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Dr. Z
Dr. Z, Psychologist
Category: Mental Health
Satisfied Customers: 10643
Experience:  Psy.D. in Clinical Forensic Psychology with a background in treating severe mental illnesses.
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I am freaking out I was on ambien 10 mg a night prescription

Customer Question

I am freaking out I was on ambien 10 mg a night prescription from dr for a year. Immediately after I developed a tolerance I began to taper dosage. I've been off completely since beginning October. 3 months. I'm still having trouble sleeping. I've done tons of research . Does ambien cause permanent damage to gaba receptors?
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Mental Health
Expert:  Dr. Z replied 1 year ago.

*This website DOES NOT constitute treatment and only provides information and advice in a Q&A format. For treatment (therapy and/or medications) you must go to a licensed professional in your area. Please note that anything said here is not private or confidential, as this is a public forum.

Hello and thank you for using JustAnswer. No Ambien does not do any permanent damage to the GABA receptors, most likely what is going on here is that now that you are without the Ambien your original issue of insomnia has come back. Remember Ambien does not treat the core causes of insomnia, it just provides sedation to help you sleep at night. You may want to ask your doctor to consider trying on the non-addictive sleep aids like Trazodone, Doxepin, Gabapentin, or Seroquel as this can provide relief of your insomnia without having to worry about being physically addicted to it like the Ambien. Also these medications do not affect GABA like the Ambien either.

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
But I'm already on lyrica ( pregabalin)
Expert:  Dr. Z replied 1 year ago.

Lyrica is not as sedating, that is one of the benefits of Lyrica compared to the older Gabapentin. But you can also try the Trazodone, Seroquel, or Doxepin as all of these have an off-label use for treating insomnia

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Are you positive the ambien didn't cause permanent damage to my gaba receptors? I found an article that said you could have permanent damage to gaba receptors from benzo use
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Can I call you in just a few minutes?
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Expert:  Dr. Z replied 1 year ago.

First off Ambien is considered a nonbenzodiazepine hypnotic and also individuals that do permanent damage to their GABA receptors typically abuse a benzodiazepine like Xanax or Klonopin for years meaning they must take very high doses to do so. Lets put it this way 10mg of the Ambien is around equivalent to a 1/10th of .5mg of Xanax. Ambien is not considered very strong when compared to other benzodiazepines at all and you did not even use Ambien that long, so all in all you did not permanently damage your GABA receptors.

Expert:  Dr. Z replied 1 year ago.

You will notice in the article you linked that the study she is referring to was in 1982 and 1984 and was very small and not considered representative of the community who takes a benzodiazepine. Also she only mentions long-term use which again does not apply to you. And lastly her study she posted does not mention Ambien because it was not invented yet.

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Ok thank you. How long do you think for me to return to normal (the way I was b4 the ambien)
I'd it rebound insomnia?
Expert:  Dr. Z replied 1 year ago.

It is not rebound insomnia since the Ambien has long been washed out of your system. Most likely this is your original issue of insomnia that you had before you took the Ambien as it returned now that you are not taking any significant sleep aid medication. The only way to resolve this would be to either go on another sleep aid medication or treat the core causes of your insomnia (e.g. anxiety/stress)

Expert:  Dr. Z replied 1 year ago.

I hope this answers your questions and gives you some guidance on this issue. Please let me know if you have any questions or concerns as I am happy to assist and support you regarding this issue.

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