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Ambien Addiction Statistics: Cause and Treatment

Ambien addiction statistics are rising by the minute and with very profound reasons. Also called Zolpidem, it is a well-known immediate treatment for insomnia and sometimes brain disorders. Doctors worldwide agree that it is a highly effective but extremely addictive prescription drug for inducing sleep. The drug is readily available and easily accessible with tens of websites retailing different dosages from different manufacturers between $120 and $235 for packs of 40-112 tabs. Licensed medical practitioners prescribe the drug after a careful evaluation and for short-term use only.

Ambien Statistics

Recent surveys on health and drug use reveal that over half a million Americans abuse Ambien, and surprisingly a huge chunk of this group are 18 years and below. In 2008 alone, over 582,000 prescriptions were administered in Netherlands. By 2012 nearly 20,000 ER cases reported in the US annually were due to Ambien misuse and overdose. What most of these abusers do not realize is that this sleep inducer is a powerful nonbenzodiazepine hypnotic with a high potential for abuse and dire consequences if misused.

Due to its potent sedative effects, Ambien is sometimes abused together with cocaine, amphetamine, ecstasy and other drugs to offset the rousing effects of these stimulants and provide a relaxing outcome. In the US, Controlled Substances Act and FDA categorize it as a Schedule IV drug and Pregnancy Category C (only used if benefits surpass risks for mother and baby) due to its level of abuse and dependence.

Drug dependence and high-dose addiction occur when Ambien is used without a doctor's prescription, dosage exceeds the normal 5-10mg, administered through injection or inhalation, or taken for recreational purposes. Other Ambien addiction statistics show that it is fast becoming the most widely used illegal sedative/hypnotic in crimes. Sexual abusers for instance have been reported to mix it with alcohol to aggravate the effects of the drug.

How Ambien Works

Ambien has a half-life of 2-3 hours and when taken orally before bedtime, it works within 15 minutes and provides a continuous seven to eight hours of optimal sleep. 70 million Americans experience sleeping disorders, with the condition being persistent in about 60% of this number. Per se, a lot of such people turn to immediate-release and extended-release drugs like Ambien for rapid results without addressing the root cause of the insomnia.

Doctors recommend Ambien for no more than 12 weeks. In essence, Ambien combines with GABA to diminish specific areas of the brain cell that generate electrical activity that keeps you awake. With increased use, the degree of efficacy reduces and limited use is advised. When a dose is complete, sleeping is initially difficult but this improves with time. Increasing the dosage to improve sleep creates drug tolerance and dependence. Taking excessive quantities especially with other stimulants can produce fatal consequences.

Adverse Effects of Ambien Abuse

Side effects differ depending on the amount of drug and duration of use. The common ones include; fatigue, dizziness, headaches, nausea, impaired reasoning, ataxia, change in libido, rebound insomnia, increased appetite, increased impulsivity, euphoria, among others. If taken and the patient does not sleep or sleeps for a limited period, hangover effects and impaired cognitive functions such memory loss and poor judgment are imminent. Cases of sleepwalking and sleep-taking have been attributed to the hypnotic effect of prolonged use of Ambien.

Ambien addiction statistics reveal drug use of up to 10-20 times of the recommended dose. These elevated amounts stimulate the muscle-relaxing and anticonvulsant effects of Ambien, which in turn has severe consequences such as amnesia hallucinations and seizures.

Addiction is manifested as inability to sleep without the drug, mood swings, reduced performance, withdrawal syndrome, and fatigue, dizziness and poor motor coordination resulting from a depressed nervous system. Withdrawal symptoms include insomnia, cravings, anxiety, delirium, agitation, and sometimes seizures.

Ambien Addiction Treatment

Medical and psychosocial intervention is necessary due to the extent of problems created by Ambien addiction. Abrupt discontinuation is not advised. The best approach is gradual reduction of dosage over an extended period to minimize withdrawal effects and smoothen the recovery process. Alternatively, a steady switch to a benzodiazepine substitute followed by gradual dose reduction is also very effective. Flumazenil is recommended for rapid detoxification but only under medical supervision. However care should be taken because it has been known to produce seizures and other detriments.

About 20% to 50% of people experience insomnia in any given year, and the solution is not over-the-counter prescriptions. Understanding, evaluating and treating the causes of sleep disorder will reduce soaring Ambien addiction statistics, ensure restful sleep and produce long-term success with no side effects.


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