Ambien is a psychoactive prescription drug that is used primarily to treat insomnia and other sleep disorders. The extended-release type releases the medication slowly, helping patients fall asleep and have a better chance at sleeping through the night. Though most use it as a sleep aid, some use it recreationally, crushing and snorting it to experience feelings of euphoria. This sedative is quite addictive, and one can become addicted to it in as little as a couple of weeks.
When abused, Ambien can cause:
- Withdrawal symptoms
Overdose can occur by abusing the drug or building a tolerance. It is also more likely to experience an overdose when mixing with alcohol or forgetting that a pill was taken and taking another. Overdose signs include:
- Overly drowsy
- Breathing very slow
- Very slow heart rate
What Are Ambien Withdrawal Symptoms?
Many people do not realize that they have become addicted to Ambien. They may figure that since their doctor prescribed it for sleep, that there is little chance of addiction. However, Ambien addiction has become common and is known to cause depression, panic attacks, seizures, and other health problems.
Typical withdrawal symptoms include:
- Ambien cravings
- Mood swings
- Excessive sweating
- Increased anxiety/panic attacks
- Stomach cramps
- Feeling extra hot
- Increased heart rate
Though rare, there is a risk of severe withdrawal symptoms like seizures or convulsions. This is one reason to consult a medical professional before attempting to get off Ambien. A medically supervised detox is recommended.
What Are the Stages in the Ambien Withdrawal Timeline?
Typically, the range of Ambien withdrawal symptoms last about two weeks, but this can vary from person to person depending on various factors like:
- Dosage of Ambien. If the dosage was higher and tolerance has been built, the withdrawal effects may be more severe physically and psychologically.
- How long one has been using the drug. For those who’ve used Ambien for a short time, the withdrawal symptoms may not be as intense or as long.
- Type of Ambien. Withdrawal symptoms tend to be worse for those that took the extended-release version of Ambien.
- Were other drugs involved? Ambien’s withdrawal symptoms tend to be worse for those who mix other drugs with Ambien, including alcohol and illegal drugs. Quitting all of them at one time can cause more severe symptoms.
- Genetics, Biology. Someone’s history of addiction, gender, age, metabolism, and race can affect Ambien’s withdrawal symptoms.
Ambien Withdrawal Timeline
How soon one will begin experiencing Ambien withdrawal symptoms depends on the severity of dependence. Those that have a heavy dependence may begin experiencing symptoms within four to eight hours after the last dose. However, most people begin to experience symptoms within 24 to 28 hours after the last dose, ranging from rebound insomnia, confusion, difficulty focusing, and mood swings.
The most daunting or acute physical withdrawal symptoms will occur around days three to five, possibly experiencing stomach cramping, vomiting, increased anxiety, nausea, shaking, mood swings, trouble urinating, depression, and generally feeling like you have the flu.
Days 6-2 Weeks
At around day six, symptoms should start subsiding. The physical withdrawal symptoms will likely be gone by the end of a couple of weeks, though psychological symptoms like sadness, insomnia, cravings, and anxiety may linger for several more weeks or months. If sleep is still an issue, consult a doctor regarding alternative treatment options.
Ambien is a serious medication. There are always risks associated with taking it, and if taken in high doses, permanent memory loss can occur. There is also the risk of waking up in the middle of the night and sleepwalking, which can result in injury, sleep-driving, sleep-talking, and more.
Why Should I Detox?
To effectively stop using Ambien, the best method is a gradual decrease or tapering off the drug. The reason is that quitting Ambien cold turkey can be quite dangerous – even deadly. Stopping abruptly can induce seizures that can cause death. For this reason, detoxing from Ambien is best done under the medical supervision of substance abuse professionals, preferably in a detox or treatment center.
Psychologically, coming off Ambien can cause emotions like depression that can result in suicidal thoughts. For this reason, a network of professional social supports is necessary to monitor and regulate sleep.
What Is the Next Treatment Step?
The first step toward getting free from Ambien addiction is detoxification. The best place for someone to detox is a medical setting like a detox or treatment center. Going through detox can be challenging and dangerous, so it is helpful to have medical professionals monitor the person and treat withdrawal symptoms.
Because tapering of the drug is recommended, it is best to rely on the expertise of an addiction specialist rather than trying to do this on your own, or cold turkey, which is risky.
There are several addiction treatment modalities someone can enter to get free from Ambien addiction.
Inpatient Treatment Center
Allows one to live at the facility while undergoing treatment. Professionals will monitor the patient around the clock and administer medicine to help with withdrawal symptoms if necessary. In addition, they will be able to undergo individual and group counseling, learn about addiction and recovery, create an after-care plan, attend support group meetings, and more.
Intensive Outpatient Treatment
This is much like inpatient treatment, except the person does not live at the facility. Rather, they attend usually around three to five sessions per week at the center, while still receiving counseling and addiction recovery treatment.
Both types of treatment give the client various recovery therapies and tools, like counseling, group therapy, skills training, and educational classes about addiction and recovery. There may also be helpful activities or services offered like meditation, yoga, life coaching, fitness classes, and more.
Start Your Journey to Recovery Today
If you or a loved one is struggling with Ambien addiction, know that it will not take long to get off it. By committing to a week or two of treatment with around-the-clock medical supervision at our treatment center, you will be free from that addiction and move onto bigger and better things. Do not let fear hold you back from breaking free.