What Is Ambien?
The first step in understanding what Ambien withdrawal consists of is knowledge about Ambien itself. Ambien (zolpidem tartrate) is a psychoactive drug approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Psychoactive drugs are chemical substances that affect perception and brain function; however, Ambien is more used to treat sleep disorders.
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Ambien is the number one sleeping pill on the market right now, and older demographics (60 and older) benefit greatly from Ambien. Although it is a popular prescription drug, Ambien can still prove to be harmful and addictive.
Oral consumption of Ambien is most common and is usually taken in the form of a small, oblong tablet or an extended-release tablet. Although oral ingestion is most common, it is not uncommon for Ambien to be crushed up and snorted for faster results.
Even though Ambien is classified as a nonbenzodiazepine hypnotic, the benefits, side effects, and risks are almost identical to those of benzodiazepines. On a molecular level, Ambien is vastly different from drugs like alprazolam and diazepam, which have similar sedative effects to that of Ambien.
The number of Ambien-related emergency room visits increased by nearly 220% between 2005 and 2010, up to 19,487 visits in that year, according to a news report from the SAMHSA.
Known on the street as Zombie pills, sleepeasy, and No-Go pills due to its sedative effects, Ambien has earned its many names for rightful reasons. Its powerful effects can cause a self-confidence boost, hallucinations, and a dizzy feeling similar to the effects of alcohol.
Why Should I Detox?
Ambien withdrawals, while for the most part are relatively mild in comparison to other substances, can be dangerous. The severe depression and lack of sleep put users at an increased risk for suicidal ideations.
The propensity of seizures, although only occurring in less than one percent of cold turkey Ambien withdrawals, still exist. Seizures can be potentially life-threatening and cause permanent damage to your brain and other organs. Proper medical care is highly suggested to circumvent a potential tragedy.
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The term “cold turkey” refers to the immediate cessation of drug or alcohol use. Going cold turkey is very common for people that attempt to detox themselves. While it may sound good on paper, quitting something cold turkey can prove detrimental to the entire addiction recovery process.
Once someone becomes addicted to a substance, the continuous intake of that substance causes that person’s body to adjust to it. In the case of the sedative Ambien, the body works overtime to stay awake, counteracting the powerful hypnotic effects of the drug. Immediately quitting Ambien intake all of a sudden gives the body no time to adjust from working overtime to complete sobriety. This is the main cause behind Ambien withdrawal symptoms.
Quitting cold turkey is almost always dangerous and can lead to severe withdrawal symptoms. The first choice for treatment should always be professional help, where you can comfortably detox under 24-hour medical supervision.
More than half a million people in the United States are currently abusing Ambien and other sedatives, as estimated by the National Survey on Drug Use and Health.
If you are like the many other millions of Americans prescribed Ambien, it’s very possible to end up dependent and addicted to your medication. Even when taken correctly, the potential for abuse and dependence exists. What’s also important to note is that the cessation of the medication can not only produce uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms, but in certain cases, can be deadly. So what should you expect when you stop taking the medication for good?
When it comes to Ambien withdrawal, some of the symptoms may include:
- Mood swings
- Rapid heart rate
What Are the Stages of the Ambien Withdrawal Timeline?
When getting off of Ambien, the withdrawal time should be anywhere from 1 to 2 weeks. Throughout the duration of this time, the withdrawal symptoms will begin to appear within 48 hours of the last dose.
The first 3 to 5 days, symptoms will peak. This means that during this period of time, physical symptoms will be at their worst and is the riskiest time during the withdrawal process.
The remaining week the user will continue to experience some of the psychological withdrawal symptoms, reducing each day until they subside completely.
The severity of the symptoms and how long they persist directly depend on how long you took Ambien as well as the amount you were taking and when the final dose was administered.
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What is the Next Treatment Step?
If you are ready to give up Ambien for good, the first step is checking into a medical detox facility. Upon your arrival, you will be assessed and treated for your addiction to Ambien. A staff of medical professionals will be present 24/7, constantly monitoring your progress throughout the detox process. You will be prescribed a variety of detox medications to help alleviate and relieve symptoms of withdrawal.
Also while in a medical detox facility, you will also have psychological support staff on site. Therapists, case managers, and other support staff will be present to help you through the difficult psychological aspect of detox and begin therapy to help you get to the root cause of your addiction.
Once safely medically detoxed, the next suggested step in the treatment continuum is the admission to an inpatient program. While here, less focus will be put on the detox process and more on the therapeutic portion of treatment. Intensive full-time therapy sessions are conducted, and you will get to the bottom of the core issues that lead to substance abuse issues. Typically this stage of treatment lasts anywhere from 30 to 45 days (longer or shorter) depending on your individual needs.
After successful completion of an inpatient treatment program, it is recommended you step down into an intensive outpatient program (IOP). This will help you further strengthen your recovery and safeguard you from relapse. IOP is part-time therapy that keeps you accountable to your program via regular drug tests and mandatory attendance. It can act as an effective way to assimilate into society slowly without overwhelming yourself with independence that may lead inadvertently to relapse.
Because recovery is a lifelong event, we highly suggest participating in alumni programs. These programs are aimed at helping recent drug treatment graduates ease back into their everyday lives. From support groups to alumni picnics, these aftercare programs ensure that you have all the support you need in order to keep clean out of the treatment center.
Start Your Journey to Recovery Today
If you or someone you love is currently struggling with addiction to Ambien, The Palm Beach Institute would be more than excited to help! By calling us now, you will be connected to addiction professionals who are available 24/7 to answer any questions you may have as well as get you connected to the help you need and deserve!
Ambien addiction is dangerous. The longer you wait to take action, the harder it will be for you to recover. At The Palm Beach Institute, we understand that it can be difficult to seek treatment, so early treatment is dire in most situations.