Sleep is one of the most vital functions of any human being, but it can be difficult for some people to attain it. Why is that? One of the most common problems among adults is insomnia and various other sleep-related problems. As many as50 to 70 million Americans suffer from chronic sleep disorders.
These ailments have the potential to disrupt daily functions and increase the risk of injury, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease. It may come as no surprise that individuals who suffer from these disorders are willing to go to great lengths to get a good night’s sleep. However, these medications come with adverse side effects and the potential for abuse.
For people dealing with insomnia, going to sleep is viewed more like a chore. When you can’t sleep, the resulting exhaustion can make getting out of bed for work tougher. Sleeplessness creates additional stressors that can be detrimental to everyone around you. These problems can all contribute to a lower quality of life, which can make your days less productive.
The drugs that were first introduced to combat these ailments were called benzodiazepines (or benzos) and barbiturates, but the potential for abuse was significantly higher than scientists anticipated. A less addictive solution was needed that could restore order in the lives being tormented by the inability to sleep. After years of rigorous testing, a solution was finally implemented called Ambien. While it’s technically less addictive than other drugs, it does come with its own set of issues.
There are dangers with all drugs, even when taken as prescribed. But Ambien can wreak havoc if someone misuses it. The specific risks of Ambien include memory loss, depression, and organ damage.
Ambien affects your nervous system by producing hypnotic and sedative effects, which makes the drug useful as a short-term treatment for insomnia. The sole objective of Ambien is to help people fall asleep faster, but the drug has a short half-life of around three hours, which makes it a less effective treatment for sleeping through the night.
Doctors generally prescribe Ambien for two to six weeks. Like most drugs that interfere with GABA, it’s not intended for long-term use. When the drug is used in large amounts or for too long, it can cause a chemical dependence that can lead to an addiction as the body adjusts to its effects. Chemical dependence can cause withdrawal symptoms that require medical attention.
If you or someone you love takes Ambien as a way to fall asleep, it’s vital to know the symptoms of addiction. There are lasting consequences, but they can be mitigated by understanding what they are and detecting them early on.
Addictions to prescription drugs can be very challenging to spot. However, there are signs of substance use disorders that will allow you to understand if a tolerance is developing.
Tolerance is the first sign. It involves the effects of the initial dosage getting weaker. In turn, users may take higher doses to achieve the original effects. At this point, you should speak to your doctor about switching medications or cutting back, as you could develop a chemical dependence.
Dependence is a direct result of continuing to use a drug despite a growing tolerance. Your body will start relying on the drug to maintain normalcy in the brain, and it could stop producing its own chemicals that depress the nervous system and produce excitatory chemicals to counteract the drug. Sudden cessation of Ambien can be dangerous. Withdrawal symptoms can include anxiety, irritability, tremors, confusion, seizures, and delirium tremens (DTs).
Addiction treatment is an intense process that must be customized to the client’s unique set of needs. Upon entering treatment, the intake process will consist of an assessment that’s geared toward identifying your physical, psychological, and social needs. Addiction can have a wide range of underlying factors that must be addressed, and the treatment center must be ready to treat all of your needs.
Due to the adverse and precarious side effects of Ambien withdrawal, it’s necessary to start the process in medical detoxification. In this stage of treatment, you’ll have round-the-clock medical care for up to a week. During your stay, you’ll be treated by addiction specialists that could provide medications to manage the withdrawal symptoms and mitigate any complications. Once you’ve completed this portion of treatment, you’ll be placed in the next level of care.
The next stage of treatment could involve you being placed in a residential treatment program or outpatient services. This placement will depend on the severity of your addiction and your ability to live on your own. Despite the level of care you’ve received, you’ll go through a variety of therapy options that include individual, group, and family therapy. These levels are designed to get to the root of the addiction and help you cope with triggers you may experience outside of treatment.
Ambien is considered a safer alternative to benzos, but it still poses a threat. When Ambien is overused, it can lead to dependence, addiction, overdose, and withdrawal symptoms. If you take too much Ambien, you could experience symptoms similar to alcohol intoxication, including slurred speech, drowsiness, and loss of motor functions. If you experience adverse side effects from Ambien, you must immediately speak to a medical professional.
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Ambien is a common prescription medication, but that doesn’t mean it’s free from potential dangers. The risk of chemical dependence and addiction should be taken seriously, especially since dependence could lead to deadly withdrawal symptoms.
Is your loved one struggling with Ambien abuse or addiction? Are you? If so, it’s important for you to treat it with the seriousness it requires and get help before it’s too late.
The State of SleepHealth in America. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.sleephealth.org/sleep-health/the-state-of-sleephealth-in-america/