Ambien was initially promoted as a safer alternative to benzodiazepines, with less risk for addiction or tolerance, but studies show that this has been underestimated.1 There are also serious health risks associated with long-term use of Ambien, including a potentially increased likelihood of respiratory issues, reflux, and infections
Other sedative-hypnotics include: Sonata, Lunesta, Xanax, Restoril, Valium, Ativan.
How Does It Affect Your System?
Ambien works similarly to benzodiazepines but is slightly less likely to make you feel groggy the next day or experience dependence.
What Are The Symptoms & Risk
The potential for misuse, tolerance, physiological dependence, and withdrawal with Ambien is higher than initially thought. Side effects can include:
Doing things you can’t remember.
Lack of coordination.
Slowed reaction time.
People with insomnia find it difficult to fall or stay asleep. If you have been using Ambien long-term and have tried to stop using the drug, your insomnia can worsen. Some additional long-term risks may include: worsening sleep apnea, reflux, chronic sinus infections, coughs, and laryngitis.
Since you can develop tolerance to the effects of Ambien, you may find yourself taking larger doses to get the same results from the drug.1 Instead of feeling sleepy, some people report feeling euphoric when they take Ambien.
If you are taking Ambien and have concerns, or if a loved one has an addiction to the drug, you should be aware of these potential signs of abuse:
Buying Ambien illegally.
Combining it with other substances.
Driving under the influence of Ambien.
Experiencing withdrawal symptoms when trying to stop.
Taking it differently than prescribed.
Sleeping through important events because of Ambien.
Trying to cut down or stop without success.
Using Ambien every night.
Visiting multiple doctors for prescriptions.
Detoxing Symptoms (Withdrawl)
If you have been taking Ambien in high doses or for a long time, you may experience more severe withdrawal symptoms. Withdrawal may start within 48 hours of stopping or cutting back on Ambien use. Symptoms of withdrawal can include:
Anxiety or panic attacks.
Increased blood pressure, pulse, breathing rate, or body temperature.
Nausea or vomiting.
Stomach cramps and abdominal discomfort.
Withdrawal symptoms typically lessen or disappear within 1-2 weeks. The most acute withdrawal symptoms typically occur within the first 3-5 days, but psychological withdrawal symptoms can persist for up to two weeks. In some rare cases, an individual may experience insomnia, cravings, panic attacks, and other side effects for months after stopping use of Ambien. It is difficult to know exactly how long Ambien withdrawal takes for each individual person. A period of 1-2 weeks is average, but several factors can affect how long a person experiences Ambien withdrawal symptoms.
Medically managed withdrawal, also known as medical detox, is when you decrease the use of a substance in a facility while under the care of trained medical staff. Case report evidence supports there being a potential risk of withdrawal seizures. For this reason, medical management of Ambien withdrawal could be beneficial as this is potentially a life-threatening complication.
People who wish to stop using Ambien are encouraged to speak to medical professionals about potential withdrawal symptoms. Because of the potential for seizures, some doctors may work with the individual to taper the Ambien dose, rather than stop “cold turkey.” This helps to prevent seizures, and it can also reduce or prevent other withdrawal symptoms.