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Ambien Withdrawal

Ambien is widely prescribed throughout the nation to combat the sleeplessness that affects millions of adults yearly. The medication, also known as zolpidem tartrate, helps people fall asleep. While the medicine is not designed to make you sleep longer, it does create a hypnotic-like state that allows those dealing with insomnia to fall asleep easier. 

Z-drugs like Ambien were created as safer and less addictive alternatives to benzodiazepines, but they should still be treated with the same respect as those medications. Doctors will seldom prescribe Ambien for longer than 10 days at a time, and it is viewed as a short-term solution. Unfortunately, although it was designed to be less addictive, Ambien produces hypnosis, which can make it a risky drug to become dependent on using.

What Are the Ambien Withdrawal Symptoms?

Many withdrawal symptoms are associated with Ambien. The severity of these symptoms will vary greatly based on several factors. You will start to notice symptoms appear around 48 hours after your last dose. Depending on the extent of your addiction, some may be mild, while others may be much more uncomfortable. Those stopping Ambien should expect withdrawal symptoms, such as:

  • Extreme mood swings
  • Tremors
  • Sweating
  • Severe anxiety
  • Panic attacks
  • Irritability
  • Depression
  • Fatigue
  • Nausea and/or vomiting
  • Delirium
  • Abdominal cramping
  • Rebound insomnia
  • Seizures (They occur in less than 1 percent of individuals, but it’s necessary to mention them.)

What Are the Stages of the Ambien Withdrawal Timeline?

While the timeline will vary from one person to another based on your unique chemistry, a general time frame can be chalked up like this:

  • First 48 hours: You will likely feel as though you are in a fog or cloud-like state that makes focusing and remembering things difficult. You may also experience headaches.
  • 48 hours after the last dose: Symptoms will start to become noticeable at this point, and you may have a relapse in your insomnia, which causes severe difficulties in sleeping. You may experience other physical or physiological effects, such as excessive sweating, anxiety, mood swings, delirium, and abdominal distress.
  • Days 3 to 7: During this stage, you will experience peak withdrawal symptoms. Ambien cravings and other physical effects will be intensified. They may be extremely uncomfortable and cause you to relapse, which makes committing yourself to medical detox crucial. This is considered the most challenging stretch of Ambien withdrawal.
  • Weeks 2 through 4: Symptoms will start to ease up during this stretch. The severity of your Ambien addiction will determine the rate at which your symptoms dissipate. Those with mild Ambien addictions may finish their detox in its entirety by this point. Sleep issues, however, may persist for everyone.
  • One month and beyond: For a majority of those who abused Ambien, the symptoms should disappear completely. Some individuals, however, will continue to experience depression, anxiety, or insomnia. 


The detox process will vary by the person. Below, we will list some of the risk factors that will dictate the course of this timeline. These include:

  • How long you were using or abusing Ambien. The longer someone uses the medication, the longer they should expect the withdrawal to take.
  • If you are consuming large doses of Ambien, you will experience more extensive symptoms than someone who uses the drug as prescribed.
  • If you follow the instructions on the bottle, you will have a less extreme experience than someone who snorted, smoked, or chewed Ambien.
  • Genetics and biological factors always come into play when it comes to drug or alcohol withdrawal.
  • If you are experiencing a stressful or negative environment during the withdrawal process, it will likely make it much more challenging to overcome.
  • If you are struggling with depression or anxiety, you may be prone to more intense withdrawal symptoms. You must speak with a doctor about medications that can alleviate symptoms of a mental health disorder.
  • If you use Ambien along with other mind-altering substances, it may cause Ambien withdrawal to be more intense and dangerous.

Why Should I Detox?

If you abuse any drug, you must stop for your mind, body, and health. Abusing any drug increases the odds of adverse side effects, but abusing Ambien can cause a multitude of issues. Some of these may be short-term, while others can long-term and permanent. For this reason, you must seek medical detoxification to overcome an addiction. Medical specialists will provide you with the assistance and positive environment necessary to overcome this process.

What Is the Next Treatment Step?

While detox is a critical stage of stopping drug or alcohol use, it is not enough to achieve long-term sobriety. Many people who abuse drugs have underlying issues that led them to this point. For this reason, checking into a residential or outpatient treatment center can help them learn more about the disease of addiction. They will learn healthy habits to cope with stress in life and start to achieve their goals in life. If you or someone is struggling, it’s time to get the help you need.

Sources

WebMD. Ambien. Retrieved from https://www.webmd.com/drugs/2/drug-9690/ambien-oral/details

Everyday Health. Zolpidem. Retrieved from https://www.everydayhealth.com/drugs/zolpidem

Mayo Clinic. Ambien FAX. Retrieved from https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/insomnia/expert-answers/ambien/faq-20058103

National Institute on Drug Abuse. Medical Detoxification. Retrieved from https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/teaching-packets/understanding-drug-abuse-addiction/section-iii/7-medical-detoxification

National Institute of Health. Rebound Insomnia. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/2567741

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