Citation: benzodiazaqueen. "Eight Years of Daily Use: An Experience with Zolpidem (exp39417)". Erowid.org. Feb 9, 2005. erowid.org/exp/39417
So, I've taken 20-80 mg of ambien every single night since 1997, and I've got some interesting things to say regarding the drug. My reason for taking it so often, and at that dose, is because I suffer from fairly relentless insomnia, and while I started at a dosage of 5 mg., I quickly came to require 20-30 mg within about 2 months, and have maintained that dose, usually, for 8 years.
I've never specifically taken it recreationally, though it's become recreational when I've not bothered to sleep after taking it, which I'll get into.
The first time I took it, I was well-versed with drug-use, particularly cannabis, LSD, mushrooms, ketamine, and benzodiazepines like Xanax, Ativan, and Halcion. It didn't actually make me sleepy (and never has since)... it makes me spacy, spacy enough in the head, following mentally drifting thought fragments, to fall asleep IF I remember, or want to close my eyes. Sometimes it's so pleasant, or even conversely energizing, that I've just stayed up and then redosed myself some hours later (which works ok). Marijuana, Melatonin, Benzos, or a shot of alcohol seem to give the requisite sleepiness that ambien itself lacks, if desired for the purpose of sleeping.
So it's like this in the beginning (the first few months, the cooler effects wore off after that and I've never been able to regain them)... I injest a pill, I MUST have a fairly empty stomach and it doesn't hurt to chew it, within ten or fifteen minutes it should hit over a few minutes, unusually quick for an oral drug, and it peaks in intensity also very quickly. The first feeling is a bit floating, and a flattening of visual field, which can be a bit like a light hallucinogenic, but far, far milder, slightly breathing walls and heatwaves in the early usage, that goes away with a few weeks of regular use. Very occasional geometric abstractions, occasional morphine-like mental imagery without the emotional component, almost exclusively when new to the drug. Sometimes my emotions become flatter as well, and I feel less reactive emotionally to things, and I realize it's coming on. I might feel a simultaneous dampening of reactivity to outwards sensory input, like colors are more boring, light a bit dimmer, people a bit farther away, always this funny feeling that things are less pretty, while feeling an intensification of inward thoughts... dreamlike thoughts really start unfurling, and in the beginning it was sometimes hard to tell if I was actually dreaming or awake, though that really did fade with time. Now it's more like a loosening. Hard to explain. A feeling of detachment. Sometimes of relief. No hallucinatory feelings, but time can distort or seem irrelevent. Things can feel a bit watery, and dreamy, but it's hard to place. It's so mild I could almost ignore it.
Also, there is some hallucinogenic effect in terms of waves, visual, and false sensory waves, and sometimes dreamy anthropomorphosising of objects. I once was delighted to watch what seemed like a ballet performance by the objects on my shadowy dresser top. Body feels far more pleasant, always. Light and comfortable, though orgasm is hard to achieve because of the lack of mental focus. I totally get the munchies too... and crave the weirdest stuff, or combinations, which always seem great at the time, and then the next day it's like, I ate WHAT??? I made baked bean and miso soup? I ate three jars of babyfood. Humor goes right over my head. Getting up and making things sometimes seem inspired when in the morning I find myself with 10 cut-up books or something stupid. Repetitive tasks requiring no inspiration are best at this time. I am a very creative person but ambien totally cuts my creativity while I'm on it. Also, if I'm writing or drawing, I just can't tell if what I'm making is any good.
Another thing is I tend to become overly confessional with people and unintentionally critical when I think I'm being objective and honest in a kind way, and have pissed off more than a few people this way, making late-night ambien phone calls or telling my boyfriend, or friends spending the night, the wrong things. I seem to forget which secrets I plan to keep. It's a GREAT truth serum. If I take a higher dose, say 10 mg or maybe 20, there's some additional effects. One is amnesia. Which can be total. Judgement remains sound but there's a tendency to make impulsive plans, though not necessarily way out of left field, like going ahead and purchasing airline tickets that I had half thought of purchasing anyways.
I've been recorded a few times, on video and tape both, and that's pretty embarassing. While I feel like I'm really lucid, I look basically drunk. This is at a higher dose... my motor skills remain perfect. What made me look drunk is the rambling speech and stupid grin I seem to get, in addition to conversing about really inane things.
I've had four bad experiences out of approx. 3000 with ambien, as follow:
Three involved how it comes on at higher dosages, sometimes. I took my usual 20 mg and once, 40 mg. all at once, chewed, empty stomach, and after about 3 minutes felt totally disoriented and faint with a rapid heartbeat and a feeling of total panic. It just hit really fast. For like ten minutes I'd have to lay still with my eyes closed and my heart pounding and this incredibly disjointed, I-can't-get-it-together/I'm-dying feeling, which would pass in about as long again. That is so very rare though. I wouldn't think it would happen almost EVER. But it can induce a panic attack that seems dosage related to me.
The fourth involved taking too, too much, unsupervised save by my housemates, over several days, all day long, apparently forgetting I WAS taking anything and being highly confused. I actually have no memory of this. It occured over a weekend and I'd have to guess I took 20-40 mg every 3-6? hours for three days or so. I don't know if I slept or what, but I do know I cussed out my doctor on the telephone on a Sunday (I have no idea why, and found this out when I later tried to make an appointment to see him), and that I was irate, saying I wasn't sleeping at all and yelling outside the house, which is when the people I lived with started noticing that they should observe me a bit more closely. After I stopped taking it, I sort of came out of this state and was perfectly fine after that.
So, all in all, if I'm taking it recreationally, it's not all that much fun, unless I'm sitting in my house REALLY bored or stressed out (it takes the edge off things and induces a lot of ambivalent feelings, which can be so much better than unpleasant ones). I might get some drifty thoughts which remind me of a marijuana high or a mild morphine high, and at the most some light waving visuals or physical sensations. If I'm in pain, it can help ameliorate them, much in the same way LSD makes me perceive pain as just sensation, not PAIN per se. It's a great sleep aid, and I don't believe it's terribly physically addictive. Incidentally, I've taken it in public, or wound up in public after taking it, a few times, and while this can be sort of disorienting, it's like a light drunk at worse.
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