Ambien is a sleep medication designed to help people who have chronic insomnia.
It is not meant for long-term use. Physicians have been advised that if their patients continue to need the medicine after a few weeks of use, at most, they should take the patient off the pill and find an alternative therapy.
Ambien is the trademark name for zolpidem, a sleep-inducing medication that, in recent years, has become more commonly abused. In the past, medical professionals were recommended that individuals with a history of addictive behaviors, like addiction to alcohol or prescription medications, were likelier to become addicted to Ambien. While this is true, a 2011 study published in Behavioral Pharmacology asserted that the hypnotic “high” associated with Ambien abuse can be addictive for individuals who have not previously displayed addictive propensities for other substances.
When properly used, Ambien helps people with chronic insomnia fall asleep but is not designed to help them remain asleep. Part of the prescript states that patients prescribed Ambien should only take the medication within one hour of going to bed. However, when Ambien is abused, individuals make the medication in larger doses, without falling asleep, or with other medicines like stimulants or alcohol, which can enhance the drug’s hypnotic effects.
Doctors typically prescribe the lowest possible dose of Ambien to their patients. It is recommended that they also monitor their patients for psychological changes or a need for sleep medications for a period beyond ten days. These can indicate that the patient has become addicted to Ambien or could be abusing the drug.
Withdrawal from Ambien
Symptoms of Ambien withdrawal begin within 48 hours of the final dose. They include:
- Mood swings
- Cravings for Ambien
- Nausea or vomiting
- Abdominal cramps or discomfort
- Uncontrolled crying or depression
- Rapid heart rate and breathing
- Rebound insomnia
- Panic attacks
- Seizures (rare)
Ambien Withdrawal Timeline
Withdrawal symptoms regularly reduce or vanish inside 1 fourteen days. The most acute withdrawal symptoms usually occur within the first 3-5 days, but psychological withdrawal symptoms can persist for up to two weeks. In rare cases, an individual may experience insomnia, cravings, panic attacks, and other side effects for months after stopping the use of Ambien.
It is difficult to know precisely how long Ambien withdrawal takes for each person. A period of 1-2 weeks is average, but several factors can affect how long people experience Ambien withdrawal symptoms. These include:
- How high the Ambien dose was: If a person takes more Ambien than prescribed, that person is more prone to exhibit tolerance to the medication, which means more Ambien is needed to feel “normal.” This can lead to worse physical and psychological withdrawal symptoms.
- If the individual took different drugs in addition to Ambien: Other medications, alcohol, or illegal drugs can enhance the effects of Ambien, increasing the potential “high.” Withdrawal symptoms are required to be compounded if the person ceases all drug use at once.
- How long the person took Ambien: When an individual takes Ambien as directed for a short period, the person is less likely to experience Ambien withdrawal symptoms. Those symptoms will not be acute or severe.