As one of the most widely consumed drugs, alcohol is everywhere. Its popularity also makes it one of the most common substances to mix with other drugs. Whether it happens accidentally or purposefully, combining alcohol with another drug often has dire consequences.
Ambien is just one of many substances that interact poorly with alcohol. However, its effect as a depressant causes it to combine dangerously with alcohol. Since both substances slow down body processes, together they can create some particularly dangerous situations.
Knowing what each substance does can shed some light on the dangers of this particular combination.
Zolpidem, more widely known under its brand name Ambien, is a prescription sleep aid. When taken, Ambien induces a state of ‘half-sleep’ in the individual. This special state can be difficult to achieve for patients who suffer from sleep disorders like insomnia.
However, Ambien also has a high potential for addiction. Doctors rarely prescribe Ambien for more than 2 weeks, simply because patients may form a dependence to it. However, some individuals may abuse Ambien for the specific intent of experiencing the bizarre effects that it can have.
Abuse of Ambien
Ambien abuse can begin unintentionally. Patients who take more than their prescribed dose, or without a prescription, may find themselves unable to fall asleep without it. In some cases, individuals might take Ambien for other reasons, like experiencing a kind of high. Either way, an Ambien addiction can produce several unpleasant side effects, as well as increasing the risk of an overdose.
Addiction & Overdose Details
When taken as directed, Ambien addiction rarely develops. The worst that most individuals might experience while following a prescription are dizziness, diarrhea, or drowsiness.
Negative symptoms generally appear with Ambien abuse. General unhappiness and insomnia are most common, but the symptoms of withdrawal are particularly unpleasant:
- Muscle cramps
- Tremors or convulsions
- Stomach cramps
- Panic attacks
These symptoms make an addiction difficult to break. They manifest as soon as 48 hours after an individual has stopped taking Ambien, so it can be tough to withstand them. This, as well as the sedative/hypnotic effect of Ambien, can make a dependence incredibly tough to overcome. Ambien overdose also becomes a risk with continued use.
As tolerance to Ambien increases, individuals may take more and more with each dose. At a certain point, someone might end up taking far too much Ambien and experience an overdose. In addition to being extremely unpleasant, Ambien overdoses can also cause unconsciousness, trouble breathing, coma, heart attack, or even death.
A Rundown on Alcohol Abuse
Alcohol is one of most commonly consumed drugs in the world. It has little to no medical application aside from sanitation and antiseptic. Its effects are depressive, and though it might have earned a name as “the social drug,” it slows down the body processes of the individual who consumes it.
Addiction & Overdose
As one of the most abused substances in the world, the research on the effects of alcohol is extensive. When consumed, the substance can cause several adverse health effects, including high blood pressure, changed brain chemistry, liver complications, pancreatitis, and some kinds of cancer.
Additionally, the impact that alcohol has on physical coordination can have serious consequences in certain situations, especially driving. Decision making can also be negatively affected, to the point of risky or even life-threatening behavior.
Alcohol overdose occurs when the level of alcohol in an individual’s bloodstream becomes life-threatening. This condition is characterized by mental confusion, trouble staying awake, vomiting, seizures, problems breathing, slow heart rate, clammy skin, slow responses, or extremely low body temperature. Together, these symptoms can cause permanent brain damage or even death.
Combining Ambien and Alcohol
Hopefully, the symptoms show why mixing these two substances can be so dangerous. Because they both have a similar effect on the body, a combined effect can cause some catastrophic symptoms. Some individuals may intentionally mix the two as a sleep aid, but the risks of this practice outweigh the benefit. Some may mix them unintentionally, not realizing that one substance is still in their system.
Ambien and Alcohol’s Shared Side Effects
Regardless of how the combination occurs, the symptoms can range from unpleasant to dangerous:
- Trouble coordinating
- Unclear thoughts
- Sleepiness or drowsiness
- Decreased breathing
- Impaired sleeping
When alcohol and ambien interact simultaneously in an individual’s body, the depressant effects are compounded, and the additional symptoms can be dangerous. Sometimes, the symptoms mimic that of an overdose, and can be particularly threatening. In general, avoid mixing alcohol with any kind of prescription medication.
The consequences of such a mixture can range from unpleasant to lethal.
How to Get the Help You Need
Long term substance abuse can severely impact one’s life, and it often cuts it short. An individual dealing with any kind of addictive behavior surrounding drugs like Ambien or alcohol can suffer from an overdose. Overcoming an addiction can seem impossible, but sobriety isn’t unreachable. It starts with reaching out for help.
Beating an addiction can be incredibly difficult to do alone, but with the support of others, it can be a journey taken together. Contact us today if you think you or a loved one is suffering from an addiction, or read more about substance abuse here.