Insomnia and addiction

Sleep is a crucial foundation of our overall well-being, a restorative process that refreshes the mind and body, preparing us for the challenges of a new day. When the comfort of sleep becomes elusive, it can affect every aspect of your life, health and well-being. But imagine if this struggle doesn’t stand alone. Just as a lack of sleep haunts the night, the spectre of addiction lurks in the shadows, a relentless craving that demands to be satisfied. Insomnia and addiction are not independent problems but rather interconnected ailments that feed off one another. But while this can seem like an inescapable prison, Oasis Runcorn has extensive experience in helping those with insomnia to overcome addiction and build a new life.

What is insomnia?

Insomnia is a common sleep disorder characterised by difficulty falling asleep, staying asleep, or both. People with insomnia often feel dissatisfied with their sleep and usually experience:

  • Chronic fatigue
  • Low energy
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Mood disturbances
  • Mental health issues due to lack of sleep
  • Decreased performance at work or school or other important responsibilities

Insomnia is typically classified into two types: primary and secondary. Primary insomnia refers to sleep problems not associated with any other health condition. On the other hand, secondary insomnia, also known as comorbid insomnia, occurs as a symptom or side effect of another problem, such as illness, medication, addiction or mental health disorders like depression or anxiety.

Insomnia can manifest in three common forms:

  • Transient insomnia (lasts for a few days)
  • Acute insomnia (lasts for a few weeks)
  • Chronic insomnia (lasts for a month or longer)

What is a dual diagnosis of insomnia and addiction?

Dual diagnosis, also known as co-occurring disorders, refers to the condition when a person is diagnosed with two or more disorders at the same time. A dual diagnosis of insomnia and addiction involves concurrent struggles with sleep disturbances and substance abuse.

This dual diagnosis is more common than you might imagine. A substantial number of those seeking treatment for addiction also experience sleep disorders, particularly insomnia. Understanding and addressing both disorders simultaneously can be complex due to the interconnected nature of the conditions.

Why are co-occurring insomnia and addiction so common?

Certain drugs directly disrupt the sleep-wake cycle, leading to insomnia. For example, stimulants like cocaine and methamphetamines can keep users awake for extended periods. On the other hand, substances like alcohol may initially promote sleep but disrupt later sleep cycles, causing fragmented and non-refreshing sleep.

At the same time, chronic insomnia can increase the risk of developing addiction, as sufferers may turn to alcohol, sedatives, or other substances in an attempt to self-medicate and alleviate their sleep issues.

Mental health disorders such as anxiety and depression, common among individuals with addiction, can also cause insomnia and be caused by a lack of sleep. These intricate and multifaceted links between these conditions often lead to a self-perpetuating cycle of insomnia and addiction, making the treatment process more complex.

Treating addiction when insomnia is present

Co-existing insomnia and addiction disorders pose unique challenges, but they are not insurmountable. Oasis Runcorn has a wealth of experience in successfully treating individuals suffering from dual diagnosis conditions.

Detoxification, or detox, is the first step towards recovery. It involves carefully reducing and eliminating the addictive substance from the body. However, detox can also exacerbate insomnia symptoms, making it crucial to manage sleep disturbances simultaneously.

Effective therapies for addiction, such as dialectical behavioural therapy (DBT), can also benefit those with insomnia. DBT for insomnia, for instance, helps individuals identify and change sleep-disruptive behaviours.

Holistic therapies can play a significant role in managing insomnia by addressing the person as a whole – mind, body, and spirit. Techniques such as yoga and meditation can enhance relaxation and reduce stress, thereby aiding sleep.

Aftercare is a vital part of the recovery journey, as it helps sustain the progress made during treatment. This includes group therapy sessions, providing ongoing support and reinforcement of healthy habits.

How insomnia can affect recovery

Insomnia is a common withdrawal symptom and a challenge during rehab. It can make the detox process more difficult, potentially increasing the risk of relapse and can also negatively impact mood and cognitive function, further complicating recovery. Let’s look at these challenges in more detail:

Insomnia during detox

  • Insomnia can intensify other withdrawal symptoms: The body is already dealing with physical and mental changes during withdrawal, but the additional challenge of insomnia can exacerbate feelings of anxiety, restlessness and discomfort.
  • Increased risk of relapse: The struggle with insomnia can be so severe that some may return to substance use as a means to induce sleep, increasing the risk of relapse.

During rehab

  • Lower treatment efficacy: Cognitive therapies, a key component of rehab, rely heavily on attention, memory, and other cognitive functions. Insomnia can impair these functions, reducing the efficacy of rehab therapies.
  • Emotional instability: Sleep deprivation can lead to mood swings and heightened emotional responses, which can disrupt the therapeutic environment and slow down progress.

After rehab

  • Difficulties developing healthy routines: A crucial aspect of long-term recovery is establishing regular routines, including sleep patterns. Insomnia makes it difficult to maintain regular sleep times, potentially impacting overall routine establishment.
  • Triggers for relapse: Persistent insomnia can lead to frustration and increased stress, which are common triggers for relapse.

To overcome these challenges, here are five strategies:

  • Maintain a regular sleep schedule: Consistency can help regulate your body’s internal clock and improve sleep quality.
  • Practise good sleep hygiene: This includes keeping your sleep environment comfortable and quiet, avoiding stimulants (like caffeine) before bed and establishing a relaxing bedtime routine.
  • Engage in physical activity during the day: Regular exercise can help promote better sleep. However, avoid vigorous activities close to bedtime as they can interfere with sleep.
  • Engage in aftercare: Oasis Runcorn provides one year’s free aftercare to help with any challenges during recovery, including insomnia, and the opportunity to learn from others.
  • Seek additional therapy: Cognitive behavioural therapy for insomnia (CBT-I) is one intervention that has shown significant success in treating insomnia.

How to get started

Embarking on the road to recovery from co-occurring insomnia and addiction can seem overwhelming. At Oasis Runcorn, we’re here to guide you through every step. Reach out to us today to take the first step towards recovery, a healthier sleep pattern and a better, brighter tomorrow.

Frequently asked questions

Is rehab treatment for insomnia?
While rehab is not directly aimed at treating insomnia, many of its components can have beneficial knock-on effects for individuals struggling with this sleep disorder. The therapeutic techniques and lifestyle changes encouraged in rehab, such as mindfulness exercises, regular physical activity and maintaining a structured daily routine, can significantly improve sleep quality.
Can you become addicted to insomnia medication?
Yes, it’s possible to become addicted to insomnia medication, particularly sedative-hypnotics. This category includes benzodiazepines such as Xanax and Valium, non-benzodiazepines like Ambien, Lunesta and Sonata, and certain barbiturates. These medications can create physical and psychological dependence with prolonged use. The risk of addiction increases when these medications are used in ways not prescribed by a doctor, such as taking higher doses or using them for longer periods than recommended. If you’re concerned about your use of insomnia medication, it’s crucial to consult a healthcare professional.