Ambien is one of the most frequently prescribed sedatives on the market. Used as a short-term treatment for insomnia and some brain disorders, this medication can be an easy target for abuse.
Is Ambien addictive?
It absolutely can be. If someone tries to tell you otherwise (even if their name is followed by “M.D.”), remember that these drugs act on the exact same neurological receptors as Valium, Xanax, etc. And no one questions the addictive potential of those drugs.
The reason why Ambien®( sometimes manages to skirt the “addictive” label is that it is not very physically addictive, since its duration is so short and it’s generally only taken at night. However, we must remember that this medication is prescribed to people with (often chronic) insomnia. Ambien® induces sleep in anyone, whether or not they suffer from a sleep disorder. Therefore, it can be hard to consume in moderation for someone with a habit of sleeplessness
How can you tell if you’re addicted to Ambien?
There are two kinds of addiction: physical and psychological. The nature of each addiction is different.
Physical addiction means that you must ingest the drug in order to avoid withdrawal symptoms. As stated above, this is rare with Ambien® because its duration of action is short. Another type of physical addiction is the need to take Ambien® in order to fall asleep. After chronic Ambien® usage, users can experience what is called “rebound insomnia” when they stop taking the drug. This is basically the result of the body “fighting back” after being exposed to so much sedative. Users who attempt to quit taking Ambien® will often suffer such crippling rebound insomnia (on top of what they normally experience) that they immediately begin using it again.
Symptoms of physical addiction:
Psychological addiction exists independently of a physical need to take Ambien® (though the two often coexist). This type of addiction is rooted in behavior and attitude over time. When a person becomes habituated to a form of pleasure, it can become very difficult to remove that source of happiness. People who are prone to psychological addiction also tend to be experiencing something that interferes with their experience of pleasure (such as anxiety, a general feeling of being “down”, etc.) Since they are already at a lower level of happiness, the pleasurable boost from Ambien® seems greater to them then it would to someone at a higher “baseline”.
A good way to assess whether or not you are psychologically addicted is to ask yourself:
Would I be taking Ambien® if all it did was make me fall asleep, without any euphoria?
If the answer is no, that’s a clue you are at risk for psychological dependence or addiction.
Other symptoms of psychological addiction include:
–-Looking forward to taking Ambien®
–Insufflating (snorting) Ambien® for stronger effects
–Attempting to stay awake while on Ambien® in order to experience its relaxing effects
Is it possible to overdose on Ambien?
Yes, but it’s very hard. Specific figures related to lethal dosage are hard to track down, but a non-lethal overdose was reported at 200mg (resulting in a coma). The average pill size is generally 10mg, so intake of this extent would be hard to come by accidentally.
What are the risks of long-term Ambien use?
Anecdotal reports of memory problems and depression abound. Once again, these are anecdotal but bear in mind that these are long-term side effects for benzodiazepines, so it’s not unreasonable to think they might also be risk factors for Ambien®.