How to Recover From Ambien Addiction
There are many millions of people who struggle with sleeplessness in the United States. Some estimates come in at between 40 to 60 million people. Some of them do their best to overcome this issue on their own, while others end up meeting with their primary physician asking for help. There are many prescription sleep medications on the market, with Ambien being a common prescription.
Ambien certainly helps people fall asleep and sleep more peacefully at night, and this is good news. Yet for some people, Ambien can become addictive and can turn their life into a living nightmare because they want to stop using it, but they can’t.
What is Ambien?
Ambien is a drug belonging to a class known as nonbenzodiazepines and is used to treat mild insomnia. At the low levels used in therapy, it does not pose any danger, however, at higher doses, the drug interacts with several benzodiazepine receptors, thus users experience the effects of using a normal benzodiazepine like Xanax or Valium. Taking high doses of this drug for prolonged periods enables users to develop dependence and addiction to the drug.
Signs and symptoms of Ambien abuse
Most people don’t start taking Ambien with the intent to become addicted to it or abused it. They simply start off taking the medication before bed because they are having such a tough time falling asleep or staying asleep. However, because of its addictive nature, many people have found themselves addicted to it.
Here are some of the common symptoms and signs of Ambien addiction or ambient abuse:
- Using Ambien during the day because you like the effects
- Running out of the prescription before you’re due for a refill
- Taking more pills than your prescribed
- Stealing other people’s Ambien prescription pills
- Taking the medication and then trying to remain awake
- Lying about how much Ambien you use
- Seeing a new doctor in order to get a new prescription for Ambien
Various short-term and long-term effects
Ambien is not meant to be used for years and years. It’s meant to be a short-term solution for insomnia or sleep difficulties. When used as prescribed, Ambien is considered very safe. However, there are some short and long-term effects of taking the prescribed drug, including:
- Rapid heartbeat
- Trouble with memory
- Appetite loss
- Less feeling of emotions or blunted emotions
The effects of Ambien the morning after
One of the initial goals of the creation of Ambien was to decrease the drowsiness that people would feel upon waking in the morning. There are some prescribed medications for insomnia that leave people feeling very groggy in the morning and in some cases so groggy that they shouldn’t even be driving. Researchers have found that higher doses of Ambien leave people feeling quite drowsy in the morning. In fact, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) warns those who are taking Ambien that they may have some impairment the morning after taking Ambien.
Researchers took a blood test from those who took Ambien to go to sleep and found that in the morning there was still enough Ambien in their blood to cause impairment. This means that they weren’t as mentally alert as they should have been, which can make one less alert while driving or performing other activities that could become hazardous if you’re not mentally alert. For this reason, the FDA recommends that dosages be at a lower limit, especially for women.
How Ambien can affect you during your sleep
Much of the time, people using Ambien as prescribed don’t have any major issues. However, some people experience doing things in their sleep without remembering, such as:
- Getting or making food
- Performing sexual acts
- Getting in their car and driving
- Getting on Facebook and acting a fool
- Going outside
Treatment options for Ambien addiction
Heavy users of Ambien are bound to grow physically dependent on the drug. To effectively stop using the drug, the user has to consider options from a psychological, biological and social point of view. The first way of stopping dependence is to taper the amount taken until complete discontinuation. Oftentimes, someone addicted to the drug may require some assistance in tapering off and getting free from Ambien addiction.
The following are treatment options for Ambien addiction:
1. Addiction treatment centers
Also known as rehabs, these treatment centers are designed to assist with various types of addictions. Substance specific help programs can help individuals suffering from dependence on sleeping medication. These centers not only monitor the physical withdrawal but also deal with the psychological aspects of managing dependence.
There are inpatient and outpatient drug treatment centers available. An inpatient treatment center allows a patient to attend the center full-time for about a month. During that time, he or she will be monitored around the clock by substance abuse professionals and receive treatment for the addiction. He or she will learn a great deal about the disease of addiction and learn helpful tools to navigate life without becoming dependent upon drugs. He or she may even learn some alternative methods of getting better sleep at night, such as meditation, deep breathing, or adopting a relaxing, nightly schedule.
An outpatient treatment center allows a patient to attend the facility a certain number of times per week. Usually, that’s about 3 or 4 times a week, where he or she can learn about the disease of addiction in classes, perhaps attend a 12-step support group with peers, attend group counseling, and perhaps individual counseling as well.
The type of treatment center that you decide to attend will vary depending on your schedule and the level of addiction that you have. Mild addictions may not require inpatient treatment, but those who are heavily addicted to drugs may require such treatment. This is something that you can talk to with a substance abuse professional via a consultation meeting. If you cannot attend either type of treatment facility for some reason, know that there are other options for you that can help you get free too.
2. Detoxification clinics
Detoxification is normally carried out in inpatient programs offered at various clinics. These programs monitor the process of physical withdrawal from this drug. The first activity is to rid your body of the drug to ensure that you will not relapse. These centers are recommended for individuals struggling with over-dependence, as they help in recovery and try to minimize the physical effects of withdrawal. They also give medication to preempt withdrawal symptoms. A detox clinic may not be necessary, but someone who is addicted will most likely go through some withdrawal symptoms upon stopping taking Ambien.
3. Mental health specialists
These mental health professionals specifically deal with underlying psychological problems that lead to dependence. Psychologists specializing in addiction can listen to you during therapy and offer you help during recovery. Psychiatrists and psychologists can diagnose and prescribe medications for mental disorders, this increases the chances for recovery.
4. Addiction support groups
The rising abuse of this medication has led to an increasing number of support groups. 12 Step Groups such as Narcotics Anonymous, offer the emotional support needed to overcome dependence. A good starting point is to call your local drug hotline, rehab or hospital and ask them to refer you.
5. Your doctor
Doctors can offer an unbiased opinion for individuals who have grown dependent on Ambien. They possess in depth knowledge of the type of help you should seek. In addition to this, they can also assist in managing the aspects of dependence. Your doctor can also help you with tapering your Ambien dose in order to reduce the severity of your withdrawal signs and symptoms.
Individuals who use this medication daily for more than two weeks are advised not to suddenly stop. This can be very hard on the body and result in withdrawal symptoms. These symptoms include shaking, moodiness, anxiety, depression, sweating, lightheadedness, muscle cramps, seizures, fatigue, insomnia, and vomiting.
Withdrawal symptoms can become quite daunting, so having a support network around you can prove valuable. Whether that’s a substance abuse professional in the means of a counselor, or a treatment center, having such support can certainly help you in your recovery. The worst of the withdrawal symptoms are usually done within 3 to 5 days. Be sure that you have some solid support during that time.
If you believe that you have become dependent on Ambien and need some help tapering off, take these suggestions and make that first step today by reaching out for help. Having sleep issues is one thing, but having an addiction is something entirely different. If you have happened to go down that rabbit hole, know that you’re not alone and know that you don’t have to stay there.
There is treatment for addiction, and there’s no shame in reaching out for help. It will take some time and effort, but that’s worth it because you’ll get your life back without having to depend on a drug. You’ll feel better about yourself mentally, emotionally, and physically. If you’re concerned about your sleep schedule once you stop taking the drug, discuss your concerns with your healthcare professional and create a plan that allows you to try new, safer sleep aids. If you need help, don’t hesitate to reach out today and take your first step toward the kind of life that you really want: free from addiction.