It is probably impossible to overstate the importance of sleep in our lives.
Getting adequate rest—at least seven hours of sleep each night—is a lynchpin of both our physical and our mental health. It is also essential to our cognitive functions, which of course impact everything we do during our waking hours.
Given those facts, the statistics on sleeplessness in America are deeply troubling. It turns out that approximately one in four Americans—25 percent—experiences insomnia each year.
For many people who deal with insomnia, the problem is sporadic or occurs for a manageable period of time. Maybe they are temporarily under a lot of stress or are managing pain from an injury. Maybe their sleep schedule has gotten interrupted by long hours at work or by extended study sessions for school. Any number of things can cause a temporary bout of insomnia.
But for others, the insomnia never seems to end. Tossing and turning and staring at the clock are nightly activities. And yawning, dozing off, and having trouble concentrating are daily activities.
If your sleeping issue is persistent, you (and those around you) will start to notice that you are struggling with almost everything. Something has to change.
To induce that important change, your doctor may prescribe zolpidem—more commonly known by the brand name Ambien—which is a powerful and effective sleep aid.
Ambien Can Lead to Improvements
The good news for many people is that Ambien can help them get the rest they so desperately need.
Getting some deep, regular sleep can do wonders for someone who has been sleep deprived for an extended period. The fog of sleepiness and exhaustion lifts—and often that leads to a lessening of symptoms of depression. Tasks that seemed nearly impossible are now much more manageable. And real dangers like drowsy driving (which according to a study led to at least 91,000 crashes in 2017) are alleviated. The changes can seem miraculous.
Still, Ambien is intended only for short-term use. It is extremely helpful, but it is not a permanent solution. For this reason, your doctor will likely prescribe a fairly small amount of the drug.
Some people, however, have real trouble accepting that reality. It’s understandable. They have been desperate for sleep. They have finally found something that allows them to sleep. They can’t imagine giving that up.
Ambien Can Lead to Impairments
When you first start taking Ambien, it’s all about overcoming insomnia. But soon enough you might decide to take just a little more than the prescription calls for. After all, if some Ambien results in good sleep, maybe more Ambien will result in better sleep.
But now you are running through your limited supply more quickly. How can you get more? Well, you might try doctor-shopping—seeing multiple physicians in the hope of getting more prescriptions. Or you might swipe a prescription pad from your regular doctor and forge your own prescriptions. Or you might find an illegal source.
Now that you have an ongoing supply, you might start taking more Ambien more often. The drug is known to cause a hypnotic high that some people find pleasant enough that they want to experience it as often as possible. The next step might be mixing Ambien with other drugs or alcohol to see if you can intensify, vary, or extend the experience.
These are all issues that, frankly, you should be losing sleep over.
Ambien Can Lead to a Crisis
Once you have started misusing Ambien, you will likely create a double-edged problem for yourself. On the one hand, you may realize that you need to stop taking the pharmaceutical. On the other hand, you may discover that you can’t—at least not on your own.
People who abruptly stop taking Ambien open themselves up to a range of withdrawal symptoms that are difficult to withstand. Those symptoms may include:
- Insomnia (a sad irony given the drug’s intended use)
- Panic attacks
- Convulsions or seizures (in severe cases)
- Extremely strong cravings for the drug
All of those symptoms are problematic, of course, but the last—the intense cravings—is enough to send many people back to the drug.
The cycle can seem impossible to break out of. You should quit taking Ambien. You do quit taking Ambien. You crave Ambien. You start taking Ambien again. And around you go.
So what is the solution?
Ambien Addiction Can Be Treated in a Residential Facility
When trying to end your dependence on Ambien, you might realize that you need a residential treatment center.
We will help you develop strategies to deal with insomnia–and cravings for Ambien–that might arise once you leave treatment. We’ll also address any co-occurring mental health disorders that may have contributed to your insomnia and to your substance use disorder. At Safe Harbor Recovery Center, we are committed to meeting you where you are. We will listen to you without judgment, and we will create a personalized treatment plan to address your individual needs.