Sleeping pills addiction

Getting enough quality sleep is crucial for our health and overall well-being. For some people, sleep is a nightly blessing, but for others, it is a battle. In the struggle to find rest, sleeping pills can seem like a godsend, and they help millions of people worldwide get the sleep they need. However, when sleeping pill addiction takes over, the dream of a good night’s sleep can swiftly turn into a nightmare. Sleeping pill addiction affects countless people both in the UK and worldwide and can cause major issues in every area of your life.

What are sleeping pills?

Sleeping pills, or sedative hypnotics, are a category of medications designed to promote or extend sleep. They are often used as a short-term solution for treating insomnia and other sleep disorders. Sleeping pills work by altering certain neurotransmitters in the brain, especially one called gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA). This slows down the nervous system and promotes a feeling of calm and relaxation.

Some common types of sleeping pills include benzodiazepines, barbiturates and other hypnotics known as Z-drugs.

Benzodiazepines, such as Xanax and Valium, are generally considered the most addictive sleeping pills and are not usually prescribed for long-term use. Barbiturates depress the central nervous system and are used as anaesthetics and sedatives. Z-drugs are commonly prescribed for insomnia and are intended to cause less dependency but can still lead to addiction if misused.

What is sleeping pill addiction?

Sleeping pill addiction is a condition where you develop a physical and psychological dependence on sleeping pills. Addiction typically manifests through a compulsive need to keep taking the drugs even though it is causing negative effects. You will also likely experience symptoms such as cravings for sleeping pills, increased tolerance (where higher doses are needed to achieve the same effect) and withdrawal symptoms when the medication is not taken. Sleeping addiction can drastically affect your quality of life, often leading to significant distress and impairment in daily functioning.

Different types of sleeping pill addiction

The majority of types of sleeping pills can be potentially addictive, but three common Z-drugs addictions include:

Zolpidem tile button

Ambien/Zolpidem addiction

Zolpidem, commonly known as Ambien, is used for the short-term treatment of insomnia. Over time, users may develop a tolerance and require higher doses to achieve the same effects, leading to addiction. Click below to learn more.

Ambien/Zolpidem addiction →

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Zimovane/Zopiclone addiction

Zopiclone, or Imovane, is another short-term treatment for insomnia. Regular use can lead to dependency, and suddenly stopping can cause withdrawal symptoms, keeping sufferers stuck in the cycle of abuse and addiction.

Zimovane/Zopiclone addiction →

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Sonata/Zaleplon addiction

Zaleplon, also known as Sonata, is a short-acting sedative-hypnotic. It can cause psychological and physical dependency, especially when taken regularly over a long period or at high doses. Click below to learn more about addiction to Sonata.

Sonata/Zaleplon addiction →

Am I addicted to sleeping pills?

Recognising sleeping pill addiction can be challenging, particularly if you were prescribed them for insomnia or another sleep disorder. Prescription drug addiction is skilled at convincing sufferers they need to keep taking the medicine for their well-being. If you are worried that you are addicted to sleeping pills, ask yourself these questions:

  • Do you need to take higher doses of sleeping pills to achieve the same effects?
  • Have you tried to stop using sleeping pills but failed?
  • Do you often take sleeping pills for longer or in larger amounts than intended?
  • Have you ever forged a prescription, gone doctor shopping or ordered sleeping pills online to maintain your supply?
  • Do you spend a lot of time obtaining, using or recovering from the effects of sleeping pills?
  • Have you neglected responsibilities at work, school or home due to pill use?
  • Have you continued to use sleeping pills despite the negative consequences?
  • Do you experience withdrawal symptoms when trying to stop or cut back?

If the answer to these questions is “yes”, it is likely that you are addicted to sleeping pills and require professional help.

How does sleeping pill addiction develop?

Sleeping pill addiction usually starts subtly, often without you realising it. It can develop through several routes: recreational use, prescription use and self-medication.

Sleeping pill addiction through recreational use

Sometimes, people use sleeping pills recreationally, meaning they take them for non-medical purposes, such as to achieve a high or enhance the effects of other drugs. Recreational use is risky because the person often takes higher doses than would be medically recommended, increasing the risk of sleeping pill addiction.

Sleeping pill addiction through prescription use

People may also become addicted to sleeping pills after using them for legitimate medical reasons such as insomnia. If this person takes the sleeping pills for longer than recommended or starts to use more than the prescribed dose, they can quickly develop a sleeping pill addiction.

