Sleeping Pill Addiction: Symptoms and Treatment
When taken properly with a prescription, sleeping pills are designed to help you fall asleep and sleep well all night. They do this by being a sedative and calming your central nervous system. However, they can also be highly addictive.
You may know sleeping pills by their street names: candy, tranks, downers, or benzos – or by the name of the prescription drug: Rozerem, Halcion, Silenor, Ambien, Carbrital, Lunesta, Belsomra, Restoril, Sonata, and more. Either way, once you become dependent on the drug to fall asleep, you find it impossible to fall asleep even without the drug and doing so can lead to serious side effects. They can cause side effects from mild fuzzy-headedness to serious issues including walking, talking, and driving in your sleep without any recollection.
Side Effects of Sleeping Pills
When used properly, sleeping pills can help you get the rest your body needs. However, sleeping pills have a number of side effects, especially when taken improperly. They range from headaches and stomach pains to an inability to keep balanced. Some side effects are even more serious and can have consequences for you and those around you.
Short-term side effects of sleeping pills include:
- Disturbed sleep patterns
- Compulsive behavior
- Memory loss of actions done while under the influence of sleeping pills and during sleepwalking episodes
- Change in menstrual cycles
- Lowered sex drive
- A chemical taste in the mouth
- Acid reflux
- Impaired judgement when driving
Any side effect, as soon as you’re aware of it, should be reported to your doctor. With so many options available to help you deal with insomnia, your doctor can find the one that is right for you before the problems get worse.
Long-term side effects of sleeping pills include:
- Liver damage
- Addiction causing a change in lifestyle and a focus on getting the next pill
- Withdrawal symptoms when sleeping pills are not available
- Impaired cognitive functioning
- Sleep apnea due to over-relaxed muscles
- Deteriorating psychomotor skills
- Hostile or unpredictable behavior
- Memory loss
The side effects vary depending on the patient, but since sleeping pills are highly addictive, it’s best to tread carefully and stick to your doctor’s recommendations. If you find yourself popping even one extra pill, you’re on the road to abuse and addiction.
What Causes Addiction?
Many people start using sleep aides for different reasons including stress, grief, peer pressure, chronic insomnia and more. Most users are not aware, however, of the harmful side effects, especially if used over a long period of time or abused. These harmful effects increase if used with other drugs or alcohol.
Addiction to sleeping aides such as barbiturates has steadily risen, often because they are used to negate the effects of other stimulants someone might be taking. People as young as teenagers also use sedatives because they are unaware of the side effects and are only looking for the chill.
Young adults, particularly those recently out of the home, as well as teens who live in a home where sleeping pills are used are at a high risk of addiction. Similarly, individuals who have other mental illnesses or who are addicted to other substances are also more likely to abuse sleeping pills.
Signs and Symptoms of Sleeping-Pill Addiction
It may not be that easy to determine if you’ve gotten addicted to the sleeping pill since you originally started using with a doctor’s prescription. Addiction can sneak up on you while you’ve been going about your normal life. Realizing you’re addicted can cause an extreme reaction, especially if a loved one intervenes and points out the problem. However, you need to gather your strength and start taking the steps necessary to address the issue.
It’s time to start looking into treatment and rehabilitation programs that can help you get your life back on track.
Millions of people take sleeping pills to help them sleep at night in a safe fashion. However, addiction and abuse can cause serious side effects, so it’s important to identify the pattern early, before you reach an overdose situation.
Addiction is different from regular, appropriate use. It’s more than just liking the aide, it’s a much stronger physical and psychological need for the medication. When use of the sleep aide is stopped, serious issues start to arise. If you need help determining if your use is addictive or abusive, ask yourself the following questions.
- Do you snap at people when they mention their concern over a possible addiction?
- Has your regular dosage exceeded what is prescribed and you can’t or won’t reduce it?
- Do you use sleeping pills in conjunction with other drugs or alcohol?
- Do you enjoy being sedated?
- Are you afraid to try to fall asleep without your sleep aide or take pills even when it’s unnecessary?
- Do you use sleep aides as a calmer when you are upset or anxious?
If any of these sound like you, you may be forming an addiction, especially if more than one is true. The first step is acknowledging to yourself that you have a problem and then seeking the help you need before the problem gets any worse. Individuals often become hooked on a pill’s calming and sedative effects, especially if they are long-time users.
Start by asking yourself if you’re ready to make a change and live a healthier life. Even if it just sounds like a great fantasy at the moment, it’s still something you should start exploring. As you learn more about addiction and hear how others have overcome their problems, you may start to realize it’s possible for you as well. Then it’s time to start looking into treatment and rehabilitation programs that can help you get your life back on track.
Sleeping Pill Tolerance and Dependence
If you have been using sleeping pills for an extended period of time, it’s not unusual for them to become less and less effective. Instead of providing you with relief and sleep, you’ll find that you need to take more and more of the medication in order to achieve the same relaxation. This is because you’ve developed a tolerance to your sleeping pills.
