Ambien (zolpidem) is a drug often prescribed for insomnia. It is closely related in action as well as effect to drugs from the benzodiazepine class of medications. Ambien largely produces its effects through its action at the GABA-A receptor in the brain. Unfortunately, for those suffering from insomnia Ambien is not a long-term cure as continued use of Ambien will result in a dangerous and unpleasant withdrawal. Ambien (zolpidem) withdrawal shares many characteristics with other substances that effect the GABA-A receptor such as alcohol and benzodiazepine's like Valium or Xanax. Due to the risk of withdrawal from taking Ambien it should not be taken more than three or four times a week and should not be used consecutively for more than a month. If these guidelines are followed the possibility and severity of withdrawal will be greatly diminished.
Ambien withdrawal symptoms
The possibility of Ambien (zolpidem) withdrawal can be detected prior to stopping taking Ambien by looking for signs of Ambien dependence. Ambien dependence is characterized by needing to take higher and higher doses of the medication in order to be able to feel the effects. This is an indication of tolerance building which signifies that if stopped a withdrawal will often be observed. Another sign of dependence is feeling that Ambien needs to be taken every single night in order for sleep to be achieved. Dependence is slightly different than addiction. Ambien addiction is psychological and may or may not lead to withdrawal symptoms while Ambien dependence is indicative of physical dependence to the medication which will always result in withdrawal symptoms. Addiction is characterized more by cravings and feeling that you will not be able to feel normal without taking Ambien.
The mildest form of Ambien (zolpidem) withdrawal usually consists of a headache that may last for up to a few days. However, psychological effects resulting in severe insomnia can also accompany even the mildest cases of Ambien withdrawal. More severe withdrawal effects of Ambien can include insomnia for days at a time, night terrors, shaking, vomiting, hallucinating, diarrhea, shaking, and many more. Severe depression may also be felt when one stops taking Ambien. The most unpleasant side effects of Ambien withdrawal for many seem to be the inability to sleep coupled with unpleasant body sensations. If you feel you have become dependent on Ambien it is important to inform a doctor as the withdrawal effects can be mitigated through tapering Ambien doses as well as supplementing with other medications.
Withdrawal effects of Ambien are most often experienced due to Ambien abuse. Ambien abuse consists of any time the medication is used outside of its intended purpose or in amounts and a frequency not recommended by a medical professional. When above recommended doses are taken tolerance and physical dependence will set in at a much more rapid rate increasing the chance of withdrawal when stopping use. Also, abusing Ambien in conjunction with other drugs also increases the chances of experiencing a withdrawal. When Ambien is used with other drugs that synergistically effect the GABA-A receptor it results in more tolerance and dependence being gained in a shorter amount of time. Using Ambien as instructed by medical professionals will greatly lessen the risk of withdrawal and the accompanying side effects.