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The Dangers of Mixing Alcohol and Ambien

The Dangers of Mixing Alcohol and Ambien Resurgence Behavioral Health

What is Ambien?

Ambien is a prescription medication that is provided to patients who are struggling with sleep disorders or experiencing irregular sleep patterns or habits. Ambien, also known as zolpidem, works to support individuals to fall asleep and remain sleeping throughout the night. This is crucial for those individuals living with a sleep disorder such as insomnia as it may be possible for someone to fall asleep but will often find themselves waking up throughout the night and experiencing interrupted sleep schedules. Lack of sleep can be detrimental to someone’s overall health and wellbeing causing difficulties within a person’s mental health functioning and physical capabilities as it impacts your energy levels and immune system. Ambien, when used appropriately, can provide individuals with a proper night’s rest and improve their overall physical, emotional, and mental wellbeing and health. For those seeking support with sleep disorders as part of a comprehensive recovery plan, the alcohol rehab center Costa Mesa offers tailored treatment options.

Ambien works by targeting your gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) by increasing the levels of GABA which works to slow the brain’s activity along with decreasing the activity within the central nervous system which helps to provide a quick release and effect on increasing sleep habits. Ambien is not intended to be a long-term solution for treating your sleep disorders as there has been research that has shown that frequent daily use of Ambien over a long period of time can increase a person’s mortality rate. Patients should take Ambien for only a period of 2-3 weeks and work with their physician and counselor to develop a long-term solution in addressing their sleep disturbances or sleep disorders. 

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Sleep disorders such as insomnia are developed for various reasons whether it be due to physical illness, specific lifestyle habits that impact your ability to sleep such as caffeine use, substance abuse, or nighttime routines, or underlying mental health concerns such as anxiety, depression, or PTSD that impact your ability to relax and settle before bed due to a racing mind and thoughts. To overcome your insomnia or sleep disturbances, it will require more than medication as engaging in cognitive behavioral therapy where you can address the emotions, thoughts, and underlying causes of your sleep disorder while learning new methods of managing those triggers and developing a healthy sleep hygiene regime. 

Is it Safe to Mix Ambien and Alcohol?

It is usually recommended that individuals not mix prescription medication with alcohol to ensure their overall physical and emotional safety. Ambien is no different as it can have significant impacts and dangerous consequences on a person’s physical health and cognitive capabilities. In worst-case scenarios, individuals that mix Ambien and alcohol could have a potential overdose resulting in death.

While many see the warning labels on the outside of the prescription bottles to avoid mixing alcohol with Ambien, it can pose the question of why individuals would risk-taking both at the same time with the potentially life-threatening risk being advertised on the bottle of Ambien. When you are in a place where you are having frequent sleepless nights due to insomnia or experiencing interrupted sleep, it impacts a person’s cognitive abilities and functioning. After your body has been in a sleep deprivation state from sleepless nights, your ability to rationally think things through or regulate your emotions becomes significantly impaired which can lead to a desperate attempt to get some relief and going to any lengths to get some much-needed rest including consuming alcohol while taking Ambien. 

Side Effects of Mixing Ambien and Alcohol

Alcohol and Ambien are both central nervous system depressants that are responsible for your breathing, heart rate, and brain’s ability to function. When you use one on its own, it can create a significant impact on your overall health and wellbeing. If you combine both alcohol and Ambien, it can create a toxic, dangerous combination with serious side effects. 

Common side effects of mixing alcohol with Ambien are:

  • Feeling dizzy 
  • Impaired motor functioning 
  • Difficulty with memory 
  • Tactile, visual, or auditory hallucinations 
  • Increased state of confusion 
  • Irregular or compromised breathing rates 
  • Disorientation 
  • Experiencing drowsiness or sleepiness 

There have been instances where individuals that have mixed Ambien and alcohol abuse and experienced sleepwalking behaviors where high-risk activities are completed including attempting to drive, walk, or engage in another performance-related task while sleeping. These situations have the potential of putting a person in harm’s way as they are not in a state of consciousness to know where and what they are engaging in. 

