Ambien addiction is a chronic and potentially progressive condition characterized by a pattern of problematic use despite negative consequences and an inability to cut down or stop using Ambien.
Ambien, which is the brand name for zolpidem, is a prescription medication that belongs to a class of medications known as sedative-hypnotics 1. Other types of sedative-hypnotic drugs include Sonata (zaleplon), Lunesta (eszopiclone), Halcion (triazolam), and Restoril (temazepam) 2. Ambien addiction can negatively impact physical and mental health, social relationships, finances, and occupational and academic functioning.
This article will explore the following topics:
- Signs and symptoms of Ambien addiction.
- Addiction treatment programs.
- Cost and payment.
- Causes of Ambien addiction.
- Long-term effects of Ambien addiction.
- Find treatment today.
Signs and Symptoms of Ambien Addiction
Ambien is a prescription medication that is used to manage insomnia by inducing sleep and improving the length and quality of rest 1,2. Although zolpidem is a non-benzodiazepine sedative, it works similarly to benzodiazepines, by binding to GABA receptors and slowing brain activity 1,3. It should only be used as a short-term treatment option for insomnia, as chronic use can lead to dependence and addiction. It’s important to know the signs and symptoms of an Ambien addiction so you can recognize problematic use in yourself or a loved one.
The signs and symptoms of an Ambien addiction can be behavioral, physical, or psychological. Behavioral signs and symptoms of an addiction to Ambien can include 4:
- Using more Ambien than prescribed or taking it for a longer period of time than directed.
- Failing to cut back or stop using Ambien, despite efforts to do so.
- Spending a large portion of time getting, using, or recovering from the effects of Ambien.
- Developing difficulties fulfilling role obligations at work, school, or home because of Ambien use.
- Continuing to take Ambien despite social or relationship problems that have been caused by or exacerbated by Ambien use.
- Reducing or eliminating important social, work, or leisure activities because of Ambien use.
- Using Ambien in physically dangerous situations, such as when driving.
- Ongoing use of Ambien despite experiencing chronic medical or psychological issues caused or worsened by Ambien use.
Ambien addiction also involves physical and psychological signs of use. These can include 3,4:
- Concentration problems.
- Memory loss.
- Slowed movements and thought.
- Unsteady gait.
- Slurred speech.
- Mood swings.
- Having a strong desire or cravings to use Ambien.
- Tolerance, or requiring increased doses of Ambien to achieve the desired effect.
- Withdrawal symptoms with cessation of use (sweating, tremors, insomnia, hallucinations, anxiety, seizures, etc.).
If you are concerned about your or a loved one’s Ambien use, please call our confidential helpline at 1-888-439-3435 Who Answers? . Addiction support specialists can provide you with information about various treatment options.
Addiction Treatment Programs
Although an Ambien addiction can be debilitating, it is a highly treatable condition, and it’s never too late to seek help from a recovery program. Individuals can quit Ambien without professional help, but formal treatment can be beneficial in a number of ways.
Ambien withdrawal syndrome can be fatal, due to the potential for seizures. Treatment programs often provide detox, which helps to ensure the safety of the patient experiencing withdrawal symptoms. Recovery programs also provide the patient with individual therapy, which can address the underlying issues behind the addiction, and group counseling, in which patients receive support from recovering peers. While in treatment, any medical or co-occurring mental health disorders can be identified and treated as well. The structure of professional treatment allows the patient to develop a routine and escape their using friends and environment.
Ambien addiction treatment is a highly individualized process. There are many options to choose from when deciding on the right rehab for you. There is no specific treatment that is better than another at treating addiction, as long as the individual’s needs are met, their beliefs are respected, they are comfortable in treatment, and the treatment program is tailored to the individual 5. Some addiction treatment options include:
- Detox is handled at a facility where the individual can safely withdraw from Ambien under around-the-clock medical supervision. While in detox, the individual may be tapered off of Ambien slowly, or provided other medications (in most instances, relatively long-acting benzodiazepines such as Librium or Valium) to prevent life-threatening withdrawal symptoms. Detox alone is not usually sufficient to help an individual overcome an Ambien addiction 5. It is just the first step towards the road to recovery.
- Inpatient treatment is provided in a residential or hospital setting, where a structured treatment schedule is created, incorporating intense individual and group therapy sessions, peer support, and sometimes self-help meetings. The amenities and recovery services differ depending on the program’s philosophy. Patients must live at the inpatient facility for the duration of the treatment program, which can range from 28 to 90 days (or more, in some cases), depending on the individual’s needs.
- Outpatient treatment facilities provide ongoing treatment while the patient lives at home and continues to manage their responsibilities at work, school, or home. Treatment is largely provided via both individual and group therapy sessions and many facilities will strongly encourage additional participation in self-help meetings outside of treatment hours.
- Luxury treatment occurs in a private, often scenic setting, incorporating cutting-edge treatment, higher staff-to-patient ratios for individualized care, posh amenities, and private rooms to enhance the recovery process.
- Executive facilities are tailored to the needs of business executives who require access to telephones and computers to handle work duties while still receiving treatment. Additional amenities may be offered, depending on the facility.
- 12-step programs, such as Narcotics Anonymous (NA) and Pills Anonymous (PA), are free support groups that provide you with an encouraging and positive environment to recover in. Members follow the 12 steps of recovery, which focus on admitting powerlessness over addiction, a belief in a greater power, and turning their will and lives over to the higher power 6.
- Holistic treatment centers focus on healing the whole person—mind, body, and spirit. Therapy methods available may include acupuncture, biofeedback, meditation, yoga, exercise, and nutrition to help an individual overcome their addiction.
