When Ambien (generic: zolpidem) was first released, it was touted as a non-addictive, short-term treatment for insomnia. It only took a few years for doctors to realize that patients were becoming dependent on this medication at alarming rates. Shortly after it was released, Ambien became widely abused by patients and recreational users alike.1

It can be difficult for family members to watch an addiction like this unfold in a loved one, and they may want to do whatever they can to make the problem stop. While family members cannot take over the addicted individual’s life and force a change, there are some things loved ones can do to entice the addicted person to enter a treatment program.

“For three years, I fought insomnia with a prescribed sleeping pill called Ambien,” writes Debbie of Heroes In Recovery. “On Christmas Day, 1999, my Dad died of a sudden heart attack. The next year, I started abusing the pill to avoid grief. I lost my job and most of my friends. I put my family through hell. My life was unmanageable, and my addiction took control. I took the pills all day, every day, going from doctor to doctor to get more prescriptions.

“On September 4th, 2000, I took 8 pills, went for a drive with my dog, fell asleep at the wheel and drove into a tree at 45mph. I totaled the car. There were no air bags, and I broke my face up badly. I was unrecognizable for a while…I could easily have died, but none of that made a difference. What mattered was that the little being who kept me from drowning that year was in the backseat. What finally “woke me up” was that I put my dog’s life in danger. He actually survived without injury, somehow. …I never took another sleeping pill after that day…Life gets better every year. I’ve never been so happy.”


Understand the Scope of the Problem

People who have addictions often feel as though they’re adept at hiding the evidence of their substance use. They may tiptoe through the house on a regular basis, taking drugs on the sly, and they may be convinced that no one really knows the truth about their addictions.

In reality, people who have substance use issues do tend to leave a significant amount of evidence behind. For example, many people who abuse prescription drugs get those substances from online vendors. Families who see suspicious packages coming and going, or who see pills lying about, may have hard evidence that an addiction is unfolding.2

Other symptoms of a hidden drug problem may include missing money or items, or changes in a loved one’s appearance, attitude, or friend group. These small details may be vital, as this information can be put to good use during an addiction intervention. When the family begins to discuss Ambien addiction with their loved one, they’ll have specific instances to cite and dates and times to share. Clear examples like this are harder to refute or ignore, and it could prompt the person to accept the reality of the addiction issue.

A trusted counselor or intervention professional can also help you learn more about Ambien addiction and plan ahead for a loving, yet effective, intervention. You want to be well-informed, and prepared enter your loved one into an effective treatment programs immediately after the intervention. It is important to seek out and receive as much assistance as possible to best help the person you care about.

Getting Help for Addiction

While it’s vital for families to take good notes about the addiction and understand as much as possible about the use and abuse of Ambien, it’s also important for family members to take care of their own health and well-being. If they’re focused on the health and healing of the other person while neglecting their own, they may not have the energy to really provide assistance when it’s needed.

Family members need to take time to for self-care in order to boost their health. Good options include:

  • Exercise
  • Individual counseling sessions
  • Bonding with a pet
  • Reading, or spending time with a book club
  • Volunteering
  • Participating in a supportive group

Many family members find relief through support groups. Going to meetings of Nar-Anon, for example, may help family members to learn more about how prescription drug addictions unfold, and how other families work to support the healing a loved one. These meetings are often free, and some are even held online, but they can provide a remarkable amount of help for families dealing with an addiction.

If you’d like to help someone with an addiction to Ambien, please call us. Our treatment program offers experienced clinicians, evidence-based treatments, and one-on-one care to help ensure the recovery of your whole family. Please call us at 706-914-2327 to find out more.


1 Hajak, G., Müller, W. E., Wittchen, H. U., Pittrow, D. and Kirch, W. “Abuse and dependence potential for the non-benzodiazepine hypnotics zolpidem and zopiclone: a review of case reports and epidemiological data.” Addiction. 2003. 1371–1378. Web. Accessed 18 Sept 2017.

2 Jena, A., Goldman, D. “Growing Internet Use May Help Explain The Rise In Prescription Drug Abuse In The United States.” Health Affairs. May 2011. Vol. 30, No.6. 1192-1199. Web. Accessed 18 Sept 2017.