Can You Overdose on Ambien?

Can You Overdose on Ambien? | Recovery By The Sea

Can You Overdose on Ambien? – Ambien (zolpidem) is a prescription sedative and hypnotic. It is commonly used to treat insomnia and other sleep disorders. Ambien helps put the person’s brain into an “in-between” waking and sleeping state sometimes referred to as the hypnogogic state—people who experience sleep disorders, such as insomnia, have difficulty getting to this state.

Some people have reported engaging in hazardous activities after using Ambien, such as sleepwalking and sleep-driving, which have led to accidental deaths. Beyond the potential for a sleep-related injury, another possible consequence of Ambien use is an overdose. Because it is a depressant, Ambien overdoses can occur when the drug is misused at high doses.

Can You Overdose on Ambien?

Whenever powerful sedatives are involved, there is always a risk of dangerous health complications, and Ambien is no exception to this rule. That said, it requires a very high amount of Ambien to result in death. Ambien acts rapidly and remains effective for just a few hours, meaning that very high amounts are needed in a short amount of time to be lethal.

How Many Ambien to Cause Overdose?

Medically prescribed Ambien doses start in the 5–10 mg range. When a patient passes this recommended amount, the potential for adverse consequences increases exponentially.

Recreational users have reported taking doses of 400–600 mg, which will very likely result in an overdose, although not necessarily death. Experts estimate that a fatal amount of Ambien is approximately 2,000 mg. Of note, however, harmful outcomes can occur far before this amount has been reached.

At 2,000 mg, a person would have to consume 200 pills at 10 mg each—so how is overdose possible unless it’s entirely intentional? Well, other unsafe practices regarding drug use can amplify the risk of an overdose, such as tampering with Ambien and taking it in non-directed, abusive ways such as chewing, snorting, or injecting it. In fact, this type of tapering invalidates any innate safeguards, as this rapid-release drug enters the bloodstream abruptly and immediately.

Overdoses are also more likely to occur when Ambien is used in conjunction with other drugs, particularly sedatives, painkillers, or alcohol. Ambien and alcohol is an especially dangerous and, unfortunately, common combination, as is discussed later in this article.

Ambien Overdose Symptoms

Can You Overdose on Ambien? | Recovery By The Sea

Ambien overdose symptoms include:

  • Slurred speech
  • Extreme drowsiness
  • Inability to awaken
  • Confusion
  • Irrational thoughts
  • Abnormal breathing
  • Respiratory arrest
  • Coma
  • Death

If someone you know appears to be overdosing on Ambien, call 911 immediately.

Ambien Overdose Treatment

In the case of an overdose on Ambien, doctors may administer an antidote called flumazenil to counteract the person’s sedation. If necessary, medical personnel may also choose to remove Ambien from the stomach entirely, but this procedure is typically only necessary in the most severe overdose situations.

Dangers of Mixing Alcohol and Ambien

Because of the potency of this medication and its potential for chronic abuse, Ambien prescriptions are often limited to 1-2 weeks. During that time, health providers will carefully monitor patients for signs of abuse or addiction. If a person takes Ambien for more than two weeks, tolerance can develop, and it may no longer be effective at the usual prescribed dose.

As noted, many intoxicating substances can interact with Ambien in hazardous ways, and among the most commonly abused is alcohol. Excessive alcohol consumption on its own can lead to severe side effects, but when Ambien and alcohol are consumed together, many of the more dangerous side effects of either substance are enhanced. This pronounced effect occurs because Ambien binds to GABA receptors in the brain, acting to reduce activity in the central nervous system, just like alcohol.

Side Effects of Combining Alcohol and Ambien

When used together, Ambien and alcohol can compound each other’s intoxicating effects, and result in the following:

  • Dizziness
  • Confusion
  • Impaired cognition
  • Impaired coordination
  • Impaired judgment
  • Sleepiness/drowsiness
  • Sleepwalking
  • Depressed breathing
  • Sleep apnea

According to research, people who combined alcohol and Ambien are more than two times as likely to require intensive care compared to those who took Ambien but did not consume alcohol.

Ambien use alone can result in side effects. For this reason, it is not recommended for people with Ambien prescriptions to use this medication unless they are able to get at least 7-8 hours of sleep, which helps relieve some of the next-day aftereffects, such as fatigue. It can be very dangerous for people on Ambien, especially those who have just taken Ambien or who did not get enough rest, to operate motor vehicles or heavy machinery.

These effects are all amplified when a person consumes alcohol and takes Ambien. This combination also increases the risk of an Ambien overdose, and dangerous side effects are more likely to occur when these two substances are used in conjunction.

Behavioral Side Effects of Mixing Ambien and Alcohol

Can You Overdose on Ambien? | Recovery By The Sea

Any time multiple intoxicating substances are combined in the system, severe and dangerous side effects can occur. Somnambulance, or sleepwalking, is one of the most dangerous yet common side effects of consuming alcohol and Ambien together. One study that examined the effects of drugs like zolpidem on driving found that, when alcohol and Ambien were combined, the potential for parasomnia, or performing tasks while asleep, was significantly increased.

The risk of sleepwalking, sleep-eating, and engagement in other somnambulistic activities increases even when small amounts of alcohol are consumed with Ambien. Ambien and alcohol both result in mental and physical impairment, and more than half of emergency department visits involving zolpidem involve other drugs, especially alcohol.

According to the Drug Abuse Warning Network (DAWN), in 2010, around 57% of ER visits and hospitalizations related to using too much Ambien also involved other substances. Ambien combined with alcohol accounted for 14% of those visits (2,851 total). Also, consuming alcohol with Ambien increased the person’s likelihood of requiring transfer to an intensive care unit due to overdose.

