Exactly HOW addictive do you think Ambien is?

  1. I recently had to terminate a long-term friendship last week due to a friend that has been on Ambien for 3 years.

    I knew she was taking it, but only until a few months ago, I didn't realize she was taking it on a daily basis and a few weeks ago, she started addiing valium to the mix.

    When the Ambien stopped working (b/c she would wake up 3 to 4 hours later and couldn't go back to sleep) she started halving the pills, and would take the other half in the middle of the night...when that stopped working she added the valium.

    She seems "addicted' to the sleep. She is always in bed asleep....she wears ear plus, turns off the ringers to the phone...I kept telling her that was dangerous (she lives by herself) b/c if a carbon monoxide or fire detector went off, no way would she hear it.

    I have never been friends with an addict and her behavior has got so bizarre (especially when she was sleep deprived) that I got tired of her emotional "snaps", and I had to terminate the friendship. I have tried everything to get her help, but she not only denies she needs help, she says, "Oh, Ambien isn't that addictive...I like sleeping!"

    Any thoughts on what others have seen in people taking this drug?
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    Joined: Feb '07; Posts: 2,560; Likes: 1,327


  3. by   CABG patch kid
    I actually just read an article in Glamour (this month's issue) about a self-proclaimed Ambien addict who had insomnia; originally just took it occasionally, then it developed into such a bad addiction she had to go to inpatient rehab to get off of it.

    Well that's too bad about your friend, I know personally how hard it can be to make a decision about distancing yourself from someone with a drug/alcohol problem: you don't want to feel you abdandoned her but at the same time there is probably not a whole lot you can personally do to help except try to get her butt to rehab. I'm sorry you are going through this, I hope your friend gets help soon :icon_hug:
  4. by   santhony44
    I've taken it myself and personally didn't consider it at all addicting. But then, I only took it on rare occasions and the one prescription probably lasted me a year or more.

    It worked so well that I would not take it unless I was home with my family; if I were traveling alone, I was afraid I wouldn't hear a smoke alarm.

    I also learned the hard way that it needs to be taken as you get into bed; I once took it and stayed up "till I got sleepy" and ended up quite drunk! Some of your friend's bizarre behavior might be due to the Ambien. I've also heard of cases of people doing things and not remembering them later.

    If your friend is only staying asleep for 3-4 hours, then she's been on it too long. I agree the mix of Ambien and Valium is dangerous and I have a hard time believing one provider is prescribing both, particularly with her having taken Ambien on a daily basis for this long.

    I'm sorry you haven't been able to help her, but if she won't admit there is a problem, there's not much you can do.
  5. by   BlueRidgeHomeRN
    just a thought--might your friend be seriously depressed?

    i only ask because sleep was my response to to a severe bout of depression. i was sleeping 18+ hours a day until i got treatment.

    any chance you can get her to a doc for a complete workup???
  6. by   Natebuckeye
    I worked as a drug rep for a couple years (2000-2001) and one of my drugs was Ambien. I don't remember the exact results of the study we marketed to doctors, but the basic idea was that Ambien was the least addictive sleep aide on the market. I remember the phrase the company wanted us to use with doctors was "wake up rested and refreshed". I wouldn't be suprised to find out it was all bunk. I could write pages on how the drug companies legally manipulated numbers in their marketing tools to make drugs look more effective or less dangerous. It is a scummy industry, but thats for another thread. I guess personally I'm just really interested to know if I was spending my day filling my MD/DO's heads full of crap.
  7. by   elkpark
    I never believe anything a drug rep tells me about any drug (heck, if a drug rep told me the sky is blue and the grass is green, I wouldn't believe her/him!) I'm not specifically accusing the reps of being liars; I realize they're just repeating what their employers tell them to say, and they're not really in a position to know, first hand, whether the info is true or not.

    I remember when the drug reps were telling us that Xanax wasn't addictive. (Honestly -- that was how Xanax was marketed when it first came out -- it was (supposedly) a big improvement over Valium because it wasn't addictive like Valium. :chuckle) I got into a big argument with a drug rep at a conference display over that -- I had just recently been bitten at work by a woman in Xanax withdrawal ...

    And there hasn't yet been a sleeping pill that doesn't produce, at least, dependence.
  8. by   dekatn
    Personally, I think any drug can become addictive, especially to someone who has that type personality.
  9. by   birdgardner
    I only took Ambien for three weeks, but its working for only 3-4 hours does not mean your friend is habituated - that happened to me the first nights I took it; I'd be wide awake at 2 am. The extended release worked for around 6 hours.

    Whether your friend puts herself at risk w/ earplugs and Ambien in her home at night is her business. The bizarre behavior and emotional snaps that you have to deal with on your time together IS your concern and if you were to address that only she might be more receptive.
  10. by   justme1972
    I appreciate all of the responses. It's the bizarre behavior and the additional of the valium that has got me the most concerned.

    She calls me alot with personal problems, and I'm the type of friend that never faults someone for that...some friends need more support than others...however, all of her problems are traced back to her sleeping too much and her behavior when on the Ambien.

