Weaning off zolpidem (Ambien)

Posted by lusia @lusia, Dec 9, 2017

taking 5mg ambian for 20 years can melatonin help to ween me off

@blueshell75

Hello, I am new here, but I have been on ambien every night for 20 years at 20 mg because I spent a year in and out of hospitals, including some of the top sleep hospitals in the U.S., and I was only getting 1-2 hours of sleep per night because of an unknown problem. I had multiple sleep studies. I also was tried on dozens of medications that didn't help. Ambien wound up putting me to sleep when even barbiturates wouldn't.

I have no psychiatric problems and am a very productive person with a stable career and a graduate degree. I have no history of any addictions at all, substance-based or otherwise. I am middle-aged, in reasonably good health, and married. The insomnia began abruptly, without reason. I would get tired but something woke me up every time I drifted off to sleep, and then again all night long. Before that, I didn't have a single night of sleep missed and was a world champion sleeper.

I went to the pharmacy today, and they simply said my prescription was too high and refused to fill it. Now I have no medication, and I called the doctor, and he doesn't have a way to help since the pharmacy said it was too high of a dose, and I don't have a clear diagnosis. He said he couldn't give me anything else because I'd already tried everything else. And also, he said other pharmacies in this area would be the same. He apologized and said he could help me through.

In the past, I have stayed up for up to five days or more and have had hallucinations and a psychotic breakdown from it that resulted in a very traumatic mental hospitalization, which is when this regimen was basically decided upon. But as long as I take my medication, I am okay and have been fine.

Can anyone recommend what I should do? I've already tried marijuana since it is legal in my state. I have tried drinking but can't tolerate much alcohol without getting sick. I have tried every medication I can humanly think of. I often try falling asleep for hours without ambien, and I practice excellent sleep hygeine. I meditate. I am really calm. But I was just cut off the medication cold turkey and fear the worst now.

And all that makes me really want is to know if anyone on a long-term high-dose of ambien has gotten off of it? I don't like being at the mercy of pharmacies. Doctors have been really compassionate as they see the situation very clearly, and it's all well documented, they just don't understand it. I'm afraid that I may be in an in-patient mental facility within a few days due to the choices of the pharmacies in this area, which are not rational. And I'm working, so this is not a good moment to have a mental collapse due to lack of sleep.

I also had physical problems from such sustained insomnia in the past and became anorexically thin, had a lot of my bodily functions stop working well, like my blood sugar and heart rate, and had to be on IV's for it. I also developed tremors and other, similar muscular problems, as well as extreme and constant terror that was barely managed by anti-anxiety medication.

I don't know what to do or where to turn. I have been told I am a "medical mystery," but I am not receiving consistent treatment even when I follow every rule laid forth to me. Again, I don't abuse my medication or fill them early, ever. Can anyone relate? I basically had total insomnia for almost a year with just occasional sleep before this. I don't know why it would be different now. And I know I cannot sleep without medication. But as of tonight, I am out of it, and I cannot go anywhere for help as I wouldn't know where to go. Plus, I have a heavy work week, and my entire family rely on my income.

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Hello @blueshell75

I'm so sorry to hear of your difficulty with sleep which is compounded by the difficulty in getting the right meds. How unfortunate that people who really need this med are being cut off in such a callous manner. I'm glad that you have sympathetic doctors who understand your plight, but I can see that really does not help you get the sleep that you need. As you have indicated that you have tried other meds, that probably includes, Remeron and Trazodone. If not, they might be good choices. I have seen some hypnosis videos on YouTube for sleep. Have you tried any hypnosis sleep tapes?

I look forward to hearing from you again. Will you post an update on how you are doing?

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@kahill1918

I always had difficulty falling asleep because being deaf, I was afraid I would miss something. I was sent to schools for the deaf where there was much abuse going on. After having been abused, I would keep my eyes open to be sure no one would slap me. So I became a full-fledged insomniac. This continued until I became a mother when my insomnia worsened because I was afraid I would not wake up if our babies cried. I took nothing until 1989 when the big earthquake in San Francisco took place. I started Zolpidem then, and it was wonderful. My mood was very good. The downside is that when I am especially tense or very worried or panicky about something, then i take half a tablet in addition. I want to quit just so to get the leash off my neck. I don't like being allowed only 30 pills per 30 days. Sometimes I cannot even go out of town because I have to be home so I can pick up the pills. So it is for this reason I would love to quit taking Zolpidem = then I would be free to travel anytime and anywhere.

