Treatment for Ambien (Zolpidem) Addiction
Being able to quit Ambien requires treating the physical and psychological hold the drug has over the user. Withdrawal from Ambien can be very difficult, so the first step to any treatment program is nearly always a medical detox.
A physician usually creates a taper-down schedule to help the recovering addict withdraw slowly and minimize the negative side effects.
After detox, the next steps of treatment are typically inpatient rehabilitation or long-term outpatient therapies. Counseling, support groups, and networking with others all play a big part in the recovery process.
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Inpatient rehab is centered on a strict routine to help restore balance to a recovering addict’s life. Daily activities are scheduled and often include counseling, free time, support groups and other activities. The structure of inpatient treatment also helps people addicted to Ambien reestablish healthy sleeping habits since bedtime and waking up are consistent on a day-to-day basis.
Rehab creates an environment that makes it easier to quit using drugs. Many Ambien users relapse during the first days of withdrawal because they experience severe insomnia. But when they don’t have the option of taking Ambien to mask their problems, addicted people are forced to focus on treatment and sobriety.
In treatment I was surprised to find I wasn’t the only Ambien addict, not by a long shot: Some people mixed it with something more insidious — cocaine, meth or, like me, alcohol — but sleeping pills were a popular crutch.
Most inpatient rehabs also include medically assisted detox as part of their program. A good detox program is necessary to prevent dangerous withdrawal symptoms, and it also helps ease discomfort. People who check into inpatient care for an Ambien addiction have stayed between 30 and 90 days. In general, people who stay in rehab longer have better success rates. This is especially true for those trying to quit Ambien, as it usually takes several weeks to gradually reduce the user’s dose until it’s safe for them to stop taking the drug.
Inpatient care is also beneficial for those with more than one addiction. Withdrawal symptoms from a polydrug addiction can be more intense than those of Ambien withdrawal alone. The temptation to use is also often stronger for polydrug users.
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Outpatient Clinics, Ongoing Treatment and Relapse Prevention
Outpatient rehab is sometimes a better option for people with a mild to moderate Ambien addiction. Outpatient clinics are able to help addicted people taper their doses as well as provide counseling. Outpatient treatment allows people who aren’t severely addicted to Ambien the ability to maintain a job and a home life. In most cases, Ambien users attend therapy and group meetings at night, multiple times a week. A doctor in the outpatient clinic helps Ambien users step down their doses until it’s safe to stop taking the drug.
Once the detox process is complete, ongoing treatment is important for maintaining sobriety. This includes continuing to see a counselor or attending group meetings. These make a person in recovery less likely to relapse, as they have a strong support structure in place during difficult times that could tempt them to use.
Other therapies include learning new sleep habits (such as keeping your bedtime and wake time consistent from day to day), getting counseling for anxiety or other psychological concerns, and using stress-reduction techniques.
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Tips for Managing Sleep Without Ambien
Getting back on a normal, healthy sleep cycle is essential to preventing an Ambien relapse. Some ways of accomplishing this include:
Reprogramming your internal clock.
Having a consistent bedtime teaches the body’s internal clock when it is time for sleep. Eventually, people following a routine sleep schedule naturally become tired when it’s their regular bedtime.
Continuing therapy helps former Ambien addicts stay sober, but it can also help them sleep better. Insomnia is often the symptom of a deeper issue like anxiety, stress or depression, and therapy can help resolve those issues.
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There are several activities that reduce stress and make it easier to fall asleep. Meditation, daily exercise and even the occasional massage can reduce stress.
Canceling out distractions.
Having a distraction-free sleep environment also makes it easier to get to sleep. Hanging up dark curtains to block outside light, putting on a fan for ambient noise and avoiding television before bed are good ways to minimize distractions.
Avoiding caffeine, alcohol and nicotine.
Most people know caffeine and nicotine make it harder to sleep, but many don’t know alcohol also affects sleep. According to the National Sleep Foundation: “Alcohol may help you to relax and fall asleep in the short term, but it can disrupt sleep over the course of the night.”
Featured Centers Offering Treatment for Ambien Addiction
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The first step toward getting help for an Ambien addiction is determining your individual needs that should be addressed during rehabilitation. Every inpatient rehab and outpatient clinic has minor differences. Some facilities center treatment on the 12 steps, while others put a focus on cognitive behavioral therapy. You have to figure out if inpatient or outpatient treatment is best for you.
If you’re someone that is struggling with an Ambien addiction, don’t wait. There are multiple treatment options available to you. Contact a treatment provider today to learn more.
Ashish Bhatt, MD, MRO
Doctor of Addiction Medicine
Learn about Dr. Ashish Bhatt
Dr. Bhatt has been Addiction Center's Medical Content Director for more than three years, providing his expertise to ensure quality and accuracy.
Doctor of Addiction Medicine
Expert in adult and child psychiatry
Over 20 years of professional experience