- Population-specific treatment programs cater to the unique needs of specific populations and have experience in treating problems that commonly occur in certain groups of people. Examples of population-specific recovery programs include teen, LGBT, men-only, women-only, and veterans.
Since Ambien withdrawal can be dangerous, the treatment team will slowly wean the patient off of Ambien, or provide them with a long-acting medication with similar effects and a low potential for addiction. Medications with minimal abuse potential may be prescribed as needed to help manage insomnia or anxiety.
Therapies, such as Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT), Motivational Interviewing (MI), and relaxation techniques are often incorporated into treatment programs. CBT addresses self-talk and the connection between thoughts, feelings, and actions, and MI aims to increase a person’s desire to make a positive change. Relaxation techniques can help individuals manage anxiety and possibly insomnia.
Cost and Payment
The cost of Ambien addiction treatment can vary depending on a number of factors, such as the type of treatment that is chosen (inpatient, outpatient, luxury, or executive), the length of the stay, and what types of amenities are offered. Facility location can also play into the overall cost of treatment, with a treatment center in a desirable area, such as the beach, usually costing more than a hospital setting. Many facilities accept health insurance, which may cover some or all of the treatment cost, depending on your insurance policy and coverage.
If you have health insurance, call your insurance provider to learn more about what your specific plan covers.
If you don’t have insurance, you can still get treatment through a number of financing methods, such as:
- Sliding-scale fees, which are reduced treatment costs based on the individual’s income and budget.
- Payment plans allow individuals to get treatment and pay off the amount in smaller, more manageable increments.
- Asking friends or family members to contribute to treatment is another option, if one has a strong support system.
- Using a crowdfunding site, such as GoFundMe or IndieGoGo, can capitalize on the internet’s ability to reach a large audience to solicit donations toward treatment.
- Using savings, credit cards, or obtaining a loan are other options to pay for treatment.
Addiction negatively impacts the health and happiness of those who are addicted to Ambien. Although the price of treatment can seem daunting, remember that nothing is more important than your recovery and long-term sobriety.
Causes of Ambien Addiction
Addiction is a multi-faceted condition. It isn’t caused by one specific event or gene, but rather it is influenced by a combination of factors. Some of the factors that can influence the development of addiction include:
- Genetics may influence or predispose some individuals towards addiction. Addiction development has a known genetic component and varies in heritability (or the amount of genetic influence) from substance to substance. That being said, DNA is not destiny and individuals who are genetically susceptible to addiction do not always develop an addiction. The heritability rate for sedative-hypnotic addiction is 0.5, which means that roughly 50% of an Ambien addiction can be attributed to genes 7.
- Environmental risk factors, such as living in a high-stress or impoverished environment, reduced involvement of parents, easy access to substances, or being in an environment with others who use can increase the likelihood of developing an addiction to Ambien 8.
- Trauma, as well as adverse childhood experiences, such as abuse, neglect, or witnessing violence, can dramatically raise the risk of developing an addiction in the future 9.
- Mental health disorders commonly co-occur with substance addictions and can fuel the development of an addiction. Individuals with anxiety, mood disorders, or antisocial personality disorder are about twice as likely to have a substance addiction compared to those without 10.
Long-term Effects of Ambien Addiction
Addiction is a progressive condition, which means that it will become more severe over time if the individual doesn’t seek treatment. Chronic Ambien use can affect mental and physical health, as well as various life areas of users. Long-term effects of Ambien use can include 4,11:
- Morning “hangovers.”
- Experiencing memory loss or amnesia.
- Manic symptoms.
- Suicidal thoughts.
- Increased risk of falls or injuries.
- Developing tolerance and dependence.
- Worsening of insomnia.
- Slower pulse and decreased respiratory rate.
- Increased risk of overdose, particularly when combined with alcohol or other central nervous system depressants.
- Increased risk of HIV and contraction of hepatitis viruses and other communicable diseases, if used intravenously.
- Perforated septum or sinusitis, if used intranasally.
In addition to the above consequences, addiction can affect other areas of life. These can include:
- Poor work and school performance.
- Job loss.
- Legal consequences, such as D.U.I. or assault charges.
- Divorce or separation.
- Loss of friendships.
- Failure to manage family duties, such as caring for children.
Find Treatment Today
Help is just a phone call away. If you or someone you know suffers from an Ambien addiction, call our confidential helpline at 1-888-439-3435 Who Answers? to speak to an addiction support specialist today. They can help to answer any questions you may have and link to you the proper treatment resources.
- S. National Library of Medicine. (2015). Zolpidem.
- S. Food and Drug Administration. (2015). Sleep disorder (sedative-hypnotic) drug information.
- National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Zolpidem.
- American Psychiatric Association. (2013). Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders (5th ed.). Arlington, VA: American Psychiatric Publishing.
- National Institute on Drug Abuse. (2012). Principles of drug addiction treatment: A research-based guide (3rd edition).
- Narcotics Anonymous. (1998). Institutional group guide.
- Bevilacqua, L., & Goldman, D. (2009). Genes and addictions. Clinical Pharmacology and Therapeutics, 85(4), 359–361.
- National Institute on Drug Abuse. (2003). Preventing drug use among children and adolescents.
- Dube, S.R., Felitti, V.J., Dong, M., Chapman, D.P., Giles, W.H., & Anda, R.F. (2003). Childhood abuse, neglect, and household dysfunction and the risk of illicit drug use: The adverse childhood experiences study. Pediatrics, 111(3).
- National Institute on Drug Abuse. (2010). Comorbidity: Addiction and other mental illnesses.
- American Association of Retired Persons. (2012). What are the side effects of long-term use of Xanax and Ambien?