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How Long Does It Take to Detox?

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DetoxAmbien detox is both a physical and psychological process. As you withdraw from the physical effects of this hypnotic drug, you will also need to learn healthy ways to cope with the thoughts and feelings you’ll experience. After the drug leaves your body, you’ll require a lot of support from friends, family and addiction counselors as you continue on the path to recovery. 

The length of time that it takes to detox from Ambien depends on the individual. A casual recreational user might go through detox in two to four weeks, while a heavier user may require more time. The addiction treatment specialists at a professional rehab center can develop a schedule that will allow you to stop using Ambien at a pace that’s safe and healthy for you.

Is Ambien Addictive?

Zolpidem tartrate, sold as Ambien, is classified as a Schedule IV substance by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, meaning that the potential for abuse is fairly low. In this same class are other hypnotic-sedative drugs like Ativan and Xanax, which belong to the benzodiazepine family. Ambien is not a benzodiazepine; however, the drug acts on the brain in a similar way by affecting its response to the neurotransmitter GABA, a chemical that can make you feel drowsy and tranquil.

Ambien is prescribed as a sedative for people who have trouble falling asleep. Recent research has shown that long-term nightly use of this sleep aid can increase the risk of tolerance and dependence, while using the drug on an as-needed basis reduces the risk of addiction. CNS Drugs reports that studies with over 3,000 patients in primary care settings indicate that a flexible, non-nightly schedule of Ambien use can be just as effective, if not more so, than nightly use. When Ambien is taken in high doses for recreational reasons, or when taken in inappropriate ways, the potential for addiction is much greater.

Although the potential for addiction to Ambien is supposedly low, many users have reported withdrawal symptoms when they tried to quit or reduce the dosage on their own. These symptoms, which are similar to the side effects of benzodiazepine withdrawal, can include:

  • Tremors
  • Sweating
  • Muscle spasms
  • Sleep disturbances
  • Agitation
  • Restlessness
  • Seizures

Psychological withdrawal from a sleeping pill can be just as difficult as the physical side effects. If you’ve come to depend on Ambien to fall asleep or to relax when you’re tense, giving up the drug might seem impossible. As you go through the rehab process, you’ll learn coping strategies that will help you manage stress in healthy, self-fulfilling ways.

The Path to Recovery

Ambien detox is the first step in breaking the cycle of abuse and addiction. In order to minimize the discomfort of withdrawal and avoid potentially dangerous side effects, such as seizures and convulsions, you may be weaned off the drug in gradually smaller doses. For long-term users this tapering process will require more time, with a slower dosage reduction.

General Hospital Psychiatry notes that cross-titration is sometimes prescribed to help heavy zolpidem users recover safely and comfortably. In cross-titration, the dose of zolpidem is reduced, while the dose of another drug that addresses the same symptoms is increased. The goal is to replace the drug of abuse with another medication that produces similar effects.

The experienced addiction specialists at Michael’s House are available to answer your questions about Ambien abuse and detox. Our comprehensive treatment programs can help you and your loved ones create healthy, meaningful lives. Call our toll-free number for a confidential discussion of your recovery needs with our admissions coordinators.