Sleeping pills are often prescribed for the short-term treatment of severe insomnia. They fall into the category of sedative-hypnotics which also includes barbiturates (phenobarbital, pentobarbital) and benzodiazepines (Xanax, Klonopin).
The most common sleeping pills are Ambien, Sonata, and Lunesta. They act on the same GABA receptors in the brain as benzodiazepines but they tend to have fewer side effects. However, similar to benzodiazepines, you can become addicted to sleeping pills.
In many cases, when people are prescribed sleeping pills for short periods, the treatment is successful. The individual may also find alternative ways to fall asleep and stay asleep. They may get over a stressful life event, find natural remedies or use yoga to help them relax at the end of the day. In any case, they are no longer reliant on a drug to help them to sleep.
For other people, their relationship with sleeping pills is a lot more complicated. These drugs are widely prescribed, and many people assume they are safe to use. However, they eventually find that they can’t sleep unless they take a pill. Over time they develop a tolerance and they need higher and higher dosages to experience the same effects. They eventually begin “popping pills”. This is not a healthy situation even if the drugs were initially prescribed by a doctor.
Ambien and similar drugs act fast and can be used as needed instead of on a strict schedule. However, some people get into the habit of using them every time they have difficulty sleeping. They may also use them if they face an anxiety-inducing situation and they want to calm down or avoid the problem.
Effects of Sleeping Pills
When sedatives are not used as prescribed, this is considered abuse. When you take high doses of sleeping pills, you get the same feel-good effect as that produced by benzodiazepines. Sedatives can also cause hallucinations when you take them but fight the urge to sleep.
Other effects of sleeping pills include:
- Dreamless sleep
- Lack of coordination
- Lower anxiety
Sleeping pill abuse may be traditionally associated with an older demographic. However, the incidence among high school and college students has increased. Sedatives can increase the effects of alcohol or create a similar feeling on their own. Many young people find sleeping pills to be readily available in their homes. They may also be able to get their own prescriptions quite easily.
Sedatives come with a warning that they should not be used with alcohol. Doctors and pharmacists usually remind patients of this. However, some people still drink while using sedatives. People who have severe addictions may use alcohol to increase the effects of the pills. This can be deadly since it increases the risk of overdose. Individuals also combined sedatives with antidepressants, painkillers or benzodiazepines.
What Are the Signs of Becoming Addicted to Sleeping Pills?
Often, people don’t even realize they’ve become dependent or addicted to sleeping pills until they stop taking them. They may run out of their supply or forget to pack their pills when they go on vacation. All of a sudden, they start experiencing withdrawal symptoms. Other signs of dependence or addiction include:
- Trying and failing to quit on several occasions
- Going to more than one doctor for refills
- Experiencing memory loss because of drug use
- Experiencing cravings for sleeping pills
- Taking the medication despite negative effects
- Increasing the dosage without talking to a doctor
Recovery from sleeping pill addiction can be very difficult. This may be surprising, since these drugs are prescribed by doctors. However, that doesn’t make them less dangerous. The longer you abuse them, the harder it gets to recover since the brain becomes accustomed to the effects.
Recovering addicts often experience even worse insomnia than they did before when they stop taking the drug. This drives many of them to use again. However, you need to know that “rebound insomnia” is a common occurrence. To minimize this and other withdrawal symptoms, you should seek out a medically assisted detox.
Contact Asheville Recovery Center to Learn About Available Treatment Options
If you or a loved one is dealing with a sleeping pill addiction, there is nothing to be ashamed of. With the right treatment and support, you can begin to live a healthier life. At Asheville Recovery Center, we provide individualized addiction treatment options that take your unique circumstances into consideration.
No matter how long you’ve been trying to quit, recovery is still possible. Call us today to ask questions about our services or schedule a consultation. We have a team of professionals waiting to assist you.