Ambien is a sedative prescription medication often used to treat insomnia and certain brain disorders. It is a fast acting drug that usually starts to work within fifteen minutes after ingestion.
Ambien produces a hypnotic sedative effect that lasts about three hours. Long-term use of the drug will cause the body to build up a tolerance which may lead to taking more of the drug to achieve the desired effects. This type of abuse may lead to adverse effects of the central nervous system, drug dependence and addiction.
Although Ambien is designed for short-term use, senior citizens and women are more sensitive to Ambien and should be closely monitored by their physician when taking the medication. Women develop higher blood concentration levels of the drug than men do, even at an equal dosage. The reason why this occurs is not known but women have a higher Ambien abuse history.
People may experience unusual behaviors while under the influence of Ambien. They may sleep-walk, sleep eat, engage in sex, drive a car, take more of their medication and indulge in other activities all while asleep on Ambien. Because the drug impairs memory function, the person does not remember doing these things. Ambien is also a popular date-rape drug because of its memory-impairment effect.
Some adverse effects of Ambien abuse include nausea, vomiting, euphoria, memory and cognition impairment, headache, altered thought patterns, dizziness, night eating syndrome, impaired judgment and reasoning, increased impulsivity and extroversion, fatigue, sleep-walking, delusions, amnesia, impaired coordination and increased gastro esophageal reflux disease.
Ambien overdose symptoms include decreased heart and breathing rate, excessive sedation, coma and death. The contraindications of mixing Ambien with alcohol or other drugs may lead to death by overdose.
Treatment of Ambien Addiction
Recovery from Ambien addiction is a long-term process of different treatments. The addict must first go through a safe and effective detox process. Abrupt cessation of the drug may cause severe withdrawal symptoms. The addict must be slowly weaned off of the drug while being monitored and medically assisted for any adverse effects of withdrawal symptoms. This type of safe detox process is available at an inpatient rehab center. The medical team in a rehab facility is educated and experienced in all types of drug and alcohol withdrawal. They are fully equipped to bring the patient through the detox process safely and effectively.
Each patient will experience the detox process differently depending on their history and level of abuse. Some of the Ambien withdrawal symptoms that a patient may experience include drug cravings, shaking, crying, agitation, panic attacks, nervousness, nausea, insomnia, fatigue, delirium, irritability, confusion, psychosis, convulsions, seizures, suicidal thoughts and acts. The medical team may treat the patient with specific medications to target different symptoms, resulting in complete elimination or reduction of those symptoms.
Ambien slows down the activity of the brain. Once the detox process begins the brain will show an increase in activity, possibly resulting in seizures or other symptoms. That is why it is so important that the patient be slowly weaned off of the drug while being monitored. Monitoring the patient will reveal how the body and brain are responding to the withdrawal of the drug.
Once the detox process is complete, the patient will begin other treatments such as relapse prevention. This therapy will assist the patient in releasing all vestiges of their life of addiction and prepare them to live a sober lifestyle. Psychological counseling will help the patient surmount the enormous amount of emotional baggage covering fear, anxiety, cravings, guilt, shame, loss etc. The patient will learn how to address and shield themself from emotional triggers and tempting social situations. Having a strong support system of family, friends and support groups will help the patient focus on sobriety and avoid relapse.
Ambien abuse is prevalent in the U.S. The National Survey on Drug Use and Health reports that over one-half million people are currently abusing Ambien or other sedatives. Annually, there are approximately seventeen thousand emergency room visits that treat Ambien abuse or overdose cases. It appears that the release of Ambien prescriptions should be curtailed to only the most severe insomnia or brain disorder cases.