Thursday October 18th 2018

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Ambien Withdrawal

Quitting Ambien Brings Discomfort

Ambien is prescribed as a short term solution to people who struggle with insomnia. If a person that is prescribed Ambien uses the medication for longer than a month it is likely that they will develop physical dependence on the drug. What happens when they want to quit?

Quitting Ambien will result in unpleasant withdrawal symptoms for people who have been taking the medication daily for a period of a few weeks, or longer. But do not be afraid of them. These symptoms signify the start of recovery. If they do not disappear after a few weeks, continue with treatment to find support for real and long-lasting healing.

More here on what to expect during the withdrawal process. Plus, a section for your questions at the end.
It is possible to quit Ambien.
Consider professional guidance.
Call us.
You can live a drug-free life!

The Science Behind Ambien Withdrawal

Every time you skip a routine tied to your brain, you’ll experience a slight discomfort. However, psychoactive drugs amplify this experience. This discomfort is known as “withdrawal syndrome” and occurs in people who are Ambien-dependent. But what is really happening in your brain to trigger such strong reaction?

The physical difficulties you are experiencing are your body’s response when a frequently-used drug (Ambien) is suddenly removed from the system. When your brain is flooded with chemicals (zolpidem), it accomodates the foreign chemistry by adapting. It does so to preserve main functions of the body. In effect, it “speeds up” to account for the depressant effects of Ambien.  So, when it stops receiving Ambien on a regular bases it tries to compensate for the absence of the drug.

Every person’s recovery journey starts with withdrawal. If this process is not done properly there is a great chance that you’ll relapse, or even hurt yourself. This seriousness of the Ambien detox process is why most doctors recommend people not to go through Ambien withdrawal process alone. It is uncomfortable, triggering, and potentially dangerous.

When Does Ambien Withdrawal Start?

Ambien (main ingredient zolpidem) is a fast-acting drug that quickly reaches peak levels in the body and is quickly metabolized or broken down.Withdrawal symptoms from Ambien can be felt shortly after the last dose has worn off, within 24 to 48 hours. You can experience Ambien withdrawal symptoms anytime you do not take Ambien after a period of dependence or if you significantly reduce dosage and you are physically dependent on zolpidem.

If you use Ambien regularly for a few weeks or longer, reducing use can elicit withdrawal symptoms. Those who abuse Ambien are at a higher risk of forming dependence faster and thus, experiencing more adverse withdrawal reactions. Withdrawal symptoms occur as your brain adjusts to the abscence Ambien in your central nervous system. A lot of people dependent on Ambien have difficulty getting off the drug because of the withdrawal symptoms. However, withdrawal from Ambien can be treated.

Ambien Withdrawal Symptoms

The following list of symptoms usually occur when you stop, or significantly reduce your Ambien doses after using it daily for a period of a few weeks or more. Withdrawal symptoms from Ambien can include:

  • Body pains
  • Flu-like symptoms
  • Bouts of muscle cramps
  • Anxiety
  • Lightheadedness
  • Perpetual fatigue
  • Insomnia
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Panic attacks
  • Seizures
  • Shakiness
  • Stomach cramps
  • Sweating
  • Frequent mood swings
  • Vivid dreams

How Long Do Ambien Withdrawal Symptoms Last?

Usually, acute Ambien withdrawal last for up to 2 (two) weeks after cessation of the drug. Expect the most prominent, intense symptoms in the first 3-5 days after quitting. The psychological symptoms, such as cravings, can last up to few weeks or even months after you quit.

You should also bear in mind that Ambien withdrawal is individual in nature. This means that your experience can be different from the experience of others. So, each case differs. How long and how intense the symptoms of Ambien withdrawal will be depends on several factors such as:

  • How long you were using Ambien
  • Polydrug abuse (using alcohol or other drugs in conjunction with Ambien)
  • The doses you were taking
  • The presence of co-occurring disorders
  • Your overall health condition
  • Your age and gender

For those people who are less dependent on Ambien and do not have environmental or biological factors at play, withdrawal side effects will be milder than for someone who is more heavily dependent and who has additional complications to consider.

Ambien Withdrawal Tips

1. Seek medical help.

Withdrawing from Ambien can be difficult, which is why it is recommended that you seek help from a doctor. Withdrawal symptoms from Ambien can make you feel anxiety, restless, or experience rebound insomnia. These symptoms can make it likely that you take another Ambien dose, or use other drugs, just to cope. An in-house treatment is often necessary so you can stay away from other drugs. However, the decision to be admitted to an inpatient treatment at a Ambien addiction treatment center can be supervised by your prescribing physician or a referral to a doctor who specializes in cases of drug addiction.

2. Avoid other drugs or alcohol.

In many serious cases, people withdrawing from Ambien use other drugs or alcohol to cope. Drinking is thought to help “calm the nerves”, but can actually exacerbate the symptoms. This is another good reason why in-house treatment is recommended for Ambien dependence treatment.

3. Record and communicate your symptoms.

Always communicate to your doctor any thoughts, feelings and sensations you feel while withdrawing from Ambien. Withdrawal symptoms of Ambien can be intense, and if you become uncomfortable, you can ask your doctor or nurse for supportive care. They may also give you medicines that will help ease up withdrawal symptoms.

4. Know what to expect.

Remember that Ambien withdrawal can initiate thoughts of provoking violence, depression and suicide ideations. You should expect this to happen but this is not your fault. If this happens, all you need to do is to seek help and talk to mental health professionals like psychologists and psychiatrists for help and relief.

5. Set aside time to cope, especially with rebound insomnia.

Withdrawing from Ambien requires time; in most cases, the drug should be tapered off gradually. You can increase your chances of resolving Ambien dependence if you set aside some time for yourself, perhaps a couple of weeks of medical leave. We think it’s important that you prioritize your health during withdrawal, since you may not be able to handle responsibilities at work, school or home due to insomnia, fatigue and other accompanying withdrawal symptoms.

Ambien Withdrawal Questions

It is very important to seek medical help and assistance when you decide to discontinue Ambien. Doctors, physicians and nurses will help limit your opportunities to relapse. They will also explain what you can expect from withdrawal and how long the symptoms will last. Medically supervised detox services do ensure your withdrawal experience is as quick and comfortable as it can be while still being healthy and effective.

Are you or one of your loved ones struggling with Ambien addiction? Are you ready for a change, but not sure where to start? Well, we’re here to help. If you still have questions or concerns about Ambien withdrawal, don’t hesitate to leave a comment below.

Reference sources: NCBI: Zolpidem withdrawal delirium
NCBI: Zolpidem dependence, abuse and withdrawal: A case report

Ambien Withdrawal

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The safest way to stop Ambien is by gradually reducing (tapering) dose. Experts suggest a taper schedule of gradual reduction and then withholding an Ambien dose every other day or every third day. Learn more about the principles and protocol behind Ambien cessation here.

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Leave a Reply

2 Responses to “Ambien Withdrawal
3:16 am August 11th, 2018

Since being off ambien have started having a hot feeling in my face & severe itching but only on my face & scalp and only at night. This could be from something else (ddabetes/toxic hepatitis. What are your thoughts on this?

Lydia @ Addiction Blog
4:24 pm September 6th, 2018

Hi Pam. These symptoms may be symptoms of Ambien withdrawal.