Sleep medications: Long-term use of Ambien leads to addiction

Sleep medications: Long-term use of Ambien leads to addiction

An inability to fall asleep can happen to anyone and would have plagued everyone at some point in their life. The reasons could be many ranging from the pleasant, such as excitement to the unpleasant such as marital discord or simply due to too much caffeine. In chronic cases of sleep disorder, medical practitioners recommend the sedative-hypnotic known as Ambien to patients, which is the brand name of the sleep-inducing medicine zolpidem.

Doctors do not recommend the long-term use of this drug as it can lead to physical and psychological dependence in patients. Being highly addictive in nature, there have been several cases of abuse in the past. Therefore, it is usually prescribed only for two to six weeks. In case of longer treatments, there is a risk of developing an Ambien addiction.

Additionally, the peak time of Ambien is as short as 1.5 to 2 hours, with major life-threatening side effects such as drowsiness and memory problems. That is why users are warned not to take the medication if they are not sure of getting seven to eight hours of uninterrupted sleep.

Disturbing side effects of Ambien

As a sedative-hypnotic, Ambien makes users drowsy and helps them overcome their insomnia by slowing down the brain activity to enable them to get a sound sleep. It also works mildly as a muscle relaxant and anticonvulsant in typical doses. The prolonged use of Ambien leads to tolerance and eventually addiction that causes disturbing and troubling side effects:

  • Induces parasomnia, which is the medical term for an activity someone might perform while being technically asleep. These range from sleepwalking, cooking meals, binge eating, cleaning the house to even driving the car in an altered state of consciousness. Since the person has no recollection of the activities the next morning, some of the popular terms used for Ambien include “Z-drug Zombie” or “Ambien Zombie.”
  • Impairs one’s thinking or reaction, especially due to the extended-release tablet form of Ambien. Moreover, such side effects are more pronounced among women because the recommended doses of zolpidem are not the same in men and women. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) of the United States recommends lower doses of Ambien for women. People generally need at least four hours to be able to do any activity that requires focus and alertness.
  • Causes severe allergic reactions, such as hives, difficulty in breathing, swelling of the face, lips, tongue or throat that require emergency treatment. The tablets may contain lactose that could prove dangerous for lactose-intolerant users.
  • Inflicts memory loss, especially at higher doses. Although the association between Ambien and long-term memory loss has not been proven by research, it is possible that untreated sleep apnea accounts for this relationship because other sleep medications like diphenhydramine and benzodiazepines have been known to contribute to the development of dementia or Alzheimer’s disease.
  • Affects the brain on consumption with alcohol or other drugs by worsening memory and dangerously disrupting breathing.

Recovery road map

Since Ambien is habit forming by nature, it should be taken only when prescribed by a medical practitioner. It should not be shared with another person, especially someone with a history of drug abuse or addiction. It should not be given to anyone younger than 18 years of age. The sedative effects of zolpidem may be stronger in older adults. Moreover, it can pass into breast milk and harm a nursing baby.

Any kind of misuse of this medication can result in addiction and other dangerous side effects. People abusing Ambien may experience hallucinations, unexplained nausea or vomiting, lack of muscular coordination, memory loss and chronic fatigue. To ensure long-term recovery from Ambien addiction, one should undergo an effective treatment program.

If you or someone you know is struggling with prescription drug abuse, it is imperative to seek professional help from the Florida Prescription Addiction Helpline. You may call us at our 24/7 helpline number 866-292-3211 to know about the prescription drug rehab centers in Florida or chat online with our representatives to know more about the prescription drug rehabilitation facilities in Florida.