Sleep is something that in today’s society, eludes many. There is no doubt that getting enough sleep is necessary for one’s good health and wellbeing, however, Americans tend to struggle with sleeping for the recommended eight hours every night. For some, they do not get enough rest because they work long hours or are frequently up with the children throughout the night. Others might not prioritize their need for sleep and stay up later than they should. More uncontrollable factors, such as sleep disorders, also impact how much sleep a person gets in a night. In the United States, 10% of the population suffers from insomnia, which is a disorder where people have trouble falling asleep and/or staying asleep. Other sleep conditions, such as sleep apnea, narcolepsy, and restless leg syndrome can also impact one’s ability to sleep peacefully throughout the night.
Not getting enough sleep, for whatever reason, can be extremely damaging to one’s physical and mental health. Since the body is not getting the opportunity to rest and restore, those who struggle with sleeping tend to have lower immune systems, causing them to get sick easier and more frequently. The body can also experience an increased risk for cancer and cardiac problems, as well as weight gain and decreased libido. Not sleeping regularly and/or for eight hours or more every night can also cause individuals to have problems thinking clearly and remembering things. Each one of these effects of lack of sleep can easily trigger one’s desire to find ways to self-medicate so that he or she can sleep and relieve him or herself of these symptoms.
Approximately 3.8 million adults in the United States were prescribed Ambien in 2015. JAMA Internal Medicine published a study in 2018 that highlighted how much Ambien is being abused. It showed that more than 68% of those taking Ambien took it for longer than professionally recommended. In addition, another 25% of Ambien users also took opioids while 20% took benzodiazepines like Xanax or Ativan. Taking Ambien for longer than prescribed is dangerous enough, never mind taking it with other habit-forming substances like opioids and benzodiazepines.
While some people start abusing Ambien after they have been prescribed it by a professional, others seek it out on their own. Regardless of how and why a person begins abusing a drug like Ambien, it is important to get help as quickly as possible to prevent dependence from forming if it already hasn’t.
If you are abusing Ambien and are ready to stop, do not wait another minute. Call us right now to get the help you deserve.
WHAT IS AMBIEN?
Ambien is a prescription medication that is used to treat insomnia, the most common sleep disorder in the country. Known generically as zolpidem, Ambien is a powerful sedative substance that possesses hypnotic qualities. When someone takes Ambien as prescribed, he or she can fall asleep easier and maintain that sleep better than if he or she was not using this medication. Even though Ambien has changed the lives of countless individuals by promoting better sleep, it is a prescription drug that is extremely habit-forming. If Ambien is abused or taken in any manner outside of a prescriber’s recommendations, he or she can quickly start to misuse it, become dependent on it, and eventually develop an addiction to it.
Even if a person is not abusing Ambien, this medication is so strong that even those who are using it are not recommended to drive a car or engage in any other activity that requires their full mental attention and capacity. Those who do abuse it can start to notice that they have difficulty sleeping, develop sleep-walking behaviors or blackout from use.
Ambien, which is a central nervous system depressant, is designed to slow down the nervous system to make it easier for individuals to fall asleep. It is usually only recommended to be used for a few days to two weeks and on an as-needed basis. This is not a prescription medication that needs to be taken once every day in order to work, such as an anti-depressant or anti-anxiety medication does. It works “on contact”, so when a person is having a hard time sleeping, he or she can take Ambien to get to bed. But again, this medication is not freely prescribed nor is it encouraged to be used in any other manner but how it is prescribed due to how habit-forming and dangerous it is.
HOW DOES AMBIEN DEPENDENCE DEVELOP?
When someone consumes Ambien, the medication goes right to the brain, where it binds to GABA receptors. GABA, which is short for gamma-aminobutyric acid, is a chemical in the brain that stops impulses between nerve cells found in the brain. Its job also entails decreasing activity in neurons that impact the central nervous system. When Ambien is working as it was designed to, those who have consumed it feel a sense of relaxation, calmness, and balanced mood, allowing them to sleep easier and for longer.
While this is a great benefit for those who have trouble sleeping and who can take it as prescribed, Ambien is also deadly. When GABA is released in the brain, it produces the feelings described above. For many people, this reaction is highly sought after for self-medication or recreational purposes. The more that Ambien is abused, the more that GABA relies on its presence in order to release into the brain. Because someone is regularly consuming Ambien, the brain does not have to do anything on its own for GABA to be released. Unfortunately, this creates a big problem when someone stops abusing Ambien, as it takes time for the body to begin releasing GABA on its own again. It can also prevent a person from producing enough GABA, often leading to the development of anxiety and mood disorders.
The physical act of abusing a drug like Ambien is what can get the process of dependence started. Simply using Ambien one or two times is not going to cause the body and mind to become dependent on it, however abusing it frequently can. In fact, it does not take that long for someone to become dependent on Ambien, as it can take as little as a few weeks. But prior to that dependence developing is the establishment of tolerance.
