ambien

Polysubstance Abuse: What Happens When You Mix Ambien With Alcohol?

Drugs and alcohol are often taken together, which has been proven to produce negative effects, sometimes lethal if not careful. If you have poor sleeping patterns or are feeling unrested after receiving many hours of sleep, then you may have a sleep disorder. Taking Ambien or other sleep aids should only be done under medical supervision. 

To cope with not being able to fall asleep, or having bad sleep habits, people often resort to having a drink before bed or taking sleeping pills such as Ambien to help them fall asleep easier and faster. Truth is, using any kind of sleep aid such as alcohol, Ambien, or both can lead to dependency and addiction called polysubstance abuse. 

Are you one of these people who has a hard time falling asleep at night? Well, you are not alone, as many as 50-70 million people have some type of sleep disorder, such as insomnia and sleep apnea. 

Healthline.com reports that the amount of sleep recommended for people to sleep at night is an average of seven to eight hours. After all, sleep is a science, and the amount you do get is important, as it contributes to your overall health and wellbeing. In addition to the amount of sleep, quality is also essential.

What is Polysubstance Abuse?

In the realm of addiction “poly” meaning many, refers to the abuse of more than one substance simultaneously. Within the Diagnostic Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-IV-TR), polysubstance abuse is classified as a substance disorder, where a person becomes reliant on a group of three various types of substances. The most commonly affected by polydrug abuse are usually young adults between the ages of 18-24. 

Various studies behind polysubstance abuse have proven that the excessive use of one drug almost always leads to the increased probability of eventually becoming dependant on more than one substance at a time. Almost always, the drug or two is commonly mixed with alcohol. 

Combining drugs is a dangerous game with potentially lethal results. When substances are taken together, the resulting reaction may be unpredictable and potentially hazardous, and, increases the dangers and risk of a polysubstance overdose. 

Types of Polysubstance Abuse 

People commonly abuse the following combinations of drugs such as: 

  • Alcohol and cocaine
  • Alcohol and opioids
  • Alcohol and ecstasy 
  • Cocaine and heroin
  • Heroin and methamphetamine
  • Benzodiazepines and opioids

When an individual abuses more than one drug one on a regular basis, especially combined with alcohol, it can dramatically worsen a person’s reaction and effect the drug has on one’s system.

One of the most common causes of polysubstance abuse is the use of Ambien and alcohol combined. The truth is the dangers and risks of abusing a combination of Ambien and alcohol especially, are greater than people think. 

Not only does alcohol cause severe liver damage, but the use of other drugs in conjunction can also prove to be fatal because the liver cannot seem to break them down properly. As well, alcohol also impairs judgment, which can lead to overdose. 

What Happens When You Mix Ambien With Alcohol? 

Mixing the combination of Ambien and alcohol together has its dangers and risks, particularly of how it affects the body. If you have been prescribed Ambien for a sleep disorder or are taking it to help you go to sleep, it is important to understand what could happen if it is taken while drinking alcohol. 

Evidence-based research has shown, that since Ambien’s development, doctors have seen a notable decline in the abuse of the prescribed pharmaceuticals traditionally used to treat insomnia. Although this may be the case, the rate of people suffering from polysubstance abuse is very much on the rise, specifically the consumption of alcohol and Ambien.   

According to research conducted by the National Institute on Drug Abuse, Zolpidem acts similar to benzodiazepines, such as Xanax, a drug used to treat anxiety. Made with a different molecular structure, its main purpose is to decrease the chances for anyone to develop a physical dependence or addiction to Ambien. The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), states that there is a low dependency, but only when people used it properly as prescribed. This is where the problem lies. 

Polysubstance abuse is extremely common, and even though its Zolpidem’s job is to reduce the chance of addiction, the negative effects and increase in the number of overdose-related incidences and even deaths due to mixing Ambien and alcohol together remain supreme. 

In other words, addiction to Ambien has not decreased, and the usage of the drug mixed with alcohol has increased tenfold. When mixed together with alcohol, the effect that it has on the body can be diabolical. 

Double Trouble: Ambien and Alcohol’s Effect on the Body

Alcohol is a depressant and Ambien is a sedative, both of which are made to slow down the body’s central nervous system. Adding Alcohol to Ambien will amplify its effects and vice versa. Sedatives are addictive on their own and regular use of both substances together will lead to psychological and physical dependence. Also, it will have a profound impact on a range of different bodily systems and major organs. 

