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Ambien Withdrawal and Detox

Ambien Withdrawal

Authored by Pin Ng PhD

Reviewed by Michael Por, MD

Ambien Withdrawal

Doctors in the United States gave out around 40 million Ambien (Zolpidem) prescriptions in the year 2019, according to information released in 2020.1https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3229797/ The high number of prescriptions came due to the large population of individuals who claim they suffer from some type of sleep disorder in the country. A reported 70 million Americans have been diagnosed with some type of sleep disorder.2https://medlineplus.gov/druginfo/meds/a693025.html

Although Ambien is highly prescribed by doctors, it is incredibly addictive. The addictiveness of Ambien ( zolpidem) comes in complete contrast to the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency, which has listed it as a “low schedule” drug.3https://medlineplus.gov/druginfo/meds/a693025.html Ambien addiction often comes from individuals who have taken the sleeping aid for long periods and struggle to fall asleep without it. However, there are some who use Ambien recreationally to sleep and do not have a sleep disorder of any kind.

Why do people become addicted to Ambien (Zolpidem)?

Addiction comes from Ambien due to long-term use and the build-up of tolerance to the sleep drug. The addiction comes in contrast to the advised dosages and taking of Ambien. The drug is not intended for long-term use by individuals. The medication should only be used for a few weeks. Doctors are advised to take patients off the medication if they have been taking it for long periods. At this point, doctors are to put their patients on alternative sleep therapy. Unfortunately, many doctors continue prescribing Ambien to their patients.

Ambien is the brand name for the sleep medication known by doctors and pharmacists as zolpidem. The abuse of Ambien has increased in recent years and more individuals with addictive personalities are abusing the drug. One of the reasons individuals have begun using Ambien for recreational purposes rather than as a sleep aid is due to the hypnotic feeling they get.4https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3067983/ The high puts users in a trance like state in which they feel relaxed.

What does Ambien withdrawal look like?

There are a variety of symptoms individuals can experience when they stop using Ambien. Withdrawal symptoms can begin as quickly as 48 hours after taking the final dose of the drug. Symptoms include:

  • Increased anxiety
  • Mood changes
  • Irritability
  • Cravings for more Ambien
  • Sweats
  • Tremors
  • Tiredness and fatigue
  • Nausea and/or vomiting
  • Abdominal and stomach cramps
  • Uncontrolled crying
  • Depression
  • Confusion and delirium
  • Flushing
  • Panic attacks
  • Rapid heart rate
  • Increased breathing
  • Rebound insomnia
  • Seizures

Ambien withdrawal is different in each individual. It is claimed that individuals experience an average of one to two weeks of withdrawal when getting off of Ambien.5https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1517/14656566.2012.667074?src=recsys&journalCode=ieop20

Getting help for Ambien Withdrawal

Ambien addiction is no joke. It can cause health issues and taken over a long period, can contribute to death. Doctors can prescribe medication to help treat the symptoms of Ambien withdrawal such as seizure medication along with psychiatric treatment to deal with depression and anxiety caused by the drug.6https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-020-61694-9

Individuals addicted to Ambien should speak to a medical professional about Ambien withdrawal and ending their abuse of the drug. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) may be prescribed to help individuals overcome their addiction. Medical detox is also needed in most cases to help patients get the drug out of their system.

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References: Ambien Withdrawal

  1. Lichtenwalner M, Tully R. A Fatality Involving Zolpidem. J Anal Toxicol. 1997;21:567–9. [PubMed] []
  2. Aragona M. Abuse, dependence, and epileptic seizures after zolpidem withdrawal: Review and Case Report. Clin Neuropharmacol. 2000;23:281–3. [PubMed] []
  3. Sadock BJ, Sadock VA. Lippincott Williams & Wilkins; 2007. Kaplan and Sadock’s synopsis of psychiatry: Behavioral sciences/clinical psychiatry. []
  4. Elko C.J, Burgess J.L, Robertson W.O. Zolpidem-associated hallucinations and serotonin reuptake inhibition: a possible interaction. J Toxicol Clin Toxicol. 1998;36(3):195–203. [PubMed] []
  5. Huang MC, Lin HY, Chen CH. Dependence on zolpidem. Psychiatry Clin Neurosci. 2007;61:207–8. [PubMed] []
  6. Markowitz J.S, Rames L.J, Reeves N, et al. Zolpidem and hallucinations. Ann Emerg Med. 1997;29(2):300–301. [PubMed] []
  7. Liappas IA, Malitas PN, Dimopoulos NP, Gitsa OE, Liappas AI, Nikolaou ChK, et al. Zolpidem dependence case series: Possible neurobiological mechanisms and clinical management. J Psychopharmacol. 2003;17:131–5. [PubMed] []
  8. Praplan-Pahud J, Forster A, Gamulin Z, et al. Preoperative sedation before regional anaesthesia: comparison between zolpidem, midazolam and placebo. Br J Anaesth. 1990;64(6):670–674. [PubMed] []
  9. Yang W, Dollear M, Muthukrishnan S.R. One rare side effect of zolpidem—sleepwalking: a case report. Arch Phys Med Rehabil. 2005;86(6):1265–1266. [PubMed] []
  10. Sattar S.P, Ramaswamy S, Bhatia S.C, et al. Somnambulism due to probable interaction of valproic acid and zolpidem. Ann Pharmacother. 2003;37(10):1429–1433. [PubMed] []
  11. American Academy of Sleep Medicine The International Classification of Sleep Disorders: Diagnostic and Coding Manual. 2nd ed Westchester, IL: American Academy of Sleep Medicine; 2005 []
  12. Tsuji S, Kurata K, Fujikawa T.Sleep-related eating disorder induced by zolpidem Japanese Journal of Psychiatric Treatment 2007221169–1172.[in Japanese] []
  13. Victorri-Vigneau C, Dailly E, Veyrac G, et al. Evidence of zolpidem abuse and dependence: results of the French Centre for Evaluation and Information on Pharmacodependence (CEIP) network survey. Br J Clin Pharmacol. 2007;64(2):198–209.[]
Summary
Ambien Withdrawal
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Ambien Withdrawal
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Individuals addicted to Ambien should speak to a medical professional about Ambien withdrawal and ending their abuse of the drug. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) may be prescribed to help individuals overcome their addiction. Medical detox is also needed in most cases to help patients get the drug out of their system.
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