Ambien Addiction Health Risks

If you have insomnia or sleep disturbances, you’re probably familiar with Ambien or its other sleep-aid counterparts like Lunesta. Even if you haven’t taken it personally, you may know someone who has. When taken in small, doctor-recommended doses, Ambien can work well for people who legitimately need it. However, when taken in combination with other drugs or in higher doses than prescribed, Ambien can have serious side effects.

What Is Ambien?

Ambien (zolpidem) is a prescription sleep aid typically prescribed to persons with sleep disturbances. This central nervous system (CNS) depressant slows down the brain, allowing one to get to sleep and slumber more soundly.

Ambien is now one of the most frequently used sleep aids, with prescriptions rising at least 20 percent from 2006 to 2011, according to the New York Times. It’s widely available but also largely misused. Taking Ambien with other drugs or alcohol, taking the pill and staying up (fighting Ambien’s sleepy effects), and taking more than necessary all qualify as misusing or abusing the drug. Unfortunately, Ambien abuse is a serious problem with deadly consequences. Over 19,000 emergency room visits were noted in 2010 due to Ambien.

Risks Associated With Ambien Abuse

To make this clear, there are risks associated with taking the drug even if you use it as prescribed. When abused, the risks increase. Yes, you’ll go to sleep but you may also participate in many activities that you aren’t aware of. Let’s look at some side effects of Ambien first:

  • Sleepiness
  • “Sleep driving,” “sleep eating,” or having “sleep sex”
  • Hallucinations
  • Nausea
  • Confusion
  • Anxiety or panic

Generally speaking, a person can experience one or many of these more immediate side effects. The symptoms that occur after extended use, however, are perhaps the most dangerous to one’s brain and body.

New studies note that even small amounts of Ambien can raise one’s risk of sudden death or cancer. Take, for example, a study by Scripps Health in which researchers discovered that taking sleeping pills (not just Ambien, but others as well) can increase your risk of death by four times. Another study noted by the LA Times cited that the six to 10 percent of Americans using sleep aids are more likely to develop cancer or die prematurely. Even as few as 18 pills a year can increase your risk three and a half times. The risk rises for those who are heavy users (up to 132 pills per year and over) to five times. A publication by the British Medical Association noted that heavy Ambien users have a 35 percent higher risk of developing cancer and a 450 percent higher risk of mortality as opposed to non-sleep aid users.

There’s more:

  • Ambien increases the risk of suicidal thoughts or tendencies among those with depression.
  • Ambien does carry the potential for addiction, making abusing or misusing the drug extremely dangerous.
  • There is a risk of respiratory depression. Especially when mixed with alcohol or other drugs, there is the potential for respiratory failure.
  • Ambien can cause anaphylactic or anaphylactoid reactions such as the throat closing, vomiting, nausea, or dyspnea (shortness of breath).
  • Ambien can also cause moderate next-day psychomotor impairment, which may cause problems when driving vehicles or operating other machinery.

Hope is Just a Phone Call Away


Abusing Ambien?

If you’re abusing Ambien, call now. If you know someone who is abusing Ambien, call now. What’s particularly dangerous about this drug is that many people who use it aren’t cognizant of their actions while “sleeping.” This can result in some potentially dangerous situations for the user and others.

Getting help at a recovery center like Alta Mira may be the most important step you can take in kicking your Ambien habit. Just because it is distributed by a pharmaceutical company does NOT mean Ambien is 100 percent safe. If you’re interested in learning more about Ambien, its side effects, and how treatment for Ambien abuse can help you, call Alta Mira today. We’ve got treatment coordinators standing by to help you.