Causes & Effects of Ambien Abuse

Understanding Ambien Abuse

Learn about Ambien abuse

Ambien is a prescription medication that is used to treat insomnia. This sedative can be consumed safely under the care of your doctor. But if used outside of recommended guidelines or illicitly, Ambien can become habit-forming.

Taking Ambien in greater amounts or more frequently than intended can lead to tolerance and addiction. Over time, this can cause a chemical dependence that will require professional treatment to overcome.

Due to the addictive nature of Ambien, trying to limit your use on your own can result in painful withdrawal symptoms. Fortunately, with the help of a specialized Ambien addiction treatment program, you can gain the support you need to achieve lasting sobriety.


Ambien abuse statistics

  • According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), between 2005 and 2010, the number of emergency room visits that were related to the use of Ambien increased 220%.
  • According to the fifth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5), 0.2% of individuals age 18 and older suffer from sedative, hypnotic, or anxiolytic use disorder, which includes an addiction to Ambien.

Causes and Risk Factors

Causes and risk factors for Ambien abuse

Several factors can influence your risk for becoming addicted to Ambien or another substance:

  • Associating with peers who abuse substances
  • Having a family history of substance abuse and addiction
  • Early exposure to substance abuse
  • Having an impulsive temperament
  • Having a novelty-seeking temperament
  • Beginning to use drugs recreationally at an early age

Signs and Symptoms

Signs and symptoms of Ambien abuse

The following signs and symptoms of Ambien abuse may indicate that you need professional help:

Behavioral symptoms:

  • Taking larger doses of Ambien than prescribed
  • Continuing to take Ambien despite having the desire to stop
  • Isolating yourself from friends and family
  • No longer participating in activities that you once enjoyed
  • Spending a great deal of time participating in activities that revolve around obtaining, consuming, or recovering from the use of Ambien
  • No longer performing at the expected level at work
  • No longer adhering to daily tasks and responsibilities
  • Engaging in reckless behavior

Physical symptoms:

  • Drowsiness
  • Dizziness
  • Feeling lightheaded
  • Dry mouth
  • Nose irritation
  • Throat irritation
  • Nausea
  • Upset stomach
  • Muscle pain
  • No longer being able to fall asleep without taking Ambien

Mental symptoms:

  • Experiencing cravings for Ambien
  • Having a compulsive desire to acquire Ambien
  • Experiencing delusions and/or hallucinations
  • Memory loss
  • Suicidal ideation


Effects of Ambien abuse

If you become dependent upon Ambien, you may experience the following effects of Ambien abuse:

  • Demotion or job loss due to being unable to meet expectations
  • Familial conflict
  • Relationship disturbances
  • Financial strife
  • Onset of physical and cognitive ailments

Dual Diagnosis

Ambien abuse and dual diagnosis

People who abuse Ambien may have an increased risk for other mental or behavioral health disorders. Clinicians refer to the simultaneous presence of multiple disorders as dual diagnosis. Ambien abuse is associated with the following disorders:

  • Tobacco use disorder
  • Alcohol use disorder
  • Other substance use disorders
  • Antisocial personality disorder
  • Bipolar disorders
  • Anxiety disorders
  • Depressive disorders

The risk of dual diagnosis is one of the reasons why it’s so important to get comprehensive help for Ambien abuse. Many people don’t realize they need care for dual diagnosis until they enter a program. Properly identifying and addressing dual diagnosis concerns will help you achieve successful long-term recovery.

Withdrawal and Overdose

Effects of Ambien withdrawal and overdose

Effects of withdrawal: Limiting or ceasing your use of Ambien can cause:

  • Worsened insomnia
  • Fatigue
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Irritability
  • Anxiety
  • Sweating
  • Tremors
  • Confusion
  • Panic attacks

Effects of overdose: A person who experiences the following symptoms after using Ambien may have overdosed, and should seek immediate medical attention:

  • Irregular breathing
  • Delayed and/or decreased response to stimuli
  • Noticeably altered mental status
  • Severe drowsiness
  • Extreme confusion
  • Loss of consciousness


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