Ambien is commonly used by people who have trouble falling asleep or staying asleep. This prescription drug is intended to produce regular sleeping patterns, which can reduce daytime fatigue. But, at the same time, its sedative properties can lead people to misuse it by increasing the dose as they build a tolerance to the drug which can lead to Ambien addiction.
What Are the Risks of Long-Term Ambien Use?
Ambien isn’t intended to be a long-term solution for sleep issues. It’s typically prescribed for a period of up to six weeks with shorter use of Ambien recommended. Sustained use over a long period or misuse of a high amount of the drug can produce a range of physical and psychological effects. As Ambien was designed to be a “safer” version of benzodiazepines, many of its long-term health risks are similar to benzos such as diazepam, known by the brand name Valium.
Long-Term Ambien Use Symptoms
- Depression and/or suicidal thoughts
- Digestive difficulties
- Dry mouth
- Lack of muscle control
- Muscle pain
- Persistent fatigue
- Recurrent headaches
The Potential of Ambien Addiction
As Ambien becomes less effective over time, the potential to abuse it increases as tolerance builds. Someone who still has trouble sleeping on a 5-milligram dose may increase it to 10 milligrams, for instance, without consulting their doctor. Ambien users who crush, snort, or take it with other drugs face higher risks of developing a dependence on the drug. If the drug was initially used for recreational purposes only, it could lead to long-term use as well.
Someone with an Ambien addiction may show signs of it through a variety of behaviors, including using the drug nightly for a period of six weeks or longer. They may buy Ambien illegally, visit multiple doctors for prescriptions, or forge prescriptions. Their attempts to cut down or stop using it may be unsuccessful as they experience intense cravings. They may sleep through important events while using Ambien or drive under its influence
Reducing Ambien use or stopping altogether will produce withdrawal symptoms within 48 hours. While some symptoms create low levels of discomfort, others can be life-threatening. Someone experiencing severe withdrawal symptoms should seek medical attention immediately.
Ambien Withdrawal Symptoms
- Abdominal discomfort
- Anxiety or panic attacks
- Increased blood pressure, pulse, breathing rate, or body temperature
- Nausea or vomiting.
- Stomach cramps
Ambien Withdrawal Timeline
The half-life of a drug is how much time the body reduces the substance by half. Ambien’s half-life of two hours is shorter than other sedatives. The time may varyfrom person to person, depending on how their body processes the drug. In the first 48 hours after the last dose, users will start to notice withdrawal symptoms. Symptoms tend to be milder in the first couple of days.
After 48 hours of taking the last dose of Ambien, withdrawal symptoms start to intensify. The most severe symptoms mark this three-day period. During this time confusion, memory loss, and mood swings become apparent. In addition, people may feel shaky and nauseated. Panic attacks may begin, and sleep difficulties can return. A combination of any of these symptoms can compel some people to start retaking Ambien.
This period provides some relief for many people who have quit using moderate amounts of Ambien. The withdrawal symptoms felt during the first week begin to subside, and people will start feeling normal again and may be able to sleep without using Ambien.
Medical Detox Minimizes Withdrawal Risks
Withdrawal symptoms may last from a few days up to several weeks. Ambien users who have been taking high doses over a long period of time will likely experience withdrawal symptoms much longer than someone who uses moderate amounts. An extended period of withdrawal left untreated can lead to a relapse of using Ambien again.
Decreasing the use of a drug like Ambien can be done safely without the risk of seizures and other complications. Medical detox allows a long-time Ambien user to move through the withdrawal process while monitored round-the-clock by a medical team. In addition, medication can be provided to ease the symptoms that appear during withdrawal.
Restored Path’s Solution
Restored Path Detox is DFW’s premier location for sophisticated medical detox. Conveniently located in Frisco, we provide a safe sanctuary for healing that is also a state-of-the-art detoxification facility for a wide range of substances. Our compassionate physicians and therapists want you to get well and are committed to removing any existing barriers to your care. Restored Path’s team of board-certified physicians and highly qualified RNs have extensive critical care experience and are available to monitor your detox program 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
If you or a loved one are struggling with drug or alcohol use, call us today and take your first step towards recovery: 561-841-1268.