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Ambien is a brand name medication; the generic form is known as zolpidem. It is used to treat certain sleep issues (e.g. insomnia). Ambien belongs to a class of medications known as sedative-hypnotics. Huffington Post explains “Ambien works by activating the neurotransmitter GABA and binding it to the GABA receptors in the same location as the benzodiazepines such as Xanax and Valium. The extra GABA activity triggered by the drug inhibits the neuron activity that is associated with insomnia.” Hence, Ambien elicits a calming effect, which can basically be attributed to the slowing down of one’s brain functioning. When Ambien is taken exactly as directed, under strict supervision of a qualified medical professional, it can be an extremely helpful medication. However, it does contain addictive qualities, and the way it interacts with one’s natural brain chemicals lends it to be a medication that has a high potential for abuse. 

What Is Ambien Abuse?

Anyone could abuse Ambien, even in situations where an individual is prescribed the medication. It is considered substance abuse when an individual consumes Ambien in a way other than directed by his or her prescribing physician (e.g. crushes a pill and snorts it instead of swallowing it). It is considered Ambien abuse when an individual increases the dosage he or she ingests without approval from his or her prescribing physician. An individual that mixes Ambien with other substances (e.g. drugs and/ or alcohol) is abusing the substance. It could be considered Ambien abuse when an individual continues to use the medication beyond the length of time prescribed.  When a person without a valid prescription takes Ambien, he or she is abusing the substance. There are many additional ways an individual could intentionally or unintentionally abuse Ambien. 

Ambien Addiction

Due to its highly addictive nature, Ambien is not intended for long-term use; rather short treatment periods lasting one to two weeks long, or less are most common. The dosage prescribed is variable, as it will depend on an individual’s medical condition, gender, age, response to treatment, and other medications he or she may be taking. Addiction to any substance, including Ambien, does not occur instantaneously. When an individual has habitually abused Ambien, his or her body will in effect become accustomed to functioning in its presence, and unable to function optimally in its absence. Addiction is listed in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5) as a chronic brain disorder. It is characterized by compulsively engaging in rewarding stimuli (e.g. abusing drugs) without regard for negative consequence. When an individual abuses Ambien for a prolonged period of time, he or she is at increased risk for developing an addiction.

For Information and Support 

If you are concerned for yourself or a loved one in regards to substance abuse and/ or addiction we recommend reaching out for help as soon as possible. If left untreated, substance abuse can result in long lasting and potentially life-threatening consequences. Keep in mind: you are not alone! There is an entire network of professionals that are available to help and support you and your loved one throughout the recovery process. The earlier you seek support, the sooner your loved one can return to a happy, healthy, and fulfilling life.

Please do not hesitate to reach out with any questions regarding our specific program at Haven House Addiction Treatment and/ or general substance abuse and/ or addiction treatment related information. Our highly trained staff is readily available to discuss how we might best be able to help you and your loved one. We can be reached by phone at 424-258-6792. You are also welcome to contact anytime us via email at admissions@hhtxc.com.