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Is Ambien Addictive?

Ambien, or zolpidem, is a sleep aid marketed as a safer alternative to benzodiazepines for insomnia. Ambien may be safer than benzodiazepines, but it is still addictive. Physical dependence can form in as little as two weeks of regular use. Once dependence forms, people find that they are unable to sleep without it. Often, their insomnia is worse than before.

Ambien is intended to be used only in the short term for insomnia, usually insomnia related to acute stress or trauma. This may include withdrawal from drugs or alcohol. Given the addictive potential of Ambien, it’s probably best not to take it if you have a history of addiction unless it’s administered under medical supervision.

Ambien works much like a benzodiazepine in that it binds to some of the same receptors in the brain, but it selects the receptors related to sleep. This means Ambien has fewer side effects and withdrawal symptoms than benzodiazepines. Despite that, Ambien does have some potentially serious side effects, the most worrisome being amnesia. People on Ambien have been known to walk, hold conversations, and even drive while asleep and not remember anything. It’s clearly dangerous to drive while asleep. Other side effects include next-day drowsiness–to the extent that driving is not recommended–fatigue, dizziness, nausea, delusions and hallucinations, and lack of coordination.

People sometimes have abnormal reactions to Ambien such as euphoria, but people more often abuse it as they would Xanax or Valium, for its sedative effects. The relaxation it causes may be pleasant, especially to chronically stressed or anxious people. This may lead to frequent use and using Ambien at doses higher than prescribed.

As with other drugs, indications of Ambien addiction include trying to quit and being unable, thinking about and craving the drug, spending a lot of money on the drug, taking it in secret, and prioritizing its use over other commitments such as work or family. It is possible to overdose on Ambien, which can cause slow breathing and heart rate, and coma. An overdose is far more dangerous when combined with alcohol, which intensifies its effects.

Ambien’s function is similar to benzodiazepines and therefore its withdrawal symptoms are similar too. These include insomnia, agitation, cravings, delirium, and sometimes seizures. Once physical dependence has formed, it’s best to detox from Ambien under medical supervision, ideally in a clinic.

If you or someone you love is struggling with Ambien or benzodiazepine addiction, Gardens Wellness Center can help you detox safely and decide on a treatment strategy. Call us today at 844-828-1050 or email us at info@tgwcdetox.com to learn more.