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Sleeping pills are used routinely by 6–10% of the adult population in the United States, and similar proportions have been recorded in European countries. But Sleeping pills abuse has been varying throughout the stats. When taken as directed, prescription sleep medications are perfectly safe. However, this indicates that they should only be used for a brief time to cure acute insomnia. When used for a longer time, sleeping pills are addiction causing. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 50 to 70 million Americans suffer from some form of sleep problem. 

Despite these shocking figures, doctors and researchers advise that snorting sleeping pills should never be considered a long-term solution as this can lead to sleeping pills abuse. About 30% of the people who take prescription sleeping pills are said to be addicted to sleeping pills. This article provides you all the relevant and important information that you might need to understand about the sleeping pill use disorder along with a detailed discussion of sleeping pill addiction and its harmful effects. 

Bunch of pills sachet.

When taken for more than two weeks, sleeping medications carry a substantial danger of physical dependence and sleeping pill addiction. 

Individuals sometimes misunderstand how rapidly tolerance builds with different types of sleeping pills, particularly when popping an extra pill every now and then. You can develop physical dependence and sleeping pill addiction as a result of tolerance to these sleeping drugs.

People who develop sleeping pills abuse report increasing their dosage after the effects have faded. They develop a tolerance, which eventually causes them to get addicted to sleeping pills.

Related: The Side Effects of mixing Zoloft and Alcohol

The full criteria for clinically identifying sleeping pills addiction have been outlined in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. Physical, behavioral, and psychological problems associated with long-term sleeping pills abuse are among the criteria. Those who become addicted to sleeping pills may experience the following symptoms:

  • Attempting and failing to quit more than once 
  • Ignoring educational, professional, and familial duties 
  • Appearing confused or distant regularly 
  • Isolating from family and friends 
  • Engaging in dangerous activity when under the influence of sleeping pills
  • Experiencing social withdrawal symptoms
  • Losing interest in previously appreciated activities 
  • Requiring sleeping drugs 
  • Suffering from mood swings

Sleeping tablets are consisted of over-the-counter (O.T.C.) and prescription form, with the second type most addictive sleeping pills than the first one. They are not meant for long-term usage, regardless of how people receive them.

Sedative-hypnotics is the other medical term used for prescription-strength sleeping aids, and they can be very addictive if misused. 

People may find it difficult to quit sleeping pills use disorder suddenly since they have become accustomed to them for a good night’s sleep. Attempting to remove them from someone you care about may cause more harm than good. 

Withdrawal symptoms such as night sweats, tossing and turning, and lack of sleep, as well as increased adverse effects, sometimes occur when an addict abruptly stops using these pills.

Addiction Problem with Ambien and Other Sleeping Pills

Prescription sleeping drugs may make it easier to fall asleep or stay asleep for extended periods of time, or both. Different types of sleeping pills have different risks and advantages. Your doctor should, in general, perform the following to discover the proper prescription drug to assist you to sleep:

  • To gain a clear image of your sleeping habits, ask questions.
  • Tests should be ordered to rule out any underlying disorders that could be causing sleep problems.
  • Discuss prescription sleeping drug alternatives, such as how often and when to take it, as well as what form to take it in, such as pills, oral spray, or dissolving tablets.
  • Prescribe a sleeping drug for a brief time to see what benefits and negative effects you might experience.
  • If the first medicine you take doesn’t work after the whole advised period, have you tried a different prescription sleeping pill?
  • Assist you in determining whether a generic version is available, which is usually less expensive than brand-name medications.

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Insurance companies may impose limitations on which sleeping drugs are reimbursed, and they may require you to try other methods of treating your insomnia first.

The three most commonly prescribed sleeping medicines are: Ambien (zolpidem), Sonata (Zaleplon), and Lunesta (Eszopiclone)

Despite the fact that most non-benzodiazepine sleeping medications have various molecular makeups, their effects are all the same. Benzodiazepines and sleeping pills both connect to GABA receptors in the brain, but sleeping pills are thought to have fewer negative effects.

Three types of sedative-hypnotics are usually recognized, which are

Melatonin: Sleeping medications containing melatonin, such as Ramelteon and Rozerem, are known to leave the body fast. They function by blocking melatonin receptors in the brain and are less addictive than many other sedative-hypnotics.

Non-benzodiazepines: Non-benzodiazepines including Eszopiclone, Lunesta, Zolpidem, and Ambien target the chemical gamma-aminobutyric acid present in the brain. These work by reducing nerve activity in the body while encouraging sleep. They have a longer half-life in the body, i.e., they take more time to leave the body than melatonin sleeping pills. These pills also have a few additional adverse effects, such as daytime drowsiness and tiredness.

Benzodiazepines: Benzodiazepines, sometimes known as Benzos, include Restoril, Ativan, and Xanax, alongside Valium. They act similarly to non-benzodiazepines in that they target the GABA receptor, with one major exception. When abused, these sleeping tablets are highly addictive and much searched after on the darknet. 

Note: When benzodiazepines are combined with other prescribed medications, they can have serious side effects.

