Weaning off zolpidem (Ambien)

Posted by lusia @lusia, Dec 9, 2017

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

Liked by hutch1

@akubanek

Thank you for your reply. According to the NP he just no longer wants to prescribe "these types" of medications to anyone. He has prescribed me doxipen, and said for a month he will prescribe me 5mg Zolpidem but after that we would have to try other things. Last night was my first night on the new regimen and of course, I am awake after 2 hours, crying because I know that there are days of not sleeping ahead of me.

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Hi @akubanek , I feel for you. My PCP was adamant that I stopped Ambien. If you read my posts, you’ll see how I weaned off all my meds. The first thing I did was substitute Trazadone [50 mg) for the Ambien. I am now down to 25 mg Trazadone. I am working with a sleep therapist. I am having trouble falling asleep and staying asleep. I use the Calm app to help fall asleep. You can get a free trial for 7 days. I like the sleep stories. I am learning to use my bed for sleeping only. I read in a comfortable chair in another room. Don’t lie in bed for more than 20 minutes trying to sleep. The more anxious you get about not sleeping, the more difficult it will be to sleep. Good luck.

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@sndishpr

Hi @akubanek , I feel for you. My PCP was adamant that I stopped Ambien. If you read my posts, you’ll see how I weaned off all my meds. The first thing I did was substitute Trazadone [50 mg) for the Ambien. I am now down to 25 mg Trazadone. I am working with a sleep therapist. I am having trouble falling asleep and staying asleep. I use the Calm app to help fall asleep. You can get a free trial for 7 days. I like the sleep stories. I am learning to use my bed for sleeping only. I read in a comfortable chair in another room. Don’t lie in bed for more than 20 minutes trying to sleep. The more anxious you get about not sleeping, the more difficult it will be to sleep. Good luck.

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Thank you for your reply. Last night was another night of waking every 20 minutes or so and getting more and more frustrated. I have tried so many things over the years. I had to take Trazadone once because I had pneumonia and in the hospital. They wouldn't give me the Ambien because they said it affects the breathing and with pneumonia my breathing was already affected. I was awake for two days taking that. I only use my bed for sleeping and have for years. I have spent thousands of dollars making my bedroom as comfortable as possible. I just don't understand what is going on. How can a doctor that has never treated me or even spoken to me change a treatment plan simply because he thinks everyone should be off Ambien? I feel depressed and defeated because I can see my future and it is just long nights of wanting to sleep and days of being mad and unhappy because I haven't gotten enough sleep. I know people on here know how I feel, but right now its a very lonely feeling.

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@akubanek

Thank you for your reply. Last night was another night of waking every 20 minutes or so and getting more and more frustrated. I have tried so many things over the years. I had to take Trazadone once because I had pneumonia and in the hospital. They wouldn't give me the Ambien because they said it affects the breathing and with pneumonia my breathing was already affected. I was awake for two days taking that. I only use my bed for sleeping and have for years. I have spent thousands of dollars making my bedroom as comfortable as possible. I just don't understand what is going on. How can a doctor that has never treated me or even spoken to me change a treatment plan simply because he thinks everyone should be off Ambien? I feel depressed and defeated because I can see my future and it is just long nights of wanting to sleep and days of being mad and unhappy because I haven't gotten enough sleep. I know people on here know how I feel, but right now its a very lonely feeling.

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@akubanek I am wondering if you could find a sleep therapist. I found mine online. He is a CBT-I. (a psychologist who is trained in Cognitive Behavior Treatment of Insomnia.). I found three in my area. Each one spoke to me at length on the phone. One did not take my insurance and recommended one of the others. My PCP was not aware of this specialty. The therapist consults with the PCP on weaning me off the meds. I still have a way to go, and am hopeful. I am thrilled I no longer take ambien and Xanax. Do try and get some help.

Liked by Lisa Lucier

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@colleenyoung

Welcome to Connect, @peajayiam
You'll notice that I moved your message to this discussion about weaning off Ambien. I did this so you could meet others talking about getting off this drug, like @robbinr @blazytracy @bernese53 @arachel and others.

Peajayjam, click VIEW & REPLY to see the previous messages posted.
While we wait for others to join in, would you mind sharing why you've decided to get off Ambien now? What led to this decision?

