Ambien (zolpidem tartrate) is prescribed as a short-term treatment for insomnia.
It was designed to offer the same benefits of benzodiazepine drugs — but less addictive.
Although not as addictive as benzos like Xanax, Ambien is still an addictive prescription drug with long-term negative side effects associated with its use.
Most Ambien addictions begin with short-term insomnia. Periods of high-stress at work, loss of a friend or family member, or financial crisis often lead people to seek medical help for sleeping problems.
It isn’t a problem in the beginning but after a few weeks, users often find they need more of the drug to get the effects they want. Instead of one tablet, they start taking two before bed, then three and so on.
This creates habits around Ambien use, prompting people to take it every night without too much thought.
After a couple of weeks of daily Ambien use the problem shifts. They find that they need the Ambien to be able to fall asleep at all. Their insomnia becomes worse than it was before starting Ambien.
The drug affects the brain in other ways as well, lowering symptoms of anxiety or hyperstimulation. Just as it does with insomnia, users often find their symptoms of anxiety worsen with long-term use of the drug, prompting them to start taking the medication throughout the day just to prevent the impending anxiety and panic attacks as the drug wears off.
More severe problems like lapses in memory, strange behavior and sleepwalking while asleep, and excessive daytime sleepiness are common side-effects with Ambien addiction.