Most people have taken an over-the-counter sleeping pills addiction to help them fall asleep at some point. These sleep aids are usually inexpensive and readily available at most drug stores. Drowsiness can be induced by over-the-counter sleeping pills (those that aren’t recommended by a doctor and can be purchased at a store). 

Some people also take medications that aren’t intended to make you sleepy but can make you drowsy as a side effect, such as cold or allergy medications. Antihistamines are known for making people sleepy and nauseous the next day, and antihistamine tolerance can develop quickly.

As a result, the individual will take more sleeping drugs to have the same effect, which leads to sleeping pills addiction

Related: Private and Inpatient Luxury Sleeping Pills Addiction Treatment

Although their packaging says that they are non-habit forming, studies have found that it increases the release of dopamine in the brain, producing a comparable effect to cocaine. There’s also the possibility of psychological sleep pill addiction

O.T.C.s (Over-the-counter medications) are sold under a variety of brand names, including the following:

  • Aleve PM
  • Nytol
  • Sominex
  • Vicks ZzzQuil Nighttime
  • Tylenol PM
  • Kirkland Signature Sleep Aid
  • Unisom Sleep Aids
  • Life Extension Melatonin

Despite their best efforts and attempts at precautions, individuals can become addicted to sleeping pills and misuse them. Do you know what causes sleeping pills abuse? They have psychotropic qualities as well as potential effects that can be heightened when combined with other drugs or Alcohol. The consequences can be serious and even lethal.

When doctors prescribe sleeping pills to those suffering from a variety of sleeping disorders, they are only supposed to be used for a brief period of time. The issue arises when people begin to take more than is prescribed. It can be difficult to stop the sleeping pills use disorder once it has begun.

Knowing the signs and symptoms of sleeping pill addiction and sleeping pill use disorder can spare someone you care from suffering a stroke, heart attack, respiratory failure, or even death. People often underestimate the powerful hold that sleeping medicines like Sonata or Ambien may have on a person’s life. Abusing these medicines has distinct and immediate risks.

To stay asleep, a person might have to increase his daily snorting sleeping pills habit significantly over time, resulting in physical reliance on the prescription.

The following are some of the most common signs of sleeping pills abuse:

  • Cravings are one of the most visible indicators of being addicted to sleeping pills.
  • Looking for several doctors to prescribe drugs (also termed as “Doctor Shopping”).
  • Social Withdrawal 
  • Memory Loss
  • Taking different types of sleeping pills even when they aren’t needed
  • Unusual feeling of pleasure or Euphoria 
  • Inability to focus
  • Poor Coordinated movements 
  • Unsteady gait 
  • Slurred Speech 
  • Lightheadedness 
  • Daytime drowsiness 
  • Dry mouth 
  • Difficulty in remembering 

If a sleeping pill is recommended, the patient must consider following the doctor’s or pharmacist’s recommendations as well as the prescription label. Without competent medical guidance, it is very easy to fall into the trap of sleeping pills abuse.

Sleeping medications can increase the likelihood of dangerous side effects and withdrawal symptoms in people who are battling sleeping pills use disorder.

The following are some of the most common sleeping medication withdrawal symptoms:

  • Depressions
  • Cravings
  • Sweating
  • Increased Heart rate
  • Vomiting

Now, the question is, “can you overdose on sleeping pills?” 

Overdosing can occur as a result of regularly snorting sleeping pills. Additionally, if a person ingests a sleeping pill with alcohol, opioids, benzodiazepines, an immediate overdose might occur. Overdosing on sleeping drugs might cause the following symptoms: 

  • Coma
  • Decreased Heart rate 
  • Breathing that is slow or shallow 
  • Parasomnia 

Parasomnia is those acts and behaviors which are carried out while in a hypnotic state, such as sleepwalking. These are among the most serious long-term side effects of sleeping pills abuse/misuse

Parasomnias can cause someone to undertake an action, such as driving, while in an influential position, which could put them or others in danger.

Depending on the prescription drug, the length of time that sleeping tablets last in a person’s system varies substantially. Consider the following scenario to understand the addiction problems with Ambien and other sleeping pills;

  • Xanax departs the body in three days on average.
  • Valium might linger in your system for weeks after you’ve taken it.
  • Other sleeping pills, like Ambien, have a short half-life and are usually gone within 16 hours.

Addictive Sleeping Pills and Their Half-Life

The half-life of different types of sleeping pills differs significantly depending on the brand and active component. Some sleep drugs, such as Ambien, have short half-lives (3 hours). Others, like Valium, have half-lives ranging from 20 to 80 hours. 

The half-life of a drug determines how quickly the chemical departs the body. The shorter the half-life, the faster the substance is eliminated from your system.

Many additional factors, such as heredity, age, liver and kidney function, and overall health, determine how long sleeping medications stay in the system.

How Long Do Addictive Sleeping Pills Remain in Urine, Hair, and Blood?

The half-life of medicine is the time it takes for half of the substance to be in your system. The sleeping drug, on the other hand, may not simply be found in the bloodstream.

