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What Are the Effects of Ambien Use?

What Is Zolpidem/Ambien Used For?

Ambien is the brand name for zolpidem tartrate, a sedative-hypnotic. When you take Ambien correctly, it can make you feel relaxed, comfortable, and sleepy. The United States Drug Enforcement Agency classifies the prescription drug Ambien as a Schedule IV drug;1 this means that you cannot possess or use Ambien without a prescription from a doctor.

The reason that the Drug Enforcement Agency regulates this drug is because it is potentially dangerous. Misuse of Ambien can cause dependence and other side effects.

Those with severe insomnia are the only people who should take Ambien, and these patients must visit a doctor to obtain a prescription. Ambien is only indicated for the relief of insomnia for up to 35 days.2

Effects of Ambien Use

The continued use of Ambien can result in tolerance to its effects. When this occurs and rebound insomnia intensifies, people frequently resort to increasing their dosages of the medication—a practice that can result in some serious repercussions.

Depending on the time of night Ambien is taken and the dose consumed, residual effects of the drug may persist through the next day. Some users claim that these effects resemble a hangover from a night of heavy drinking. One can suffer from the following for several hours after waking the next morning:2

  • Headaches.
  • Memory loss.
  • Persistent drowsiness.
  • Gastrointestinal disturbances such as nausea.

Additionally, there are numerous reports of somnambulism (sleepwalking) and a bizarre phenomenon known as night eating syndrome—or sleep eating—especially in the context of multiple doses.2

Ambien Side Effects

Doctors refer to a specific disorder associated with the medication as paradoxical excitation, which refers to the way in which some individuals who’ve taken Ambien exhibit unusual behavior while using the drug; some people drive a car, eat, or walk in a sleep state.2 They are not aware of their movements, and they won’t remember what happened—often, they don’t find out until someone tells them when they are awake or they are faced with the consequences, e.g. finding out they’ve been in a car accident.

According to the U.S. National Library of Medicine, other side effects of Ambien use include:

  • Drowsiness.
  • Headaches.
  • Light-headedness.
  • Trouble walking.
  • Problems with balance.
  • Diarrhea.
  • Heartburn.
  • Stomach cramps.
  • Weak feelings.
  • Appetite changes.
  • Tremors.
  • Redness of the eyes.
  • Joint pain.
  • Muscle pain.

Dangerous Cocktails: Combining Ambien With Other Drugs

Mixing Ambien with other substances like alcohol, opioids, or benzodiazepines is very dangerous.

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration reports:3

When to Consult a Doctor

The following signs and symptoms can indicate an allergic reaction or another condition that requires medical attention:

  • Skin rash.
  • Hives.
  • Trouble breathing.
  • Chest pains.

Long-Term Side Effects of Ambien Use

One of the more serious effects of taking Ambien is developing a tolerance to the medication. If you have an increased tolerance to Ambien, you will notice that you need to frequently increase the size of your dosage if you want to feel the same effects you did when you first took the drug.2

Another long-term effect of Ambien use is insomnia. Consequently, many sufferers increase the size of their doses as they become tolerant to the medication, which may lead to overdose.

An overdose may present as extreme drowsiness or a loss of consciousness.

Can You Become Dependent on Ambien?

Ambien dependence occurs more rapidly in those who abuse the drug, but it can also affect those who take the medication regularly as prescribed. With continued use, you can develop a dependence on the drug so that you don’t feel like you can function without it and experience withdrawal when you try to stop.

Once dependence takes hold, it can be extremely difficult to stop using without help because of the potential severity of the withdrawal syndrome.

Treating Ambien Withdrawal Symptoms

Those who use the medication for a longer period can suffer from withdrawal symptoms after discontinuing Ambien use. These withdrawal symptoms can be quite dangerous and can include:2

  • Flushing.
  • Fatigue.
  • Insomnia.
  • Nausea and vomiting.
  • Stomach cramps.
  • Panic attacks.
  • Tremors.
  • Seizures.

A professional rehab center can help you to recover from your Ambien addiction. Additionally, these addiction treatment centers can provide medically supervised detox to monitor a precarious period of withdrawal from the substance for those whose bodies have come to depend on Ambien. Supervised detox can help lessen the severity of withdrawal effects, make you feel as comfortable as possible, and, most importantly, monitor you for any potentially life-threatening symptoms.

American Addiction Centers (AAC) is a leading treatment provider and has trusted programs across the country. For advice, helpful information, or admissions, please contact a caring treatment support specialist with AAC free at . There are also free drug abuse hotline numbers you can call.

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