Dangers of Sleeping Pills Addiction

Learn about the dangers of sleeping pills addiction and where you or your loved one can seek treatment.

Purpose of Sleeping Pills

Sleeping Pills Addiction
Sleeping pills are among the most common medications consumed by Americans. These pills and tablets are meant to help people fall asleep or stay asleep throughout the night. Now, they are more common than ever, given our busy lifestyles and the prevalence of technology.

However, sleeping pills also carry the possibility of addiction and serious symptoms. Today, let’s explore the dangers of sleeping addiction and break down what you can do if you or a loved one is affected by these symptoms.

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Understanding Sleeping Pills

Sleeping pills are available as over-the-counter and prescription medications intended to help individuals fall asleep or stay asleep throughout the night. Most sleeping pills use a combination of chemicals or hormones to achieve these effects. Melatonin, for example, is a hormone the body naturally produces to help people go to sleep.

Sleeping pills are a commonly used medication, especially due to the increasing prevalence of sleep issues. Statistics show that between 30% and 35% of all adults have brief insomnia symptoms, during which time frames they may use sleeping medications. 1

Physiological and Psychological Addiction to Sleeping Pills

Although sleeping pills are intended to be beneficial, sleeping pill addiction is a very real threat. Addiction to sleeping pills can occur either physiologically or psychologically (or both).

Physiological Addiction

With physiological addiction, the body becomes physically addicted to one or more compounds in the sleeping medications, such as melatonin. In some cases, people may take too many sleeping pills and prevent their bodies from creating natural melatonin—causing the need for sleeping medication to be the only way they can fall asleep.

Psychological Addiction

Others may become psychologically addicted to sleeping pills. While not as severe as physiological addiction, psychological sleeping pill addiction can still be dangerous and lead to long-term negative side effects.

Sleeping Pills Statistics

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC): 2
  • Women (5%) are more likely than men (3.1%) to use sleeping pills
  • Over 500,000 people are currently abusing sedatives, such as Ambien
  • One in six adults who have been diagnosed with a sleep disorder and one in eight adults who have trouble sleeping reported using sleep aids

The Most Common Prescribed Sleeping Pills

There are dozens of prescribed and over-the-counter (OTC) sleeping medications available, but the following three medications are among the most commonly prescribed:

Ambien

Ambien uses the active ingredient zolpidem. Ambien is perhaps the most commonly prescribed sleep aid. It is intended to help individuals fall asleep faster and stay asleep longer. However, it has a high risk for dependence, especially if one uses it despite being able to get between seven and eight hours of sleep most nights. Unfortunately, overdoses of sleeping medication, including Ambien, have increased over time. 3

Lunesta

Lunesta uses the active ingredient eszopiclone. Lunesta is a sleeping medication intended to help people fall asleep rapidly. However, it’s not recommended for individuals who can normally get a full night’s sleep due to its high risk of side effects like grogginess. Lunesta may further help one stay asleep, but it may also lead to dependence.

Sonata

Sonata uses the active ingredient zaleplon. This is a relatively new sleeping medication that stays in the body for a shorter amount of time. It’s intended for individuals who cannot fall asleep at a normal time, but it can have severe side effects if taken in the middle of the night after initially falling asleep.
Regardless of which sleeping aid is prescribed, there is always a risk for serious side effects and addiction.

Signs and Symptoms of Sleeping Pills Addiction and Withdrawal

It can be difficult to notice the signs or symptoms of sleeping pill addiction, so we have provided a list of the most common signs and symptoms to help bring awareness.

Sleeping Pill Addiction Symptoms

Sleeping pill addiction symptoms can include: 4
  • Memory or concentration problems
  • Inability to focus
  • Difficulties with memory
  • Strange or sudden euphoria
  • Dizziness or an unsteady gait (manner of walking)
  • Uncoordinated movements
  • Slurred or confused speech
These signs of addiction to sleeping pills can manifest quickly or over time. Therefore, it’s important to track the usage of sleeping pills, such as the dosage, side effects, and how often they are taken.

Sleeping Pill Withdrawal Symptoms

When people stop taking sleeping pills, especially when it’s done suddenly or after long-term use, it can result in sleeping pill withdrawal. The symptoms of sleeping pill withdrawal include:

  • Anxiety and panic attacks
  • Insomnia
  • Irritability
  • Muscle tension
  • Depression
  • Excessive sweating
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Seizures
Individuals may also experience “rebound insomnia,” a sudden resurgence of sleeping issues that can occur when a person stops taking sleeping pills. Rebound insomnia is most common when people abruptly cease sleeping medication consumption or sharply reduce their dosage.
Rebound insomnia or other sleep-related troubles can be worse than the initial symptoms; however, it should not be used as an excuse to continue sleeping pill addiction. Over time, this symptom and the others above will recede with sleeping pills addiction treatment.

Side Effects and Dangers of Sleeping Pills Addiction

Side effects of prescription sleeping pills can be experienced by anyone, regardless of dosage, frequency of use, or addiction. So, it is important to consider the following side effects before taking sleeping medication:
  • Grogginess or dizziness, which could increase the chance of falling
  • Headaches
  • Severe allergic reactions
  • Certain sleep-related behaviors, such as walking or driving while not fully awake
  • Issues with daytime memory or performance
  • Prolonged drowsiness
  • Gastrointestinal issues like nausea or diarrhea

Furthermore, sleeping pill addiction may lead to serious side effects or long-term conditions called parasomnias. Parasomnias are sleeping disorders that can cause sleep-driving, sleepwalking, sleep-eating, and more. These behaviors can be very dangerous, and their symptoms can range from minor to severe. Some extreme cases even lead to comas or overdoses.

We recommend discussing the possible side effects and risks of sleep medication with a medical professional. This allows a better understanding of and brings attention to potential side effects, symptoms, and addiction.

Treatment for Sleeping Pills Addiction

Treatment for Sleeping Pills Addiction

Sleeping pill addiction can be scary and challenging to deal with alone. Fortunately, there are treatment options available.

Intervention

Staging an intervention could be an effective means of showing someone with a sleeping pill addiction that it’s okay to get help, and they have people on their side who support them. This can be a great stepping stone to beginning the journey towards getting proper treatment.

Treatment at Concise Recovery

Many individuals addicted to sleeping pills require intervention specialists or other treatments. Concise Recovery offers various treatment options that allow our medical professionals and staff to create a personalized treatment plan suited to each person’s needs. We can assist in sleeping pill addiction through holistic, comprehensive, and evidence-based approaches to ensure a safe and healthy recovery.

Sleeping pill addiction can happen to anyone. We are here to help alleviate the worry, concerns, and challenges that come with addiction and provide high-quality treatment for long-term recovery. Contact Concise Recovery today for more information.