Ambien Addiction: Signs, Symptoms, & Treatment

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Medically Reviewed By: Diana Vo, LMFT

August 14, 2023

Table of Contents

Ambien is a sedative-hypnotic medication that is prescribed to treat acute insomnia. Like many prescription medications, the extended or abusive consumption of Ambien can lead to addiction.

This guide addresses the following issues:

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Need help getting addiction treatment?

  • Can you get addicted to Ambien after using the medication legitimately?
  • Ambien addiction potential: is it worth worrying about?
  • What are the most common Ambien addiction side effects?
  • Addicted to Ambien: now what? How to initiate Ambien addiction recovery in Southern California.

Is Ambien Addictive?

Although Ambien was initially marketed as a safer alternative to benzodiazepines due to its perceived lower addiction potential, research, and clinical observations have shown that Ambien carries its own risk of addiction and dependence.

The addictive potential of Ambien arises from its ability to affect the brain’s neurotransmitters, especially GABA (gamma-aminobutyric acid). Ambien enhances the effects of GABA, a chemical messenger that inhibits brain activity, leading to sedation and sleep induction. However, prolonged use or misuse of Ambien can disrupt the natural balance of GABA in the brain, leading to the development of tolerance, physical dependence, and psychological addiction.

Tolerance occurs when the body adapts to the presence of Ambien, meaning that higher or more frequent doses are required to achieve the initial effects. Individuals may find that their usual prescribed dose no longer produces the desired sedative effect, leading them to increase the dosage without medical guidance.

Dependence can develop as the body becomes reliant on Ambien to function normally. When someone abruptly stops or significantly reduces their Ambien use, they may experience withdrawal symptoms such as rebound insomnia, anxiety, irritability, restlessness, and even seizures. These withdrawal symptoms can be uncomfortable and reinforce the cycle of addiction.

Addiction to Ambien is characterized by the compulsive use of the drug despite adverse outcomes. Individuals with an Ambien addiction may engage in risky behaviors, experience difficulty controlling their use, and prioritize obtaining and using the drug over other aspects of their life.

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Signs of Ambien Addiction

Identifying the most prominent Ambien addiction signs can help identify when someone may be struggling with a problematic pattern of Ambien use. While the presence of these signs does not provide a definitive diagnosis, they can serve as red flags and indicate the need for further assessment and support.

  • Frequent prescription refills: Individuals addicted to Ambien may frequently refill their prescriptions, seeking larger quantities or earlier refills than prescribed.
  • Increased dose consumption: Taking larger doses of Ambien than prescribed or exceeding the recommended duration of use can indicate an addiction.
  • Strong cravings: A strong desire or cravings for Ambien, especially when not using it as prescribed, is a significant sign of addiction.
  • Memory loss and dangerous behaviors: Engaging in dangerous situations without recollection, such as driving or engaging in activities with no memory of them later, can indicate an Ambien addiction.
  • Financial implications: Spending excessive amounts of money to acquire Ambien or prioritizing the purchase of the drug over other financial responsibilities can be a sign of addiction.
  • Social isolation: Individuals addicted to Ambien may isolate themselves from family and friends, withdrawing from their social support system.

Symptoms of Ambien Addiction

Ambien addiction is classified as a type of substance use disorder in DSM-5-TR (the revised fifth edition of APA’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. Ambien addiction is clinically described as sedative, hypnotic, or anxiolytic use disorder.

These are the eleven Ambien addiction symptoms:

  1. Taking Ambien in larger amounts or for longer than intended.
  2. Making unsuccessful efforts to moderate or discontinue Ambien use.
  3. Spending lots of time using Ambien and recovering from its effects.
  4. Experiencing intense cravings for Ambien.
  5. Using Ambien in potentially dangerous situations.
  6. Failing to fulfill personal and professional commitments due to Ambien use.
  7. Ongoing use of Ambien even though it is triggering social or interpersonal problems.
  8. Continuing to use Ambien even though it is causing or inflaming a health condition, whether physical or psychological.
  9. Giving up or reducing important activities due to Ambien use.
  10. Developing tolerance so that more Ambien is required to deliver the initial effects.
  11. Withdrawal symptoms manifesting in the absence of Ambien.

