Ambien Addiction & Abuse

by on May 2, 2012

Abuse and addiction are two unique medical conditions. Abuse is characterized by misuse of the drug for purposes other than those indicated and approved by the U.S. FDA. On the other hand, addiction is considered as a chronic neurological disease that is characterized by uncontrolled and compulsive use of the drug despite its negative effects. While the severity of these conditions may differ, Ambien abuse and addiction both require immediate medical attention to prevent potentially fatal complications.

Ambien is classified as a Schedule IV drug under the U.S. Controlled Substances Act which means that there is low possibility for abuse and dependence. This drug is available as a prescription medication.

Who's most at risk for abusing Ambien?

A federally-funded study conducted in 2008 revealed that over 600,000 Americans have abused prescription sedatives that include Ambien (Zolpidem). It further revealed that Ambien addiction is more common among younger adults and teenage children. Addiction is also more likely among patients who are taking this drug on a daily basis for a longer period of time. Patients who have history of substance abuse, dependence or addiction are also at increased risk of being addicted to Ambien.

What are the signs and symptoms of Ambien addiction?

Basically, a person is considered addicted to medicine if he or she cannot function properly without taking the drug. Ambien addiction can result in short-term effects that include the following:

  • Extreme drowsiness
  • Feelings of tiredness or fatigue
  • Confusion or impaired thinking
  • Loss of balance
  • Uncontrolled muscle movements or twitching
  • Loss of muscle control
  • Reduced breathing or heart rate

Long-Term Effects may include

  • Delusions
  • Impaired judgment and thinking
  • Lack of libido or sexual urges
  • Uncontrollable dependence to the drug

Some patients with a long-term addiction may experience side effects that extend even during the waking hours. Usually, these patients feel that they cannot stop taking the medicine or that they need to increase the dose more frequently.  Addiction also increases the possibility for an overdose.

What to do if "you" or someone you know is addicted to the drug?

If you suspect that you have become addicted to Ambien or know someone who is addicted to Ambien, you must not delay seeking medical help. Your healthcare provider will evaluate your condition and determine the appropriate intervention. If necessary, patients are recommended to undergo medically supervised detoxification process.

If you feel that you are starting to become addicted with Ambien, do not try to stop taking the medication. Improperly discontinuing Ambien can only result in withdrawal symptoms and further increase dependence to the drug. Normally, your healthcare provider will gradually reduce the dose before completely stopping it.

Patients with severe addiction are required to undergo detoxification, and possibly counseling and cognitive-behavioral treatment, to prevent relapse. In some people who abuse Ambien along with other substances such as alcohol and cocaine, a comprehensive treatment plan that addresses all addictions is necessary.

Last and most importantly, prevent dependence to this sedative agent. Make sure that you take this drug exactly as directed by your healthcare provider. Do not increase the dose or take the medication for longer than the prescribed duration without consulting your healthcare provider. As much as possible, take the lowest effective dose and do not take it for more than 2 weeks.