Is Ambien Addictive?: Signs, Symptoms, & Treatment

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If you or a loved one are struggling with using Ambien, you may be asking, “is Ambien addictive?”.

Ambien, a branded form of zolpidem, is a prescription medication classified as a sedative-hypnotic and informally known as a z-drug. Ambien enhances inhibitory brain activity and is mainly prescribed to help individuals with insomnia achieve restful sleep.

You might be wondering “Is Ambien addictive” if you have been prescribed this z-drug. Z-drugs like Ambien were initially marketed as a safer alternative to benzodiazepines, with purportedly lower risks of addiction and tolerance. Regrettably, recent research suggests that these claims were underestimated. There are also significant health concerns associated with prolonged Ambien use, including potential respiratory issues, reflux, and infections.

Ambien affects the brain similarly to benzodiazepines, but it tends to cause less grogginess the following day and has a slightly lower likelihood of leading to dependence.

This guide to Ambien addiction explores the following key issues:

  • Can you get addicted to Ambien?
  • How long can I take Ambien before I get addicted?
  • How addictive is Ambien?
  • Why is Ambien so addictive?
  • Ambien addiction and withdrawal: what is the safest and most effective treatment?
  • What are the main Ambien addiction side effects?
  • Addicted to Ambien – now what? How to connect with Ambien addiction treatment in Cincinnati, Ohio.
an image of a person thinking about ambien addiction

Ambien Addiction Signs

Ambien addiction risk is greater than initially believed. Addiction to Ambien side effects

may include aggression, anxiety, depression, memory lapses, drowsiness, impaired driving, lack of coordination, nightmares, slowed reaction time, and even suicidal thoughts.

Ambien addiction symptoms may include any or all of the following:

  • Increased tolerance: Individuals addicted to Ambien may develop a tolerance to the drug over time. This means that they require higher doses to achieve the same effects they once experienced with lower doses.
  • Withdrawal symptoms: When attempting to reduce or stop Ambien use, Ambien addiction withdrawal symptoms may present. Symptoms include rebound insomnia, anxiety, irritability, sweating, nausea, and tremors.
  • Compulsive use: Those struggling with Ambien addiction may find it challenging to control their usage and may feel compelled to take the drug even when it’s not necessary for sleep.
  • Continued use despite harm: Despite experiencing negative consequences in their personal, professional, or health-related aspects of life, individuals addicted to Ambien may persist in its use.
  • Doctor shopping: Those grappling with Ambien addiction may visit different doctors to obtain multiple prescriptions for Ambien to ensure a steady supply of the medication.
  • Neglecting responsibilities: Ambien addiction can lead to neglecting daily responsibilities, such as work, school, or family obligations, due to the effects of the drug.
  • Social isolation: Individuals with addictions often withdraw from social activities, family gatherings, and hobbies they once enjoyed.
  • Changes in behavior: Ambien addiction can lead to uncharacteristic changes in behavior, including mood swings, irritability, and secrecy.
  • Financial issues: Addiction to Ambien may cause financial strain as individuals spend significant amounts of money to maintain their supply of Ambien.
  • Failed attempts to quit: Despite recognizing the negative impact of Ambien addiction, those with addictions may repeatedly try and fail to quit using the drug.

Ambien Addiction Withdrawals

If you have been using Ambien in high doses or for an extended period, the withdrawal symptoms you may experience can be more severe. These symptoms can manifest within 48 hours of reducing or discontinuing Ambien use and may include:

  • Agitation
  • Anxiety attacks
  • Panic attacks
  • Delirium
  • Disorientation
  • Hallucinations
  • Increased blood pressure and pulse
  • High body temperature
  • Sweating
  • Fatigue
  • Insomnia
  • Irritability
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Restlessness
  • Seizures
  • Stomach cramps
  • Abdominal discomfort
  • Tremors

Abusing z-drugs like Ambien can be dangerous. Seeking professional help and support will streamline the withdrawal process. Medically managed withdrawal, also known as medical detox, is almost always recommended for safely reducing Ambien use under the supervision of trained medical staff. A supervised Ambien detox will mitigate uncomfortable and potentially life-threatening complications during z-drug withdrawal. During medical detox, staff at a treatment or detox facility can provide medications and continuous monitoring to ensure your safety.

