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Long term effects of Ambien addiction (INFOGRAPHIC)

Long term effects of Ambien addiction (INFOGRAPHIC)

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Long term effects of Ambien addiction

Ambien (zolpidem) is highly addictive, so it’s usually not prescribed for periods longer than 4 weeks. More here on how you become addicted to Ambien and its risks.

Addiction = Can occur when users do not follow doctor’s recommendations or when the drug is taken for reasons unrelated to sleeplessness, but used by addicts to get high.

Mechanism of Ambien action

1. Ambien binds to the alpha 1 subunit (BZ1 – or w 1-receptor subtypes) of the GABA(A) receptor associated with sleep promotion.

2. Ambien potentiates GABA-ergic transmission, increases the frequency of chloride channel opening, resulting in the inhibition of neuronal excitation, eventually causing sedation.

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3. In higher doses it binds the alpha(2), alpha(3) & alpha(5) subunits.

How addictive is Ambien?

The risk of Ambien addiction is HIGH. Ambien can cause strong cravings and drug-seeking behavior. It causes addiction by creating physical and psychological dependence.

Is damage caused by Ambien permanent or reversible?

Permanent damage Ambien can cause

  • acute allergic reactions
  • acute kidney failure
  • angina pectoris, heart attack
  • glaucoma, loss of sight
  • liver damage
  • memory loss
  • respiratory failure

Reversible damage Ambien can cause

  • dry mouth, tooth caries
  • rhinitis, nose bleeding, sinusitis, ear inflammations
  • skin color change

How does Ambien addiction affect you?

Ambien effects on health

  • alters the memory
  • damages the immune system
  • increases chances for fatal outcome
  • induces states of amnesia

Ambien effects on work

  • concentration difficulties
  • reduced attention capacity
  • sleep-driving
  • slow reflexes

Ambien effects on self esteem

  • decreased self-esteem
  • fearlessness
  • suicidal thoughts or actions
  • worsening of depression

Ambien effects on relationship

  • detachment
  • emotional liability
  • may lead to interpersonal conflicts
  • more aggressive behavior

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9 Responses to “Long term effects of Ambien addiction (INFOGRAPHIC)
Elinor
5:33 pm April 14th, 2015

Since giving it up after 10+ years, I feel less fuzzy. It took a month of gradually making the pills smaller and smaller to do it. Three months later my sleep is about the same as it was on the drug.

2:14 pm April 15th, 2015

Hi Elinor. I’m glad you were able to persevere and stay strong through the process. One of the reasons why people are giving up in the early stages of quitting Ambien are the withdrawal symptoms. Particularly the insomnia and sleeping problems the medication produces as it’s leaving your system. But, I’m glad it’s all over now and I wish you all the best.

Linda
8:35 pm April 20th, 2015

Your article suggests only taking Ambien for 4 weeks. I have taken 10mg. for 5 years under the supervision of my doctor. I do have some of your adverse effects. Alters memory, concentration difficulties, slow reflexes. But then I am 70 yrs. old. I also have balance difficulties due to spinal surgery with some spinal cord damage for fracture of vertebra (due to auto accident one year ago.). My daughter sees me stumble sometimes and relates this to being under the influence of Ambien and says I can not drive until I stop taking it. Your thoughts please.

2:15 pm April 21st, 2015

Hello Linda. Yo have been taking Ambien long-term, and that brings along certain side effects. If you are looking for more specific information about how to stop taking Ambien or whether you should quit or not, I’m sorry that I cannot provide such advise. I believe the best and safest option is to speak with your doctor and see if you will benefit from quitting Amien and what would be the best course of treatment for you.

Elinor
4:35 pm April 21st, 2015

Linda, I asked my sleep specialist [apnea] for help, but he didn’t know what to do. What I’ve read is you can’t do it cold turkey because of chance of seizures. I am 74 was only taking 5 mg. What I read online was you take it several days, then skip a day. That didn’t sound attractive to me [=I knew I couldn’t do it] so I broke off a little tiny bit every night so I was taking almost a whole pill. When I got used to that I broke off a little more and so forth. I said it took a month, but I think it was longer than that.. If you try this, you should definitely get doctor’s supervision. I never had symptoms of amnesia and eating without knowing, but I was feeling fuzzy in my thought process. I am glad I gave it up. I feel better. I occasionally have insomnia, but manage to live through it. Most of the time my sleep is the same as on the pill: waking up, turning over, going back to sleep, waking up, pee, go back to sleep, etc. With 10 mg it’ll be harder and take longer. Another thing I remember reading about insomnia was the suggestion you stay up later and get up later daily until you rotate around the clock, skipping one night eventually. I never tried that because it would interfere too much with my day time schedule playing bridge LOL.

Bill
9:17 pm February 15th, 2016

Can you provide references/citations for the permanent effects listed above? Are you saying that an elevated risk of heart attack is permanent/non-reversible (even after quitting Ambien), and, if so, what is the mechanism for that? Or is the point just that once a heart attack occurs, it is by definition not reversible?

4:32 pm February 25th, 2016

Hi Bill. Thank you for asking this, it’s actually a really good question. We didn’t realize that listing “heart attack” can be as confusing. But, yes, it was meant that heart attack is a possible side effect from long-term Ambien addiction, and the consequences of the heart attack can be present permanently throughout life. I can provide all reference sources via email if you’d like to explore more.

Traci
2:38 am August 28th, 2016

I was on Ambien 10 every night for the last 6 years. 6 days ago I had 3 nights in a row I could not get in any kind of sleep. I felt like I was maybe only in a very light hypnotic sleep if at all. I was able to function during the day. I made the decision to go cold turkey off the Ambien 6 days ago. I can honestly say no withdrawal. Am I sleeping no. I am now about 9 nights straight of this very light in and out all night with a few nights of true sleep from 4am -8am. No way near enough sleep for me. I really do not feel any of the withdrawal symptoms listed. You will probably say call my dr. but why? Its done. Won’t my sleep eventually sync back? Should I see a sleep specialist?

Lydia @ Addiction Blog
1:09 pm September 9th, 2016

Hi Traci. I suggest that you speak with a sleep specialist about your concerns.

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