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Signs and Symptoms of Ambien Abuse

People who suffer from insomnia may well be prescribed Ambien to help them sleep through the night. Ambien belongs to the sedative-hypnotic class of drugs, which qualify as controlled substances and carry a moderate risk for abuse and addiction.

While somewhat similar to benzodiazepines in effect, Ambien’s overall effects work to sedate brain processes rather than just produce a calming effect. As this drug is only intended for short-term use, taking it for longer than four weeks at a time greatly increases the likelihood of Ambien abuse, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

Signs and symptoms of Ambien abuse can be hard to spot at first, but become more pronounced with ongoing use.

Tolerance Level Increases

An inability to sleep soundly for just a couple nights takes a toll on a person’s functional capacity during the day. Considering the difference a good night’s sleep can make, it’s understandable how Ambien abuse can develop.

Signs of Ambien abuse will likely start to appear within a week’s time as the brain’s tolerance for the drug increases. At this point, the usual dose won’t be enough to ensure a good night’s sleep prompting users to increase the dosage amount. The same goes for people who use the drug for recreational purposes.

Withdrawal Symptoms

Ambien works by forcing certain groups of brain cells to secrete large amounts of GABA neurotransmitter chemicals. After a certain point, rising brain tolerance levels give way to physical dependency as Ambien’s effects start to weaken brain cell structures.

As brain cell chemical secretions regulate most every process throughout the body, weakened cell structures lose their ability or function normally. Withdrawal effects result from an overall breakdown in the body’s chemical processes.

Under these conditions, Ambien abuse withdrawal symptoms will start to develop, some of which include –

  • Persistent feelings of anxiety
  • Irritability
  • Problems sleeping
  • Feelings of fatigue
  • Slowed breathing rates
  • Slowed heart rates
  • Tremors
  • Short-term memory problems
  • Coordination problems

Risk Factors

As drug abuse and addiction stem from a range of factors, some people may be more at risk of developing signs of Ambien abuse. In the case of insomnia, if an underlying psychological disorder, such as depression or anxiety is the cause, Ambien’s effects will only work for so long before insomnia symptoms resume.

People struggling with other forms of addiction, such as alcohol and opiates may also face an increased risk of engaging in Ambien abuse practices. Environmental factors, such as peer pressure, poverty and homelessness can also drive a person to use Ambien as a way to self-medicate during difficult times.

Addiction Considerations

ambien misuse

Abusing Ambien is dangerous and can lead to addiction.

While signs and symptoms of Ambien abuse are fairly clear cut, certain conditions must apply before an actual addiction becomes an issue. An addiction to Ambien brings about an overall change in a person’s demeanor and lifestyle.

Once the drug’s effects overtake normal brain functions, signs of addiction may include –

  • Inability to handle work responsibilities
  • Missed days at work or school
  • Isolating from friends and family
  • Financial problems
  • Risk-taking behaviors
  • Relationship conflicts

When these signs start to occur on a repeated basis, the addiction cycle is at work. Without needed treatment help, circumstances only stand to get worse with continued drug use.

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