Dangers of Taking Ambien
Ambien is the brand name of a generic drug called zolpidem, prescribed to treat sleep disorders where a patient has trouble falling or staying asleep. This insomnia treatment is classified as a sedative-hypnotic, and it’s available in general variations. It is also available as an extended-release drug. Ambien is one of the most commonly prescribed drugs in the U.S., and it’s the leading prescription sleep aid.
Ambien works by binding to specific GABA receptors in the brain. GABA is a calming neurotransmitter, so, taking Ambien calms the neural activity in the brain, allowing the person to relax and fall asleep. It works similarly to benzodiazepines like Xanax, but it binds to only specific GABA receptors. Benzos, on the other hand, don’t discriminate when binding to the GABA receptors.
Something else to consider with Ambien, anxiety, and other mental health conditions is that the drug can actually cause these issues to arise. After taking Ambien, some people with no prior history of depression, anxiety or other mental health issues report these symptoms. Ambien has a variety of mood-related side effects. Those taking Ambien are advised to pay attention to their thoughts and actions while on the drug to ensure they aren’t experiencing these symptoms. One of the most frightening Ambien dangers reported is the risk of someone developing or having worsening suicidal thoughts or behaviors.
The risk of a blackout becomes especially dangerous when people do things like driving while on Ambien. There have even been serious crimes committed during which people say they were using Ambien, and they claim to have no memory of what happened. The risk of an Ambien blackout is highest in people who take the drug and then don’t go straight to bed.
If someone is physically dependent on Ambien and they try to suddenly stop taking it, they will likely experience withdrawal symptoms. Ambien withdrawal can be severe. Symptoms can include insomnia, agitation, irritability, nervousness or anxiety, delirium, cravings, and seizures. If you have been taking Ambien and would like to stop using it, it’s important to seek professional help or speak to a physician.
Ambien is helpful to some people, but as with so many prescription medicines, many side effects can occur. It’s important to fully discuss medical history with a physician before taking this drug, and to talk about past issues with depression or other mental health conditions that could be amplified by this drug. Ambien is intended as a short-term insomnia treatment and the longer a person uses it, the more likely they are to experience side effects including addiction or dependence.
Do you struggle with Ambien or substance use disorder? Do you have a loved one who’s grappling with addiction? Reach out to us at The Recovery Village and learn more about what’s available to help.
Medical Disclaimer: The Recovery Village aims to improve the quality of life for people struggling with a substance use or mental health disorder with fact-based content about the nature of behavioral health conditions, treatment options and their related outcomes. We publish material that is researched, cited, edited and reviewed by licensed medical professionals. The information we provide is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. It should not be used in place of the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare provider.
Have more questions about Ambien abuse?Read the most frequently asked questions
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