Ambien Abuse Treatment
Without sleep, people feel disjointed, cut off and fatigued beyond belief. It’s cruel, and unfortunately, it’s common to turn to Ambien abuse.
Insomnia is a subtle form of torture. At 3 in the morning, when sleep just will not come, people with insomnia may stare at the ceiling and rehash all the mistakes they’ve made in life and all the choices they wish they’d made just a bit differently. When the morning comes, and people are forced to go to work and deal with the stresses of the day, it’s almost too much to bear.
According to an article published in the EPMA Journal, the prevalence of insomnia in Europeans ranges from 19 to 29 percent of the population.
Ambien, known by the generic name zolpidem, is a sedative-hypnotic drug that’s designed to help people fall asleep quickly and stay asleep for long periods of time. The drug’s manufacturer, Sanofi-Aventis, used a sophisticated and extensive media campaign in order to introduce the drug to the market and encourage people to ask for the drug by name when they couldn’t sleep. According to an article in the New York Times, the company spent $130 million on advertising in 2005, which represents a doubling of the amount spent on ads in the year prior. It’s clear that the company wants people to buy the product, and many people are doing just that. While some people find that the drug helps with the insomnia symptoms they’re experiencing, others find that the drug causes unwanted side effects, including addiction. When an addiction to Ambien sets in, therapy is the best way to ensure long-term healing.
The Unusual Impact of Ambien Abuse
Ambien attaches to GABA receptors in the brain, causing those receptors to pump out chemicals that slow down the brain’s activities. Most people who take Ambien report a creeping sense of fatigue that ever so slowly causes them to drop off into a deep sleep. Some people, however, develop an entirely different reaction to the drug. These people might fall asleep quickly, but they may enter a semi-conscious state a few hours later, moving about in their sleep and having no memory of the activities they engaged in while under the influence.
- Perform housework
- Hold conversations
These people may do terrible things while they’re under the influence, and when they awaken and view the damage, they may accuse others of causing that damage, never knowing that amnesia is a side effect of the drug they took. Statements released by Sanofi-Aventis suggest that sleepwalking events like this take place in about 4 percent of the adult population, and they’re not always linked to Ambien use.
There are some people who experience side effects that are even more troubling. According to research in the journal L’Encephale, these people don’t become sedated or relaxed when they take Ambien. Instead, they feel a boost of euphoria or stimulation when they take the drug. It’s unclear why these people have this unusual reaction, since they’re taking a drug that causes crippling sedation in others, but it is clear that some people can get a pleasurable boost from taking Ambien, and as a result, they may take higher and higher doses of the drug. They want to experience the euphoria again, but their bodies may become accustomed to the drug, and their bodies may block the drug’s actions. These people may take staggering doses of Ambien, and feel completely unable to control how much they take or how often they take it. They may take the drug for months or even years, shopping for new doctors to get the pills they crave. They may feel unable to quit, even though they might want to do so. These are the hallmarks of addiction, and while they’re frightening, addiction treatment programs can provide meaningful help.
Moving Through Withdrawal
People who participate in Ambien abuse and develop a physical dependence on the drug may experience symptoms of withdrawal when they attempt to stop using the drug.
- Uncontrollable crying
- Panicked episodes
The number of side effects associated with Ambien abuse and withdrawal is dose dependent, meaning that the higher the dose the person takes, the more likely it might be that the person experiences physical discomfort. People who take low doses of the drug as directed by their doctors might not experience withdrawal, but people who are addicted and taking very high doses are almost certain to experience withdrawal. In fact, some people who take extremely high doses of Ambien may experience life-threatening complications when they attempt to stop abusing the drug.
A case study in the journal Progress in Neuro-Psychopharmacology and Biological Psychiatry outlines these risks quite clearly. The authors tell the story of a woman who was taking a whopping 160 mg of Ambien per day. When she attempted to stop taking the drug, she developed seizures. With medical attention, seizures can be controlled. But if this woman attempted withdrawal on her own, she might have lost her life in the process.
This is why rehab for Ambien abuse is so important. In a structured program for addiction, people can get assistance with withdrawal symptoms, through medications and supportive therapy, and they can achieve sobriety without risking their lives or their health. When they are sober, they can then work through therapy techniques to teach them how to maintain that sobriety for the rest of their lives.
Assisting With Sleep
Since most people begin taking Ambien because they cannot sleep, an Ambien abuse rehab program provides assistance to help people learn how to sleep without relying on drugs. For people who have become accustomed to the idea that they need to take pills in order to do what the body is designed to do on a natural basis, this can be remarkable help. It’s vital help too, as researchers in the journal Sleep Medicine Reviews have found that insomnia is a risk factor that can lead addicted people into alcohol or drug abuse. Without help, people who were addicted to Ambien might develop a secondary addiction to another sedating drug, like alcohol or marijuana, as they continue to look for sleep that won’t come.
In therapy, people learn how to develop good sleep habits, including going to bed at the same time each night, and keeping their rooms cool and dark. People might be asked to keep a sleep journal, in which they outline what they’ve done to improve their sleep and how well those actions have worked. People might also be asked to learn how to meditate at night, so they can calm their breathing and slow their minds, allowing them to sleep with ease.
Dealing With Cravings
Ambien abuse can cause persistent changes in brain chemistry, essentially “fooling” the brain into believing that it must have access to drugs in order to function normally. The brain might call out for drugs on a regular basis, and these cravings can be difficult for people to understand. Unless people do learn to understand cravings and work through them, they’ll be vulnerable to addiction. When a craving strikes and they can’t identify it as a craving, they might quickly relapse into drug use once more. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy sessions can help people learn to avoid the people and places they associate with drugs, and they can help people learn how to deal with those situations if they don’t manage to avoid them altogether.
People with Ambien addictions may also benefit from mindfulness-based therapies in which they’re encouraged to observe their thoughts in a non-judgmental manner without acting upon them. When negative thoughts appear, they simply note them and let them pass by. These techniques can be useful for people who take Ambien due to stress and an overactive mind, as the techniques can allow them to experience peace and calm, without the use of drugs.
Some people find that residential programs provide them with the best care for their Ambien addictions, as they’ll have access to around-the-clock care in a completely drug-free setting. Other people find that they can continue to live at home while they recover from their addictions, and they access their care on an outpatient basis. Either setting could be appropriate, depending on a person’s safety net at home and willingness to work on recovery.
If you’re not sure which setting is right for you, or you want to know a little more about how treatment works and how long it might last, please call us at La Paloma.
Our specialized treatment programs can help you to recover, and our toll-free helpline puts you in touch with a counselor who can help you get started. Please call today.