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What Is Ambien?

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Updated July 22, 2010

Written or reviewed by a board-certified physician. See About.com's Medical Review Board.

Definition:

Ambien is a one of the most commonly prescribed medications for insomnia. It is chemically different from benzodiazepines, which are commonly prescribed for sleep and anxiety. It considered a sedative-hypnotic.

Ambien has risen in popularity because it is shorter acting and can induce sleep with fewer side effects than benzodiazepines. Although both drug types affect the brain in a similar way, non-benzodiazepine hypnotics like Ambien are more specific in the parts of the brain that they target.

One of the problems with Ambien is that its long-term addictive potential and side effects have not been extensively studied. Ambien is only recommended for short-term treatment of insomnia.

Although originally considered to be devoid of abuse and dependence potential, increasing evidence suggests that this may not be the case. Anecdotal and unsubstantiated stories circulating on the Internet relating to abuse of Ambien for sexual enhancement by the celebrity golfer and alleged sex addict, Tiger Woods, and his alleged mistress, Rachel Uchitel, indicate that Ambien may have a considerable abuse and addiction potential.

Anyone considering Ambien abuse should bear in mind both the sensational nature of stories involving celebrities and the currently unproven record of the safety of Ambien. If you have sexual difficulties that you feel you need help to overcome, talk to your doctor about appropriate treatment. It is extremely unsafe to take prescription drugs without the supervision of a physician.

Pronunciation: am - B - en
Also Known As: Zolpidem
Examples:
Josie's physician prescribed Ambien for a week to help her sleep following the death of her husband.

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