Ambien is the brand name for the drug zolpidem. It is a narcotic prescription medication used in the treatment of insomnia. It is similar to benzodiazepines in its mechanism of action, but it is thought to be less addictive. It is a short acting medication which is effective in initiating sleep. The controlled release form (Ambien CR) is effective at both initiating and maintaining sleep.
Ambien’s hypnotic effects are similar to benzodiazepines, but it chemical structure is different than that of a benzodiazepine. It is classified as an imidazopyridine. Ambien is meant to be used for a short period of time. If it is abused, or prescribed for a long period of time, it can be addictive.
Ambien addiction has become more and more common in recent years, and it often brings a new class of addict into treatment. Often, Ambien addiction starts off with a valid need for the drug and a prescription from a doctor. Either the person continues to take the drug long-term (with or against medical advice), or begins to abuse it to achieve a high. These particular addicts are not buying illicit drugs on the street corner, so they may not really be ready to admit they are addicted to Ambien.
Misuse of Ambien is more common in those who have been dependent on other drugs in the past, but tolerance and drug dependence can still sometimes occur in those without a history of drug dependence or addiction. Sometimes Ambien is used by stimulant addicts to “come down” from the high; sometimes it is mixed with alcohol to increase the effects.
People suffering from Ambien addiction often report feeling a “body high” and experiencing visual hallucinations if they resist the urge to fall asleep on Ambien. Ambien has a quick onset – about 15 minutes – and leaves the body after about 8 hours, but the effects are not usually felt after about 3 hours.
Ambien addiction causes retrograde amnesia – forgetting things that happened just before and after the drug is taken. Sometimes people report doing things on Ambien that they are completely unaware of until they “come to.” “Ambien Eating” is an example of this. Many people report that they will wake up with the unmistakable evidence that they have eaten in the night, but with no recollection of doing so.
Ambien addiction is dangerous because, as with benzodiazepines, when the body becomes dependent, and the drug is stopped suddenly, it can cause extreme withdrawal symptoms, including seizure and death. Discontinuing Ambien should always be overseen by a doctor, especially in cases of Ambien addiction.
Because of the hypnotic and amnesia causing properties, Ambien is sometimes used as a date rape drug. Ambien can markedly impair functions that normally allow a person to resist sexual aggression or assault. Victims are unable to ward off an attack, and they are also unable to remember the date rape or the rapist because of the Ambien-induced amnesia. Ambien’s effects are even more exaggerated when the drug is mixed with alcohol, a potentially deadly combination.
If you or someone you know needs treatment for their Ambien Addiction please call us at 800-951-6135 or visit us online at www.palmpartners.com.