Ambien and Addiction

Ambien and addiction are not uncommon but help is available at White Sands Treatment center

Ambien is a fast-acting sedative hypnotic drug that may be addictive after just two weeks of use. For this reason alone Ambien and addiction are closely linked. Increasing the recommended dosage of the drug may also cause addiction. Ambien is often prescribed to treat sleep problems and mental disorders. Some users do not realize they have an addiction to the drug until they stop using it and find that they cannot sleep. Other Ambien symptoms of addiction are:

  • Experiencing withdrawal symptoms
  • Having cravings for the drug
  • Refilling the prescription more often than recommended
  • Taking more than the prescribed dosage
  • Engaging in risky behavior and not remembering the event
  • Withdrawing from family and friends
  • Spending large amounts of money to purchase the drug
  • Uncontrollable shaking in various parts of the body
  • Short term memory loss
  • Coordination impairment
  • Weakness and drowsiness
  • Depressed breathing and heartbeat
  • Delusions and hallucinations
  • Doctor shopping to get more prescriptions

Ambien is taken orally and some users crush the pills and snort them to get a stronger effect from the drug. Some of the common street names for Ambien are tic-tacs, no gos, A-minus, zombie pills and sleep easy. Ambien binds to neuro-receptors and slows down brain activity and produces a strong sedation similar to being drunk. Ambien symptoms also include respiratory depression, and if the drug is taken with alcohol or opiates it may cause death due to asphyxiation. Ambien also produces memory loss and the user will not remember doing certain things while under the influence of the drug. The effects of sedation and memory loss make Ambien a popular date rape drug. Women are more sensitive to the effects of Ambien than men are because they slowly metabolize and eliminate the drug from their system. Women may still be under the effects of the drug the morning after taking Ambien, and they may risk unsafe activities such as driving, etc.

Ambien addiction alters specific areas of the brain such as the amygdala, hippocampus, prefrontal cortex, nucleus accumbens, the ventral pallidum and others. These structural changes may adversely affect the addict by creating:

  • Memory and concentration problems
  • A strong compulsion to seek Ambien intoxication
  • Strong drug related memories
  • Impaired impulse control

These factors make an addict’s attempt to taper off of the drug by him self virtually impossible. These brain changes will eventually heal once the addict is safely weaned off of Ambien, but to avoid a relapse the addict must be taught relapse prevent techniques and remain vigilant in utilizing them.

Ambien and addiction can occur when the drug is taken without a prescription, abused recreationally, taken against medical advice, taken beyond recommended dosage, taken long-term and inhaled or injected. Ambien is one of the most popular and abused sleeping aids in America. Psychological problems such as abuse, trauma, anxiety and depression can increase Ambien abuse and addiction. Other factors that can contribute to addiction are poverty, homelessness and peer pressure.

Some of the Ambien addiction withdrawal effects are:

  • Nausea
  • Insomnia
  • Irritability
  • Stomach cramps
  • Panic attacks
  • Fatigue
  • Shakiness
  • Confusion
  • Psychosis
  • Loss of identity
  • Depression
  • Suicidal ideation and acts

Ambien addiction withdrawal symptoms can become severe and endanger the addict, and he should not try to get off the drug by him self. He will need the professional help of addiction specialists at a drug rehab facility. The addict should undergo a medically supervised detox process where withdrawal symptoms can be treated with medications, and where the medical team can slow the detox process if necessary. This ensures that the patient is kept safe and stable until he is out of danger. Once the addict is off of the drug, he may need other therapies to help him stay off of drugs and alcohol. If sleep problems persist, he can try drug-free sleep tips such as:

  • Avoiding alcohol, spicy food and caffeinated beverages six hours before bedtime
  • Do not exercise before bed
  • Do not nap during the day
  • Keep your bedroom dark, cool and quiet
  • If you are unable to sleep get out of bed and try reading or listening to relaxing music

You can talk with your doctor about alternative remedies, such as non-addictive medications, if insomnia persists. If you are concerned about Ambien and addiction, you should consult your doctor or contact a drug rehab facility to get the proper recovery treatment.


If you or a loved one needs help with abuse and/or treatment, please call the WhiteSands Treatment at (877) 855-3470. Our addiction specialists can assess your recovery needs and help you get the addiction treatment that provides the best chance for your long-term recovery.

About the Author

is a proud alumni member of WhiteSands Treatment. After living a life of chaos, destruction and constant let downs, Mark was able to make a complete turnaround that sparked a new way of life. He is serious about his recovery along with helping others. At WhiteSands Treatment, we offer support to you in your homes or when you are out living in your daily lives.