Ambien (zolpidem) is the most commonly prescribed hypnotic medication. It is also the fourth most commonly prescribed psychiatric drug. Ambien, however, has the potential for abuse and addiction.
A 2018 study found that 77% of patients prescribed Ambien actually ignore the FDA safety recommendations for the medication. (1)
Here we take a look at Ambien abuse and addiction.
What is Ambien?
Ambien is a prescription medication that belongs to a drug class known as nonbenzodiazepine. These drugs produce similar effects to those of benzodiazepines. Ambien is prescribed to help treat sleeping issues such as insomnia.
It works by binding to receptors in the brain that produce a calming and hypnotic effect. (2)
Is Ambien abused?
A 2007 study sought to investigate if Ambien and related medications made up of zolpidem had a higher abuse and addiction potential than previously thought. The study conclusively found that Ambien had the potential for abuse and dependence on the medication.
Ambien was shown to have a similar abuse potential to that of benzodiazepines. (3)
What are the effects of Ambien?
Ambien is sometimes abused by deliberately taking a higher dose than normal to experience a high, rather than to fall asleep.
Ambien typically produces the following effects (4):
- Hypnotic state
- Calm feeling
- Difficulty keeping balance
- Changes in appetite
Ambien addiction potential
Ambien abuse can lead to tolerance to the drugs effects. This means the individual will need to take more of the drug to achieve the same effects.
Ambien abuse can also lead to a physical dependence on the drug, meaning the individual will experience a withdrawal syndrome if they suddenly stop taking the medication. (5)
The symptoms produced by Ambien withdrawal mirror that of benzodiazepine withdrawal, and include the following symptoms (6) (7):
- Seizures that can be life threatening
- Sleep disturbances including insomnia
- Muscle stiffness and pain
- Cognitive issues, such as confusion, dizziness, and memory difficulty
- Appetite loss
This article is intended for those considering a new way of life, free of the pain of drug and alcohol addiction. For more information on recovery and anyone seeking help with addiction and substance abuse problems, please call True Recovery at (844) 744-8783 or visit us online.