Ambien has the ability to remain within a person’s system for approximately 10-17 hours after you initially take the dose of medication. Depending on certain factors including your age, weight, and previous or existing health conditions including liver issues, kidney failure, or additional medication you are taking can result in Ambien staying within your system for longer. This can pose a significant risk to individuals as many may perceive that they have waited long enough for the Ambien to leave their system and are able to consume alcohol. With the Ambien remaining in your system and onset of alcohol abuse, it can result in the same potential harmful side effects. 

Is Ambien Addictive?

Yes, Ambien has the ability to become addictive to its users whether you are using it as prescribed or if you are using more than the prescribed dose. Individuals using Ambien can develop a physical dependency on this prescription drug within 2 weeks. An Ambien dependence is characterized by tolerance where the person using Ambien needs to take an increasingly larger dose to reach the same desired effect. When you attempt to stop your use of Ambien, you will feel withdrawal symptoms similar to other drug withdrawal symptoms. The longer your Ambien use progresses, the more you will develop drug cravings, experience a lack of control or ability to reduce your use of Ambien, and compulsive or high-risk behavior to maintain Ambien addiction. 

For some individuals, it may be difficult to recognize when your Ambien use has become an addiction or problem especially due to many originally using Ambien as a method to treat insomnia or sleep disturbances. While each person will exhibit unique signs or indicators that their Ambien use has progressed to addiction, these are some typical signs to be mindful of:

  • Isolating from loved ones and friends 
  • Having to refill your ambien prescription at an unusually frequent rate 
  • Needing to take a larger dose of ambien to reach the same desired effect 
  • Experiencing financial difficulties and constraints due to spending large amounts of money on ambien 
  • Engaging in risky or dangerous situations while you are under the influence of ambien and having no recollection of it 
  • Feeling intense drug withdrawal symptoms when not consuming ambien 

Signs of an Ambien Overdose

Ambien use mixed with alcohol consumption can create dangerous side effects and, in some cases, have the potential of an individual experiencing an Ambien overdose. When someone takes Ambien, it impacts the central nervous system functioning often resulting in individuals losing consciousness. It is important to know the signs of Ambien overdose so that you can provide a loved one or yourself with the help you need should you have a negative, dangerous reaction to your alcohol and Ambien use. 

Common signs of Ambien overdose are:

  • Experiencing challenges with breathing 
  • Decreased, slow heartbeat 
  • Decreased levels of consciousness or complete loss of consciousness 
  • Difficulty or inability to walk 
  • Irregular breathing either slow or fast 
  • Pale blue  fingernails, skin, or nails 
  • Coma 

If someone is experiencing an Ambien overdose, it is important to seek medical attention immediately. To reverse the effects of an overdose, a person may need to have their stomach pumped and may need support from intravenous fluids. After you are treated by a medical professional, it is important you continue to have your breathing and pulse monitored to ensure your physical safety. 

Treatment for Ambien and Alcohol Addiction

In order to treat your Ambien use mixed with alcohol, you will need to ensure that you safely stopped using Ambien and alcohol within a detox program that is medically supervised to ensure that your drug withdrawal symptoms are maintained within a safe parameter and avoid potentially dangerous side effects. Once you have successfully removed the harmful toxins of Ambien and alcohol, you will be able to address the underlying causes of your addiction while developing tools to successfully manage your sleeping disorder. In order to receive the proper amount of care for both co-occurring disorders, you will want the support of a dual diagnosis treatment program where you can have the therapeutic support of addressing your sleep disorder through behavioral therapy and holistic treatments that will provide natural healing and coping methods for managing disrupted sleep patterns to allow you to overcome the difficult symptoms of sleep disorders while at the same time addressing your addictive behaviors. Resurgence Behavioral Health offers patients a comprehensive treatment program that will be sure to assist them in developing a healthy daily routine that is free of substance use and rich ineffective sleep patterns and emotional regulation. 

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