Sleeping Pill Addiction Treatment

It’s safe to assume that most people are now aware of the dangers of opioids, including prescription pain medication. But many are still in the dark when it comes to the dangers of prescription sleep aids.  

Sleeping pills are among the most commonly prescribed medications in the country.  Sleep aids, such as the market-leading Ambien, can be dangerously addictive. Long-term use causes the users to develop a tolerance to the medicine, which means that the normal dose does not have the same effect. Larger doses are needed, and the risk of problems increases. Prescription sleeping pills can be psychologically addictive as well.

sleeping aid addiction treatment

How Do Sleeping Pills Work?

Sleeping pills fall into the class of drugs known as sedative-hypnotics, which also includes benzodiazepines and barbiturates. This class of narcotics is used with the sole purpose of inducing or maintaining sleep.  

Some benzodiazepines are prescribed as sleeping pills and are known to be highly addictive both physically and psychologically. Newer types of sleeping pills such as Ambien and Sonata are known as “Z-drugs,” and work in a similar way to benzodiazepines and are thought to be less addictive.  

These sleeping aids work by binding to specific GABA receptors in the brain. While benzodiazepines are used to reduce anxiety, prescription sleep aids reduce anxiety and reduce the time it takes to fall asleep. They are less likely to be abused, however, all can cause physical dependence.  

Physical Effects of Sleeping Pills

“Z-drugs” and benzodiazepine sleeping pills have similar effects. They give the user a calm and relaxed feeling, and make the user drowsy, enabling them to sleep.  

Other effects include:

  • Dizziness
  • Lightheadedness
  • Headache
  • Being impaired the day after taking medication
  • Problems with memory
  • Burning or tingling in the extremities
  • Constipation
  • Diarrhea
  • Dry mouth
  • Loss of coordination
  • Dreamless sleep
  • Hallucinations, which can happen when a person fights the urge to sleep after taking the medication

For those with conditions such as asthma, side effects can be more severe as sleep aids can interfere with breathing and can be dangerous. It’s important to never use medication that isn’t prescribed to you and to always alert your doctor to any medications that you may be taking, including over the counter sleep aids.  

Another harmful effect of prescription sleep aids is potential parasomnias. These are events such as sleepwalking where the user is unable to control behavior or movement. The user remains asleep and is unaware of what is happening.  

Parasomnias experienced while taking sleeping pills are often more complex than those without sleep aids. Users have reported activities such as eating and even having sex while still asleep.  There have also been reports of people attempting to drive or driving while asleep, which can have serious consequences.

Not everyone will experience parasomnias while taking prescription sleep aids, but it is impossible to predict if and when someone will. The chance of serious side effects increases as the dosage increases, therefore it is extremely important to never take more than the prescribed dose.  

What are the Signs of Sleeping Pills Abuse

Sleeping pills are most often prescribed for short-term use and on an as-needed basis. Since they are effective and seen as relatively harmless some people start taking them more often than they should.  

Starting to increase your dosage is one of the first signs that abuse has begun. Here are some signs:

  • Thinking that you are unable to sleep without sleeping pills
  • Needing more than the prescribed dose in order to sleep
  • Wanting to stop taking medication but being unable to
  • Seeing multiple doctors in order to get more
  • Craving sleep medication
  • Experiencing negative side effects such as memory loss, yet still taking pills
  • Combining sleeping pills with alcohol or other drugs
  • Taking sleeping pills and resisting sleep in order to feel its effects or experience hallucinations

Dangers of Sleeping Pill Abuse

Sleeping pills begin to affect the brain from the very first use. Often times when someone stops taking sleeping pills they experience what is called “rebound insomnia,” which is often worse than before the medication was started. This makes the user more likely to return to sleep aids, and the cycle of abuse continues.  

Another danger is combining sleeping pills with other substances, especially alcohol. Many people do not think seriously about having a beer or a glass of wine and then taking sleep medication, however, this increases the likelihood of a fatal overdose as both are sedatives and can decrease respiration.  

Some people purposefully combine the two once they find that the normal dose does not help them sleep like it used to. They view a glass of wine or a beer as a help, unaware of the potential danger.  

Withdrawal Symptoms

Physical addiction to sleeping pills is more common with those that are benzodiazepines but can happen with any kind. If a tolerance has been built, stopping the medication suddenly can cause a number of withdrawal symptoms such as:

  • Sweating
  • Increased blood pressure
  • Increased heart rate
  • Anxiety
  • Tremors or shaking

Treatment for Sleeping Pill Addiction

If you have been taking sleeping pills for a long period of time it’s important that you do not stop cold turkey. Supervised detox treatment is crucial to safely stop taking sleeping pills if the body has developed a tolerance to help manage potential withdrawal symptoms.

If you are abusing sleeping pills, seek help immediately. At DayBreak Treatment Solutions, we have multiple treatment options available to you. Call today in confidence, and let us show you how we can help.