Tolerance is a natural process where the body adjusts to new and regular inputs. Changes can also be caused by a user’s metabolism, which over time can change how you process drugs as well as food. You want to see your doctor before increasing your dosage if you want to continue to take sleeping pills. Doctors often want to limit use to two weeks or less and stick with one sleep aide rather than combing them.
Dependence means that you’re unable to stop using the pill to go to sleep without causing serious problems. This can affect you in two ways. The first is psychological dependence where you are not physically addicted but forgoing it makes you restless and anxious. Then you become physically addicted, which can cause severe withdrawal symptoms if sleeping aides are missed abruptly.
Overdose of Sleeping Pills
Overdosing on sleeping pills can cause you to go to sleep and never wake up. A less extreme situation could find you experiencing sleep apnea, where the muscles in your throat relax and no longer function properly. You may also find yourself dizzy with blurred vision.
Treatment and Rehab
Entering rehab can be a huge change in lifestyle for you, even if you go to one of the luxury rehab centers. But when you’re trying to make a major life change, then it takes going into a rehabilitation program to get you straightened out.
Once you arrive at the treatment facility of your choice, you will start the intake process. This means you’ll talk to a therapist and other medical professionals about your current situation and start planning to get you detoxed and on the road to recovery.
There are many different types of therapy used in rehab and your therapist will work with you to put together the best plan for you.
Once you enter the facility, you’ll begin the detox process. During this process, you’ll receive medical care and monitoring to ensure your health and safety. Depending on the drug you’ve been using and the dose, detox can take anywhere from a day to a week or more. You may be given an alternative drug to help wean you off what you’re on as well as coaching to help you sleep better on your own.
After detox, you’ll start rehab, the treatment to help keep you away from drugs and prevent you from relying on your addiction in the future. There are many different types of therapy used in rehab and your therapist will work with you to put together the best plan for you. You may participate in group therapy sessions, attend education sessions, receive private counseling, and participate in extra therapeutic activities designed to address your addiction and any underlying issues.
After you finish rehab and leave the treatment facility, you’ll enter into aftercare. The details of your aftercare program will initially be set by your therapist at the facility and modified as necessary as you go. There is generally some individual counseling as well as group work to help you feel supported and address new issues as they arise once you’re back into your normal life.
Often, people start using sleeping aides to handle insomnia and as they withdraw from the pills, they experience new and increased insomnia. Centers that treat sleeping-pill addiction also know how to treat and handle insomnia. Any time you are receiving treatment for substance abuse, it’s important to also receive comprehensive care that includes treatment for any other underlying mental disorder or physical issue. Whether your insomnia is caused by depression or other problems, diagnosis and treatment is key to success.
In general, you will spend a minimum of 30 days at a treatment center, but you can also stay longer if it is necessary. View your time at the center as a break from the stress and pressure of your daily life and a chance to think and clear your mind. You want to make sure that your stay is long enough to truly accomplish your goals.
Different treatment programs also have different rules for how much contact you can have with the outside world while you’re in the program. Some will require a complete break from your regular life while others are more flexible and understand that you can’t leave your work and family demands behind. Some even let you telecommute so that you can maintain your job while receiving treatment or leave to attend school. Your goal is to find a treatment program that suits your specific needs, personality, and treatment plans.
Withdrawal and Detox
Withdrawing and detoxing from sleeping pills can be an incredibly taxing process. During this time, you can expect a number of unpleasant symptoms including anxiety, shaking, and insomnia. While you may know that it’s in your best interest to wean off the sleeping pills, you also need to know that it will be a hard process. Doing it with support, community, and medical supervision away from others you know may be the only way to succeed.
Other common symptoms of withdrawal include:
- Nausea and vomiting
- Hand tremors
- Increased heart rate
- Spasms and, in some rare cases, seizures
For most people, these symptoms start to present themselves within a few hours of the withdrawal process and are finished a few days after quitting the drug. During the first few days, you may feel confused, plus experience changes in mood and memory loss. You may feel anxious or afraid of what’s about to happen. In some cases, you may also feel nauseous and vomit. Over the course of the first week, you may have trouble sleeping. You’ll continue to feel anxious and crave the release the drug provides. This is when you may have other physical symptoms such as increased heart rate and tremors. After the first week, the physical symptoms begin to lessen, although psychological symptoms remain. This may also be when depression begins to show. Over time, these symptoms will also fade, and with proper therapy and treatment you’ll find yourself back to your normal, healthy, and happy self.
Overcoming Addiction Begins Today
If you’re serious about beating your addiction to sleeping pills, it’s time to start seeking treatment. Whatever path you choose, know that you’re making a big and positive change in your life by seeking help. You’ve decided to make your life healthy and happy and take care of yourself. That is a good thing!
Choosing the right facility to do your treatment and rehab may seem overwhelming at first, but if you reach out to Rehab-Finder.Org, we can collect the information about your financial situation, insurance, and treatment goals, then help you focus on just the facilities that are right for you.
Call us today to take the first step towards beating your addiction to sleeping pills and starting on a healthier life. 877-251-4813