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Hello @kahill1918

I would also like to welcome you to Connect. I am so sorry to hear of the things you have experienced in your life. Abuse like you mention does make you hypervigilant, doesn't it? It is hard to relax and trust that you won't be hurt and it becomes difficult to feel safe. All of these factors can make for sleepless nights.

There are many anti-depressant medications that will help with sleep that are non-addictive. Trazodone is one as is Remeron. Have you talked with your doctor about using one of these as a substitute for the Zolpidem? This might be helpful. You probably need a little more medication help at this point.

Have you had an opportunity to meet with a therapist who could help you deal with the abuse issues? Do you use ASL to communicate with other deaf individuals? I think you could probably find interpreters who could accompany you to counseling sessions. Have you ever considered that?

I hope to hear from you again. Will you post updates?

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@connie1559

I have never heard of a situation like yours, and I am so appalled that you have been left hanging like this. Have you asked that pharmacist about what you can expect when long term Ambien use is discontinued “cold turkey”? Would your doctor lower your dose and prescribe something to work in conjunction with the Ambien?

I was an insomniac for 40 years. About 3 years ago my dr. finally prescribed a safe combination of anti anxiety meds and I have been a 95% normal sleeper since.

Good luck. I’m so sorry this is happening to you.

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Hello, I have problems with anxiety/depression and pretty bad insomnia. Whay anti-anxiety meds combo r u on that helps you with sleep. I take Ambien CR 12.5 mg plus 1/2 of 5 mg if I wake up in the middle of the night. Lmk. Id love to reduce my Ambien use. Dr said anxiety/depression has to ease off first.

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@connie1559

He prescribed .5 mg Alprazolam and two 50 mg Trazodone. It turns out I'm one of those people for whom less is more. He said on nights when I still have problems I can take a 3rd Trazodone 2 hours after the first 2.

Ambien didn't work for me and made me feel lousy.

Costco/Kirkland makes a sleep aid that doesn't use diphenhydramine. I accidentally left my meds at home when I went out of town earlier this year. My daughter had me try those and I had good results.

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What happened with Ambien? Why didn't it work for you? I heard it's stronger than Trazadone.

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@blueshell75

Hello, I am new here, but I have been on ambien every night for 20 years at 20 mg because I spent a year in and out of hospitals, including some of the top sleep hospitals in the U.S., and I was only getting 1-2 hours of sleep per night because of an unknown problem. I had multiple sleep studies. I also was tried on dozens of medications that didn't help. Ambien wound up putting me to sleep when even barbiturates wouldn't.

I have no psychiatric problems and am a very productive person with a stable career and a graduate degree. I have no history of any addictions at all, substance-based or otherwise. I am middle-aged, in reasonably good health, and married. The insomnia began abruptly, without reason. I would get tired but something woke me up every time I drifted off to sleep, and then again all night long. Before that, I didn't have a single night of sleep missed and was a world champion sleeper.

I went to the pharmacy today, and they simply said my prescription was too high and refused to fill it. Now I have no medication, and I called the doctor, and he doesn't have a way to help since the pharmacy said it was too high of a dose, and I don't have a clear diagnosis. He said he couldn't give me anything else because I'd already tried everything else. And also, he said other pharmacies in this area would be the same. He apologized and said he could help me through.

In the past, I have stayed up for up to five days or more and have had hallucinations and a psychotic breakdown from it that resulted in a very traumatic mental hospitalization, which is when this regimen was basically decided upon. But as long as I take my medication, I am okay and have been fine.

Can anyone recommend what I should do? I've already tried marijuana since it is legal in my state. I have tried drinking but can't tolerate much alcohol without getting sick. I have tried every medication I can humanly think of. I often try falling asleep for hours without ambien, and I practice excellent sleep hygeine. I meditate. I am really calm. But I was just cut off the medication cold turkey and fear the worst now.