Treatment for Ambien Addiction

Overcoming Ambien addiction requires a comprehensive treatment approach that addresses both the physical and psychological aspects of addiction. 

A supervised medical detox helps stabilize the individual and prepares them for further treatment in an inpatient or outpatient setting. Behavioral therapies like CBT (cognitive behavioral therapy) and CM (contingency management) can help address the psychological components of Ambien addiction. CBT helps individuals identify and change negative thought patterns and behaviors that contribute to drug use. Contingency management provides positive reinforcement for sobriety and encourages adherence to the treatment plan.

Individual counseling sessions with a licensed therapist or counselor provide a safe space for exploring personal triggers for Ambien use, developing coping strategies, and setting achievable recovery goals. 

Group therapy allows those in recovery to connect with peers facing similar challenges, share experiences, and provide mutual support. Group therapy promotes a sense of belonging and helps individuals learn from each other’s successes and setbacks. Involving family members in the treatment process can also be beneficial, as it addresses family dynamics, streamlines communication, and strengthens support systems. 

In some cases, healthcare providers may prescribe medication to address co-occurring mental health disorders or to manage withdrawal symptoms during detox. That said, medications should be part of a broader treatment plan and administered only under close medical supervision.

Developing healthy habits and positive coping mechanisms, such as regular exercise, proper nutrition, mindfulness practices, and engaging in hobbies, can significantly contribute to successful recovery.

a man looks out at a lake representing Ambien addiction treatment.

Get Evidence-Based Treatment for Ambien Addiction at Ohio Recovery Centers

At Ohio Recovery Centers, we specialize in providing personalized addiction treatment programs tailored specifically for individuals struggling with Ambien addiction, as well as addictions to alcohol, prescription medications, or illicit drugs.

Our research-backed approach has shown that mild and moderate Ambien addictions respond equally well to intensive outpatient treatment as they do to residential rehab. Our outpatient treatment programs offer flexibility and affordability without compromising the level of care you receive.

You can choose from two comprehensive programs at our Cincinnati rehab:

At Ohio Recovery Centers, all our treatment programs integrate pharmacological, behavioral, and holistic therapies to ensure a well-rounded and effective recovery process. Our science-backed approach equips you with relapse prevention strategies, coping techniques, and ongoing therapy options if needed, to support your long-term recovery.

If you or someone you know is struggling with Ambien addiction, contact our admissions team today at 877-679-2132 for immediate assistance. We are here to help you take the first step towards a healthier and addiction-free life.

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Joseph Gilmore

Joseph Gilmore has been working in the addiction industry for half a decade and has been writing about addiction and substance abuse treatment during that time. He has experience working for facilities all across the country. Connect with Joe on LinkedIn.
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Christopher Glover CDCA

My name is Christopher Glover, and I am from Cincinnati, Ohio. I am currently in school and working to grow in competence to better support our community. As a recovering individual I know the struggles that you or a loved one can go through and that there is help for anything you may be struggling with.

The hardest part is asking for help and we are here as a team to best support you and your decision to start your journey towards a better future. Connect with Chris on LinkedIn

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Amanda Kuchenberg PRS CDCA

I recently joined Ohio Community Health Recovery Centers as a Clinical Case Manager. I am originally from Wisconsin but settled in the Cincinnati area in my early 20s.  My career started in the fashion industry but quickly changed as I searched to find my drive and passion through helping others who struggle with addiction. 

As someone who is also in recovery, I wanted to provide hope, share lived experience, and support others on their journey.  I currently have my Peer Recovery Support Supervision Certification along with my CDCA and plan to continue my education with University of Cincinnati so I can continue to aid in the battle against substance addiction. Connect with Amanda on LinkedIn.

