Zolpidem was devised twenty years ago as a solution to the problem of sleep, something which has plagued mankind since the beginning of time. People have always been seeking something that allows them to sleep better. For a long time, the most effective treatment for insomnia was opium. Eventually people realized that opium was addictive, and thus its use as a sleeping aid was discontinued.
There were many other sleeping aids available before the creation of zolpidem. However, people who used them often complained that they would make them feel drowsy or foggy the next day. These effects were so severe that some people elected to get less sleep than experience them.
In 1991, zolpidem was released under the trade name Ambien. The drug was promoted as a sleeping aid that let you fall asleep quickly, but without the hangover-like side effects that plagued users of over-the-counter drugs. It was met with a great reception at first, as people who used it felt it help them fall asleep quickly.
In 2007, the FDA approved the generic manufacturing of zolpidem. So, no longer did all manifestations of the drug go under the name Ambien. This made zolpidem available to a wider audience, but it also increased the probability of problems that went along with taking the drug. One aspect of this was an increase in zolpidem addiction statistics.
Zolpidem is recommended to be taken for only short periods of time. However, when taken over the long-term, it can lead to dependence. The first step in the development of zolpidem addiction is the development of tolerance. This occurs when someone needs more of the drug to produce the same effect they received when they began taking the drug initially. Tolerance causes users to take more and more of the drug, which makes the likelihood of addiction higher.
When someone becomes dependent on zolpidem, they may not even notice it until they try to stop taking the drug. Then, their first indication may be that they experience rebound insomnia. Rebound insomnia is extreme difficulty falling asleep after you have stopped using zolpidem. It can be worse than the insomnia that led to taking the drug in the first place. Of course, this rebound insomnia may cause many people to go back to taking zolpidem to help them sleep, thus promoting further dependence on the drug.
Zolpidem addiction statistics thus include those people who are seeking help for their addiction, but also those who may be taking the drug and haven't yet realized they are dependent on it. When people recognize their zolpidem addiction, they can get help overcoming it from a doctor. A doctor can gradually wean them off of zolpidem over several weeks. This will help keep withdrawal and rebound insomnia at a minimum.
If withdrawal is particularly difficult, a doctor can prescribe another benzodiazepine to ease the withdrawal. Zolpidem is similar to benzodiazepine drugs like Valium and Xanax. These are also sedatives that work to calm someone down, and can lead to sleep if taken at high doses. Thus, a doctor may prescibe them in order to replace zolpidem, and then wean the patient off of the other drug.
One way to avoid the development of dependence on zolpidem is to not increase the dose past the original dose (usually 5-10mg). Studies have shown that doses above 10mg are not any more effective than lower doses, so increasing the dose is only worthwhile to an extent. Instead of increasing the dose to deal with tolerance, you may be better taking a break from zolpidem or trying another benzodiazepine.
Another dangerous aspect of taking zolpidem is the "sleepwalking" behavior that some people report. If you aren't already in bed when you take zolpidem, it may take effect while you are still ambulatory. This can put you into a sleepwalking state, where you still seem conscious but have no recollection of what you're doing. This can lead to problems, especially when driving is involved.
To avoid becoming part of zolpidem addiction statistics, you should always follow the recommended dosage and avoid increasing it if you can. Also, you should only take zolpidem for short periods of time (3-5 days at a time). The longer you take the drug, the more your chances of dependence increase.