What Are the Side Effects of Ambien?
Ambien is a sedative-hypnotic medication created to treat insomnia for a short period. The drug, which is a brand name for generic zolpidem, was designed to be a safer, less addictive insomnia treatment in the hopes of replacing benzodiazepines, which had previously dominated prescription treatments for the sleep disorder.
The page will discuss Ambien side effects, long-term misuse, addiction, and treatment options.
Ambien Side Effects
Ambien has been found to cause several side effects. Some of these side effects include:
- Drowsiness or tiredness, especially during the day.
- Dizziness or lightheadedness.
- Feeling “drugged.”
- Unsteady gait; loss of balance or coordination.
- Stomach problems, nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea.
- Changes in appetite.
- Shaking or tremors.
- Dry mouth or throat.
- Muscle cramps or aches.
- Joint or back pain.
- Redness in or around the eyes.
By reducing or stopping the consumption of caffeine and alcohol while taking Ambien, some side effects can be lessened. Even hours later, these drugs can interact with Ambien. It is also important for physicians prescribing Ambien to know if their patient has a history of mental health issues, such as depression, thoughts of suicide, or substance use.
While anyone using Ambien may experience side effects, nonmedical use of Ambien can make side effects worse.
In large doses, especially when taken for nonmedical or recreational use, Ambien can cause intoxication. Signs and symptoms of Ambien misuse may include:
- Confusion or cognitive difficulties.
- Acting drunk.
- Vision changes.
- Loss of coordination.
- Memory loss.
- Nausea and vomiting.
Effects of Long-Term Ambien Misuse
Long-term side effects of Ambien misuse include:
- Loss of effectiveness: The person will develop a tolerance to the drug over a short period, so they may begin escalating their dose to feel the original effects, including euphoria.
- Dizziness when discontinued: One study found that people who had taken Ambien for 28-35 nights in a row, with doses up to 10 mg, felt dizzy when they stopped taking the medication.
- Lethargic, drugged feeling: People who took Ambien for 35 nights consecutively reported feeling drugged, slow, lethargic, or fatigued.
- Development of a sedative use disorder, the clinical term for Ambien addiction.
Withdrawal from Ambien
Someone that has taken Ambien chronically for an extended period will likely develop physiological dependence. This means that when they quit they experience withdrawal symptoms. Symptoms of Ambien withdrawal may include:
- Rebound insomnia.
- Muscle cramps.
Medically assisted detox can make the sedative withdrawal process much safer and more comfortable.
Get Help for Ambien Addiction
Those who are addicted to Ambien can enter recovery; however, this often requires professional help.
As mentioned above, medical detox can help someone safely get past the acute withdrawal phase. While detox is a crucial step for many, most people need continued treatment afterward to sustain long-term sobriety. Effective treatment is practiced through programs that offer social support and research-based therapies. This can help the person understand the root causes of their addiction, manage cravings, prevent relapse, and maintain sobriety.
Levels of addiction treatment offered at Recovery First—our rehab center in Hollywood, Florida—include:
- Medical detox.
- Residential treatment.
- Outpatient care.
- Telehealth services.
Call to start addiction treatment. Our compassionate admissions navigators can also answer questions on how to use insurance coverage for addiction treatment, other ways to pay for rehab, and what to expect in rehab.
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