Last updated: 04/30/2019
Author: Addictions.com Medical Review
Reading Time: 3 minutes
In 2014, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) received roughly 700 reports of Ambien, the tablet form of Zolpidem, impaired driving or induced accidents. Because of this and studies regarding Ambien and driving, the organization dropped the recommended dosage to limit morning after effects that lead to driving disasters.
That feels like a quick and easy fix. But, if you are abusing Ambien, you may feel there isn’t an equally quick and easy fix.
When you face an addiction, you find yourself unable to scale back use or quit entirely, even when you know that your health is at risk. What options are available to help you over this hurdle and enable you to live a life free from Ambien addiction?
Both inpatient and outpatient treatment can be successful for those seeking to stop using Ambien. The type of treatment that will work best for you or the addict in your life will depend upon their:
- Degree of dependence
- Other conditions needing treatment
- Personal preferences/needs
Overwhelmingly, treatment should focus on identifying triggers and developing coping mechanisms. Available in a variety of settings based on need, an addiction specialist can assist in identifying triggers and developing healthier coping skills.
Inpatient treatment is generally considered the most desirable option for those with severe addiction and/or additional mental health issues. Because of the closed environment and the ban on Ambien, users are forced to channel their energy into things like attending lots of group therapy, reading recovery literature and sticking to the rehab center’s routine.
Outpatient treatment is the less expensive option and that makes it attractive for many people. In many ways, outpatient offers the same features of inpatient care. However, those in treatment remain living at home. For those with a strong support system, this may be ideal. Plus, outpatient care allows for patients to continue working at their jobs and/or attending school. But, for those whose drug use is enabled by their home life, this option will be difficult to make successful.
For both options, patients should be aware of the likelihood that they have a possible cross-addiction and that giving up Ambien may cause them to move onto abusing another drug. For Ambien users, alcohol abuse is the most likely, as many addicts have already begun taking Ambien with alcohol. If Ambien is being taken with another drug, be aware that that drug should be discontinued as a part of rehab and as a component of continued sobriety.
A component of both inpatient and outpatient care will be removing the drug from your system. The FDA indicates After you stop taking Ambien, you may have symptoms such as:
- Trouble sleeping
- Uncontrolled crying
- Stomach cramps
- Panic attack
- Stomach area pain
In addition, withdrawal may mirror some of the more severe side effects of the medication and many will want to continue taking Ambien in a misguided attempt to stop these symptoms. In reality, continued use will amplify the following:
- Getting out of bed while not being fully awake and do an activity that you do not know you are doing
- Abnormal thoughts and behavior: including more outgoing or aggressive behavior than normal, confusion, agitation, hallucinations, worsening of depression, and suicidal thoughts or actions
The National Institute on Drug Abuse advocates cognitive behavioral interventions as core treatment for Ambien addiction. Of cognitive behavioral therapy, they write: “Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT) was developed as a method to prevent relapse when treating problem drinking … strategies are based on the theory that in the development of maladaptive [dysfunctional] behavioral patterns like substance abuse, learning processes play a critical role. Individuals in CBT learn to identify and correct problematic behaviors by applying a range of different skills that can be used to stop drug abuse and to address a range of other problems that often co-occur with it.”
- Exploring the positive and negative consequences of continued Ambien use through therapy
- Self-monitoring in a journal to recognize Ambien cravings early
- Meeting with a support group to identify situations that might put one at risk for Ambien use
- Developing strategies with a sobriety sponsor for coping with Ambien cravings
- Avoiding high-risk situations with the help of a support system