Prescription sleep agents, such as Ambien, have been known to cause some pretty peculiar behavior without the individual remembering any of the events once they are fully awake. Sleepwalking, driving in the middle of the night and even raiding the refrigerator are just a few of the behaviors acted out while under the influence of these drugs.

Although physicians argue that sedatives are not addictive, research shows that when taken in increased amounts or for longer than recommended periods of time, they can lead to dependency.

Same Potential for Dependency as any other Drug

Dependency occurs as a result of a tolerance developing from taking the drug over a long period of time. The National Institute for Drug Abuse reports that what generally happens is that once tolerance develops individuals taking sedatives will find that they have difficulty falling asleep and so they will begin to self medicate with more of the drug to achieve the same result as before.

Really, developing an addiction to Ambien and other sleep agents is no different than building an addiction to any other drug. To understand how out of control addiction to sedatives has become, a study conducted by New York University School of Medicine reported that patients reported taking 10 to 20 pills a night as opposed to the one pill per day recommended dose. Doctors at NYU also suggest it is possible to become addicted if the individual takes the drug too frequently.

Some individuals take Ambien recreationally and it has become a popular drug at Pharm Parties on college campuses according to the National Institute for Drug Abuse. The doctors at NYU indicate that mixing it with other drugs and alcohol could be potentially life threatening.

How Sedatives Work

Sedative and hypnotics are short acting sleep agents. Ambien, for example, is effective at slowing brain activity in the same manner as the drugs Valium and Xanax, both of which are benzodiazepines or anti-anxiety drugs. Ambien is one of the most prescribed sleep medications available today, second only to Lunesta.

Sedative and hypnotics work in conjunction with a chemical in the brain called Gaba. When it is released the drug coordinates with the Gaba to reduce brain activity. Sleep occurs within 15 to 30 minutes after consumption and deep restful sleep continues for 7 to 10 hours.

Signs and Symptoms of Abuse/Addiction

Sedative abuse over long periods of time has the potential for side effects including:
• Hallucinations
• Dizziness
• Nausea and vomiting
• Short term memory loss
• Daytime drowsiness
• Fatigue
• Euphoria
• Coordination problems

Withdrawal symptoms may include:
• Insomnia
• Nervousness
• Agitation and irritability
• Cravings
• Delirium
• Seizures

The best method to quit taking sedative is a tapering off method. Abrupt or “cold turkey” cessation can cause the brain to have seizures. Continued abuse may require detox. Individuals who have tried to quit on their own, without success should seek professional assistance.

Author's Bio: 

Lara Schuster writes for Gallus Medical Detox Centers. Gallus Detox provides safe drug and alcohol detox with customized IV therapy to comfortably alleviate withdrawal symptoms and patients are monitored 24/7 by ICU level nurses. This proven detox method was developed by Dr. Patrick Gallus after 15-plus years as an emergency room physician caring for alcohol and drug addicted patients. Gallus Medical Detox Centers features upscale private rooms, HDTV, Wi-Fi and personal massage. Patient confidentiality is always protected.