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Sorry I am new here but wanted to find if anyone has comments about what my VA doctor has suggested. I have been taking 10mg ambien for many years, it works! But my new Dr at the VA now tells me he will no longer prescribe it. He tells me it is my anxiety and constant worrying about lots of things that is causing my lack of sleep. yes, i am a worrier, but I don't think I am depressed. But he wants to start me on Lexapro. I read that stuff makes me gain weight and lower my already low sex drive. That itself worries me but he seems to strongly believe that is what I need. Any other opinions would be appreciated, I am almost scared now and fear I will have trouble using Lexapro.

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@sndishpr

@akubanek I am wondering if you could find a sleep therapist. I found mine online. He is a CBT-I. (a psychologist who is trained in Cognitive Behavior Treatment of Insomnia.). I found three in my area. Each one spoke to me at length on the phone. One did not take my insurance and recommended one of the others. My PCP was not aware of this specialty. The therapist consults with the PCP on weaning me off the meds. I still have a way to go, and am hopeful. I am thrilled I no longer take ambien and Xanax. Do try and get some help.

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That’s a good & safer way to accomplrrlish the detox’n. To address Similar nervousness… I wrote me reminder notes for the am so I wouldn’t gorget!! forget! Also, I sipped on Sleepy Time Chamomile Tea. Additionally I would take an Epsom Salts bath… amazing! Reduces your pain..I too was recommended melatonin but, I experienced nightmares! Aweful dreams! Also, drinking Cherry juice is also related
To melatonin. But tried Nighttime formula NyQuil. that works for me. Do NOT take Benedryl!! They have a caution places in them for being an Anticholernergic which hastens Alzheimers!!

Also the dosing for all changed ~ 5-6?yrs ago. Women are 4 mg of Ambien/Zolpidem 6 mg for men. I survived that transition. Can’t say it wasn’t a challenge.. but I survived.

I’d be inclined to research MDs that allow tor the Rx of at least 4 mg of Ambien. They tend to be spooked w/ all the dizzing opinions about pain medicines. They don’t know what pain really is till it happens to them!! Then all of a sudden it’s REAL!! Don’t worry that you coul be addicted…. you’re NOT! There is s difference in NEEDING pain b/c you crave it and need it to eradicate or minimize pain! My Sister is an MD and had to explain the difference. She told me you’re not out in the streets trying to get all you could if ANY pain Rx!!

Additionally, there are pain clinics that can help w/ exercises that are safe to try Ie Tai Chi that help w/ flexibility and vs Fill contact kick-boxing.

PS: I was forced to endure numerous full cessation NO tapering of my pain meds! That can precipitate a heart attack or cerebral vascular event! It was due to Workers Comp not wanting to pa! Also…. the PhD not caring about the fact that auto -Fill is to help all Rxs be on time. Instead they “forgot”to activate it on that Rx!! (on accidental on purpose!!) Soo I go several days w/o Rxs!! I die w/ severe heart burn w/ just Advil! Oh.. I wish you doo much more than I got! I was practically suicidal! When I found my MD as my Primsry Dr. She requires 6 mo Pain Mgmt meeting and urinalysis. & signing a Pain Mgmt Contract to only let her Rx your pain meds…. but I have nothing to hide if I get my meds!!

Almost forgot.. white or pink noise App on my phone! I put it on to sleep w/ a sleep mask. It drowns out little noises that can wake me up!! Sooo helpful!! I wish you well!! My Friend! 💜🙏🏻🌹🌈

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Hello, @onewhoknows, and welcome back to Mayo Clinic Connect. Thanks for your tips on getting a good night's sleep. you might look at our Chronic Pain group to read more about others' experiences with pain management and share some of your experience with coming off of pain management medications https://connect.mayoclinic.org/group/pain/.

@bruce0712 – welcome to Connect. Members like @happythinkingma @guener @wwwzeydotrocks @annedodrill44 @annalivia may have some input for you on their experiences with Lexapro, since your doctor is wanting to put you on that medication.

You said your doctor seems to strongly believe that Lexapro is what you need. Did he expound on why he felt this medication would be very helpful for you?

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@bruce0712 , regarding Lexapro, I take it for depression primarily, but it's sometimes used for anxiety, too. My own issues with anxiety and worrying I am now coping with after stopping Gabapentin (used off-label for anxiety). If you are concerned about the side-effects of Lexapro like libido and weight gain, I would definitely speak to your doctor about those. There are other anxiety anti-depressant and anti-anxiety drugs that don't have so much impact in those areas.

