated completely from the person’s system. However, gradual drug detox may not work for some Ambien addicts, and in these cases, drug replacement therapy may be performed. In a drug replacement approach, a similar drug with a longer half-life is substituted for the addictive drug.

In extreme cases, such as when a person can’t or won’t taper, there is always the option of hospitalization and rapid detoxification with a continuous flumazenil infusion.  Flumazenil works as a benzodiazepine agonist (among people with benzodiazepine tolerance). When administered continuously, it allows for the abrupt discontinuation of Ambien and a rapid detoxification. Flumazenil is often used in an inpatient setting to mitigate a drug replacement approach when substituting a long-acting benzodiazepine for Ambien. The procedure should be performed by board-certified physicians and a team of specialized nurses to ensure safe withdrawal from Ambien.

How to detox from Ambien safely

Due to the very real risk of seizures, once dependent on Ambien , you should never stop using Ambien very suddenly (go cold turkey off Ambien), nor should you reduce your daily dosage too quickly. Prepare yourself when starting the detoxification process by initiating detox during a period of low external stressors, together with patient commitment to manage underlying anxiety disorders. In most cases, doctors will advise that you slowly taper down your dose, or switch to an equivalent dosage of a longer acting benzodiazepine, like diazepam, and then taper down from that.To quit Ambien safely, the following options have been recommended by experts:

1. Begin with a slow taper of the hypnotic agent (zolpidem) that you are already taking. This taper may be conducted over several weeks or perhaps even months. When making a tapering plan consider taking your time and know that spaced gradual reductions cause fewer withdrawal symptoms and less rebound insomnia. You might consider a 10% reduction every 2 weeks. Or, you can try a slightly more aggressive tapering plan, such as reducing by 10% per week, knowing that you can always slow things down if it becomes unmanageable.

2. Switching to a benzodiazepine if you have a serious abuse problem with your primary agent may be therapeutic. Benzodiazepines with a long half-life can be effective; chlorodiazepoxide and clonazepam are recommended. Or, switching to a long-acting barbiturate like Phenobarbital can be effective.

3. Anticonvulsants such as carbamazepine and valproate, as well as sedating antidepressants such as trazodone and imipramine, have been advocated for use in withdrawal from Ambien.

4. A variety of cognitive and behavioral techniques have been proposed to assist a medication taper.

Detox from Ambien questions

We hope we’ve helped address the main ways that Ambien detox is treated.  Remember that Ambien detoxification may require intervention during a period of crisis; encouraging users to make changes in the direction of health and recovery can help. but this process should begin when the patient is medically stabilized.

Still have questions about Ambien detox treatment? Please leave your questions in the comments section below. We do our best to respond to you personally and promptly.

Reference Sources: Daily Med: Ambien
HHS of Arkansas: Regional Drug and Alcohol Detoxification
NHTSA: Zolpidem
SAMHSA Quick Guide Tip for Clinicians:TIP 45 Detoxification and Substance Abuse Treatment
NCBI: Quetiapine Treatment of Zolpidem Dependence
NSW Health Department: Benzodiazepines
NCBI: Detoxification of high-dose zolpidem using cross-titration with an adequate equivalent dose of diazepam
About the author
Lee Weber is a published author, medical writer, and woman in long-term recovery from addiction. Her latest book, The Definitive Guide to Addiction Interventions is set to reach university bookstores in early 2019.
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