People do not get addicted to drugs like Ambien by taking the exact same dose every single day. The body gets used to the presence of Ambien, meaning that after some time, the user has to consume more of it in order to achieve any effects of feeling high. This pattern continues as time passes, and eventually, a person is using a great deal of Ambien just to obtain the feeling of being under the influence. As the body grows tolerant to Ambien, it also becomes reliant on its presence or dependent on it. This means that without Ambien coursing through one’s system, several different physical and mental effects start to develop, known as withdrawal symptoms. These symptoms, depending on the severity of one’s Ambien dependence, can include some or all of the following:
- Mood swings
- Profound cravings
- Rapid heart rate
- Increased respiratory rate
- Panic attacks
- Abdominal cramps
- Uncontrollable crying
When someone who is dependent on Ambien begins to experience any of these symptoms, he or she can be so overwhelmed with discomfort and distress that he or she starts using again just to obtain some relief. Without professional help, one’s Ambien dependence can continue, causing him or her to constantly repeat the pattern of using, attempting to stop use, and going back to using again. Unfortunately, this cycle can increase one’s risk of overdosing, as the body is experiencing regular fluctuations in how much Ambien is being consumed. If a person stops using Ambien and manages withdrawal symptoms but then gives in to cravings and goes right back to using the same amount that he or she was used to, an overdose can occur, as the body is not as adjusted to that dosage any longer.
Once a person is experiencing Ambien dependence, getting sober can be nearly impossible without the help of professionals. Thankfully, our treatment center can help those who want to stop abusing Ambien once and for all and do so in a safe manner.
SIGNS OF AMBIEN DEPENDENCE AND ADDICTION
Experiencing withdrawal symptoms when decreasing how much Ambien is being abused or stopping use altogether is a tell-tale sign of dependence, which usually requires professional care to treat. However, there are several other signs of dependence that a person can display, as well as signs of addiction. While the terms dependence and addiction are often used interchangeably, they are not the same at all. Dependence refers to a physical reliance on a substance while addiction refers to the psychological necessity to continually abuse a substance. Some become dependent on a drug before becoming addicted to it, while others develop an addiction to a drug followed by dependence. Regardless of which develops first, there are often several different signs that both concerns are occurring, such as:
- Continuing to use Ambien despite suffering physical, mental, or personal consequences of doing so
- Continuing to use Ambien after harming someone or putting others in danger while under the influence
- Feeling unable to function without abusing Ambien
- Spending an exceptional amount of time thinking about Ambien and using
- Replacing other responsibilities in one’s life with the use of Ambien
- Experiencing problems at work or school due to Ambien use, up to and including termination or expulsion
- Having frequent conflicts with friends, family, and/or loved ones
- Experiencing unpredictable mood swings
- Suffering from financial problems as a result of job loss, chronic unemployment, and spending all income on Ambien
- Engaging in deceitful and dishonest behavior to support the continuation of one’s Ambien addiction/dependence
- Making attempts to get sober but yielding no success
- Experiencing changes in physical appearance from fluctuations in weight to a decrease in attention to basic hygiene
Someone who is dependent and/or addicted to Ambien is going to experience some or all of these signs. And while it can be difficult to point out these exact behaviors when so close to someone who is struggling with this problem, it can be much easier to focus on the amount of presence Ambien has in one’s life. For example, a person might not be able to truly distinguish if a loved one is being deceitful surrounding his or her use or just choosing not to share that part of his or her life, but it is much easier to notice if Ambien is part of several conversations or talked about on a regular basis. When a medication takes on its own identity within a family unit, that is a huge, unmissable sign that a dependence and/or addiction is occurring.
EFFECTS OF AMBIEN DEPENDENCE
Even though Ambien is a medication that many people take responsibly, it is still a substance that is highly addictive, even when it is used as prescribed. Like several other mind-altering substances, abusing Ambien can lead to a number of effects that range from being unpleasant but manageable to uncontrollable and fatal.
The kinds of effects that someone with an Ambien dependence can experience varies based on a handful of factors specific to them. Usually, effects of use are determined by how much Ambien was being abused and how often, how long Ambien abuse occurred for, the condition of one’s physical and mental health, and if he or she was using Ambien with other substances. No two Ambien users are the same, so the effects that one experiences can be much different than those experienced by another Ambien user. However, anytime someone is struggling with Ambien dependence, the following effects become a possibility:
- Digestive problems
- Recurrent headaches
- Dry mouth
- Muscle pain
- Poor muscle control
- Problems with coordination
- Short-term memory loss
Two of the most concerning effects associated with Ambien dependence include sleepwalking and suicidal ideations. When Ambien is being regularly abused, it increases one’s risk of sleepwalking, which is known clinically as somnambulism. When completely influenced by Ambien and sleepwalking, a person can really hurt themselves or others. For example, he or she can fall down the stairs, wander out the front door, walk into traffic, or even get behind the wheel of a car. It has been reported that some people under the influence of Ambien have harmed others while high through rape and physical or sexual assault.