Ambien, known as a sleeping pill, is classified as a sedative prescribed for people who struggle severely to fall asleep. The drug called Zolpidem, a depressant is the active ingredient within  Ambien, which works by slowing down a person’s central nervous system (CNS) and brain activity. 

Ambien is manufactured in two forms: extended-release, which means when it absorbs into the body it does so slowly over a period of time. The other type of Ambien is called immediate-release, which as it sounds, means the drug absorbs into the body right away. 

People are aware that drug labels and physicians warn against mixing drugs with alcohol. Although, what they don’t warn people about it how many people still abuse substances without concern.    

Signs of Polysubstance Abuse: Identifying the Risk Factors 

When a person abuses more than one drug on a semi-regular basis, the individual is prone to developing issues with polysubstance abuse. In other cases, those who abuse more than one drug chronically will become addicted to one drug or more. Identifying drug addiction risk factors is important. 

The National Institutes of Health has reported that having as little as two drinks on an evening after having had Ambien can result in residual effects on the body. Those who regularly drink in addition to taking Ambien are not only likely to start developing a dependence on Zolpidem, but also tolerance to it. 

As mentioned before, there is a real risk of having an overdose when combining these two substances. Therefore it is very important to become aware of the risk factors and what to do when addiction becomes a reality. 

The risk factors that occur when Ambien is mixed with alcohol include: 

  • Slurred speech
  • Unusual behavior
  • Liver damage
  • Respiratory failure
  • Increased heart rate
  • Dilated pupils 

If left untreated, polysubstance abuse can lead to a coma or worse death. If you believe you or someone you care about is abusing  Ambien and Alcohol or experiencing an overdose, immediately seek help. The addiction specialists at Sana Lake Recovery Center can help. 

What Is The Difference Between Polysubstance Use And Addiction?

The difference between addiction and polysubstance abuse is a matter to what degree. If a person is abusing alcohol, but have not yet developed a dependence on it, it is possible to still experience some withdrawal symptoms, but not as severe as people who actually have a polysubstance abuse problem. 

It is important to note, that there is a difference between addiction and dependence. The main difference between addiction is that someone who is addicted is unable to stop using despite the negative consequences that may occur. 

When someone uses a substance that doesn’t mean that they are abusing it or are necessarily addicted to it. However, with Ambien and alcohol, there is a high probability that it could lead to addiction. Those with polysubstance abuse are likely to abuse more than one drug and likely to mix it with alcohol. To avoid the chance of addiction, help is available. 

Prevent Addiction With Our Help

At Sana Lake Recovery Center our addiction specialists are committed to helping people suffering from polysubstance abuse. We know that asking for help is extremely difficult. The use of multiple substances can further complicate diagnosis and treatment.

Therefore our comprehensive treatment plans entail providing the best resources and high-quality continuum of patient care within all of our processes to ensure our patients know that there is hope for them and that they are in good hands during and after recovery. While it starts with you, we will be here every step of the way. 

Besides helping our patient’s on the road to recovery and long-term sobriety, we most importantly, strive to provide a combination of high-quality resources, such as prevention tips, education, enforcement, and treatment, which will effectively help to raise awareness about the risks and signs of Ambien and alcohol misuse. This will play a critical role in not only helping people to recover but also empowering one to make safer choices, and in return, prevent the chance of relapse, overdose, and death. 

Contact us today by calling our addiction specialists in Dittmer, Missouri at (636) 707-2097

References

https://www.drugs.com/cg/polysubstance-abuse-aftercare-instructions.html

https://www.cdc.gov/sleep/about_sleep/cant_sleep.html

https://detoxtorehab.com/dangers-mixing-ambien-alcohol

https://www.sleepassociation.org/about-sleep/sleep-statistics/

https://detoxtorehab.com/dangers-mixing-ambien-alcohol

 

Article Reviewed by David Sherman, MD

David Sherman, MDDavid Sherman, MD is a Fellow of the American Society of Addiction Medicine (FASAM) and board certified in Addiction Medicine with the American Board of Preventive Medicine. He is a native Missourian and graduated medical school at the University of Missouri-Columbia School of Medicine. Dr. Sherman completed a two-year fellowship in Addiction Medicine at the University of Florida in Gainesville. He leads a highly trained staff of master level certified addiction professionals. Men and women from all over Missouri and the United States come to Sana Lake Recovery Center to get the care they need and deserve.

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