Liked by Lisa Lucier

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@sndishpr

acura1642 – An update – I am now off ambien, Xanax, Benadryl and melatonin. I began by substituting 50 gr trazadone for the ambien and slowly weaned off the other drugs. I have been seeing a sleep therapist for several weeks now. I am down to 37 gr tazadone and will continue to wean off that. I am doing deep breathing exercises along with TM (meditating), Trying to learn not to panic if I can’t sleep. Hope this gives you and others hope.

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Been on Ambien (5 to 10 mg) and Xanax (.5 to 1 mg) for 10 years. Going into Medicare and new doc is not going to prescribe these when my prescription expires. Told me to go cold turkey on Ambien (replace with 50 mg trazadone) and slowly taper off the Xanax. 3 days into it and not been able get more than 3-4 hours of sleep. I agree with the professionals that long term use of these medications are harmful and I want out. Your message is hopeful.

Are sleep therapists psychologists? Did you go to one specializing in Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT_I)?

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@smen

Been on Ambien (5 to 10 mg) and Xanax (.5 to 1 mg) for 10 years. Going into Medicare and new doc is not going to prescribe these when my prescription expires. Told me to go cold turkey on Ambien (replace with 50 mg trazadone) and slowly taper off the Xanax. 3 days into it and not been able get more than 3-4 hours of sleep. I agree with the professionals that long term use of these medications are harmful and I want out. Your message is hopeful.

Are sleep therapists psychologists? Did you go to one specializing in Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT_I)?

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Sorry, I am new here. I did not read the more recent postings which answered my question.

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@smen

Been on Ambien (5 to 10 mg) and Xanax (.5 to 1 mg) for 10 years. Going into Medicare and new doc is not going to prescribe these when my prescription expires. Told me to go cold turkey on Ambien (replace with 50 mg trazadone) and slowly taper off the Xanax. 3 days into it and not been able get more than 3-4 hours of sleep. I agree with the professionals that long term use of these medications are harmful and I want out. Your message is hopeful.

Are sleep therapists psychologists? Did you go to one specializing in Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT_I)?

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I have been off Ambien for 7 months. I will never go back. I slept great but it was totally messing with my mind. I still have a lot of trouble with sleep. I think it will always be a struggle! Good luck!

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@findrest

I have been off Ambien for 7 months. I will never go back. I slept great but it was totally messing with my mind. I still have a lot of trouble with sleep. I think it will always be a struggle! Good luck!

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That’s encouraging! But yes I know I will always struggle too.

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Hi all. Hopping on this thread (and posting for first time though have been reading here before).

I am a 40 year old white male with bipolar disorder trying to *desperately* wean off Clonazepam/Klonopin ("K" for short). Short version of Rx: along the way, I've taken everything from anti-depressants to anti-anxiety and ambien and trazodone…. I'm now down to 1.5mg of K per day, and that is down from 6mg back a couple years ago. Apart from vitamin supplements (C, A, D3, E, Theanine…), I am not on any other Rx.

Help needed: I have a supply of Ambien from my Psych MD, but I have not used it, I use Melatonin (6mg, subligual) which helps, but I wake up by 4:00a and cannot go back to sleep. Even with going to sleep at 10:00p. Any suggestions? I do NOT want to add Ambien to my meds as I am not on it now, and I am trying to wean off K under guidance of a therapist and Pysch MD.

Any thoughts appreciated. Prefer herbal or other supplements. Thoughts?

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@happy_ira

Hi all. Hopping on this thread (and posting for first time though have been reading here before).

I am a 40 year old white male with bipolar disorder trying to *desperately* wean off Clonazepam/Klonopin ("K" for short). Short version of Rx: along the way, I've taken everything from anti-depressants to anti-anxiety and ambien and trazodone…. I'm now down to 1.5mg of K per day, and that is down from 6mg back a couple years ago. Apart from vitamin supplements (C, A, D3, E, Theanine…), I am not on any other Rx.

Help needed: I have a supply of Ambien from my Psych MD, but I have not used it, I use Melatonin (6mg, subligual) which helps, but I wake up by 4:00a and cannot go back to sleep. Even with going to sleep at 10:00p. Any suggestions? I do NOT want to add Ambien to my meds as I am not on it now, and I am trying to wean off K under guidance of a therapist and Pysch MD.

