Sleeplessness and Sleep Aid Addiction in America

Lack of sleep can negatively affect your ability to concentrate, make decisions, drive a car and much more. It’s no surprise that lack of quality sleep will result in adverse consequences. It can lead to poor job performance, tardiness, relationship issues and many more problems in your professional and personal life. It’s no surprise that many Americans are turning to their doctor for relief from sleepless nights, but is there a risk for developing an Ambien addiction?

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that approximately 50 to 70 million adults in the United States suffer from sleep deprivation or a sleeping disorder. What’s more alarming is that close to 38 million of these adults take a sleep aid. With so many people turning to medication in pursuit of a good night’s sleep, we may want to ask ourselves if we’re developing a sleep aid addiction.

What is Ambien?

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved Ambien (zolpidem) to treat sleeping problems (primarily insomnia) in adults in the early 1990’s (Salamon, 2011). It’s available in two forms. The immediate release tablet is designed to help a person fall asleep. Ambien CR, the extended release formula, helps a person fall asleep and stay asleep. Ambien is designed to be prescribed for a shorter duration of time, usually one to two weeks.

The medication is a sedative-hypnotic drug; meaning the drug works by slowing down the brain’s essential functions. Ambien is available in a quick release form and an extended release form. Ambien was developed as a safer alternative to benzodiazepines like Xanax, for patients suffering from insomnia. Although not commonly considered an addictive medication, studies show that there a risk for Ambien addiction. This is due to the medication’s effectiveness. In addition to potentially developing a dependency for the medication, many disturbing side effects have been reported, making the drug’s safety questionable.