The world we live in has a growing drug problem, and it has nothing to do with drug lords, mules, or shootouts.
We have grown too used to treating the symptom and not the cause, especially in the case of insomnia and it treatment.
Insomnia is widespread in the US and around the world. We live stressful lives, spending long hours at work and on the commute to and from the workplace. We bring work home and stay up late trying to catch up with increasing workloads. We drink too much coffee to stay alert, and have gotten used to using alcohol to unwind. We go to bed worried about problems we are facing, and find we can’t sleep.
Of course there are other causes for insomnia. Sleep apnea, medical conditions, psychological problems, hormonal shifts, depression and anxiety are all contributory. Those taking medication for heart problems, hyperthyroidism and other medical conditions suffer from insomnia, as do shift workers whose sleep cycles have been disrupted. Students, pregnant women and menopausal women and drug users, can have sleep disorders.
Sleep medication has long been the answer to insomnia, with Ambien being the most popular medication being used by millions of people.
Ambien belongs to the category of drugs called sedative hypnotics. It is usually recommended for short term use. People are now waking up to the fact that Ambien is more harmful than beneficial to users.
Ambien is insidious; people can get dependent on it in as little as two weeks. More worryingly it has several side effects that can wreak havoc in peoples’ lives. These range from drowsiness, grogginess and lack of coordination to memory loss, anxiety and depression. Other side effects are allergic reactions such as swelling of the mouth and tongue and difficulty in breathing due to swelling of the nasal passages. They may have constipation or diarrhea and suffer from dizziness and blurred or double vision.
What about Withdrawal from Ambien ?
The withdrawal symptoms for those looking to kick the habit are unpleasant. Nausea, vomiting and stomach cramps can make coming off Ambien unpleasant. Lack of sleep is another withdrawal symptom.
More worryingly Ambien can trigger bizarre patterns of behavior such as sleep walking, sleep driving, sleep eating and sleep shopping. There have been cases where people have been involved in traffic accidents while sleep driving after taking Ambien. They have woken up in police custody, having failed sobriety tests, with no recollection of what happened. In a few cases people under the influence of Ambien have been in accidents that have caused the deaths of others on the street. In one reported incident a man who had taken Ambien molested a child twelve years old; he claimed to have no memory of the incident. Some people use Ambien as a date rape drug, since it is easier to come by than rohypnol.
In the US Ambien has come under increasing scrutiny by the authorities, who are now looking at other ways to deal with this escalating problem.