Getting Professional Help

It is vital that people who are using Ambien and consuming alcohol report this behavior to their doctor. Drinking alcohol with Ambien, even a few hours apart, is hazardous and can result in serious, even life-threatening complications.

When used long-term, a person can become dependent on Ambien and tolerance can develop, meaning that they will need increasing amounts of the medication in order for it to be effective. Those who abuse alcohol may also be more likely to abuse other substances, even drugs as relatively benign as Ambien. These factors, when combined, dramatically increases the risk that a person will suffer severe health consequences and possibly place themselves and others in grave danger.

It is crucial that people in this situation seek professional help as soon as possible. Recovery By The Sea specializes in treatment for abuse, dependence, and addiction to drugs and alcohol. Our programs are based on a comprehensive approach to addiction recovery and mental health and include clinically-proven services such as behavioral therapy, peer support, counseling, medication-assisted therapy, aftercare planning, and much more.

We employ skilled, caring addiction specialists who facilitate our services and provide education and support to those who need them the most. If you or someone you love is struggling with drug dependence or alcoholism, contact us today. Find out how we help people break free from the cycle of substance abuse for life!

The GHB Drug: Is it Addictive?

GHB Drug: Is it Addictive? | Recovery by the Sea Addiction Treatment

GHB Drug: Is it Addictive? – GHB (gamma-hydroxybutyrate, C4H803) is a substance best recognized in the media as a “date rape” or “club” drug. It is a central nervous system (CNS) depressant most commonly abused by teens and young adults at bars, clubs, parties, and raves. GHB is sometimes placed in alcoholic beverages, often when the drinker is unaware of its presence.

Of note, Xyrem (sodium oxybate, or sodium salt of gamma hydroxybutyrate) is a brand name prescription drug that is approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for the treatment of narcolepsy. It is therefore tightly controlled drug in the U.S. and requires patient enrollment in a restricted access program.

GHB Drug Effects

The chemical gamma-hydroxybutyrate is produced naturally by the body when food is broken down in the stomach. When abused as a drug, euphoria, increased libido, and relaxation are some reported positive effects of GHB abuse. Adverse effects may include sweating, loss of consciousness, nausea and vomiting, hallucinations, amnesia, and coma.

Some people report that in small doses, GHB has effects similar to those of stimulants. But as a depressant, and in a high enough dose, it produces a state of relaxation or drowsiness that can also result in impaired coordination, slurred speech, and unconsciousness. These effects are compounded when combined with alcohol and can onset within minutes, therefore making GHB popular as a “date-rape” drug.

There has been significant debate on the safety of recreational GHB use. Many users state that when used in small doses and not used in conjunction with other drugs, it is relatively safe and not addictive. However, recent reports from new studies have revealed that it is indeed addictive and discontinuation can produce unpleasant withdrawal symptoms.

Dangers of GHB Drug

Despite anecdotal evidence from users saying GHB is safe on its own, there have been reported cases of users experiencing overdose when the drug is repeatedly consumed in high doses. These symptoms include:

  • Vomiting
  • Sweating
  • Shallow breathing
  • Confusion
  • Agitation
  • Hallucinations
  • Seizures
  • Blackouts and unconsciousness

How Is GHB Used as a Date Rape Drug?

GHB is commonly available as an odorless, colorless substance that may be mixed with alcohol and given to unsuspecting victims in preparation for a sexual assault. Victims become incapacitated due to GHB’s highly sedative effects and are thus unable to fight against a would-be attacker. GHB may also induce amnesia, and therefore result in the victim remembering little or nothing of the experience.

GHB can be purchased on the streets or over the Internet in liquid form or as a white powdered material for illegal use. Most of the GHB found on the streets or over the Internet is produced in illicit labs, and therefore less likely to be a product of prescription GHB drug diversion.

GHB Drug Addiction

GHB Drug: Is it Addictive? | Recovery by the Sea Addiction Treatment

Despite the claims of many users, GHB does have the potential for dependence and addiction. When someone starts using it for recreational purposes, eventually they may develop a tolerance and require a higher dose to feel the same level of the desired effects. Considering how potent this depressant is, however, even one extra dose can cause an overdose that may be life-threatening.

Because GHB is metabolized rapidly, if someone who is addicted skips even one dose, withdrawal symptoms can onset within just a few hours. Sweating, anxiety, panic attacks, increased heart rate, and high blood pressure are the first indicators that a person is experiencing GHB withdrawal.

These first symptoms will subside after 2-3 days, but if the person abused GHB in large doses for a prolonged time, they might encounter another stage of withdrawal that includes an altered mental state, sleep disturbances, and hallucinations. These symptoms can be very similar to delirium tremens, a life-threatening condition associated with long-term alcohol abuse that includes seizures, psychosis, and tremors or uncontrollable shaking.

As this stage subsides, cravings, mood changes, exhaustion, and anxiety may persist for a few days more.

Treatment for GHB Drug Addiction

Although it is improbable that a person will become addicted to GHB after one or two doses, repeated exposure can develop into dependence and result in withdrawal symptoms upon discontinuation. For this reason, persons abusing GHB should seek treatment as soon as possible.

Our center offers integrated, evidence-based treatment programs for persons struggling with substance abuse or addiction. Our programs, which include psychotherapy, counseling, and group support, are delivered by skilled, compassionate health professionals with years of experience in the field of addiction and mental health.

You can be free from the devastating effects of alcohol or drug addiction, and you can receive the help you deserve! We provide you with the tools you so desperately need to regain your happiness and enjoy long-term wellness!

Contact us today to find out how we can help you or your loved one recover and once again begin to experience a fulfilling life!

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