Ambien Abuse: Effects, Signs & Symptoms

Ambien Abuse: Effects, Signs & SymptomsAmbien is the brand name for a medication called zolpidem, which is prescribed as an antidote for insomnia. According to the most recent statistics, at least 40 million prescriptions of Ambien are written in the United States each year. Thus making it one of the more popular pharmaceutical medications1.

The soothing effects of Ambien on the central nervous system are similar to those of benzodiazepine medications. But zolpidem does not belong to this well-known category of anti-anxiety drug. It is classified as a sedative-hypnotic and is used exclusively to treat sleeping problems2.

Despite their chemical differences, however, zolpidem does share one characteristic with benzodiazepines. Similarly, it is also highly addictive. Ambien is prescribed for short-term use only. Preferably for no more than one or two weeks. Consequently, if you continue to take it after your initial prescription expires, or if you obtain it illicitly for recreational use, there is a strong likelihood that you will eventually develop an addiction.

Symptoms and Side Effects of Ambien Abuse

Ambien is a powerful medication, and if you take it continuously for several weeks or months in escalating dosages you will inevitably experience some disturbing side effects, including the return of your insomnia. This is the result of growing tolerance for the drug, which is the surest sign of a rapidly developing drug addiction.

You will experience a range of other symptoms such as:

  • Heartburn
  • Irritability
  • Tremors
  • Stomach cramps
  • Diarrhea
  • Blurred vision
  • Slower heart rate
  • Low blood pressure
  • Dizziness
  • Unsteady gait
  • Depression
  • Drowsiness and lethargy
  • Respiratory issues
  • Cognitive problems (inability to focus, short-term memory loss, confusion, etc.)

The body simply isn’t built to handle higher and higher doses of a strong sedative like Ambien. Meaning, your overall health will suffer as you slip deeper into drug dependency.

Behavioral Signs of Ambien Addiction

In addition to the physical and mental side effects of Ambien abuse, your behavior will likely change in response to your increasing need for the drug as well. Some of the behavioral signs of Ambien addiction include:

  • Visiting multiple doctors to get extra prescriptions
  • Stealing zolpidem products, or the money to buy them
  • Taking Ambien at various times throughout the day
  • Falling asleep at odd hours
  • Neglecting personal, family or work responsibilities because of the effects of the drug
  • Impulsive or dangerous behaviors, revealing lapses of judgment while under the influence of Ambien
  • Lying about your activities to keep the truth about your drug abuse—and its effects on your life—hidden from friends, family and employers
  • Mixing Ambien with benzodiazepines, opioids or alcohol to increase the drug’s sedating effects
  • Suffering from drug overdoses, which is especially likely if you’ve been mixing your medication with other intoxicating substances
  • Chronic sleepwalking (one of the more frightening and dangerous side effects of Ambien abuse)3

You will undoubtedly encounter enormous problems if you continue to let your Ambien use spiral out of control. Physical signs and behavioral symptoms of addiction are flashing red lights that you cannot afford to ignore—and if you do, the results could be tragic.

Reach Out For Help

We provide holistic care and treatment using an individualized approach specifically tailored to your needs. Our holistic care and treatment is based on the best scientific evidence available. Secondly, we help you lead a healthy, substance-free life with adaptive coping and problem-solving skills. Don’t let Ambien addiction control your life. Our addiction professionals can help you get on a path of recovery, significantly changing your life. Contact us today for more information on our certified staff of professionals, as well as our first-rate facilities.

  1. Krasowski, Matthew D. and Brown, Jerrod. Zolpidem (Ambien): An Introduction for Professionals.
  2. WebMD. Ambien Uses.
  3. Saleh, Naveek, MD, MS. Do Prescription Sleep Medications Cause Sleepwalking?
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