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Ambien may be helpful for sleep concerns, but it can be a difficult medication to quit. The drug was developed as a lower-risk alternative to other sedatives, such as benzodiazepines, and Ambien withdrawal was once considered quite rare. However, new research suggests that the risk of withdrawal from drugs like Ambien was underestimated. The risk can be even greater when Ambien is combined with other drugs or alcohol.
Understanding the risks, treatment and timeline of Ambien withdrawal is important if you or someone you love is thinking about quitting or cutting back.
Can You Become Dependent on Ambien?
Ambien is a Schedule IV controlled substance, meaning it carries a risk of abuse, addiction and dependence. Physical dependence can develop because Ambien enhances the amount of gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA), a calming neurotransmitter, in your brain. As your body gets used to the increased amount of GABA available, physical dependence can develop. When this occurs, you may notice that you don’t sleep as well when you skip a dose of Ambien.
There is a risk of psychological dependence on Ambien as well. Psychological dependence, also known as addiction, refers to an emotional or mental reliance on a substance. Strong cravings and desires for Ambien are components of a psychological dependence on the drug.
Ambien Withdrawal Symptoms
Ambien addiction withdrawal can depend on factors like starting dose, duration of use and age. It can be hard to predict the type and severity of withdrawal symptoms. Often, the safest way to detox is to attend a medical detox facility.
Ambien withdrawal symptoms are similar to benzodiazepine withdrawal symptoms and can include:
- Fast pulse
- Hand tremor
- Nausea or vomiting
How Long Does Ambien Withdrawal Last?
The Ambien withdrawal timeline can vary slightly depending on factors like age, how much Ambien you are taking and whether you’re using other substances.
In general, the half-life of Ambien is relatively short, and half of the drug should be cleared from the body within about 1.5 hours. Withdrawal symptoms usually start within 48 hours of stopping Ambien and can range from mild to severe. The severity of symptoms can depend on how much Ambien was in the system to start with, and it can be made worse by interactions with other drugs or alcohol. The length of Ambien withdrawal, or the time it takes the body to detox, can also depend on someone’s overall health and ability to clear waste from the body.
In some cases, symptoms might build in severity over a couple of days and can last up to several weeks. Ambien withdrawal symptoms can include:
- Nausea or vomiting
- Stomach cramps or abdominal discomfort
- Uncontrolled crying
- Panic attacks
- Breathing changes, including hyperventilation or shallow breathing
- Angry feelings
- Muscle cramps
A major challenge of Ambien withdrawal can be a return of insomnia symptoms. Addiction support and treatment can be essential to maintaining sobriety and developing new strategies to address sleep problems.
We can help answer your questions and talk through any concerns.
Stopping Ambien Cold Turkey
There are risks associated with being dependent on Ambien, and some people may think that stopping as quickly as possible is the best way forward. However, Ambien withdrawal can be severe and even dangerous when quitting cold turkey.
Stopping Ambien suddenly can be a shock to your system, especially if you’ve been taking the drug for a long time or at a high dose. Stopping cold turkey has been linked with side effects like seizures. To ensure that the withdrawal process is safe and comfortable, it’s important to discuss a tapering schedule with your doctor so that your body can adjust over time.
How To Wean Off Ambien
It is safest to wean yourself off Ambien while under a doctor’s care. Your doctor can take into account your current dose of Ambien and how often you take it; with this information, they can then design a safe taper schedule to help you avoid withdrawal symptoms. Because a taper schedule can vary from person to person and there is no one-size-fits-all approach, it is best to talk with a doctor before trying to wean off Ambien on your own.
In some cases, a medically supervised Ambien detox with around-the-clock care may be recommended. This is especially true for people who take high doses of Ambien and are at a higher risk of withdrawal complications like seizures. In a medical detox facility, you receive 24/7 monitoring from doctors and nurses while your body is slowly cleansed of Ambien.
Medications can sometimes be used to help a person withdraw from Ambien safely. For example, Ambien may first be converted to a longer-acting sedative like Valium (diazepam), which can then be slowly tapered. Other medications, such as acetaminophen (Tylenol), may be used to help treat withdrawal symptoms like muscle cramps.
Ambien Withdrawal Treatment in Orlando, FL
For those living near Orlando, Florida, the Orlando Recovery Center offers various programs that can help with Ambien withdrawal. Through medical detox and treatment programs like inpatient and outpatient rehab, our experts can support you during the initial stages of withdrawal and help you develop long-term skills and strategies for sobriety. Contact us today to discuss Ambien addiction treatment options that can work well for your situation.
If someone doesn’t have insurance or their insurance doesn’t cover treatment for Lortab addiction, other options are available.
Lortab Addiction Treatment Centers in Orlando
Some people may search for Lortab addiction treatment that’s far from their hometown or city and maybe outside of their state as well. While it can be intimidating to leave home, doing so has benefits.
Going to an out-of-state rehab allows a person to start completely fresh. A change of scenery can also help contribute to a change in perspective. Choosing an out-of-state Lortab addiction treatment can remove someone from the people, places and scenarios that surround their addiction.
When comparing addiction treatment centers, it’s important to look for programs that are comprehensive and can address the needs of the whole person and not just their addiction. Dual diagnosis treatment is one example. Many people with substance use disorders also have an underlying mental health disorder. During addiction treatment, that mental health disorder should also be treated in order to provide the best outcomes.
Schifano, Fabrizio; et al. “An Insight into Z-Drug Abuse and Depende[…]erse Drug Reactions.” International Journal of Neuropsychopharmacology, April 2019. Accessed March 31, 2022.
Lerner, Alicja; Klein, Michael. “Dependence, withdrawal and rebound of CN[…]ew drugs development.” Brain Communications, October 16, 2019. Accessed March 31, 2022.
Drugs.com. “Ambien.” January 24, 2022. Accessed March 30, 2022.
PsychDB. “Sedative, Hypnotic, or Anxiolytic (Benzo[…]iazepine) Withdrawal.” March 29, 2021. Accessed March 30, 2022.
Federal Bureau of Prisons. “Detoxification of Chemically Dependent Inmates.” February 2014. Accessed March 24, 2022.
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.