    At one point, she was getting ready to lose her job...the reason? She was always late b/c she never could hear the alarm. I finally bought her one that sounded like a cow-bell that was really loud, so she could hear that through the earplugs...again, oversleeping d/t Ambien.

    She is either always not showing up or is very late b/c of oversleeping. Her "favorite" day of the week is Saturday b/c when she gets up on the morning, she literally, takes another Ambien to sleep throughout the day so she can go out that night and stay up late.

    You can never get ahold of her b/c she always has the ringer off b/c she's sleeping...and that makes communication impossible.

    She just eventually became my highest maintenance friend and so much so, I just didn't have the energy to keep it up anymore.
  11. by   beachbum3
    I'm not sure Ambien is addictive in the typical sense of addiction, however, my stepmother is an addict- but an addict to a particular feeling. She abused Ambien, Xanax and alcohol, sometimes all at once, and in more recent times always one drug or the other with alcohol at the same time. She'd take Ambien, more than her prescribed amount, then drink a bunch, stagger around and not go to bed, slurring her speech, acting ridiculous, going into rages over nothing, was constantly in a state of paranoia, the whole bit, until she just passed out. She liked the feeling of depressants, it didn't matter how she got them. Her father is an MD and she would just call him and he'd prescribe her what ever she wanted. She has done this for years and years and years, except she didn't mix alcohol with it until about 4 years ago. For a long time she would take a sleeping pill, but stay up so she could feel the "effect", and act really bizarre, then claim she had insomnia and had been up for days because she "couldn't" sleep, and we all believed her and chalked up her crazy behavior to lack of sleep. Really the truth was she forced herself to stay up. If she couldn't get ahold of any pills, she'd just stay up for days on end until she felt the same as she did either on pills or drunk. When she started adding in the alcohol, my Dad started seeing what was going on, he'd come home from work and she'd be passed out on the kitchen floor and he couldn't wake her up. He found bottles of alcohol and beer hidden in weird places, sometimes empty or full, the same with pills. She's been in and out of rehab- inpatient and outpatient and finally now has been sober 4 months. She would go in stints, sober for a month, go on a binge, sober for 2 months go on a binge. She never made it past 90 days until now.

    So addiction problems can happen to people even with drugs that aren't addictive in the typical sense. My stepmother's addiction is psychological, not physical, if that makes sense.
  12. by   BabyRN2Be
    Just another thought... is it possible that your friend has medical conditions that you are not privy to? Not all people like to disclose all their medical conditions and I feel this may be a possibility. I have several medical conditions that my best friends and family are not aware of. They aren't "socially unacceptable" conditions, but I've lived my life long enough and have learned that not all people can be trusted with this information and I prefer not to get burned on this issue. Hence, I'm taking medications that my best friends and most family don't know about. It's a "need to know" basis sort of thing. Please keep this in mind before writing off your friend.

    However, since she is free with the information that she is taking the Ambien and Xanax, that she is probably upfront with you about any medical conditions she suffers from. Hence, from what you've described there's a good chance that there is a problem here. This is where you can be of help to her.

    Questions to consider: Has she been upfront with her MD about the fact that the Ambien does not seem to be working? Maybe so because her MD has ordered Xanax. Her MD needs to work with her on another sleep option that would be safe for her. There's so many other drugs out there, and even Ambien CR may help her more. I don't know if it's possible to half those because they are time-released. From what I understand, time-released tablets are difficult to half. I agree that Ambien may be causing the side effects you describe, and as I alluded to before, there are other meds out there that could be more appropriate to your friend. All this being said, your friend needs to see her MD to discuss other options. If this MD is not helpful, I suggest that she finds one that is.

    Unless, there is the problem that she only wants Ambien as her medication and Xanax as a booster. In that, there's the rub, and your actions are appropriate as you need to eliminate toxic people from your life. If you can help her I would not consider that to be a toxic relationship IF she wants the help and is not an extra weight on your shoulders.

    Consider all these things before making a final decision. There's got to be more to it than just Ambien.

    And I agree with you all about the drug companies. There's got to be no dirtier or dishonest industry than the drug companies. There's a subject that really gets under my skin fast. :angryfire
  13. by   VivaLasViejas
    My sister is going through a similar phase, only with her it's Fioricet, Ativan, nortriptyline, and Tylenol PM. She's nuttier than a squirrel on this combination, and I've tried everything I know and then some to try to make her stop. You have my sympathies......and whatever you do, don't feel guilty, this is NOT your fault any more than my sister's problem is my fault. You need to preserve your own sanity!!
  14. by   P_RN

    Here is a prior discussion on this same topic from 2 years ago.

    My personal opinion is Ambien is habituative, and easily so. I took it for a short while and found it amazing. So very, very, amazing until I awoke out of bed, on the sofa, having let a popsicle melt all over my gown and having NO MEMORY at all of the previous 6 hours. This is a documented side-effect. But who believes something like that would happen to them?

    If you need to sleep, please don't treat yourself with this drug. I experienced **** from it and after a very SHORT time period. I flushed all of them, several hundred dollars worth I imagine.