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Understanding Ambien Abuse
Ambien is a commonly prescribed medication that is used to treat insomnia. Taken once per day, this medication will promote sleep but may also result in physical dependence. Ambien abuse can result in an array of side effects, complications and challenges for the user.
Recognizing Ambien Abuse
When this medication is prescribed and taken once a night to promote healthy sleep, there are likely no real problems with the medication use; however, should the medication be taken more than once per night, should it be used for purposes other than to promote sleep, or should it be used without a prescription is considered abuse.
Ambien abuse is not always spotted early on but you may notice the following signs of abuse taking place:
- taking more than one sleeping pill at bedtime
- taking more that one sleeping pill in a night
- taking more than one kind of sleeping pill such as Ambien and another drug
- Drinking alcohol and taking Ambien
- Running out of Ambien before your next prescription can be filled
- taking Ambien to cover up emotions or fall asleep and “forget”
According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, Ambien is among the many prescription drugs that are abused regularly by adults and teens throughout the country. Though powerful, prescription drugs such as Ambien can also be highly dangerous when abused.
Physical Reactions to Ambien Abuse
People who abuse Ambien will often show a number of physical reactions to the use of this drug. While using Ambien may make the individual feel relaxed, happy or even light headed, it can also lead to:
- distorted speech
- loss of memory
- increased energy in some people
Dangers of Ambien Abuse
Abusing any prescription drug can be dangerous; Ambien abuse often leads women down a path of isolation and depression. When Ambien is mixed with other drugs or alcohol, the risks increase. Mixing Ambien with alcohol will cause increased sedation and may lead to overdose, coma or death.
The body quickly develops a tolerance to Ambien and becomes physically dependent on the drug. As such, when Ambien use stops, the user will often feel an array of withdrawal symptoms that can make continued abstinence from the drug not only challenging, but also potentially dangerous if left untreated.
Potential side effects associated with Ambien withdrawal include:
- suicidal thoughts
Signs & Symptoms of Ambien Abuse
As Ambien is taken regularly, either as prescribed or in an abusive manner, the body adjusts to the drug and begins to expect it in order to feel good, comfortable, relaxed or tired. Unfortunately, Ambien abuse is a potentially dangerous condition that has a lasting impact on the brain and the body making it difficult to quit and equally difficult to remain Ambien free following recovery from an addiction.
Many signs and symptoms may present when an individual is abusing Ambien including:
- missing medication
- needing more medication than prescribed
- taking medication that is not prescribed
- taking medication for purposes other than prescribed
- taking medication with other drugs or alcohol
Even taking the recommended dose of Ambien on a regular basis can lead to Ambien addiction. Unfortunately, even low doses will cause the individual to become dependent on the medication in time and may find that they cannot fall asleep without it. At higher doses, use of Ambien will cause distinct changes within the brain that induce strong cravings, rapidly increased tolerance and the need for professional help should you decide to quit.
Symptoms of Addiction
Ambien addiction will cause an array of symptoms. The most common symptoms of Ambien addiction include:
- loss of control over Ambien use
- cravings for Ambien
- compulsive use of Ambien
- becoming preoccupied with Ambien
- using Ambien in risky situations
- using Ambien even though it is causing problems with your health
- using Ambien despite other problems that it may be causing in your relationships or otherwise
- taking Ambien to forget or cover up emotions
- feeling like you can’t feel good without Ambien
- withdrawal symptoms when not taking Ambien
How Ambien Addiction Alters the Brain
Various areas of the brain are affected by the use of Ambien. The frontal cortex, the amygdala, the ventral pallidum and other areas of the brain are altered as a result of the Ambien abuse. Changes within these areas of the brain are responsible for:
- memory loss
- concentration loss
- intense memories of drug use
- inability to resist impulses to use
- inability to feel happy or comfortable without drugs
- increased desire to use drugs
These changes will not only make it difficult to stop using Ambien, the will also cause a number of potentially dangerous side effects that can derail the treatment and recovery process. It’s difficult for a user to remain drug free when their reward system has essentially been hijacked by the drug use resulting in an inability to feel good without getting high. Many of these structural changes that occur within the brain are also responsible for the increased chance of relapse that occurs in those recovery from Ambien addiction.
Treatment for Ambien Addiction
Although Ambien addiction may be severe, difficult to overcome and equally difficult to cope with, it can be treated successfully. Women who are addicted to Ambien can receive medical monitoring, intervention, and support for their side-effects and potentially life-threatening problems in a rehab center that specializes in treating this type of prescription drug addiction.
Formal rehabilitation programs offer an array of tools and support services to help women who are addicted to Ambien. From detox and withdrawal treatment to counseling and therapy, the services that are offered at these facilities encompass a wide array of methods that can be used to help keep cravings under control and to prevent relapse from occurring.
How Treatment Works
Ambien addiction treatment generally consists of a period of detox followed by supportive care and counseling. Most rehab centers will recommend that users do not immediately quit taking Ambien if they are addicted as this can lead to dangerous withdrawal symptoms. As such, Ambien addiction treatment will include a period in which the user gradually detoxes from the drug by tapering the medication off over time.
Tapering down the dose, gradually lowering the amount of the drug that is used, can help to reduce withdrawal symptoms and prevent any serious side effects from occurring. If you are addicted to Ambien, the safest way to overcome the addiction will be to first go through the detoxification process which involves tapering the dose down until you reach a zero level and then to attend treatment which will include counseling and therapy.
Types of Ambien Addiction Treatment
According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, there are a number of effective treatment approaches that can be used to help people overcome addiction. Medication and behavioral therapies are commonly used to help those who are in recovery. Treatment is provided either in an inpatient or residential rehab center or on an outpatient basis.
Behavioral therapies include:
- Individual counseling
- Group counseling
- Family counseling
- Multidimensional family therapy
- Motivational Interviewing
- Motivational Incentives
Each method of therapy is focused on helping the user to find new ways to cope with her addiction and with other elements of life that may be potentially stressful or which may trigger relapse. Support is a foundation in treatment that often carries with the woman well into her recovery. Together, the counseling, therapy, support, medical care and guidance that is provided effective helps women overcome Ambien addiction and live sober.