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Sleeping Pills


Ambien, the popular sleep-inducer, has received some notoriety for the odd effects it can have on users, but what danger does it pose?

What Is Ambien?

Ambien is a brand name for Zolpidem, a drug that is typically used to treat symptoms of insomnia. A Schedule IV drug, it is determined to pose a comparatively low risk of addiction. However, as one can find in the news, there is a lot of coverage going into the adverse effects to using sleep-inducers. Even when people have taken it as instructed, a drug categorized as a “sedative-hypnotic,” they have performed odd activities and had no memory of it the next day.

It’s like having that last drink at the bar when you know you should go home — I’d fight the pill’s effects and stay up, often telling my friends insane things like how to turn the light in the room into energy, or how paintings of forest scenes on their walls were actually drawings of mermaids bathing themselves in blood.

The Disturbing Side Effect Of Ambien, The No. 1 Prescription Sleep Aid by Allison McCabe

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Effects Of Ambien

Ambien is an aid to combat insomnia and other sleep disorders. Ambien works by activating the neurotransmitter GABA and binding it to the GABA receptors, inhibiting the neuron activity that is associated with insomnia.
In other words, it slows down brain activity resulting in calmness, relaxation and sedation.
This decreases the onset sleep latency, or the time it takes someone to fall asleep. However, this doesn’t necessarily keep one asleep. There are extended release versions for that. Ambien must be used immediately before laying down for bed.

People have reported using Ambien and waking up the next morning impaired. The manufacturer, Sanofi, has even warned against driving or operating machinery early in the morning after using Ambien the night before. Some have reported getting up in the middle of the night and committing acts they wouldn’t normally do, such as driving, assaulting others, having sex, and drinking. In the past 20 years, more and more cases have come up in court that have been dismissed because the defendant was taking Ambien at the time. Even when used as instructed and Ambien performs correctly, there are many potential side-effects. The long list of reported side effects generally fall into four categories:

  • CNS-depressant effects and next-day impairment
  • Serious anaphylactic and anaphylactoid reactions
  • Abnormal thinking and behavior changes, and complex behaviors
  • Withdrawal effects

These effects can be as benign as a rash or as severe as sleep-driving. That is why it is important to take Ambien, and sedative-hypnotics in general, exactly as instructed. If you begin to notice that your possessions are misplaced, or there are gaps in your memory, reach out to a doctor immediately to adjust your prescription.

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How Many People Take Ambien?


There are about 70 million people in the US who have been diagnosed with some kind of sleep disorder.


There were close to 40 million prescriptions for Ambien, or Zolpidem, dispensed in 2011.

Ambien Addiction

Despite Ambien’s low Schedule by the DEA, many users have found the drug to be addictive. This usually comes on when someone has been taking it for a long time and can no longer fall asleep without it. In other cases, people will purposefully take it and fight to stay awake. The “high” experience is usually short-lived however, as the person will fall into a state where their memory is impaired. People can begin to overcome Ambien addiction by undergoing Ambien detox at a recovery center.

She continued taking the pill and staying awake regularly until one morning she woke up with two black eyes and a cut across her nose. Her pillows were bloody, and there was a stranger, naked and wrapped in a rug, on her floor. Neither she nor the stranger had any recollection of the events of the previous night.

Allison McCabe
The Disturbing Side Effect Of Ambien, The No. 1 Prescription Sleep Aid

Treatment For Ambien Addiction

Despite Ambien being safer than other depressants, such as Benzodiazepines, it is still highly addictive and can be extraordinarily dangerous when mixed with alcohol or other drugs. If you notice someone you know mix their medication, no matter what it is, then it could be a sign they are dealing with an addiction.

The person suffering from addiction won’t just hurt themselves but also innocent people near them. People using Ambien have assaulted and accidentally killed other people. If you believe that you or someone you know are addicted to it, or any other Zolpidem-based drug, don’t hesitate to reach out for help. There are dedicated treatment providers waiting to help you make the next steps. It just takes one call.

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