Confession: I used to be addicted to Ambien, the prescription sleeping pill medication. Maybe I wasn’t physically addicted to it, but I was psychologically- basically, I thought that I needed it to sleep and I was afraid of running out of it- afraid I might not sleep and then feel horrible the next day.
Sleep disorders are really common and I’ve always thought of myself as having one- I traditionally have trouble falling asleep, but I’m a heavy sleeper who sleeps right through minor earthquakes that wake normal sleepers up. I took Ambien for several years, some of that time I didn’t take it every night, but I slept better just knowing it was there if I needed it.
It was my friend.
It’s worth mentioning that I was drinking a lot of alcohol during this period, which is probably why I needed the Ambien in the first place. Alcohol is known to disturb your sleep, and I would wake up thirsty for water in the middle of the night (dehydrated) and take half an Ambien to put me right back to sleep.
I loved the feeling of knowing it would relax me, and sometimes I even took it a little before sleep time because I enjoyed the relaxing effect. This was ok, it was after my son was asleep-except at least once I ended up falling asleep on my computer desk because I didn’t make it to the bed in time. That scared me.
I didn’t abuse Ambien like I did alcohol, meaning I generally didn’t take more than prescribed, but God knows that I’m lucky I didn’t O.D. on a night when I had too many drinks and then popped a sleeping pill on top of it! For that reason, I consider myself lucky to be alive and realize I’m probably living on borrowed time, with all of the foolish (potentially deadly) risks I took in the past.
You might be wondering how did motherhood fit in all this? Well, my husband is a very light sleeper and wakes up at the slightest noise, so that was probably (it was) enabling for me.
I know people who’ve Ambien shopped (bought things on the Internet under the influence of sleeping pills that they didn’t remember buying), and even people who hallucinated on it. If you hallucinate on a drug, I would suggest you never take it again. Some people I know have drank wine and then took and Ambien and crashed their car in a blackout- terrifying.
The reason I’m writing this is in case it can help anyone else out there currently “addicted” to this drug, because I can tell you it was not hard at all for me to get off of it. When I went to rehab in Malibu last year, they took my Ambien away, then gave me Valium for only two days of alcohol detox, and I was fine.
No withdrawals at all like I had feared! And this is coming from a person who had hideous Lexapro withdrawals. At first I probably only slept about 5-6 hours a night without it, but it was enough, because my body didn’t have to process all of that alcohol anymore.
I still take two natural things for sleep that don’t give me a “high” at all, I take Valerian root by Nature’s Way that I buy at Whole Foods and I take melatonin, which Dr. Oz recommends. They work really well, and I have no guilt about taking them nightly.
If Ambien works for you, cool, but you don’t have to keep swallowing down that jagged little pill if you feel worried about its addictive qualities. If I can get off it, with my wildly addictive personality, anybody can. I sleep like a baby when I have a clear conscience.