In recent years, doctors have written tens of millions of prescriptions for Ambien. This sedative-hypnotic drug is used to treat symptoms of insomnia and restlessness in patients. Currently, Ambien is classified as a Schedule IV drug, which is defined by low potential for abuse and low risk of dependence. Despite this classification, Ambien has become a popular drug of abuse. It’s wide availability and relatively cheap price as a street drug has only fueled its abuse potential. In fact, the drug is so dangerous that, in 2012, hospitals saw nearly 20,000 cases of abuse or overdose.

How Ambien Works

Americans experience a lot of stress. This stress can lead to sleep disorders. In fact, it is reported that approximately 60 million Americans suffer with insomnia or sleeplessness. To avoid these restless nights, many turn to prescription sleep aids, like Ambien.

Within 15 minutes of taking the drug, patients will begin to experience sleepiness. The drug works throughout the night to quiet the areas of the brain that produce electrical activity (in other words, wakefulness). Because the drug helps patients sleep, it can cause a number of related (or even serious) side effects, including:

• Fatigue;
• Dizziness;
• Headache;
• Nausea; or
• General impairment.

A phenomenon known as rebound insomnia can also occur, where the drug can actually cause sleeplessness instead of cure it.

Ambien and Addiction

Because sleep is so essential to human functioning, patients can quickly become addicted to the substance. Additionally, Ambien users can build a tolerance to the drug, meaning that they need increasingly large doses to achieve the same effect. This tolerance can lead to a dangerous cycle of addiction. If you or a loved one are addicted to Ambien, you may be experiencing:

• Inability to sleep (with or without the drug);
• Mood swings;
• Lethargy;
• Dizziness; or
• Poor motor control.

Addicts who use the drug without proper medical supervision often take exceedingly high doses and may mix the drug with other substances. This dangerous trend can easily turn into a lethal overdose.

Ambien and Withdrawal

When stopping any medication (whether taken illicitly or with a prescription), it is necessary to do so under doctor supervision. To properly discontinue use of a drug, patients may need to taper the dosage or even take another medication to ease the process.

Typically, doctors recommend taking Ambien for no more than 4-5 weeks. If taken for prolonged periods, withdrawal can become more difficult and even deadly. If withdrawal from Ambien is not administered properly, it can lead to any of the following symptoms:

• Cramps;
• Anxiety
• Panic attacks;
• Memory problems;
• Nightmares;
• Vomiting;
• Shaking;
• Seizures;
• Insomnia;
• Nausea;
• Changes in mood or behavior;
• Confusion;
• Hallucinations;
• Coma; or even
• Death.

These symptoms may appear in as little as a few hours after taking Ambien. Depending on the severity of the case, the persistent symptoms can last for up to a week and may linger for several more weeks. Those who abused Ambien for long durations may find that their symptoms are more severe and last longer than those who take the medication as prescribed.

A user’s body will exhibit these symptoms because it has formed a dependence on the substance. When the substance is removed, the body goes through withdrawal and must learn how to function without the drug. Unfortunately, this stage can be exceedingly dangerous.

If you or a loved one are experiencing addiction to Ambien, please feel free to contact us as iAddiction today.