Individuals who place an excessive reliance on Ambien to help them sleep are exposing themselves to developing an Ambien dependence or addiction. Any regular use of Ambien for more than four weeks will put an Ambien user on a path to addiction. If you rely on Ambien to help you sleep, you and the physician who first prescribed the drug should watch for signs of dependence or addiction.
Effects of Ambien Abuse
Depending on the drug formulation that you are using, when you first begin taking Ambien you will generally begin to experience its effects within thirty minutes after you first ingest it. The drug’s effects will peak around four hours after that ingestion, but you will likely continue to experience some effects of the drug, including drowsiness, disorientation, and cognitive problems, for eight or more hours after taking it. When you begin to succumb to Ambien addiction, however, you may not feel the effects of the drug for ninety minutes or more after you take it, if you experience those effects at all. Unlike when you first started using Ambien, you will have trouble falling asleep. You may feel foggy or your thinking may be muddled, but the drug will no longer provide any help for your sleep disorder problems.
Signs of Ambien Dependence
When you enter the dependence or addiction phase of Ambien use, you will have either psychological or physical cravings for the drug. You will begin to seek larger and more frequent doses of it. If your physician declines to authorize a prescription refill, you will be tempted to procure the drug illegally. When you stop taking the drug, you will also experience physical withdrawal symptoms, including heightened sleeplessness, cramps, and irritability.
What is Considered Ambien Addiction?
Excessive reliance on Ambien can morph into either a psychological dependence or a physical addiction to the drug. Both dependence and addiction will have similar symptoms, but those symptoms are likely to be more severe with physical addiction. Both dependence and addiction will respond to standard addiction treatments, including a detox and stabilization period that can last from seven to ten days, followed by a recovery period during which an addict will receive behavioral and, possibly, alternative pharmacological therapy. The risks of relapse will always be present after Ambien addiction has developed. If an addict is able to overcome his or her addiction through detox and recovery, then he or she will need to refrain from any and all further use of Ambien for sleep disorders.
Ambien users who take the drug for recreational purposes are likely most at risk of forming an addiction to it. Recreational Ambien users are also taking greater risks if they combine the drug with other depressants or drugs that act on the central nervous system, including alcohol. Certain Ambien drug interactions can be fatal if the user’s nervous system is depressed to an extremely low state.
When used properly and under controlled and limited conditions, Ambien is a valuable pharmaceutical. That value quickly disappears when Ambien is abused. Please call the Last Resort Recovery Center in Austin, Texas if you are experiencing symptoms of Ambien dependence or addiction. We can help you recognize the signs of addiction, and can provide counseling and other services to help you break the addiction cycle.