Ambien Withdrawal: What to Expect and What You Can Do
Millions of people all over the world rely on Ambien to help them get a good night’s sleep. To them, Ambien – also known as zolpidem – is associated with a calming, relaxing feeling. After extended use however when you try to stop you body can go through Ambien withdrawal.
For some people Ambien has become a true threat to their health. An Ambien addiction can result in a number of side effects, from fatigue to nausea to problems with coordination to short-term memory loss and much more.
If you’ve recently made the decision to quit this drug for good, you should understand what Ambien withdrawal entails and what you can do to help make the process a bit easier.
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6 Symptoms of Ambien Addiction Withdrawal
As you already know, Ambien is an incredibly strong drug.
It became the most popular sleep aid because it can induce rest within 15 minutes of being taken. This occurs through a process that involves both the neurotransmitter GABA and the GABA receptors. The result causes a slowing of brain activity.
While this kind of effect is envied by many facing insomnia every evening, it’s this same type of incredible potency that causes Ambien addiction withdrawal once someone tries to quit.
That said, before reviewing the types of symptoms associated with withdrawal, it’s important to remember that countless people have also gone through them and recovered successfully. So even though some of these may seem overwhelming, don’t let that stop you from seeking help.
1. Stomach Problems
Stomach issues can range from mild stomach cramps to indigestion to vomiting and nausea. Some of this may also have to do with other symptoms we cover. In short, if you are constantly anxious, irritated, and nervous, your stomach is going to experience problems, especially when add in withdrawal.
2. Rebound Insomnia
Obviously, removing Ambien from your life could bring back the very illness you were using it for in the first place in the form of “rebound insomnia.”
Even if your insomnia doesn’t completely return, there’s a good chance that you’ll struggle a little to get the same kind of sleep you were accustomed to when taking Ambien.
Some people are able to recover a fairly normal sleep schedule but still have to deal with fatigue. They may even wake up refreshed only to find that later in the day they feel the need to go back to bed.
These symptoms also correlate with a feeling of “brain fog” or otherwise being unable to clearly think, even when you don’t necessarily feel tired.
This lack of sleep may also cause irritability. You may notice that it is difficult to ignore small annoyances. Irritability and insomnia often work in tandem, too. Lack of sleep makes you irritable. In turn, irritability makes it harder to fall asleep as you fixate on perceived problems you faced earlier in the day.
Similarly, you can expect to feel anxious after quitting Ambien. Again, this is partly due to the lack of sleep and, like irritability, anxiety and insomnia can turn into a vicious loop.
Another reason people become anxious after quitting Ambien is simply because they don’t know what to expect. You may find yourself mulling over questions throughout the day like:
- “How will I get to sleep now?”
- “How will a lack of sleep affect the rest of my life?”
- “What if I can’t quit?”
If the anxiety becomes overwhelming, you may even find yourself crying uncontrollably.
5. High Blood Pressure
Some people report their blood pressure getting so high when they quit Ambien that it actually causes discomfort. Others may also begin to sweat.
Although these symptoms may have more to do with anxiety – even a panic attack – and the psychosomatic effects that sometimes follow, it’s still important to seek medical attention if you think your blood pressure is escalating too high.
6. Severe Symptoms
If you were taking a large amount of Ambien, you may experience much more severe symptoms when you quit. This can happen if you were abusing the drug or otherwise using more than your doctor prescribed.
While these are rare symptoms, they are still very serious, so seek medical attention right away if you feel you’re at risk for them.
- Dangerously-High Fevers
- Memory Loss
- Suicidal Thoughts
As we mentioned earlier, some of these symptoms of withdrawal probably seem very scary. You may even be wondering if it’s worth trying to quit if you’ll have to go through such a grueling process.
Next, we’ll cover how long Ambien withdrawal lasts for, but after that, we’ll talk about what you can do to ensure a safe transition away from addiction to this drug.
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Ambien Addiction Withdrawal Duration
How long Ambien addiction withdrawal lasts will depend on a number of different factors. For many people, it’s over within a few days. Generally speaking, though, the longer you were addicted to the drug, the longer your withdrawal will last. Fortunately, as time goes on, the symptoms should become less and less severe.
The addiction withdrawal can last for several weeks. People who took Ambien CR (controlled release) may experience withdrawal for a little longer, though. That’s because the controlled release of the drug ensures it stays in the person’s body longer. So even when you stop taking it, it’s still in your system.
The Ambien Addiction Withdrawal Symptom Timeline
This timeline should serve as a guide for what to expect when quitting Ambien. Your experience may not last as long or may last much longer, but the timeline should be proportionate to this one:
- 4 – 8 Hours After Ambien Leaves the Body: You may begin to start feeling some mild versions of the symptoms of withdrawal we outlined above.
- 24 – 48 Hours: Generally, you’ll begin experiencing full withdrawal symptoms at this point, including some of the more severe versions if you were a heavy user.
- 3 – 5 Days: Usually, symptoms will peak by now and begin subsiding.
How to Safely Deal with Ambien Withdrawal
The absolute most important step you need to take to quit Ambien and successfully deal with the withdrawal symptoms is to speak with your doctor. More than likely, they’ll recommend you taper off the drug, which will go a long way toward helping to mitigate symptoms of withdrawal.
They may also recommend other courses of action to take, but here are some other helpful steps you can take.
1. Take Some Time Off
As much as possible, take it easy on yourself over the next three to five days. See if you can take vacation or call into work sick. If you have a family, make sure they know you’re going to be “under the weather” for a little while. Scale back on social obligations.
What you want to avoid at all costs is any sort of irritation that may snowball into bigger problems. Take it easy as much as possible during your withdrawal timeline.
2. Try Natural Alternatives to Ambien
Although they may not pack the same punch, there are plenty of alternatives to Ambien that can help you get to sleep. Try some of these natural sleep aids:
3. Go to Meetings
You may find it helpful to go to Pills Anonymous or other meetings for people who are also dealing with addiction. Being around people who are going through the same thing can make the process much easier. Being around people who have successfully quit a drug like Ambien will reinforce the idea it’s possible.
If nothing else, these meetings will give you sympathetic ears. Quitting a drug can be a lot harder when no one around you truly appreciates what it entails.
4. Consider Rehab
A rehabilitation center – either inpatient or outpatient – can make a huge difference, as well. These facilities are filled with professionals who focus solely on helping people break their addictions to drugs.
As with meetings, they will also offer you plenty of opportunities to speak with others who are going through the same experience and those who have successfully done so already.
If you are worried about trying to quit without all the demands of your everyday life getting in the way, inpatient care may be the best option. Aside from the fact that you’ll be under constant surveillance by medical professionals, this choice will keep you safe from distractions until you’re ready to return.
Want Help Overcoming Ambien Withdrawal?
Getting through the Ambien addiction withdrawal stage doesn’t need to be such an overwhelming challenge. If you are interested in having professional support during this difficult time, Find Addiction Rehabs is here to help you find a qualified specialist.
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