How to Manage Ambien Withdrawal
Table of Contents
Chances are you or someone you know has an Ambien story to tell. This popular sleep aid has become famous for the odd adverse effects it has on some people. These have involved sleep-eating, sleep-driving, memory lapses, seeing things, odd acts, and accidents.
One thing you don’t hear much about is how rough it is to detox from Ambien once someone is addicted to it. Chemical dependency occurs when you use a substance like Ambien daily for a long time.
This can cause the brain to make changes as it becomes used to the presence of Ambien in the bloodstream. Once dependent on the drug, if you attempt to stop ‘cold turkey’ it can lead to severe withdrawal symptoms.
To manage Ambien withdrawal symptoms safely requires a detox plan that involves slowly cutting back on the drug. When the drug is tapered over time the symptoms will not be as harsh. This helps keep the person engaged in moving forward toward treatment instead of giving up.
Facts About Ambien
Ambien (zolpidem) has gained widespread use as a fast-acting drug that helps those who struggle with insomnia. Ambien also called a Z-drug, is in the group of drugs called hypnotics. These work by their effect on the brain chemical, GABA.
The effects of the drug cause an almost instant drugged, groggy feeling. Because it can make you feel unsteady, or even dizzy, you should go right to bed after taking it. The drug is only meant to be prescribed for short periods, such as one to two weeks. It is not to be used as a long-term solution for insomnia.
Ambien is a DEA Schedule IV controlled substance. This label means that the drug has a moderate risk of being abused or addictive.
Prolonged Ambien use can lead to dependence. This occurs when the person reaches for the drug every night as they look forward to getting a good night’s sleep. They may no longer believe they can obtain decent sleep without the aid of this drug.
After continued use, the body begins to build up a tolerance to the effects of the drug. This often leads the person to take higher doses to once again achieve the desired effects.
Some individuals will intentionally abuse Ambien, which can cause added dangers. One common form of Ambien abuse involves drinking alcohol when under the effects of the drug to enhance the effects. Ambien can also be abused by taking higher doses than prescribed, or crushing the drug and snorting Ambien. All of these are putting the person at risk for an adverse event like an overdose.
Signs of Ambien Addiction
Even when Ambien is taken as prescribed it can become habit-forming. Some signs of Ambien abuse or addiction include:
- Feeling drowsy the next day.
- Taking Ambien during the day.
- Doctor shopping to obtain more of the drug.
- Ambien abuse, like drinking along with the drug or snorting it.
- Obsessed about the need to acquire the drug.
- Taking higher doses than what is prescribed.
- Cognitive issues.
- Memory problems.
- Stealing it from family or friends.
- Unable to cut back on the drug.
- Feel anxious if there are none left in the bottle.
- Mounting negative events, such as accidents, unexplained weight gain, or a DUI arrest.
- Have withdrawal symptoms when the drug wears off.
Ambien Withdrawal Timeline
As with any substance, the Ambien withdrawal symptoms will vary from mild to severe based on the length of time taking Ambien and the daily dosing. A doctor will prepare the person for the Ambien detox through a taper-down program. This can ease the person through the detox and help avoid a seizure.
Ambien detox lasts 1-2 weeks or longer, based on the factors that influence the timeline. The Ambien withdrawal timeline goes as follows:
Early phase: Days 1-2 feature mental fog, fatigue, trouble concentrating, memory problems, and headache.
Middle phase: Days 3-7 are the peak phase of detox where symptoms are most intense. These include severe rebound effects like feeling irritable, anxious, restless and having insomnia. Other symptoms include intense cravings, nausea or vomiting, sweating, hyperventilating, racing heart rate, and tremors.
Final phase: In the final week or two the symptoms will subside.
During the three stages, the medical detox team will assist the person with meds to help reduce symptoms like headache and nausea.
Getting Help for Ambien Addiction
Rehab should be started right after the detox. Without this support, the person may succumb to cravings. Recovery programs are available in outpatient or residential settings. The basic treatments will involve a multi-pronged approach that includes:
- Talk therapy. Therapy, such as CBT, DBT, CM, and MI are core treatments for helping the person to break the addiction. The therapist will help the person detect any dysfunctional patterns and then guide them toward changing to healthy ones.
- Group therapy. Small groups discuss topics about breaking addict behavior patterns and other things that refer to the recovery process. Group sessions help members open up and share, which can be a source of peer support.
- Psychosocial skills. People will learn new coping techniques to help reduce the risk of relapse. They will be guided toward creating a detailed relapse prevention plan, which can help them manage stress triggers. Other skills taught revolve around reducing stressful thoughts at bedtime.
- 12-step groups. Recovery meetings, such as A.A., N.A., or SMART Recovery are social settings that offer peer support.
- Recreational therapy. The mind-body connection is nurtured through fitness and outdoor sports. These might include hiking, cycling, taking walks, visits to the gym, swimming, and group sports.
Breaking free from an Ambien addiction is possible. Much of the success will depend on learning new ways to get a better more restful night’s sleep without drugs.
LifeSync Malibu Provides Ambien Detox and Withdrawal
LifeSync Malibu is an upscale holistic SoCal treatment center that includes onsite medical detox for Ambien dependence. After the detox phase is done, we offer clients a leading treatment program. If you have any questions about Ambien detox, please contact LifeSync Malibu today at (866) 491-4426.