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5 years of nightly Ambien use... Is this a problem?


[Et...]

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On 100MG Prozac and slowly tapering off 1mg of Klonopin. Been at .5mg for over a month. And I take 20mg of Ambien every night. Also take 30mg of Gabapentin.

 

Severe anxiety. 2 young kids. Hectic job. Regular old normal stress.

 

I'm been quite happy to take Ambien every night. But I'm growing concerned.

 

My memory is taking a hit and I have a hard time remembering things that happen late at night and early in the morning. Plus, the only time I truly feel relaxed is when I've taken my nightly dose of Ambien and I feel anxiety evaporate.

 

I'm functional. But concerned that this has been going on for far too long. I don't know anybody who takes Ambien every single night.

 

Do you? The more I've been on these boards, the more I'm connecting the dots. I now know that Ambien affects GABA. And I think I'm using this drug to calm down more than for sleep.

 

I'm willing to consider that this may be a substance abuse issue. I'm open to it. Mostly looking for anybody in the same boat who has taking Ambien for a very long time. How do I know if I should be worried?

 

E

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Etienne--I'm not one that used Ambien for long, but I've learned a thing or two about it. You will have a MUCH easier time getting off Ambien if you get off now, before you have tapered off the clonazepam completely. In general you always taper the longer-acting benzo first, and Ambien, though not strictly a benzo, very much acts like one.

 

If you get off the clonazepam first, the whiplash effect (short half life) of the Ambien will be really brutal, and you may very well still have strong withdrawal symptoms because of it, especially inter-dose withdrawal. The clonazepam will "cushion" the withdrawal from Ambien, and you should adjust to the removal fairly quickly.

 

If you are really on 20 mg. of Ambien (a largish dose), it begins to act more like a benzo than a lower dose, so you will want to taper it. You should be able to taper down without too much issue, if you've gone up and down before, you'll have a pretty good idea of what you can do--you may be able to taper that quite quickly.

 

So my suggestion would be to hold the clonazepam at .5mg for now, taper down the Ambien, hold until you feel somewhat stable on clonazepam only, then taper slowly off the rest of the clonazepam. The lower you get on the clonazepam, the more powerful each dose will feel, so make your cuts as small as possible. Your prior taper sounds much too fast, which may be why you got into trouble.

 

You are certainly not unusual for your long term Ambien usage, but obviously it is not a great thing. We all do the best we can to function in life, with the knowledge that we have at the time. Hopefully you can learn enough here to help you get to a (mostly) drug free, yet livable, life.

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Ambien was my trusted friend for more years than I can remember. I did not take it every night, but at times I did take it several times a week. As soon as I crossed some unseen line in the sand it stopped working for me at my normal dose of 5 mg. I went up to 10 mg., began taking it every night and soon needed 20 mg. just to get a couple hours of sleep. I am just wrapping up a 17 month withdrawal. Sleep is almost normal, but not always.

 

A very good friend of mine took Ambien every night for many years and got off of it after hearing about my experience. He did not have any withdrawal issues. I think that is because he never grew tolerant and had to increase his dosage. My advice (besides getting off of Ambien) is to never increase dosage for any reason. It seems that once you hit a tolerance level you are at a very high risk of going through what can easily be the worst experience of your life.

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I've been taking it for 8 years and secretly love it but also hate it!

 

The only time I'm happy is when I've taken my dose (currently 3 times over the maximum dose)

 

I even suck on a pill during the evening to get the taste in my mouth before I'm due sleep...

 

I believe these drugs are the lesser evil of what's available but at the same time they shouldn't be used really

 

They gave me my life back, I had 6 great years with my ex gf on it every night never thought anything of it until I found this site!

 

Now I constantly worry about what damage the drug is doing, your memory is only short term memory that's affected

 

And once you reduce/come off no long term damage to your memory brain cells are seen (usually)

 

I know a guy on the internet that lost 1/4 of his brain in a car accident and uses ambien/zopiclone as he can't fall asleep now due to the damage

 

So I think they have a purpose, as long as you NEVER up the dose and "maintain" your dose I think you're fine

 

Come off ONE drug at a time, and I would leave the ambien until last then slowly taper

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Taking ambien for so long will make it hard to taper and quit.

 

Not impossible but hard.  20mg IMO is a large dose.  Typically 10mg was the max prescribed but I heard they even changed that to 5mg lately in the US for women.

 

Anyways I would seriously try to figure out a plan of action.  You would be surprised at how much the drugs feed into the anxiety.

 

I had way worse anxiety when on Xanax 1mg, lexapro 10mg and ambien 12.5mg than I do now.  Took a while for my brain to act normally again.  But now even though I am still on some meds my brain feels normal and I literally have no more anxiety.  Sleep is still whatever at times but some nights I get 4 hours and some night like last night closer to 8 hours.

 

Keep researching and looking into the affects of ambien you will be able to make an educated guess on if you would taper or not.

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