Effects of Ambien Withdrawal

Learn more about Ambien withdrawal, the typical withdrawal timeline, and how to treat withdrawal symptoms.

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Zolpidem tartrate, more commonly known by its brand name, Ambien, is a prescription drug that falls into a class of substances often referred to as sedative-hypnotic drugs. Ambien drugs are prescribed as a short-term treatment option for insomnia. The drug was first advertised as a less addictive alternative to Benzodiazepines, such as Xanax, but with the same medical effectiveness.

ambien withdrawal

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Ambien: Categorization and Dangers

Ambien is still extremely addictive and is categorized as a Schedule IV controlled substance. While the drug has proven extremely effective, Ambien has a high risk of misuse and dependence, which can lead to a number of negative side effects, most of which are typically mild. Still, in some rare cases, Ambien usage can lead to severe pain, particularly when the user is experiencing withdrawal symptoms.1
In this article, we will detail some necessary information about the effects of Ambien withdrawal, including Ambien withdrawal duration and Ambien withdrawal treatments.

What is Ambien (Zolpidem)?

Ambien dependence, addiction, and withdrawals are rare if the user takes the drug exactly as their physicians have prescribed. Though it was meant to be a less addictive alternative to benzos, Ambien still has an extremely high potential for abuse and addiction. The drug activates the GABA neurotransmitter when consumed, slowing down brain activity and the central nervous system (CNS).
The feeling can be compared to alcohol intoxication, which is why the number of Ambien abusers is growing every year. According to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health, more than 500,000 people abuse Ambien and other sedatives.2

Types of Ambien

There are two main types of Ambien: a fast-acting variant for initiating sleep and an extended-release form for maintaining sleep. Consuming either of the two variants can lead to Ambien dependence and, ultimately, addiction. Addiction and dependence can happen in as little as two weeks, regardless of whether it is being taken correctly or being misused.

Side Effects of Ambien Pills

Potential serious side effects of consuming Ambien include:3
  • Suicidal ideation, suicide attempts
  • Severe anaphylactic reactions, anaphylactic shock, rash, allergy
  • Abnormal thinking and behaviors
  • Rebound insomnia
  • Ataxia, feeling intoxicated, drugged, feeling
  • Tachycardia
  • Urticaria
  • Headache
  • Asthenia
  • Amnesia
  • Mood swings

What is Ambien (Zolpidem) Withdrawal?

Ambien dependence and addiction usually occur when the user develops a tolerance for the drug, forcing them to consume larger doses (or more frequent doses) to achieve the same desired effect as before. Eventually, the user may become dependent on the substance and develop an addiction to the drug. Additionally, with addiction, detoxification becomes a challenge. The individual might experience withdrawal symptoms if they decide to stop taking Ambien or reduce their dosage.

Scope and Range of Ambien Withdrawal Symptoms

Ambien withdrawal symptoms can range from mild to severe and vary depending on how long the individual has been taking the drug, the dosage consumed, and the form in which consumed the drug, i.e. swallowing or snorting. According to Ambien’s manufacturer, withdrawal symptoms only appear in about 1% of patients consuming the drug as prescribed. However, the figure does not account for the number of individuals who are abusing the drug.4

What Are The Symptoms of Ambien Withdrawal?

Withdrawal symptoms for Ambien will appear approximately 48 hours after starting the detoxification process. Fortunately, withdrawal from Ambien will subside in less than two weeks. Mild Ambien withdrawal symptoms typically include restlessness and insomnia, which can be frustrating but are less serious.

Severe Ambien withdrawal effects might prevent a person from performing normal activities and typically include Ambien muscle pain, nausea, and vomiting. In some cases, the side effects of Ambien withdrawal led to seizures, tremors, and panic attacks. It is important to note that withdrawal symptoms can be compounded by the effects of other medications or drugs.

Physical Ambien Withdrawal Symptoms

Some of the most common physical withdrawal symptoms include:
  • Restlessness
  • Tremors
  • Muscle cramps
  • Sweating
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Aches and pains
  • Increased pulse
  • Hyperventilation
  • Slurred speech

Psychological Ambien Withdrawal Symptoms

Common psychological withdrawal symptoms may include:
  • Anxiety
  • Panic attacks
  • Depression
  • Intense cravings to use
  • Confusion
  • Insomnia

What Are the Stages in the Ambien Withdrawal Timeline?

Ambien withdrawal typically lasts about two weeks, but the duration will vary from person to person. This is one of the main reasons why you should consult with a medical professional when trying to stop taking Ambien to ensure you get a personalized, medically-supervised detox. Though Ambien’s withdrawal duration might vary, they typically follow the same timeline.

Days One and Two

As a side effect of Ambien’s long-term use, the time it takes for withdrawal symptoms to appear depends on the severity of the addiction. People with heavy dependence might experience withdrawals four to eight hours after quitting Ambien. However, for most people, the symptoms will appear a day or two after their last dose. Symptoms may include Ambien rebound insomnia, mood swings, and confusion.

Days Three to Five

Withdrawal symptoms will peak from day three to day five and might include vomiting, anxiety, cravings, depression, nausea, stomach cramps, shaking, and other flu-like symptoms.

Days Six to Fourteen

The symptoms should start subsiding by the sixth day of the detoxification process. Psychological symptoms of withdrawal might last for several weeks or months, but if insomnia persists, you should consult your doctor to get an alternative to Ambien. Physical symptoms will dissipate in a couple of weeks.
ambien withdrawal symptoms

How are Ambien Withdrawal Symptoms Treated?

Fortunately, with the help of medical professionals, you can quit Ambien in a safe, medically-supervised environment. There are different Ambien withdrawal treatments, but your treatment program will be based on your diagnosis since each treatment option is effective for different stages of recovery. The following are some common Ambien treatment options:

  • In-patient rehabilitation
  • Out-patient rehabilitation
  • Individual counseling and therapy
  • Group counseling and therapy
  • Twelve-Step programs

Get Treatment for Ambien Addiction at Profound Recovery

While Ambien is an effective prescription drug, it is highly addictive and easily abused. With more than 19,000 emergency visits in the United States in 2010, the side effects of Ambien’s long-term use can become fatal if not addressed and treated properly.5

If you or someone you know is struggling with an addiction to Ambien, there are a number of different treatment options available to you. At Profound Recovery, our team of dedicated, highly-trained professionals focuses on developing personalized treatment plans to meet each client’s unique needs, utilizing evidence-based techniques to ensure a successful detoxification and recovery process.

Reach Out Today

Contact us today to learn more about getting the help you need to recover from Ambien addiction and begin the journey to achieving long-term sobriety.

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