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What Are the Signs of Zolpidem Addiction?

By Nicole Etolen
Updated May 17, 2024
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Zolpidem is highly addictive medication that belongs to a class of drugs known as sedative-hypnotics. This prescription-only drug is used to help patients fall asleep by depressing activity in the central nervous system while also inhibiting parts of the brain that control thought processes. Signs of zolpidem addiction include cravings for the medication, depression, mood swings, memory loss, and an inability to sleep without the drug.

Typically, the process of zolpidem addiction is a progressive one that begins with an inability to fall asleep or stay asleep unless the medication is taken. Zolpidem is meant to be used for a short period of time, generally about a week, and rarely ever longer than a month. Taking the medication for longer than the recommended amount of time can result in dependence on it to fall asleep. While any sleep-inducing medication can become psychologically addictive, sedatives can also become physically addictive, meaning the brain comes to rely on them to perform certain functions.

In many cases, users of this class of drug may not realize they are suffering from zolpidem addiction until they stop taking the medication and experience withdrawal symptoms. Insomnia is the most common withdrawal symptom, but others include excessive sweating, nausea, and vomiting. Changes in behavior, such as irritability and feelings of aggression, can also occur. In some cases, withdrawal from zolpidem may cause memory loss and confusion.

The withdrawal symptoms may become overwhelming, leading the medication’s users to crave zolpidem. Drug-seeking behaviors are often seen in those who cannot secure a prescription through their primary physician. They may go to several different hospitals or doctor's offices in an effort to obtain multiple prescriptions. Typically, this does not work because medical facilities have safety measures in place to recognize those exhibiting drug-seeking behavior. When getting a prescription through legitimate source fails, those suffering from zolpidem addiction may look to illegal sources or resort to stealing the medication.

Mood-swings are a common symptom of zolpidem addiction. Long-term users of the medication may exhibit sings of depression or anxiety. They may become short-tempered with those around them or seem erratic in their thinking and speech. Memory loss is a common side effect of zolpidem, and long-term use can significantly increase the risk of this side effect.

Some people are at a higher risk of developing a zolpidem addiction than others. Those with a history of depression or substance abuse are in a high-risk category and should not use this medication. Taking more than the prescribed amount of zolpidem can also increase the risks of becoming addicted to the medication. Treatment typically involves weaning off the medication under the guidance of an addiction specialist or in a drug rehabilitation treatment facility.

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