Of all the side effects reported by those taking Ambien, the loss of memory after engaging in risky behaviors is the most disturbing. People report risky activities such as driving, eating, walking and having sex without any recollection the following morning (Olson, 2018). The risks engaging in these types of activities while asleep are dangerous to those taking the medication as well as those around them. People experiencing these side effects are at high risk for getting into an automobile accident, choking, falling and contracting an STD.
Other side effects of Ambien include:
• Nausea and vomiting
• Delusions or hallucinations
• Amnesia or short-term memory loss
Those who are pregnant should be aware that taking Ambien during the last three months of pregnancy may cause drowsiness or breathing problems in a newborn. Additionally, breast-feeding may not be safe while taking Ambien, so be sure to ask your doctor about any risks (Sinha, 2018).
Ambien is not considered an addictive medication. However, those who do not follow dosage instructions or take the medication longer than intended, put themselves at greater risk for developing an Ambien addiction. Ambien is intended to be used for short periods of time – one to two weeks to treat insomnia. Ambien targets receptor cells in the brain that respond to gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA), a neurotransmitter that affects sleep cycles, emotional responses and levels of consciousness. When a person continues to take this medication beyond the recommended amount of time, they are at greater risk for developing a dependency for the drug. For example, a normal dose for Ambien is one 10mg tablet before bed. Someone who has been taking Ambien beyond the one to two-week period will likely need more of the medication to achieve the same effect, resulting in a person taking more than directed by his/her doctor. Overtime, the problem only worsens as some people enjoy the “high” or anxiety-easing effects that Ambien provides. In severe cases, people will build strong tolerances to Ambien resulting in taking ten, even as much as twenty tablets in one day (Harding, 2016). It is hypothesized that those who have a family history of addiction are at greater risk for developing an addiction to this medication.
Other signs that indicate you or a loved one has developed an Ambien addiction include:
• Low energy
• Little to no interest in once-enjoyed activities
• Compulsive desire to obtain the drug
• Unsuccessful attempt to decrease or cease use
• Social and interpersonal issues
• Financial problems
• Doctor shopping in order to obtain more of the drug
Symptoms of Ambien Withdrawal
Although it is not common for a person to develop an Ambien addiction, it is not unheard of. Those using the medication beyond the two-week recommended duration and increasing the amount taken are at a significantly greater risk for developing an addiction. Additionally, those taking Ambien without a prescription are at higher risk for developing a dependence. Those who develop an addiction for the drug should not suddenly stop using the medication as symptoms of withdrawal are unpleasant and can result in drug relapse.
Signs of Ambien withdrawal include:
• Agitation and irritability
• Stomach cramps
• Convulsions or seizures
Due to the wide range of potential Ambien withdrawal symptoms, it’s best for those seeking to taper off from this medication under the guidance and supervision of a licensed medical treatment center. This is the safest and most effective way to discontinue the use of this drug.
At Harmony Ridge Recovery Center, the highest quality of patient care begins as soon as a he/she walks through our doors. We understand that those seeking help may be nervous, unsure or even scared about treatment. We want to relieve you from all pain, suffering and fear during your time with us. Our compassionate team of medical professionals understand that patients are often apprehensive upon arrival and go above and beyond to make our patients feel comfortable, welcomed and safe in our care. Patients should expect to receive varied levels of treatment based on their needs. The first step of treatment is medical detox. The detoxification process involves eliminating all drugs and toxins from the patient’s body. This process can range from a few days to weeks, depending on the severity of the patient’s drug dependency as well as the drug that was being abused. Should a patient experience any Ambien withdrawal symptoms, our medical team will assess the patient and may administer a drug to reduce any pain or discomfort a patient may be temporarily experiencing. Patients undergoing detox will receive 24-hour medical support – meaning he/she will never be alone, to ensure a safe and effective detox.
Residential (inpatient) treatment is the next level of care following medical detox. This is the time where patients can focus completely on themselves and the recovery process. Harmony Ridge Recovery Center uses a combination group and individual therapy sessions, counseling, cognitive behavioral therapy and relapse prevention. Under continued 24-hour medical supervision, patients who have overcome the worst Ambien withdrawal symptoms focus on overcoming their addiction in a longer-term holistic treatment. Patients respond well to the intense and highly structured program designed to help them overcome triggers and temptations that they were previously unable to overcome.
Our partial hospitalization program (PHP) delivers similar intensity and structure as our inpatient treatment program, with the exception that patients are able to return to a home-like environment at night. Often described as a middle ground between residential and outpatient treatment, PHP is the ideal program for those wishing to return home-like setting without forgoing the level and intensity of their medical treatment.
Olson, E. (2018, May 17) Ambien: Is dependence a concern? Retrieved from https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/insomnia/expert-answers/ambien/faq-20058103
Sinha, S. (2018, December 16) What is Ambien? Retrieved from https://www.drugs.com/ambien.html
Harding, A. (2016, February 29) Can You Become Addicted to Ambien? Retrieved by https://www.health.com/health/condition-article/0,,20449797,00.html