How Does Ambien Work?
Drug companies created Ambien as an alternative to benzodiazepines that doctors commonly prescribe for sleeping problems, such as Xanax, Ativan, and Restoril. 1
Ambien is a hypnotic medication, or sleep-aid. When you take it, it binds to a receptor in the brain known as a gamma-aminobutyric acid type A (GABA-A) receptor. 2 This creates the effect of feeling sleepy.
While pharmaceutical companies once touted Ambien as the less-addictive drug option for people with sleeping problems, it has proven to result in abuse and dependence for some. This is especially true if a person takes higher-than-recommended dosages of Ambien or take it for longer time periods. According to Health.com, some people have reported taking anywhere from 10 to 20 Ambiens a night to try to sleep, only to realize the drug causes addiction, dependence, and ultimately withdrawal. 3
If you have taken high levels of Ambien or taken the drug for some time, and wish to cut back, chances are you may experience detox symptoms when you stop using the medication. This is especially true if you mix Ambien with other medications or alcohol.
What Symptoms Does Ambien Detox Cause?
Often, when a person experiences detox of a substance, they have the opposite symptoms that the drug causes. Some of the potential withdrawal symptoms associated with Ambien detox include:
- Heart palpitations
- Muscle cramping
- Muscle aches and twitches
Because Ambien has an effect in relaxing people and helping them go to sleep, detoxing from Ambien can cause a person to feel irritable and restless.
Ambien Detox Help
According to Health.com, more than 35 million Americans have a prescription for Ambien or its generic form zolpidem. Because the drug is fairly short-acting, a person may start to experience Ambien detox symptoms quickly after they stop using the medication. 3
First, contact a facility to help create a tapering plan for stopping taking the medication. This reduces the likelihood of withdrawal symptoms by slowly cutting back on the amount of Ambien taken.
If there is an issue with multi-drug abuse, such as Ambien and other medications, such as opiates or benzodiazepines, it may be helpful to seek inpatient treatment for detox. This can help address symptoms such as nausea and muscle cramping as well as ensure there are no seizures related to benzodiazepine withdrawals.
In addition, learning how to overcome the mental cravings that come with stopping Ambien abuse can address the addiction that accompanies the Ambien dependence. Therapies such as cognitive-behavioral therapy can often help identify problematic cravings and how to adjust behaviors and thinking to refrain from relapsing.
If you or a loved one take Ambien and find yourself losing control over how much you take, professional help is available. A medical detox program can help you navigate the symptoms that can occur detoxing from Ambien.