Ambien Addiction Stories – Treatment, Hope, and Recovery
Even common prescription drugs, like Ambien, can be habit-forming. Be aware of the risks if you use this sleep aid, or if someone you care about does, and know the signs of addiction. There is hope when it comes to recovery from prescription drug abuse. Reach out for treatment, and with dedication, professional care, and support of loved ones, you can beat this addiction.
Ambien is a sedative used to treat insomnia. There is always some risk that when you use this sleep aid you will misuse it and develop a substance use disorder. It’s possible to use Ambien safely, but there are risks too. If you or a family member feel like you may have become addicted to this drug, treatment is important. It may seem as if you couldn’t possibly live without it or get your life back on track, but many others have before you, and you can too with good treatment.
Ambien and the Risks of Misuse
Ambien is the brand name for the sedative zolpidem. It was developed by Sanofi, a French pharmaceutical company, and is sold under other names as well, including Intermezzo and Edluar. Ambien is used as a sleep aid, particularly for people who struggle to fall asleep at night. It is not useful for insomnia characterized by the inability to stay asleep.
As a sedative, Ambien works by slowing down the central nervous system. It is a central nervous system depressant. When you take it, Ambien slows your heart rate and pulse and lowers blood pressure and breathing. You will feel drowsy and sleepy.
One important risk of misusing Ambien is increasing these expected effects as well as any adverse effects, like driving, cooking, or doing other activities while asleep. Too much Ambien can slow down breathing and heart rate to a dangerous degree. This is especially risky when it’s combined with other depressants or sedatives, like the anti-anxiety drugs benzodiazepines. Combining Ambien with alcohol, barbiturates, and opioids is similarly dangerous and can cause a fatal overdose.
Another big risk is that misusing Ambien can lead to a substance use disorder. The Drug Enforcement Agency classifies sleep aids like Ambien as schedule IV controlled substances, because they can be habit-forming if used incorrectly. Misuse includes taking larger than prescribed doses, taking it more often than recommended or for a longer period of time. Using Ambien without a prescription is also considered misuse.
Stories of Overcoming Ambien Addiction
These people never expected to develop an addiction to Ambien. They simply needed to get more sleep or found they needed the drug to feel relaxed. Misuse of this drug can quickly spiral out of control, leading to addiction, dangerous side effects, and even overdose. Learn from these stories and let them provide you with hope that you too can be in recovery from addiction to Ambien.
“I almost died because of Ambien,” Sarah H.
My bottom of the barrel moment came when I so desperately needed to feel relaxed and to unwind that I took a double dose of Ambien, followed by a bottle of wine. My roommate found me, fortunately, and called for help. I was rushed to the hospital and survived.
To go back to the beginning, what happened was that stress got the better of me. I started a new job that I had really wanted to get, but once I was there found it was crazy stressful. I worked 10 to 12 hours a day, and often on the weekends. I felt pressured to hit certain sales marks and just overwhelmed.
During this time period, instead of looking for healthy ways to manage the stress, or considering a different job, I stopped going out with friends. I just went home, locked myself in my bedroom, and downed a bottle of wine to get to sleep. Soon, that wasn’t enough, and my doctor prescribed Ambien.
It was a life-saver, for about a month, and then it stopped working, too. I just felt like I couldn’t relax any other way, so I started taking more and more. I even went to several new doctors to get more prescriptions. Then, one night, I nearly died.
My mom helped me find a treatment program, where I stayed for nearly three months. I found out I have generalized anxiety disorder, which probably helped trigger substance abuse. It wasn’t just my job—it was my anxiety and ignorance about how to cope with either one in a healthy way.
I have been clean since treatment. I don’t drink anymore. I found a new job, and in therapy I learned healthy strategies for coping with stress and anxiety. Now, when I can’t sleep I use meditation and breathing exercises instead of drugs and alcohol. I’m in recovery and I feel much better, but I still do feel urges to relax with wine. It’s a daily struggle, but thanks to good treatment, it’s getting better.
“Ambien nearly ruined my marriage,” Jeff K.
She is in recovery now, but our marriage was nearly destroyed when my wife Kendra got hooked on Ambien. Treatment has really helped, but we almost didn’t get that help soon enough to save our relationship. Kendra got a prescription for Ambien after the birth of our second daughter.
Kendra started taking more and more Ambien, and earlier in the evening too. For a while, she still functioned normally, and it wasn’t until she admitted doing this for months that I realized she had a real problem. At that point, she would be totally out of it in the evenings. When she was unsafe to be taking care of the kids I made an ultimatum. She had to get help or the kids and I were leaving.
She agreed to go to residential treatment. At this point, we were barely talking to each other. I was so angry that she could put our kids at risk like that. But on the other hand, I didn’t understand what she was going through, that she felt overwhelmed with two young kids and depressed too.
The treatment facility helped her overcome the Ambien addiction and also diagnosed her with postpartum depression. She needed a few months of intensive treatment to be ready to come home again and to trust herself with the kids.
What also really helped in treatment was that I was able to participate. I came in regularly to go through couples’ therapy with her. We figured out that we had some communication issues, that I had failed to offer her enough support and that she should have been able to ask me for it.
Our marriage nearly came apart because of this addiction, but we learned that there was much more at the root of the problem than just sleep and a drug. We needed therapy to get back to a healthy relationship, and now that we have that and Kendra is in recovery, we are making big improvements.
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Getting Help for Ambien Addiction
If you or someone you care about has been misusing Ambien and is struggling to stop, professional treatment can help. At a residential facility, you will get a complete diagnosis to find out if there are any other mental health issues contributing to substance abuse. You will then get a comprehensive treatment plan in a safe, secure environment.
Treatment can provide individualized therapy, group support, medical care, and supervised detox to begin the program. Most of all, getting treatment will give you the hope you really need to look forward and make positive changes. When it seems like you can never stop using, the despair can prevent you from trying. With treatment, you have hope for you, your family, and your future without Ambien or other substances.
Alta Mira offers comprehensive treatment for people struggling with drug and alcohol addiction as well as co-occurring mental health disorders and process addictions. Contact us to learn more about our renowned Bay Area programs and how we can help you or your loved one start the journey toward lasting recovery.