Ambien addiction is diagnosed according to the number of symptoms that present as mild (2 or 3), moderate (4 or 5), or severe (6 or more).

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Ambien Addiction Treatment

Various approaches can be effective in helping individuals overcome Ambien dependence and addiction and achieve lasting recovery. The treatment path typically involves a combination of detoxification, therapy, counseling, and support groups. The choice between inpatient or outpatient treatment depends on the severity of the addiction, individual needs, and professional recommendations.

Detoxification is usually the first step in Ambien addiction treatment an involves removing the drug from the individual’s system while managing withdrawal symptoms and ensuring their safety and comfort. Detoxification from Ambien can be conducted in both inpatient and outpatient settings. In more severe cases of addiction or when there are additional medical or psychological concerns, inpatient detoxification may be recommended. This allows individuals to receive round-the-clock monitoring and medical support.

Inpatient treatment programs provide a structured and supportive environment for individuals with Ambien addiction. During inpatient treatment, individuals reside in a treatment facility for a specific duration, typically ranging from a few weeks to several months. Inpatient programs offer a comprehensive range of services, including individual and group therapy sessions, behavioral interventions, educational programs, and holistic therapies. The structured nature of inpatient treatment helps individuals focus solely on their recovery and provides a supportive community of peers and professionals.

Outpatient programs are a suitable option for individuals with milder Ambien addictions or those who have completed inpatient treatment and require continued support. Outpatient treatment allows individuals to live at home and attend treatment sessions on a scheduled basis. This type of treatment offers flexibility, allowing individuals to maintain their daily responsibilities such as work or school. Outpatient programs typically include therapy sessions, counseling, support group participation, and the development of relapse prevention strategies. While providing more independence, outpatient treatment requires individuals to have a strong support system and a stable living environment conducive to recovery.

Various therapeutic approaches are utilized in Ambien addiction treatment. CBT (cognitive-behavioral therapy) helps individuals identify and change patterns of thinking and behavior associated with addiction. It focuses on developing healthier coping mechanisms, stress management skills, and addressing underlying issues that contribute to addiction. Individual therapy provides a one-on-one setting for individuals to explore personal challenges, develop insight, and work through emotional issues related to their addiction. Group therapy sessions allow individuals to connect with peers, share experiences, and receive support from others facing similar struggles. Family therapy may also be incorporated to address family dynamics, improve communication, and strengthen the support system.

Participating in support groups, such as 12-step programs like NA (Narcotics Anonymous), can be an integral part of Ambien addiction treatment. Support groups provide a sense of community, understanding, and accountability. They offer a platform for individuals to share their experiences, receive guidance, and learn from the experiences of others in recovery.

Many addiction treatment centers incorporate holistic approaches to complement traditional therapies. These may include activities such as yoga, meditation, art therapy, mindfulness practices, and exercise programs. Holistic approaches aim to promote overall well-being, reduce stress, and enhance emotional and physical healing.

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Get Treatment for Ambien Addiction at Renaissance Recovery

At Renaissance Recovery in Southern California, we specialize in the outpatient treatment of prescription drugs like Ambien. We also provide dual diagnosis treatment for those with co-occurring mental health conditions who have also developed an addiction to Ambien.

In addition to traditional outpatient treatment programs, we also offer more intensive programs in the form of IOPs (intensive outpatient programs) and PHPs (partial hospitalization programs). All treatment programs at our luxury beachside rehab utilize these science-backed and holistic interventions:

Call 866.330.9449 and engage with Ambien addiction and withdrawal treatment at Renaissance Recovery.

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Joseph Gilmore has been in the addiction industry for three years with experience working for facilities all across the country. Connect with Joe on LinkedIn.

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