In 2009, a man walked into a nursing home and opened fire. During his trial, according to an article in the Huffington Post, his lawyers suggested that Ambien (zolpidem) was to blame, as the drug has a tendency to cause amnesia. People on the drug might say or do all sorts of strange things, the lawyers suggested, and the people under the influence aren’t really responsible for the steps they take.

After reading a few reports like this, families might believe that they could spot an Ambien addiction with ease. After all, if the drug causes people to behave so very strangely, it should be easy enough to determine when someone is abusing the drug. Families would just need to watch for strange acts taking place in the middle of the night.

In reality, identifying a true Ambien addiction is just a little bit harder. Families can certainly spot the warning signs, but making a diagnosis of addiction might be slightly more complicated.

Physical Signs

People who take Ambien on an addictive basis tend to become acclimated to the medication, so they may not show signs of intoxication on a regular basis. Rather than seeming sedated and high while they’re on Ambien, people like this might just seem normal. Even so, the drug has been associated with some very serious side effects, meaning that families that see these signs on a regular basis in a person they love might very well be dealing with an addiction.

Common side effects listed by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration include:

  • Grogginess
  • Dizziness
  • Diarrhea
  • Sedation

In addition, people who take this drug addictively may find it hard to stop their use. When they attempt to get sober, they may experience gastrointestinal upset, along with uncontrolled crying, insomnia, nervousness and feelings of panic.

Habitual Changes

While the physical and mental signs of an Ambien addiction might be difficult to ignore, people who habitually abuse this drug may also develop a variety of unhealthy and unusual personal habits as they attempt to keep their addictions alive without arousing suspicion.

People who abuse the drug may develop a persistent fixation on issues concerning privacy. They may become unhinged at the idea of a family member cleaning their room or going through their pockets, and they may demand a significant amount of alone time in order to take their drugs. They may also refuse to discuss the day’s events or their plans for the future. In short, they might seem sneaky and secretive, and a little digging might help family members to determine that an Ambien addiction is the cause. People with these addictions tend to stash huge amounts of the drugs they take, hence the need for secrecy, so a need for privacy combined with a hidden stash of pills is a huge red flag that should get families talking about the specter of addiction.

If you know someone in your life is abusing Ambien but you’re not quite sure what to do about it, we’d like to help. Please call us at Black Bear Lodge, and we can tell you more about how to hold an effective intervention. We can even help you to enroll the person you love in our treatment program, so the healing can start right away. Just call to find out more.