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During sleep, the body might seem relaxed, but a remarkable amount of work is underway. Cuts and scrapes are being knitted together, memories are being solidified and food is being digested. Sleep is, in short, vital for health. But even though it’s vital, it doesn’t come easily to all people. In fact, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about 70 million Americans have chronic sleep disorders. In order to get help for these sleep troubles, many people turn to the prescription Ambien (also known by the generic name zolpidem).
When Ambien was first introduced, doctors believed that it had a low risk of abuse potential. Now, researchers know that Ambien is, in fact, addictive. The medication can cause persistent changes in the brain that can drive the user to seek out the medication, even though he or she may know that the drug is causing harm. An Ambien rehabilitation program can put an end to this compulsive use. Here, the addict will learn a wide variety of techniques he or she can put into use, right away, to keep an addiction from growing stronger and taking over.
Many people who abuse prescription medications like Ambien believe that they can stop taking the medication on their own, without any sort of formal treatment program, and they won’t face any serious consequences as a result. Unfortunately, this is not the case when it comes to Ambien addiction. People who stop taking the medication can face serious consequences, according to an article published by the U.S. National Library of Medicine, including:
- Vomiting, nausea or stomach cramping
- Sweating and flushing
- Panic attack
People who try to stop taking the medication on their own, without any form of medical oversight, face the risk of dying due to their withdrawal symptoms. It’s essential to go through this process with the help of a medical team, who can intervene if a serious side effect begins to develop.
In addition, many people who become addicted to Ambien also struggle with addictions to other drugs or alcohol. In fact, a study published in the French journal Encephale found that 50 percent of people who are addicted to Ambien are also addicted to other drugs, or they have been addicted to other drugs in the recent past. All forms of drug abuse are not the same, and some addictions require medications in order for the addict to truly heal. For example, people who abuse Ambien and heroin may need to take medications for the rest of their lives in order to reduce heroin cravings and keep withdrawal side effects from occurring. People who stop taking Ambien on their own but don’t address their other addiction may see that secondary addiction increase in severity.
In addition, recovering from an addiction means looking for the original source that led the person to abuse the substance. For some people, this means exposing childhood abuse or trauma, and dealing with those feelings. For others, this means looking at the family dynamics and eliminating sources of stress that originate there. This is an intense amount of work, and often, it’s not the sort of work an addict can do alone.
Finding a Treatment Program
There are many different treatment options for Ambien addiction. Some programs provide full-service care, accepting the addict and nurturing the addict through the detoxification and rehabilitation process while the addict lives on the grounds and has access to care 24 hours per day. This is the sort of care we provide at Axis, and we’ve seen the value of this sort of care on a firsthand basis.
The National Institute on Drug Abuse suggests that people searching for addiction treatment ask the providers the following questions:
- Are the methods you use backed by scientific evidence? This question can help people to steer clear of programs that are based on opinion or myth, rather than documented proof.
- How do you tailor the program to meet an individual’s needs? There is no one-size-fits-all approach to Ambien recovery, so the program should have the ability to change and adapt, based on the needs of the patient.
- How long do you provide care? Addiction recovery can take months or even years. Programs should also provide the capacity to help the addict throughout this lengthy process.
- How do group meetings fit into your program? Participating in Narcotics Anonymous or SMART Recovery can help addicts stay sober for a lengthy period of time.
It’s important to allow the addict to have a say in this process. It might be easy for family members to impose a form of treatment on the addict, making the choice for the person, but this could do more harm than good. The addict is in the process of taking control of his or her life, and that means making his or her own decisions. This process can begin as the addict is allowed to help choose the recovery program he or she participates in.
In most cases, by the time a person enters a formal rehabilitation program, he or she is no longer using Ambien or any other drugs, and the withdrawal process is complete. There are some people, however, who may still be in the process of weaning away from Ambien when they enter rehabilitation programs. According to an article published on Medscape, some people taper away from Ambien quite slowly, taking a bit less each day, while others transition to all new medications and then they taper off those drugs. This tapering can take time, and the process may not be complete when rehabilitation begins.
In addition, some people who enter Ambien rehabilitation programs who are abusing other medications like heroin may need to take replacement medications, such as methadone, for months or longer. Heroin and other opiates cause severe damage to the body’s systems, and sometimes, replacement therapies are the best ways to provide relief. This is, again, a decision made between the addict and the addict’s doctor, depending on the addict’s history.
In private meetings between the addict and a trained counselor, real healing begins to take hold. Here, the addict can learn how to change his or her behavior and make addiction problems less likely. An Ambien addict might spend a significant amount of time talking about why he or she began abusing the drug in the first place. The addict might say, “I can’t sleep without Ambien. My heart races, and my mind won’t slow down.” The therapist might then ask the addict to think about a calming moment, or a soothing scene, and then observe how their heart rate begins to slow. The addict might transition from using drugs to relax to using meditation to relax. In other words, the addict learns the power of the mind in changing behavior. This approach has been found to be beneficial in addiction treatment, but it’s also been found to be effective in sleep disorders. For example, a study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association found that 54 percent of people studied slept better when given this form of therapy.
Other addicts may benefit from larger sessions that include the addict’s family. In these sessions, the group learns how to communicate effectively, and they work together to resolve past problems that have resulted in lasting grievances or aggression.
Many addiction programs include some sort of support group. People addicted to Ambien may participate in Narcotics Anonymous meetings, for example, where they work with a sponsor and learn to manage their addictions through the intercession of a higher power. Some people may find this approach slightly too religious, however, and they may not find affiliation with these groups to be helpful. For these addicts, participating in the SMART Recovery program might be more beneficial. This program attempts to encourage the addict to take responsibility for his or her own addiction, and control it through self-empowerment and self-reliance.
Studies have attempted to determine which method is most effective, and many have come up with contradictory results. For example, a study published in the American Journal of Drug and Alcohol Abuse found that 12-step groups work best for some addicts, while SMART Recovery worked best for other addicts. In the end, the researchers suggest that participating in any sort of meeting, as long as it’s done on a habitual and regular basis, can be helpful. Addicts are more likely to attend meetings where they feel comfortable; therefore, it pays to find a meeting an addict can identify with and is motivated to attend. Often, therapists can help addicts find just the right sort of meeting.
Get Help Today
Here at Axis, we offer treatment and guidance to those struggling with an addiction to Ambien. Contact us today for more information on our offerings. We are here to help.