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Patrick McCamley LCDC III

 Patrick McCamley (Clinical Therapist) is a Cincinnati native who has worked in substance use disorder/co-occurring mental health disorder treatment since 2019. Patrick received his bachelors degree in psychology from University of Cincinnati in 2021 and received his LCDC III (Licensed Chemical Dependency Counselor) license from the Ohio Chemical Dependency Professionals Board in 2022. Patrick has worked in Clinical Operations, Clinical Case Management, and Clinical Therapy throughout his career.

Patrick has tremendous empathy and compassion for the recovery community, being in recovery himself since 2018. Patrick is uniquely qualified to be helpful because of the specific combination of his academic background and his own experience in recovery.

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Bill Zimmerman CDCA

Bill Zimmerman is a Greater Cincinnati Area native who has worked in substance use disorder/co-occurring mental health disorder treatment since 2018. Bill received his (Chemical Dependency Counselor Assistant) license from the Ohio Chemical Dependency Professionals Board in 2020.

Bill has worked in Clinical Operations in both support and supervision, and Program facilitating and 12 step recovery support during his career. Bill has a passion for the recovery community, having been in recovery himself since 1982. Connect with Bill on LinkedIn

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Taylor Lilley CDCA, PRS

Growing up in Louisiana with addiction running rampant on both sides of my family. A life away from drugs and alcohol seemed impossible for someone like me. I remember what it was like sitting across from someone thinking there is no way they could ever understand what I was going through.

Sharing my experience offers a credibility and a certain type of trust with clients that only someone who has walked down this road can illustrate. To immerse myself further into the field of addiction, I am currently studying at Cincinnati State for Human and Social Services.  I hope I never forget where I came from, if I can do it, so can you!

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Thomas Hunter LSW

Hello my name is Thomas Hunter. I was born and raised in Cincinnati, Ohio. I am a licensed social worker.In my scope of practice I have worked in the areas of mental health and recovery for thirty years. The clients I have worked with in my career have ranged in age from seven to seventy.

I strive each day to serve my purpose of helping those in need and I believe I do so by utilizing all of my experiences to accomplish my goal of supporting those who desire to establish their sobriety and maintain it in their recovery. Connect with Thomas on LinkedIn.

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Mary D.Porter,LICDC

 My name is Mary D. Porter. I received my Masters of Social Work in 2008 from The University of Cincinnati. I received My Licensed Independent Chemical Dependency Counselor Licensure in 2001. I retired from The Department of Veteran Affairs Medical Center on April 14, 2014. Currently, I am the Associate Clinical Director for The Ohio Community Health Recovery Centers in Cincinnati.. Due to the fourth wave of the Opioid Epidemic in 2019,  I decided to enter back into the workforce to assist the addicted population.

The overdoses were astounding and I wanted to help.  I consider myself  to be an advocate for the addicted population. My compassion, resilience, empathy, wisdom, knowledge, experience and  love I have for this forgotten population goes beyond words. I consider what I do for the addicted population as a calling versus a “career,” because I too was once an “addict and alcoholic.” Today I am 45.5 years alcohol and substance free.

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Ben Lemmon LCDC III

Hello, my name is Ben Lemmon, and I’m the Vice President and Clinical Director at Ohio Community Health Recovery Centers. I’ve been working in the addiction and mental health field since 2013 and decided to enter the field after overcoming my own challenges with addiction.

When I first meet a client, I always explain to them that the reason we are meeting is because they are not capable of obtaining or maintaining sobriety, and my goal is to create a person that can maintain sobriety. I believe a person’s personality is made up of their thoughts, feelings and actions and my job is to help clients identify the thoughts, feelings and actions that have them disconnected from recovery and provide them with the tools to live a healthy and happy life. Connect with Ben on LinkedIn