Ambien (Zolpidem) is a popular prescription sleep drug used to treat insomnia. While it can be effective in promoting sleep, long-term use and using larger amounts than prescribed can lead to drug addiction. Consequently, sudden cessation can lead to ambien withdrawal symptoms.
What is Ambien Withdrawal?
Withdrawal from ambien occurs after an individual has become addicted and built a tolerance to this drug. Tolerance to ambien is when the body becomes less responsive to the drug over time, meaning that higher doses are needed to achieve the same desired effect. Eventually, the body starts to become addicted to and relies on ambien to function normally. If a person abruptly stops taking ambien or reduces their dosage without medical supervision, they may experience negative reactions and difficult addiction withdrawal symptoms. Going "cold turkey" can be extremely risky because ambien withdrawal symptoms can be severe, and in some cases, life-threatening.
To ensure safety and comfort during withdrawal, a medically-assisted detox under professional supervision is recommended. The symptoms of ambien withdrawal themselves are hard to recover from, and psychological effects can last for months. Fortunately, there are alternatives to help you sleep without relying on ambien, as well as coping strategies for withdrawal, and treatment options available. If you or a loved one is misusing ambien or suffering from withdrawal symptoms, don’t hesitate to reach out to Avenues Recovery Centers for the help you need to recover and begin to function normally again.
Is Ambien Withdrawal Dangerous?
Because ambien is a sedative-hypnotic, it works by suppressing the nervous system and slowing down brain activity, much like the way alcohol affects the brain. That’s why taking ambien or any drugs with alcohol can be a deadly combination. Overdosing and then suffering the withdrawal from ambien can also pose many serious health risks. Ambien withdrawal symptoms can include heart palpitations, which can be fatal for people with underlying cardiovascular problems. Seizures, panic attacks and severe depression can also result from stopping ambien cold-turkey. The best way to deal with ambien withdrawal symptoms is not to try and go it alone, but to reach out for help and detox safely under medical supervision.
Ambien Withdrawal Symptoms
Ambien withdrawal occurs when individuals who have been taking the medication for an extended period abruptly stop or reduce their dosage. It is important to note that not everyone who uses ambien will experience withdrawal symptoms. The people who are most likely to suffer from ambien withdrawal are those who misuse the drug by overdosing, use it in combination with alcohol, or stay awake after taking it to enjoy its effects. For those who do feel the symptoms of ambien withdrawal, it can be a challenging experience.
Some common ambien withdrawal symptoms include:
- Muscle cramps
- Increased heart rate
- Cognitive difficulties
- High blood pressure
- Panic attacks
- Uncontrolled crying
One of the most common and frustrating symptoms of withdrawal from ambien is “rebound insomnia” or the inability to fall asleep. Ambien is usually prescribed as a sleeping pill, as a treatment for insomnia. When a person becomes dependent on the drug to fall asleep, ambien withdrawal only intensifies their insomnia problem. Not sleeping can affect daily function in many ways, besides negatively affecting a person’s performance at work or in school. We all need sleep for basic daily functions, like driving and interacting with peers and colleagues.
Coping Strategies for Withdrawal Symptoms
Coping with ambien withdrawal can be challenging, but there are some strategies that help alleviate symptoms and promote better sleep:
- Sleep hygiene: Establish a consistent sleep routine, create a comfortable sleep environment, and practice relaxation techniques before bed.
- Natural supplements: Consider natural sleep aids such as melatonin, valerian root, or chamomile tea to assist with sleep.
- Regular exercise: Engage in regular physical activity  during the day to promote better sleep at night.
Ambien Withdrawal Timeline
You may be wondering “How long does ambien withdrawal last for?” Withdrawal symptoms typically start as the body adjusts to the absence of the drug, causing discomfort and insomnia.
The symptoms and timeline of ambien withdrawal can vary from person to person. Factors such as age, size of dosage, length of time the drug was taken for, as well as the presence of other co-occurring conditions all affect the severity and length of the ambien withdrawal symptoms. Generally, symptoms may begin within 48 hours after discontinuing the medication, and peak around the one-week mark. By the second week, withdrawal symptoms will likely fade.
How is Ambien Withdrawal Treated?
If ambien withdrawal symptoms become severe or unmanageable, it is essential to prioritize self-care and seek medical guidance for help and a safe and comfortable transition. A healthcare professional can provide personalized advice, monitor your progress, and offer additional treatment options.
Treatment options for ambien withdrawal focus on managing symptoms, addressing underlying issues, and promoting healthy sleep habits. Treatment can be provided in various different settings, including inpatient rehab, outpatient rehab, or individual/group counseling. Proper treatment will affect how long ambien withdrawal will last. Below are some treatment methods that are used to help individuals recover from ambien withdrawal.
Four Ways to Treat Withdrawal from Ambien
- Gradual tapering: A healthcare professional may recommend gradually reducing the dosage of ambien over time to minimize withdrawal symptoms. This approach allows the body to adjust more gradually to the absence of the drug.
- Medication-assisted treatment: In some cases, medications may be prescribed to help alleviate specific withdrawal symptoms or manage underlying conditions contributing to insomnia. Medication-assisted treatment can include sedatives, antidepressants, or anti-anxiety medications to treat the addiction or it’s underlying causes.
- Therapy and counseling: Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) can be beneficial in addressing the root causes of insomnia and developing healthy sleep habits. Therapists may provide techniques to manage anxiety, establish a consistent sleep routine, and promote relaxation.
- Supportive care: Joining support groups or seeking individual counseling can provide emotional support and guidance throughout the withdrawal process. Connecting with others who have experienced similar challenges and have also been addicted to substances can offer reassurance and helpful coping strategies.
Ambien Withdrawal Treatment at Avenues Recovery
Ambien withdrawal can be a challenging experience, but with the right understanding and proper support, it’s possible to navigate through it successfully. Recognizing the symptoms, understanding the ambien withdrawal timeline, and implementing coping strategies can help make the transition smoother. It's important to remember that everyone's journey is unique, and seeking professional help to treat drug abuse is crucial. By exploring alternative sleep aids, practicing good sleep hygiene, and addressing the root causes of insomnia, you can find relief from ambien withdrawal symptoms and develop healthy sleep habits that support your long-term wellbeing.
For help and support with detoxing safely and recovery from ambien addiction and withdrawal, reach out to Avenues Recovery centers today. We offer a variety of treatment programs and resources for recovery from substance abuse. Let us help you on your journey to better health and a better future.