When it comes to drug abuse, teens often turn to the medicine cabinet more than the drug dealer.
Teenage Prescription Drug Use & Ambien Abuse
According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, prescription drugs are second to marijuana in rates of abuse by teenagers. Some students abuse medications they’ve been given by their friends or family members. Other students abuse at so-called “pharma parties.” In addition, at these parties, teens may take high doses of meds. Teen Ambien abuse has become part and parcel of such “pharma parties.” Furthermore, this is just as dangerous as teen opioid abuse and teen benzodiazepine abuse. Ambien is classified as a hypnotic sleep aid by the National Institute on Drug Abuse.
Some of these teens are abusing and developing addictions to the prescription medication Ambien.
An Ambien Primer
Ambien, also known by the generic name zolpidem, is used to treat insomnia. It is often provided in time-release tablets, meaning that the tablets travel through the body and are broken down slowly. The medication trickles into the user’s system, without hitting the system all at once. As a result, the user feels the effects of the medication over an extended period of time.
According to the Mayo Clinic, Ambien should only be provided for a short period of time. A prescription for one to two days of medication might be common, although some doctors might give the medication for up to two weeks.
The pills can be habit-forming, so doctors dislike the idea of providing them for a long period of time.
Teen Ambien Abuse
Teens suffering from Ambien abuse may take extremely large doses of the pills. Some teens crush the pills and then snort them. This can be a dangerous practice, especially if the teen is using a time-release format of Ambien. By crushing the pills, the active ingredients of the drug immediately hit the body. Instead of feeling a low level of symptoms for a long period of time, all the effects hit at once.
Teens who take very high doses of Ambien are at risk of overdose, according to the website Drugs.com. Ambien tends to cause sedation, and the user may become so sedated that he/she stops breathing. This is not the only negative side effect that users can experience when taking high doses of Ambien.
French researchers studied published reports of two patients who were addicted and taking high doses. These patients experienced an extreme amount of unpleasant symptoms including:
- High amounts of energy
- Distorted speech
According to a first-person interview reported in Newsweek, teens might also feel a variety of pleasurable symptoms when they take Ambien. These symptoms include a sense of relaxation and apathy, and feelings of happiness or silliness. Teens who have been struggling with stress or depression may find this altered state pleasurable and hard to obtain in another way.
Dangers of Ambien Abuse
Some teens, frustrated with their inability to pay for the drugs they crave, resort to crime in order to rustle up funds. This could put them in direct conflict with law enforcement. And, as they spend their time in this manner, they may also fail out of school and put their futures in jeopardy.
Teens who abuse Ambien, or any other prescription drug, live in an increasingly isolated atmosphere. As their addictions grow, they may devote a significant amount of time and energy to the idea of getting more drugs and using the drugs when they have them. Instead of spending time with family, friends and peers, the teen is often spending time alone, using drugs.
As mentioned, Ambien is a sedating drug and teens who abuse the drug are at risk of overdose. This risk grows even higher if the teen mixes Ambien with another sedative, such as alcohol. This augmented effect was reported in the journal Pharmacology Biochemistry and Behavior, although the subjects didn’t report an increase in pleasurable symptoms. Instead of getting a boost that might make them feel good, they got a boost that made them even more sedated. Teens who mix alcohol and Ambien are truly playing a dangerous game.
Looking to the Internet
Some teens use the Internet to buy the Ambien they’re addicted to. Since Ambien is often prescribed for only a short period of time, the teen may no longer have access to the drug through the pharmacy, and the Internet seems like a reasonable place to find new supplies.
Internet pharmacies can hold their own dangers. According to a bulletin written by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in 2007, consumers who bought Ambien and other drugs from online pharmacies received drugs that contained haloperidol, a powerful medication used to treat psychosis. Some went to the emergency room as a result. Teens who buy medications from the Internet are also taking risks with their health.
Side Effects of Long-Term Use
In addition, Ambien is an incredibly strong drug that the body becomes accustomed to having access to. If the teen decides, for whatever reason, to stop taking the drug and abruptly ceases use, a variety of side effects can occur. The article published in the journal L’Encéphale states that these withdrawal side effects can include:
- Seizure (although this is rare)
- Suicidal thoughts
Teens who abuse Ambien may rebound between trying to stop using the drug, feeling these horrible symptoms and then using the drug again. This back and forth can also increase the teen’s sense of isolation and make the addiction even stronger.
Teens may abuse Ambien for a wide variety of reasons, but many studies suggest that people who abuse zolpidem abuse other drugs at the same time. For example, a study in the journal Addiction found that of those who had a confirmed addiction to the drug (and the number of addicts was quite low), all also had an addiction to another substance.
In some cases, the addicts took the drug to augment another substance they had been taking at the same time. Teens who are addicted to Ambien and another substance at the same time face higher risks of a variety of issues including premature death, overdose and law enforcement action. If a teen is addicted to Ambien and another substance, it’s all the more important for that teen to get professional treatment.
While Ambien abuse and addiction may be severe, it can be successfully treated.
In a structured teen drug treatment program, the teen will receive professional clinical care. Also, the program will ensure that the teen endures no painful side effects or life-threatening problems. Doctors and therapists will help the teen understand the dangers surrounding addiction. Furthermore, they will and provide the teen with the tools necessary to prevent a relapse from occurring. This can be an amazing transformation for a teen, and the lessons learned in therapy can stick with the teen for the rest of his/her life.
At Newport Academy, we focus exclusively on teens, and we use the most up-to-date therapy models to help teens recover from the addictions they face. By using therapy alongside animal therapy and other teen-focused programs, we can make a difference in the life of an addict.
Please call us today to find out more about how we can help.