There have been and will continue to be many drugs available for the treatment of common but painful ailments such as insomnia and anxiety. However, many drugs reveal darker natures years after they have been deemed acceptable. Almost any chemical that changes signals going to the brain has the potential to become addictive as systems adapt to the medication and build tolerance or dependency.
Some medications even find their way into the illicit market, where these drugs are put to the limits of abuse. One such drug that is commonly used to assist in sleeping troubles is Ambien. It’s effective at what it does, but few people realize the hidden dangers. Anyone seriously considering this medication or in search of a sleep aid should first ask themselves, “Can you become addicted to Ambien?”
What Is Ambien?
Generally used to treat insomnia, Ambien is a depressant. It typically comes in two forms: quick or slow release. The former is used to induce sleep shortly after ingesting, and the latter helps maintain regular sleep patterns over time.
Ambien was designed and marketed to be a safe alternative to benzodiazepines. It’s generally accepted to be less addictive and has a significantly less dangerous withdrawal experience. However, this strategic positioning by the maker leads to many people asking, “Can you become addicted to Ambien?”
The answer often surprises people, especially since many users believe Ambien to be a truly safe medication for their sleeping troubles. It is also addictive, and users can form a dangerous habit in as little as two months. This misconception leads to dangerous addictions and illegal abuse of the chemical.
How Ambien Impacts Health
Ambien addiction can happen whether the drug is being illegally obtained or used under prescribed dosage. The primary factor is that the average user builds a tolerance very rapidly, which can lead them to exceed dosage rules. In other words, even patients with prescriptions may find themselves wanting to take higher or more frequent doses, as the drug seemingly loses potency the longer the individual is on the prescription.
This commonly creates a rebound insomnia effect, meaning taking the drug one night results in an intense occurrence of insomnia the next night. This symptom only worsens over time, causing users to feel as if they need the drug to sleep at all. The drug is not intended for anything other than a very short-term treatment of sleeplessness, but users often experience much worse insomnia at the end of treatment, creating a double-edged sword.
Signs of Ambien Abuse
Anyone using Ambien should be aware of its addictive traits. Primarily, the main sign for identifying a growing dependency on Ambien is the length and frequency of usage. Anyone using the drug for longer than two weeks should begin to track their usage. Take note of any cravings for the drug as well as periods of memory loss. Additionally, taking more than the prescribed dosage or needing to refill the prescription ahead of schedule is a warning sign of addiction. Finally, as with most addictive drugs, someone suffering an Ambien addiction will likely find themselves becoming more reclusive and justifying spending exorbitant amounts of money to acquire the drug.
Ambien addiction treatment often follows a similar recovery path to the drugs it was meant to replace. Individuals with severe addictions will likely need time in an inpatient facility where side effects like severe insomnia can be better monitored and treated without the use of Ambien. After the patient is guided through detox, they will likely spend time working through an outpatient program to build new healthy routines that support natural sleep cycles.