Ambien, which is the brand name for the drug zolpidem, is a prescription medication used to treat sleep disorders like insomnia. As a sedative/hypnotic substance, this drug works by relaxing the mind and body so that a person can fall asleep more easily. While it is effective for treating sleep conditions, Ambien can quickly become habit-forming and lead to abuse and dependence.

Seeking professional treatment is the best decision a person can make when struggling with Ambien abuse or addiction. Vertava Health has addiction treatment facilities in a number of states, all of which offer programs to help individuals overcome Ambien abuse and addiction.

What Is Ambien – Is Ambien An Opioid?

Ambien is a hypnotic prescription medication that is typically only prescribed for short periods of time. In fact, many physicians do not recommend taking this drug for more than two weeks at a time. This medication is neither an opioid nor a benzodiazepine, but it does share similar effects.

Zolpidem works by affecting the chemicals in the brain that are responsible for relaxation. Because people who have trouble sleeping often cannot calm themselves, Ambien helps to relax the mind and body so a person can fall asleep.

Ambien works on the GABA neurotransmitter in the brain to calm both the mind and central nervous system. While not as addictive as a benzodiazepine or opioid, zolpidem can still be abused and comes with the risk of dependence and addiction.

Signs Of Ambien Abuse

People who abuse or are addicted to Ambien may display a number of signs that are noticeable to others. Sometimes these signs are only noticeable after an individual has been abusing the drug for several weeks or months. The more severe the abuse, the more obvious the signs will likely be.

Common signs that someone is abusing zolpidem may include:

  • hiding use of the drug
  • lying about using Ambien or about how much is being used
  • withdrawing from friends and family in order to use zolpidem
  • experiencing withdrawal symptoms when not on Ambien
  • frequent blackouts
  • hypersexual behavior
  • sleepwalking or performing other tasks while asleep
  • “doctor shopping” in order to get more than one prescription for Ambien
  • problems with work, school, or relationships due to zolpidem use
  • continuing to use Ambien despite consequences
  • experiencing insomnia when not taking the drug

If you notice a loved one displaying one or many of these signs, he or she may be struggling with Ambien abuse or addiction.

Symptoms Of Ambien Abuse

In addition to the signs discussed above, people who abuse Ambien will often experience a number of physical, mental, and emotional symptoms as well. The longer a person abuses Ambien, the more severe the symptoms will be.

Symptoms of Ambien abuse may include:

  • hallucinations
  • extreme drowsiness
  • coordination problems
  • bloodshot eyes
  • headaches
  • shakiness or tremors
  • muscle pain
  • weakness
  • changes in appetite
  • upset stomach
  • diarrhea
  • short-term memory loss

Additionally, people who abuse Ambien may also participate in activities while in a sleep-like state. For example, someone may drive, eat, or talk on the phone while sleep and have no recollection of the activity in the morning. This can be particularly dangerous, as a person can do something like drive while technically unconscious.

What’s more, a person who abuses Ambien is more likely to experience withdrawal symptoms when not on the drug. Ambien withdrawal symptoms can range from mild to uncomfortable depending on the severity of the dependence on the drug. Common withdrawal symptoms include nausea, fatigue, tremors, and insomnia.

Long-Term Effects Of Ambien Abuse

People who abuse Ambien for an extended period of time are at risk for a number of additional mental and health effects. The longer a person abuses zolpidem, the more likely he or she is to develop a tolerance to the drug. This means that an individual will need to take more of the medication to experience the same effects. Continually increasing the dosage of Ambien only worsens the potential for adverse long-term side effects.

Long-term Ambien abuse may cause:

  • depression
  • anxiety
  • suicidal ideations
  • chronic fatigue
  • digestion problems
  • trouble controlling the muscles
  • nightmares
  • drowsiness

Additionally, people who abuse Ambien may experience problems with work or school. They may call in sick more due to headaches or extreme fatigue, or they may take work off in order to abuse the drug. Ambien abuse can affect every aspect of a person’s life and can negatively impact his or her overall wellbeing.

Treatment Options For Ambien Abuse And Addiction

Overcoming an addiction to Ambien can feel daunting or even impossible. However, it’s important to know that you don’t have to do it alone. Vertava Health offers customized programs of recovery to help patients reclaim their lives from addiction and thrive in sobriety.

To learn more about the warning signs and symptoms of Ambien abuse, contact an Vertava Health’ treatment specialist today at 615-208-2941.