Ambien is a sedative-type medication that is the most commonly prescribed drug for insomnia. This medication is prescribed to millions of Americans every year and many are able to use it to regain a normal sleep pattern without harmful residual effects. However, Ambien is also commonly abused and can be habit-forming. As many as 5 million people, from different gender and age demographics, abuse Ambien annually.
Among the potential negative side effects of Ambien abuse are the potential for abuse and the long-term disruption of sleep patterns. While Ambien can be effective if used correctly and under supervision, the potential for abuse makes the decision to use Ambien in any capacity one that should not be taken lightly.
Ambien belongs to a class of drugs called “sedative-hypnotics”. This drug category also includes benzodiazepines (or “benzos”) and barbiturates like phenobarbital. Ambien (along with the other common “z-drug” zaleplon) was originally designed to be safer and less addictive than previously used sedatives. With time, however, Ambien has proven to be nearly as disruptive as the other drugs in this class.
Ambien is a synthetic sedative that is prescribed to treat sleeplessness in adults. Ambien, or similar sedatives, was used by almost 40 million people in the last decade. Adults over the age of 25 are most likely to abuse Ambien, but the fastest-growing segment of Ambien abusers are teenagers aged 13-19.
Ambien is usually taken orally, in pill form. It is best to take Ambien right before bed and only if you have time for a full night of sleep (at least 8 hours). Ambien dosage is determined by age and gender. Women generally receive a lower dose of Ambien than men. Patients should not alter their dosage in any way without first consulting with a doctor.
Ambien can be very effective at treating sleeplessness if used correctly under medical supervision. However, excessive Ambien usage can easily lead to dependence and harmful side effects, such as long-term sleep disruption.
Using any drug, even exactly as a doctor orders, will have side effects. In the case of Ambien, the most dangerous side effect is the potential for dependence and addiction. In addition to that, accidentally or intentionally combining Ambien with any other drug (especially other depressants) can lead to serious harm or even death. In general, there are a few side effects that many Ambien users would classify as routine.
In addition to these issues, long-term Ambien users may experience serious sleep disruption or narcolepsy even after no longer using. Other reported issues include sleep apnea, cough or sore throat.
Ambien users may or may not experience physical withdrawal symptoms when discontinuing Ambien use. However, even if someone does have symptoms, that does not necessarily mean they are addicted. Physiological dependence refers to the brain’s adapted behavior in the presence of Ambien, while true addiction to Ambien is marked by the compulsion to continue use after the doctor recommended prescription period.
Dependence on a substance is a symptom of addiction but is not the same as addiction. The feelings of physical withdrawal will increase if a person is using Ambien in combination with other substances, especially other depressants. Or, withdrawal symptoms can increase if people use Ambien for significantly longer than 1-4 weeks.
Co-existing conditions, such as alcohol addiction, will greatly increase the difficulty of Ambien withdrawal. It is very important to speak with an addiction professional if you or a loved one is struggling with Ambien dependence or addiction.
According to the FDA-approved labeling that accompanies every Ambien prescription, anyone with a history of substance abuse or a family history of substance use disorders should not use Ambien at all. While addiction to Ambien alone is somewhat rare, many people who use this drug do so as a part of a larger cycle of drug use and dependence. Ambien is one of the most commonly abused secondary drugs that can accompany alcoholism.
If you or someone you care about are dealing with any of the following signs while using this medication, you may have an Ambien addiction.
If you or someone you love is struggling with one or more of these symptoms, contact us at Free by the Sea today.
Thankfully, there are many excellent treatment options for those struggling with Ambien addiction, and at Free By The Sea, we offer most of them.
Residential (or inpatient) treatment is often recommended if someone is struggling with multi-substance addiction (often alcohol) or a co-occurring psychiatric condition, such as severe depression. Inpatient care may also be the best option if someone has struggled with relapse or has tried and failed at the outpatient rehabilitation process. Many individuals who have severe or longstanding addictions find inpatient treatment to be extremely effective and the piece of the puzzle to achieving sobriety.
These residential programs typically require an on-campus stay anywhere from 30 to 90 days, with varying levels of observation depending on addiction level. This type of treatment allows patients to focus completely on their recovery while leaving the details up to the trained staff. It also allows patients to be surrounded by caring people who understand what they are going through and have their best interests at heart.
Residential rehab programs require patients to live at the facility full-time for 30–90 days while receiving treatment. This intensive atmosphere allows patients to focus 100% of their energy on recovery and provides a supportive network of clinicians, staff, and other patients in various stages of their recovery.
Residential treatment can be extremely effective at treating Ambien addiction but it is not for everyone and is not always necessary. For many people, the convenience and freedom of an outpatient experience will prove to be their best option. Outpatient Ambien addiction treatment programs vary in intensity and duration and provide different services depending on circumstances.
Outpatient treatment can be as simple as a weekly visit with a therapist or 3 to 5 visits a week of differing length. At Free By The Sea, our outpatient program provides for the opportunity to attend support groups, 12-step programs, and one-on-one counseling. It is our mission to help you find a care plan that is right for you. Most patients attend outpatient therapy for 1-3 months as needed.
Two of the most popular methods utilized by addiction therapists are cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and motivational interviewing (MI).
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy – CBT works by helping patients develop changes in their thinking patterns to help manage stress or addiction. Through sessions with trained therapists, patients will learn to harness negative or harmful thoughts and focus on coping mechanisms that drive change.
Motivational Interviewing – Often, the hardest part about addiction recovery is finding the motivation to change. Ingrained habits and chemical dependency make finding this motivation a difficult first step. The goal of motivational interviewing is to help patients move to the point where they want to be healthy and have the energy to tackle recovery on their own. Using the motivational interviewing approach, therapists assess a patient’s readiness to change and make a plan for increasing their resolve through rewards and other means.
The first step in any recovery journey is admitting you need help. If you or a loved one have crossed that bridge, we at Free by the Sea are ready to help you to the finish line. At Free by the Sea, we are committed to providing top-notch care with an unmatched level of personal touch. Whether you are seeking simple advice, one on one counseling, or intensive residential care, we have an option that can meet your circumstances and help you find peace.
At Free by the Sea, we have an incredibly professional staff, first-class amenities, and caring doctors to meet you where you are. Our staff works hard to provide an amazing treatment program that will help you or your loved one gain the skills and resources needed on the road to recovery. If you or someone you love need our world-class options, contact us today to learn how we can help you!
Dr. Richard Crabbe joined our team in 2019 as our psychiatrist and medical director. He attended the University of Ghana Medical School where he became a Medical Doctor in 1977. From 1978 through 1984, he was a medical officer in the Ghana Navy and provided a variety of services from general medicine to surgeries. He received his Certificate in General Psychology from the American Board of Psychology and Neurology in 2002.