Just as Ambien is known for causing sleepwalking, it is also known for the suicidal ideations that it can produce. It is very common for those abusing Ambien (and even those who are taking it as prescribed) to experience suicidal ideations, which are thoughts and/or plans of committing suicide. Some people who have abused Ambien report feeling completely out of control with these thoughts and the actions they took while under the influence. If professional attention is not obtained when ideations are occurring, a person can quickly establish his or her suicide plan and carry it out.
AMBIEN AS A RECREATIONAL DRUG
Ambien, as mentioned before, can help people with sleep problems. However, just as with many other prescription medications, those who are looking to achieve a different type of high are drawn to Ambien for the relaxing and sedative effects it can produce. The recreational use of Ambien is extremely dangerous, especially when it is consumed with other addictive substances.
Today, it is not uncommon for someone who is abusing Ambien to also abuse other addictive substances. Several people who are hooked on Ambien might also engage in the abuse of stimulants to help control their energy levels. For example, when someone abuses Ambien for the detached, relaxing effects it can produce, he or she might find that he or she gets too drowsy to stay awake. To combat that effect, he or she might bump a few lines of cocaine, abuse Adderall, or even shoot meth to give them a jolt of energy. Others might include alcohol or opioids into their Ambien dependence and abuse, which is extremely dangerous, as alcohol and opioids are also central nervous system depressants like Ambien is. Consuming too many of these types of substances can cause the body to stop functioning. Usually, when CNS depressants are overused, the user begins to struggle with breathing. When a person cannot breathe in enough oxygen, his or her blood cannot effectively pump to vital organs like the liver, heart, kidneys, brain, etc. As a result, those organs stop functioning and the user begins to die. If he or she is not treated or revived, he or she will suffer a fatal overdose, which there is no coming back from. While one’s risk for overdose is higher when abusing other CNS depressants like alcohol and opioids, it is a side effect that is always possible even when abusing Ambien on its own.
As mentioned before, the abuse of Ambien can cause sleepwalking, suicidal ideations, and a slew of other effects that can compromise one’s wellbeing. When this drug is used recreationally, the user puts him or herself at greater risk for suffering from one or more of these effects, some of which can continue to impact their lives even after they have stopped abusing Ambien. Recreational abuse of Ambien has proven to lead to Ambien dependence and addiction, which while not impossible to treat, can be very difficult to overcome.
TREATING AMBIEN DEPENDENCE AT 12 KEYS REHAB IN FLORIDA
At 12 Keys, we understand how it feels to be addicted to a drug as potent and powerful as Ambien. We know that even though you might want to stop using, you may struggle to do so. We empathize with you, as we know that you do not want to engage in the behaviors that you have been in order to support your Ambien dependence, but have been challenged as you have found yourself unable to stop your active addiction. Most importantly, we see addiction for the disease that it is and know that you are not the person your disease has turned you into. At 12 Keys, we pride ourselves on providing only the utmost quality care that will take you from being trapped in a dangerous cycle of Ambien addiction to a life of recovery that is happy and healthy.
In order to treat Ambien dependence, we apply our holistic treatment approach to each and every client who comes through our doors. It is our goal to help address the many different aspects of your addiction so that you can begin to nurture your mental, physical, emotional, and spiritual health. We do this by providing several different evidence-based treatments and services that can help you put a stop to your Ambien dependence for good.
Since Ambien dependence can lead to painful withdrawal symptoms when use stops, we at 12 Keys provide detox services to those clients who can benefit from it. During this time, you will be supervised on an around-the-clock basis by our addiction specialists so that you are comfortable, secure, and supported as your body begins to clear the Ambien and any other addictive substances from your body. When you have completed detox, you will begin working on other areas of your recovery by participating in therapy.
Individual therapy, group counseling, family therapy, and behavioral therapy are just some of the many therapies that we implement into each one of our clients’ personalized treatment program. Through therapy, you can uncover the underlying issues of your Ambien dependence as well as focus on other parts of your life that contribute to your continued use.
At 12 Keys, we always provide all clients with an aftercare plan for when they are ready to leave our facility. If you are addicted to Ambien and do not know what to do, do not wait any longer. Allow us to help you overcome your Ambien dependence so that you can live a life free of addiction.
CALL US RIGHT NOW
Waiting even just one more minute can be the difference between life and death. Do not let another second go by without reaching out to us. You do not have to go it alone. We can help. Call us right now.
If you think that you or your loved one may have a problem with Ambien and you believe that Ambien dependence treatment is needed, then call the professionals at 12 Keys Rehab today at 844-551-7016. Our trained and caring staff is standing by to help you in any way that we can.