Zolpidem is normally prescribed for inducing sleep in people suffering from insomnia. It is a short acting drug that initiates sleep within 15 minutes of consuming it. This is a prescription drug with known potential for addiction and therefore should always be taken according to the doctor's instructions. Zolpidem addiction can have serious implications for health. Though it is classified separately as imidazopyridine, its hypnotic effect is almost the same as that of benzodiazepine. In fact, the same antidote, flumazenil, is used for both in cases of overdose.
It was initially marketed as a less addictive alternative to benzodiazepine. Nevertheless it has emerged as a potentially addictive drug after extensive study and research. Basically the instantaneous relief that it offers from sleeplessness is compelling reason for patients to continue its use long after the doctor's advice. It can be stated with confidence that it has the same potential for abuse as benzodiazepine even though it is not as effective as a muscle relaxant.
Zolpidem is considered safest in a 10 mg dosage and increasing the dosage does not prolong the effect of the drug. Generally speaking, it plays a role in simply initiating sleep as it does not have an extended sedative effect. Long term use has addictive properties and therefore consumers should not continue taking it without medical supervision. Moreover, it is quite common for drug tolerance to develop over time which increases the risk of high dose consumption. Under no circumstances should it be taken for more than 12 weeks if one really wants to avoid a zolpidem addiction.
This medication is considered safer because of its short sedative effect. It is presumed that people are less likely to be drowsy the next day as its effect is quite short and wears off within a few hours. However, some people have reported continued sleepiness and drowsiness the next day. In fact, the impact has been strong enough to influence driving ability and other activities requiring a certain amount of alertness. A number of accidents as well as slips and falls have been attributed to the influence of this drug.
Zolpidem addiction can occur when patients develop higher tolerance for this drug and increase the dose without consulting the doctor. It is more common in people with previous history of drug abuse, though in some cases this may be the first instance of drug dependence. The intensity of the withdrawal symptoms makes it very difficult for people to fight its addiction on their own and often need professional help.
Zolpidem abuse also has its roots in the high it produces and the feeling of relaxation and euphoria that accompanies it. Its effect is said to be compounded by the use of alcohol and the combination can also prove to be lethal. In some people it has also brought about sleep walking activities like sleep driving, cooking and eating while sleeping, sleep sex and so on. Since, it induces short term amnesia, most people are unable to recall the activities and actions they indulged in under its influence.
The average side effects include a feeling of drowsiness and dizziness, altered judgment, reduced motor coordination, fatigue and tiredness, confusion, nausea and other such manifestations. Some more pronounced symptoms are hallucinations, vivid images, lightheadedness, unnecessary risk taking, low inhibitions and nightmares.
Generally, as it induces sleep quite rapidly, it should not be used as a recreational drug. However, abusers have found that if they are able to hold off sleep after consuming it, itcan bring about an incomparable relaxed and euphoric state. In fact, some are even known to crush and snort the pills for the even greater high it produces.
Zolpidem addiction needs careful handling as its withdrawal symptoms can be quite severe. One may find uncontrollable craving for the drug along with tremors, seizures, anxiety, reoccurrence of insomnia, crying, abdominal cramps, among others. Normally, it is gradually tapered off and not stopped suddenly. Sometimes, tapered doses of benzodiazepine are given to contain withdrawal symptoms. However, in rare cases, seizures have also been reported in even gradual reduction of the dose. In such cases flumazenil is used for quick detoxification and de-addiction on an in-patient basis.
Zolpidem can have fatal consequences in high doses as it represses respiratory functions. It is especially dangerous when taken with other drugs and timely intervention is of paramount importance.