Sleeping pill addiction through self-medication

In other instances, people may start using sleeping pills as a form of self-medication to cope with stress, anxiety or other underlying mental health issues. While this might provide temporary relief, it often exacerbates the problem in the long run, leading to a cycle of dependency that can be difficult to break without professional help.

Regardless of how the sleeping addiction starts, the end result is often the same: a life increasingly centred around obtaining and using sleeping pills at the cost of your health, well-being and relationships.

What causes sleeping pill addiction?

Several risk factors can increase the likelihood of becoming addicted to sleeping pills. These include:

  • Prolonged sleeping pill use: Sleeping pills are typically designed for short-term use. Using them for a long period can lead to tolerance, meaning you need higher doses to achieve the same effect and, ultimately, sleeping pill addiction.
  • Personal or family history of substance abuse: If you or a family member has a history of drug or alcohol addiction, you may be at a higher risk of developing an addiction to sleeping pills.
  • Mental health disorders: People with mental health disorders like depression, anxiety, and PTSD are more likely to become addicted to sleeping pills after using them to self-medicate.
  • Age: Older adults are often prescribed sleeping pills for insomnia, making them more susceptible to addiction through this route. On the other hand, younger people are more likely to experiment with sleeping pills recreationally which could increase their chances of developing a sleeping pill addiction.
  • Ease of access: The availability and accessibility of these drugs, both prescribed and over-the-counter, can make it easy to abuse sleeping pills leading to addiction.
  • Misuse of prescription: Taking sleeping pills against the prescribing doctor’s advice, such as taking higher doses or using them with alcohol or other drugs, also increases the risk of sleeping pill addiction.

What are the effects of sleeping pill addiction?

Sleeping pill addiction can lead to a variety of health effects both in the long term and short term. These depend on the type of sleeping pills being taken and can include:

  • Increased risk of respiratory problems, particularly if you have asthma or COPD
  • Memory and attention problems
  • Depression and suicidal thoughts
  • Digestive problems
  • Hormonal imbalance
  • Increased risk of falls and fractures in older adults
  • Organ damage
  • Potentially lethal overdose

Sleeping pill addiction can also have severe non-health effects:

  • Strained relationships with family and friends.
  • Poor performance at work or school with a range of negative consequences
  • Legal problems, particularly if you forge prescriptions or buy sleeping pills illegally.
  • Financial problems due to spending significant money on sleeping pills as well as issues at work.

How can you recover from sleeping pill addiction?

Sleeping pill addiction treatment often starts with a process called detox, where the drug is gradually removed from your body. This should be done under the supervision of a medical professional due to potential withdrawal symptoms. After this, you will need to undergo rehab, which includes different forms of therapy, holistic treatments, support groups and strategies to help you work through the underlying causes of sleeping pill addiction and prevent relapse.

How to get help for sleeping pill addiction

If you or a loved one are struggling with a sleeping pill addiction, it’s crucial to seek help. Oasis Runcorn offers comprehensive treatment for sleeping pill addiction to help you beat this terrible condition. Our compassionate team is ready to answer any questions, so contact us today and start reclaiming your life.

Frequently asked questions

What are the signs of a sleeping pill overdose?
If someone experiences an overdose of sleeping pills, it can become life-threatening, necessitating urgent professional medical intervention. Watch for signs such as extreme drowsiness, confusion, hallucinations, slow or irregular heartbeat, or unconsciousness, and promptly seek emergency medical help if these symptoms are present.
Are over-the-counter sleeping pills addictive?
Yes, over-the-counter (OTC) sleeping pills can indeed be addictive. While they are considered less potent than prescription medications, prolonged or excessive use can lead to dependence and withdrawal symptoms. Many OTC sleeping pills contain antihistamines, which aren’t intended for long-term use and over time, your body can develop tolerance, physical dependence and addiction.
How quickly can you get addicted to sleeping pills?
The timeframe for developing an addiction to sleeping pills can vary greatly depending on several factors, such as the type of drug, the dosage, frequency of use and the individual’s personal health and genetic predisposition. However, dependence can potentially develop in as little as a few weeks with regular use, particularly with potent prescription sleeping pills. This is why it’s crucial to use these medications only as directed by a healthcare provider and typically as a short-term solution.