A Short Term Treatment for Insomnia
Ambien a prescribed medication to help people who suffer from chronic insomnia. It is not advised to use long term, and doctors are advised to prescribe an alternative therapy if the patient is still suffering from insomnia after a few weeks of use.
Ambien has recently become a medication that people are more frequently abusing. Ambien is the brand name for Zolpidem, and also goes by Intermezzo, Zolpimist and Edluar. Individuals with histories of addictive behaviors are more likely to develop an addiction to Ambien. However, a 2011 study suggested that Ambien can become addictive for people with no previous problems because of the high it produces.
Ambien may help people with chronic insomnia fall asleep if used as prescribed, but it does not help them stay asleep. When prescribed, Ambien is to be taken within one hour before going to bed. Ambien is abused when the medication is taken without the intention of going to sleep, when taken in much higher doses, or with alcohol or stimulants to enhance the drugs mesmerizing effects.
Doctors always prescribe the lowest effective dose of Ambien and are also advised to monitor the patient closely for any psychological changes that may arise. It can be an indicator that the patient has become dependent on Ambien or could possibly be abusing the medication if the patient seems to need a sleep medication beyond a 10 day period.
Ambien Symptoms of Withdrawal
Someone who has become addicted to Ambien will experience symptoms of withdrawal within 48 hours after their last dose. The symptoms may include anxiety, panic attacks, mood swings, irritability, a reoccurrence of insomnia, rapid breathing and heart rate, tremors, nausea, fatigue, vomiting, abdominal discomfort and cramps, sweating, flushing, delirium, depression, uncontrollable crying, or cravings for Ambien.
Seizures have also been experienced in less than 1% of withdrawal cases and are more common when someone stops taking Ambien “cold turkey” or is suddenly unable to obtain the medication.
Timeline for Ambien Withdrawal
Ambien detox or withdrawal symptoms will lessen or disappear entirely within 1 to 2 weeks. The most acute symptoms of withdrawal will appear within the first 3 to 5 days, although psychological symptoms can persist for up to 2 weeks, and in rare cases, people can experience cravings, insomnia and panic attacks (or other side effects) for months after not using Ambien.
Ambien detox or withdrawal is highly individual and even though a period of 1 to 2 weeks is typical for Ambien detox or withdrawal, it is not always easy to know how long withdrawal will take.
There are several circumstances that may affect how long a person may experience withdrawal symptoms from Ambien:
- How long an individual has been using Ambien: If it has only been a short period of time, there is less likelihood of severe symptoms, if any at all.
- Dosage: When Ambien is used in higher doses than prescribed, a person will develop a tolerance to the medication. When this happens, more Ambien is required in order to feel “normal” which will lead to more intense physical and psychological withdrawal symptoms.
- Extended-release Ambien: Extended-release Ambien is a higher dose of the drug than the regular Ambien. Extended-release is intended to be slowly released into the body with normal use. When this medication is abused there are ways the individual can bypass the chemicals that slow the release and take a much larger dose all at once which will cause more intense withdrawal symptoms.
The effects of Ambien cane be more intense if other medication such as illegal drugs or any alcohol are taken in addition to Ambien. The withdrawal symptoms are likely to be compounded if all medications, alcohol, etc., are stopped at the same time.
Medications Used for Ambien Detox
Psychiatric treatment for anxiety or depression may be prescribed by a medical professional for Ambien detox or withdrawal as there are few medications that can treat withdrawal symptoms. Anti-seizure medications can be prescribed for people who suffer from withdrawal seizures. There are also mood-stabilizing medications for those who suffer from suicidal thoughts or severe anxiety.
Quetiapine has been shown by recent research to help with some Ambien detox or withdrawal symptoms. Quetiapine is an anti-psychotic used for treatment of bipolar disorder, major depression and schizophrenia. While this medication may be promising, it is not currently being prescribed for Ambien withdrawal.
People who want to stop using Ambien should speak with their Doctor regarding potential withdrawal symptoms. Because there is a small risk for seizures, it is best for the Doctor to help the patient taper the Ambien dose down instead of stopping it all at once. This will help with the withdrawal symptoms and decreases the risk of seizures.
When stopping this medication, individuals with an addiction to Ambien need comprehensive treatment. A medical detox is recommended as a starting point towards recovery. It is also important that people learn coping skills and have Cognitive Behavioral Therapy when working through the psychological problems that arise during recovery. Group therapy is another good source of emotional support for people going through recovery.
During Ambien detox and withdrawal, Resolutions Behavioral Health will provide a supportive and comprehensive medical environment throughout all stages of detoxification to ensure a successful recovery. If you or a loved one need help, call one of our professional admissions team members today for a free and confidential assessment.