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Ambien is a potent sedative hypnotic used for the treatment of insomnia. In this article, we’ll speak about its potential for abuse, common symptoms of addiction, ways to overcome the issue.
Ambien – a Potent Insomnia Fighter
According to the statistics provided by the American Sleep Association, from 50 to 70 million Americans have trouble with sleep. 30% of them complain of short-term trouble falling asleep, whereas for 10% of people this condition has become chronic.
One of the ways to deal with insomnia is cognitive behavioral therapy yet if it turns to be useless, Ambien comes to the scene. This medication is widely used for people who cannot fall asleep or have trouble staying asleep during the night. More than seven million prescriptions for this preparation are written out every year.
However, such popularity of this medication has brought to light the problem of Ambien abuse. The current statistics claim that over 500,000 Americans abuse Ambien or some other sedative drugs, which is a huge problem to be solved.
What Is Ambien?
The active substance of Ambien is zolpidem. This preparation is of the group of sedative-hypnotics and is scheduled as Schedule IV drug in the United States. It means that this medication is only available on prescription.
The FDA approved this medication to be used in the short-term treatment of sleep disorders. However, it is not recommended to prescribe the drug until other, non-medical treatments are tried. Therefore, a doctor will likely prescribe this preparation only after counseling fails to help.
Ambien effects are based on the increase in the levels of GABA (a special brain chemical). This drug is a GABA receptor agonist, which means that it has a sedative effect. It helps muscle relaxation and general sedation.
Fifteen minutes are enough for the drug to make you fall asleep. Therefore, it is recommended to take the pill right before going to bed. Ambien has a potential for abuse, which is the reason why it should be taken for no longer than two weeks.
Ambien Potential for Abuse
Influencing the brain chemicals, Ambien has a high potential for abuse. Patients taking the drug can develop tolerance after only two weeks of intake. Therefore, it’s crucial to follow the doctor’s advice and keep to the recommended dosing regimen. It’s always better to take the lowest effective dose of the medication to minimize the risks for physical dependence.
Tolerance to the drug shows through the decrease in the effectiveness of the usual dose and the need to take a higher dosage of the drug to achieve the previous level of efficiency. When this problem develops into an addiction, a person may change his/her behavior. The signs of addiction are:
- A more frequent need for a refill;
- Ambien cravings;
- Intentional increase in the drug dose without the doctor’s recommendation.
Except for the negative impact of the medication on the person’s social life, its abuse also increases the risks for overdose on Ambien and withdrawal syndrome.
Ambien Withdrawal Symptoms
The symptoms of Ambien withdrawal are similar to those common for other sedative drugs. A person may experience:
- Anxiety, agitation;
- Increased nervousness, irritability;
- Mood changes (crying, panic attacks);
- Tremor, shakiness, seizures;
- Stomach pain, nausea, vomiting.
The duration and the severity of symptoms depend on the dose of Ambien. Higher doses usually cause a more severe withdrawal, which can last for several weeks. Those abusing lower doses of the drug can feel their condition improvement within a couple of days after Ambien abstinence.
How to Manage Ambien Withdrawal?
As soon as you understand that you have a problem with Ambien abuse, contact your healthcare provider. A doctor will help you develop the scheme of gradual dose reduction that will allow you to stop taking this medication with a minimum number of withdrawal symptoms.
In severe cases, Ambien withdrawal can be reduced by taking Valium. Again, it should all go under the doctor’s control. Cognitive-behavioral therapy can also be useful for people on Ambien rehab.