Ambien (Zolpidem) is a medication that belongs to a class of drugs called sedative-hypnotics; it is a “z-drug” that is used to treat insomnia. Zolpidem works by activating GABA, a neurotransmitter that slows down the central nervous system and brain. This medication is only supposed to be used on a short-term basis because of the danger of dependency. Ambien or zolpidem was developed as a safer alternative to benzodiazepines for those that have issues with sleep. It may take longer for a person to develop an addiction to Ambien, however, it is still habit-forming. According to the British Journal of Clinical Pharmacology:
It is thought to be a safer drug than benzodiazepines because initial clinical trials have reported no evidence of abuse or dependence potential. However, over the last few years, in various European countries and the USA, numerous cases of zolpidem abuse or dependence have been reported. The World Health Organization (WHO) considered that the frequency of zolpidem abuse and dependence was similar to that of benzodiazepines; on 15 July 2002, zolpidem was transferred to Schedule IV of the 1971 Convention (for drugs inducing dependence such as benzodiazepines). (NIH)
Zolpidem users can develop a physical dependence in as short as two weeks; users can develop a tolerance to the medication and need higher doses to experience the same effect. Also, users who have become physically dependent can develop withdrawal symptoms once they stop taking the medication.
Negative Effects of Ambien Dependency
Ambien dependency can cause many different adverse effects. Some of the effects can occur immediately and some may also accumulate after weeks. Since Ambien slows down the central nervous system, it also slows down your breathing and heart rate. Misusing the drug can cause respiratory failure, unconsciousness, and even death.
Zolpidem is Dangerous When Abused
Zolpidem does become less effective if it is taken longer than a couple of weeks. It can make insomnia even worse, and the person may not be able to sleep without the medication. Ambien abuse can also cause several other negative side-effects. One of the most common short-term risks is retrograde amnesia. Retrograde amnesia is the inability to recall things that happened before the onset of amnesia. An individual may be unable to remember what happened in the past. Retrograde amnesia is caused by damage to the brain’s memory storage area. If you or a loved one are addicted to taking zolpidem every night or even during the day, then you’re in need of addiction treatment. There is no shame in getting professional help for your zolpidem dependency, and we are here to assist. Some of the many negative side effects of Ambien or zolpidem dependence can include:
- Extreme sleepiness
- Loss of balance
- Loss of consciousness
- Nausea and vomiting
Some of the other complications that it can cause are delusional thinking, sleepwalking, nocturnal eating, and sensory disturbances. Some users have reported feeling tired, confused, sluggish, and foggy-headed after taking the drug. Ambien can also make symptoms of depression and anxiety worse. And if an individual takes the drug for a long-term period, it can even start causing issues with their sleep (rebound insomnia). Combining Ambien with alcohol or other benzodiazepines is extremely dangerous. These are all central nervous system depressants, and when they are combined, the risk of respiratory arrest and overdose death is dramatically increased.
Treatment for Zolpidem Addiction
Zolpidem is not a safe medication, especially for anyone with a history of addiction. There are a lot of adverse effects and hidden dangers associated with zolpidem dependency. If you are a person that struggles with insomnia, it is much safer to try other alternatives. Finding out the underlying cause of your insomnia and treating that, behavioral therapy, or improving your sleep habits are much better options. If you or someone you love is struggling with an addiction, our addiction specialists are available around the clock to assist you. Evoke Wellness at Cohasset offers evidence-based addiction treatment. Our solution-focused addiction treatment will lead you on a road to long-lasting recovery. You don’t have to suffer any longer, call us today for a confidential assessment.