Ambien, which is the brand name for zolpidem, is a prescription medication typically used in the treatment of insomnia. While this drug is certainly effective in treating insomnia, it can also come with a number of risks and side effects. One of these risks is the potential for abuse and dependence, which can ultimately lead to withdrawal symptoms when the drug is not taken.
Ambien is not intended for long-term use. Medical professionals will typically not prescribe this medication for longer than two weeks at a time due to the potential for dependence and addiction. This drug should also not be prescribed to individuals with a history of substance abuse, as the risk of abuse and addiction may be higher.
When a person develops a tolerance to Ambien, he or she will likely begin to take higher doses of the drug to experience the same effect. This is especially true for people who abuse this drug for recreational purposes. The more Ambien a person takes, the more likely an individual will become dependent on the medication.
Ambien dependence is when someone needs the drug to feel normal or function properly. A person who is dependent on Ambien will likely experience withdrawal symptoms when the drug is stopped or the dose is lowered.
Withdrawal symptoms may begin a few hours after the last dose of zolpidem or may not set in for several days. The symptoms a person experiences will depend on the amount of the drug the individual was consuming as well as how long the drug was taken.
Common Ambien withdrawal symptoms include:
- mood swings
- cravings for the drug
- upset stomach
- panic attacks
- depression or uncontrollable crying
- increased breathing and heart rate
Seizures have also been reported as a side effect in less than one percent of cases. While rare, seizures most commonly occur when a person who is heavily dependent on the drug stops taking the medication suddenly.
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Ambien Withdrawal Timeline
Ambien withdrawal symptoms usually begin within 48 hours of the last dose taken. Many people will experience the most severe symptoms three to five days after quitting Ambien. Individuals may continue to experience physical and psychological symptoms for one to two weeks after stopping the drug. In rare cases, a person may experience Ambien withdrawal symptoms for several months.
Each individual will experience withdrawal symptoms from Ambien differently. How much of the drug was taken, how long the drug was taken, and whether zolpidem was mixed with other substances can all affect the severity of withdrawal symptoms. Additionally, people who take the extended-release version of the medication may have more severe withdrawal symptoms when stopping the substance.
Ambien Detox Programs
A person who is addicted to or dependent on Ambien may need to seek professional help in order to successfully quit the drug. Medically supervised detox programs are often highly successful at helping individuals get off substances like Ambien in a safe and effective way.
Most detox programs will have a person slowly taper off Ambien rather than quit the drug cold turkey. Tapering involves slowly lowering the dose of the drug over an extended period of time to prevent severe withdrawal symptoms.
During a medically supervised detox program, medical professionals will also help a person decide on whether formal treatment is right for his or her condition. If so, many detox programs can assist in finding a treatment program and helping the patient transfer there once detox is complete.
Getting Help For Ambien Abuse And Addiction
Overcoming an addiction to Ambien can be incredibly difficult, especially when trying to do it alone. If you or a loved one is struggling with a substance use disorder, there are several treatment options to consider that can help you reclaim your life in sobriety. Vertava Health offers a number of inpatient treatment programs that are customized to each patient’s needs.
To learn more about Ambien withdrawal and detox or to discuss the treatment options we offer, contact an Vertava Health’ treatment specialist today.