And all that makes me really want is to know if anyone on a long-term high-dose of ambien has gotten off of it? I don't like being at the mercy of pharmacies. Doctors have been really compassionate as they see the situation very clearly, and it's all well documented, they just don't understand it. I'm afraid that I may be in an in-patient mental facility within a few days due to the choices of the pharmacies in this area, which are not rational. And I'm working, so this is not a good moment to have a mental collapse due to lack of sleep.

I also had physical problems from such sustained insomnia in the past and became anorexically thin, had a lot of my bodily functions stop working well, like my blood sugar and heart rate, and had to be on IV's for it. I also developed tremors and other, similar muscular problems, as well as extreme and constant terror that was barely managed by anti-anxiety medication.

I don't know what to do or where to turn. I have been told I am a "medical mystery," but I am not receiving consistent treatment even when I follow every rule laid forth to me. Again, I don't abuse my medication or fill them early, ever. Can anyone relate? I basically had total insomnia for almost a year with just occasional sleep before this. I don't know why it would be different now. And I know I cannot sleep without medication. But as of tonight, I am out of it, and I cannot go anywhere for help as I wouldn't know where to go. Plus, I have a heavy work week, and my entire family rely on my income.

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Im sorry you are going through this. I can't believe a pharmacy wouldn't fill your rx. Why wouldn't your doctor give you 60 pills? The pharmacy has to fill it. Also, u can ask your doctor re Remeron, Trazadone, benzodiazepines, Seroquel, and other sedating meds. They can use a combo to help u out. Whatever is going on is unacceptable. I also have a bad insomnia and prior to my anxiety/depression I was a great sleeper too. My doctor is addressing my anxiety to help out with the insomnia. Maybe u should see a psychiatrist to figure this out. They have a whole bunch of meds to try out to solve your problem. Let us know how it goes.

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@happythinkingma

Im sorry you are going through this. I can't believe a pharmacy wouldn't fill your rx. Why wouldn't your doctor give you 60 pills? The pharmacy has to fill it. Also, u can ask your doctor re Remeron, Trazadone, benzodiazepines, Seroquel, and other sedating meds. They can use a combo to help u out. Whatever is going on is unacceptable. I also have a bad insomnia and prior to my anxiety/depression I was a great sleeper too. My doctor is addressing my anxiety to help out with the insomnia. Maybe u should see a psychiatrist to figure this out. They have a whole bunch of meds to try out to solve your problem. Let us know how it goes.

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Ambien is a controlled substance, specifically a schedule IV according to the DEA, so pharmacies have stricter federal laws when dispensing these controlled substances. The pharmacy doesn’t ‘have to’ fill anything. It is under the discretion of the pharmacist if it could potentially harm a patient. Controlled substances are put under stricter controls for their potential for abuse. So early refill requests can present red flags.

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@fancyrph

Ambien is a controlled substance, specifically a schedule IV according to the DEA, so pharmacies have stricter federal laws when dispensing these controlled substances. The pharmacy doesn’t ‘have to’ fill anything. It is under the discretion of the pharmacist if it could potentially harm a patient. Controlled substances are put under stricter controls for their potential for abuse. So early refill requests can present red flags.

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I see. That makes total sense. But I don't see anything about early refills on the post.

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@happythinkingma

I see. That makes total sense. But I don't see anything about early refills on the post.

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I don't see anything either. I think the issue is one of quantity…a prescription for 60 pills to be filled at the same time.

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@happythinkingma

I see. That makes total sense. But I don't see anything about early refills on the post.

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There was nothing on the post about an early refill. I didn’t say there was. It was an example of a red flag where controlled substances are concerned.

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I think this is a perfect example of government going too far in controlling our lives. If for nothing else, at least they should allow those over age 60 to use if if the patient insists, otherwise the laws are just making people angry. I have the same issue regarding hormone therapy….the government put all sorts of silly laws meant to "protect" me…..simply wrong wrong wrong.

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My new doctor at the VA refuses to renew my ambien because instead he wants to start me on anti-depressants! I am not depressed, I deal with some anxieties, but once again, the government is making life difficult for the doctors and thus we, the patients suffer.

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I agree. If a patent is miserable and has insomnia why not help them. Not renewing the rx is mean. At least the doctor should have a tapering schedule to wean you off and start something new. Some antidepressants are sedating and used for insomnia so maybe that's what he/she is thinking. Anyhow, Id ask for a weaning off schedule. Lower dose/fewer pills than a switch.

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