What is Ambien and why is it abused? Ambien is the brand name for a sedative medication that is used as a short term treatment for insomnia. The medication is designed to help insomniacs feel calm, relaxed and very sleepy. It works by slowing brain activity which results in feelings of intense relaxation and sleepiness. Because these effects can be perceived as very pleasurable, it leads some individuals to abuse Ambien.
Who Misuses Ambien?
Ambien seems to be more problematic for individuals with a history of substance abuse. A study published in the British Journal of Clinical Pharmacology states that 43% of participants who displayed patterns of Ambien addiction had struggled with past substance abuse. It is not immediately clear why this is so, but it is definitely a cause for concern.
Women also appear to be more susceptible to Ambien abuse. Women used to make up nearly 70% of individuals visiting hospital emergency departments, until the FDA lowered the recommended dose for women from 10 mg to 5 mg.
Since Ambien is used to treat insomnia, it is important to look at how insomnia might develop. It could be a reaction due to a major form of stress, such as:
- The death of a loved one
- Conflict with a family member
- Loss of a job
- Withdrawal from alcohol or drugs
Individuals suffering from these types of stresses may turn to Ambien abuse, as it has relaxing, sleep inducing effects, and is able to provide relief from long nights of sleeplessness.
Generally, Ambien is prescribed for short term relief. However, some users find its effects very enjoyable, and that leads to them taking increasing doses. As the body and brain start getting used to higher amounts, the individual starts craving the drug, even when they don’t need it. This is known as dependency. Ambien abusers are at a very high risk for dependency. From there it is a short step to addiction, as the individual becomes preoccupied with acquiring and taking Ambien.
Self Test for Ambien Abuse
Substance addiction is defined as a particular set of behaviors surrounding the substance and its use. A simple self test will show the individual whether or not they are addicted:
- Taking much higher doses of Ambien than prescribed.
- Taking Ambien during the day.
- Using the drug for recreation.
- Consulting different doctors for more prescriptions.
- Stealing Ambien
- Panic attacks when unable to use the drug
- Inability to quit, despite many attempts to do so.
If an individual recognizes any of these behaviors, then it is likely they are addicted and should seek professional help.
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