Addicted to Ambien?
You are not alone.
In fact, According to the 2017 National Survey on Drug Use ad Health, about 1.4 million people aged 12 or older in 2017 misused prescription tranquilizers for the first time in the past year. But take hope! Ambien addiction can be treated medically.
Ambien addiction occurs when you continue using Ambien (zolpidem) despite negative effects to your health, relationships, and other aspects of life. People addicted to Ambien crave the drug and use it compulsively, usually for psychological reasons, and/or at larger doses than prescribed by a doctor. Oftentimes, people addicted to the drug also use it in combination with other drugs or Ambien.
In this article, we explore the causes of Ambien addiction and what’s it like being ‘hooked’ on this medication. Then, we cover more about the methods doctors use to diagnose and address addiction. At the end, we welcome you to send us your questions in the comments section and do our best to answer all legitimate inquiries personally and promptly.
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Addiction to Ambien: What It Feels Like
Although the use of Ambien is very effective in helping people with insomnia and sleep problems, Ambien is recommended for short-term use only. Using too much, more frequently, and for longer than intended can be a slippery slope towards addiction…AND it may look something like this:
- A doctor firsts prescribes Ambien for the treatment of a sleep problem.
- As your tolerance grows you require more Ambien to be able to fall asleep and stay asleep.
- You develop dependence which makes you feel sick when you try to quit Ambien, so you continue use to prevent withdrawal symptoms from occurring.
- You experience rebound insomnia (common withdrawal symptom) upon cessation, so you need to go back to Ambien just to be able to sleep and function normally.
To put it more simply: Ambien addiction is like a cage. A person ‘hooked’ to the medication does not choose to behave in such addictive ways. They have lost all control over their use, feel a compulsion to continue abusing Ambien, and obsess over use despite experiencing numerous negative effects of doing so.
Getting ‘Hooked’ on Ambien
In most cases Ambien addiction starts unintentionally, when a person misuses the medication without fully realising its high addictive potential. After all, many believe that because it is prescribed by a doctor they cannot get addicted.
Ambien is also becoming more and more popular for use outside of its prescription purposes. People are obtaining and using Ambien in order to achieve a high, which puts them at a higher risk of developing addiction more quickly.
Q: But, how is addiction formed?
A: Through changes in the brain caused by Ambien.
Ambien works by slowing down brain activity, thus causing a feeling of intense relaxation and drowsiness. These sedating effects can feel very pleasurable for the user, so some people abuse Ambien recreationally for the high that it can provide.
Of course, there are many other factors that can increase a person’s likelihood of becoming addicted to Ambien, some of which include having a family or personal history of substance use problems, high stress levels, experiencing early childhood trauma, and suffering from mental health disorders.
How is Ambien Addiction Diagnosed?
To examine and asses your relationship with Ambien, you can reach out to:
A doctor specializing in addiction
A licensed psychologist
A treatment facility directly
Your general physician
Doctors can determine if Ambien dependence and addiction are present through an interview, a review of your medical history, and physical examination for drug abuse symptoms. During assessment your doctor may ask questions such as:
- What is your Ambien frequency and amount of use?
- In the last year, have you used more Ambien than you meant to?
- Have you felt you wanted or needed to cut down on your Ambien use in the last year?
- Do you feel that you need to use Ambien frequently in order to feel “normal”or to function?
- Have you attempted to cut down or stop Ambien without success?
- Do you engage in any risky behaviors while on Ambien?
- Has your work or school performance declined due to Ambien use?
A doctor examining you will also review your medical records for prescriptions of Ambien or other medications, and may check regional databases for dispensed prescriptions. In many States prescriptions for medicines such as Ambien are thoroughly monitored and stored in a region-wide database to control prescription drug abuse and diversion.
Feeling uncomfortable talking about your Ambien use problem face-to-face with medical professionals? There are other ways to get credentialed and trusted information about your Ambien addiction severity and appropriate treatment options.
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Treatment of Ambien Addiction
Long-term Ambien use can have hazardous effects on your physical and mental health, job and school performance, interpersonal relationships, and home life. Seeking treatment for Ambien addiction can help you take your life back. Here is what you can expect from treatment.
1. Management of withdrawal symptoms. This part of treatment involves two stages: tapering and medical detox.
- Tapering. When you seek treatment for addiction, you will first need to taper doses down over time to ease Ambien withdrawal symptoms. Your doctor may also switch you from Ambien to a long-acting benzodiazepine (e.g. diazepam) for more effective tapering.
- Medical detox. This process preferably takes place in a clinical setting to prevent the use of Ambien as your system is cleared of all traces of the drug. Detox from Ambien can be very unpleasant and in some instances life-threatening. This is why it is recommended that you undergo detox at a medical clinic where professionals can monitor your condition.
2. Management of the addiction. Aside from medical intervention, treatment for Ambien addiction includes psychological support, behavioral therapy, and education.
- Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) helps you recognize, cope with, and avoid situations that make it likely for you to relapse on Ambien.
- Motivational interviewing (MI) is a kind of therapy that helps you remain sober as tangible rewards are given for achieving goals and adherence to your recovery program.
- 12-step group therapy supports and strengthens your will throughout Ambien treatment. Talks and discussions with a psychologist, psychiatrist, or counselor can help motivate you to recover and remain sober from Ambien. These non-medical interventions will continue after you leave the drug addiction treatment facility.
REMEMBER: Ambien addiction is a treatable condition, and with right professional help and continuous motivation, you can be successful in recovering and achieving sobriety.
Got More Questions?
We hope to have answered your questions regarding Ambien addiction and it’s treatment options. If not, please do not hesitate to send us your questions in the comments section at the end of the page or via our ‘contact us’ page. We do our best to answer all our reader’s legitimate inquiries personally and promptly.