Any thoughts appreciated. Prefer herbal or other supplements. Thoughts?

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Hello, @happy_ira – I'd like to welcome you to Mayo Clinic Connect. That is hard to be waking up at 4 a.m. unable to go back to sleep.

Since you are interested in something that would help with getting back to sleep or just getting a full night's sleep, preferably herbal or other supplements, I'd like to see if @johnbishop @sndishpr @fancyrph @smen @findrest @paulinef @cokie63 may have some thoughts for you.

I'd also like to suggest you check out a thread on bi-polar disorder and consider participating in the discussion https://connect.mayoclinic.org/discussion/bi-polar-issues/

Have you mentioned to your psychiatrist that you are uncomfortable with the zolpidem (Ambien) and that you'd like another suggestion, @happy_ira?

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I've been using cayene and it helps alleviate some peripheral neuropathy. It has many other brain and health benefits. Something to look up and maybe try while your lowering your Klonopin. The brain responds to the heat of the cayene and the brain releases endorphins and dopamine and I think serotonin.
Some other things that can help with calming and sleep are: Calm Aid(lavender pill OTC), magnesium supplements or(CALM powder), chamomile (I'm allergic to chamomile), amber lighting (sounds funny but wearing amber sunglasses a couple hours before bed works. Stay away from blue light 2 hours before bed like computers, tv wifi etc.). Meditations CDs or pick your own meditations, a sound machine in your bedroom, air purifier, essential oil diffuser (lavender oil is very calming) ,heating pad, a small snack of oatmeal(no sugar) can help blood sugar, read positive books prayers, poems, affirmations, Trazadone and Gabapentin. Try to get fresh air and exercise and increase bright light exposure during the day. Some people use melatonin but makes me ill the next day and doesn't work for sleep for me. Some things take a little while for the body to adjust for sleep. Of course don't drink caffeine. Another calming supplement is L-theanine(makes my dog tired), ginko biloba(never tried it) keep bedroom cool. Be careful with supplements making sure they're third party tested and approved. Take relaxing epsom salt bath or shower. Rule out sleep disorder. Get a comfortable bed, mattress and pillow. Try to get into a sleep pattern. Don't exercise before bed. Don't drink liquids `1 to 2 hours before bed. If I go to bed at 10pm I wake up at 4am. Going to bed after 10:00pm or 10:30pm for me helps me sleep longer. While your cutting back on Klonopin, try some cayenne and crushed red pepper in your meals. Cayene contains CAPSAICIN which has many benefits including helping with the nervous system.

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@gman007

I take Remeron as Ambien and a couple of other sleep only meds did not do the trick for me and I have no qualms about using it forever if necessary. I also take three other meds for my depression/anxiety and opiates for my pain. I never want to speak ill of anyone, but those who worry about your addiction; Are they content to spend every night that you are awake all night on the phone with you? I think I have overstated my viewpoint, but are there those out there who take Ambien or another prescription sleep medication that they would describe their experiences for us. Have you tried stopping due to dependence or some other reason? What difference has no longer being an insomniac made in your life? I would appreciate anyone else’s experience and views on this topic.

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I have taken it daily (more accurately nightly) for more than a decade. I will from time to time move my dose down from 10mg to 5mg. It's doable based on my general stress level and (bipolar) stability. But something every night. I have no "compulsion" or "craving" for higher doses than what is needed and prescribed. I have found that a great indicator of an oncoming "episode" of bipolar is frequently my sleep. Poor sleep for more than a couple of days almost guarantees "problems". I take it at night, at home, where I have my family. If I don't get to bed within about 30 minutes, yes, I get bitchy, argumentative, and have no memory of it the next day. Funny, but they usually make sure I'm in bed in 30 minutes! I've tried going without my mood stabilizers – never again. Big mistake, at least for me. I've tried going without ambien, again, big mistake. I also have asthma. I take an inhaled steroid, and have for over 4 decades. I will have to do this until the day I die. Nobody says I'm "addicted" to steroids. Yeah, I could live without it, going in and out of the hospital where they'd put in an IV, pushing steroids! I was in a psych ward 1 time. 1 time was enough more me. I will take my psych meds, every day until I die as well. All of them, which means ambien as well.

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