For instance, if a person is addicted to sleeping pills, the sleeping pills can be detected in his/her hair sample for up to 90 days. 

Furthermore, some medications may be absorbed by adipose tissues (storehouses of fats) and released slowly over time, keeping them detectable in urine or saliva beyond five half-lives or more.

Certain sleeping pills leave your body within hours after the last dose, while others might linger in your urine, hair, and blood for weeks after you stop using them.

After a month of recuperation, however, there should be no traceable levels in your system (apart from hair).

Factors Affecting How Addictive Sleeping Pills Remain in Your System

A number of factors affect how long a sleeping tablet stays in your system. Leaving aside the half-lives of various sleeping drugs, the speed with which your body eliminates the drug is determined by heredity, age, liver and kidney function, overall health, and other substance use. 

The length of time you’ve been taking the drug and the dose you’re taking have both an impact on the elimination process.

When removing a sleep medicine, it is generally advisable to go off the drug gradually rather than abruptly. This can help with some of the withdrawal symptoms that many people have when they stop taking sleeping drugs.

Although sleeping medications are effective for treating short-term insomnia, many people get addicted to sleeping pills over time. 

Between 2006 and 2011, around 38 million prescriptions for Ambien (a common sleeping drug) were written.

It’s no surprise that so many people succumb to the magic of sleeping medications, given their widespread availability and presumed approval from medical professionals.

Many people incorrectly believe that they cannot become addicted to sleeping drugs, and some even claim to have received this information from their doctor. 

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Nonetheless, some people are unable to sleep without the use of a sleeping drug.

Many people find that when their tolerance grows, they need to take bigger doses to have the desired effect.

Some people remain unaware that they have grown reliant, if not addicted, on their sleeping prescription until they stop using it. They begin to experience withdrawal symptoms all of a sudden, which is a telltale sign of both dependency and sleeping pills addiction.

Other indicators that sleeping pill abuse has become out of hand include:

  • Attempting to quit several times without success 
  • Having cravings for sleeping drugs 
  • Seeing multiple doctors for prescription refills 
  • Continuing to take pills despite bad repercussions 
  • Experiencing regular memory loss as a result of the pills

Sleeping Pills Addiction can emerge in a variety of ways, such as when a person increases their dose without contacting a doctor or when they experience frequent cravings and a strong urge to take their drug of choice.

Patients may take more of their medication than is suggested if sleep is difficult or disrupted. Even though the prescription guide includes clear directions for the patient to take the product exactly as prescribed, this can happen.

A few features have been identified as potential risk factors for sleeping pill abuse:

  • A previous history of substance misuse, particularly the usage of various drugs at the same time to maintain an altered state, is the biggest predictor.
  • Current tobacco or cocaine usage 
  • Sexual abuse history
  • Younger age 
  • Legal issues
  • A history of misplaced or stolen controlled substance prescriptions
  • Acquiring controlled substances from someone other than their doctor 

In the United States, insomnia is one of the most prevalent reasons for healthcare visits.

30-35 percent of individuals have short-term insomnia (lasting less than three months), 15-20 percent have short-term insomnia (lasting less than three months), and 10% have chronic insomnia (occurring at least three times per week for at least three months). 

Pharmacological sleep aid is one of the most popular prescriptions, which is usually only prescribed for a short time (less than a month). 

During times of stress, such as divorce or relocation, doctors frequently offer sleep drugs to help patients avoid forming a pattern of poor sleep. 

Patients may continue to have difficulties sleeping if the cause of insomnia isn’t treated, and they might quickly become physically and/or mentally addicted to sleeping pills.

Some of the main points can be summarized as; 

  • In the United States, as per the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, sleeping pills are among the most widely prescribed drugs. 
  • About 4% of U.S. people aged 20 and older use prescription sleeping pills in the previous month.
  • The number of adults who take prescription sleeping pills rises with age and education. 
  • Non-Hispanic white adults (with an average of 4.7 percent) were more likely to use sleep aids than non-Hispanic black adults (with an average of 2.5 percent) and Mexican-American adults (with an average of 2).
  • The nonmedical use of the sleeping medication Ambien resulted in 30,149 emergency room visits in 2011.
  • In 2012, 21% of those who used sleeping medications had suicidal thoughts as a result of their drug use.
  • In 2013, approximately 9 million Americans took sleeping medications on a regular basis to help them sleep.
  • In 2013, Ambien was the most commonly prescribed prescription hypnotic and the fourth most commonly prescribed psychiatric drug.” According to studies, 77 percent of individuals do not follow the F.D.A.’s Ambien safety recommendations.
  • According to a national poll performed by Consumer Reports in 2015, 18 percent of respondents said they used sleep prescriptions on a daily basis, and 41% said they had been using them for a year or more.
  • According to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health, more than 500,000 persons in the United States abuse Ambien and other sedatives.

One of the treatment choices for difficulty falling or staying asleep is prescription sleep aids. Long-term use of sleep aids, on the other hand, has been associated with negative health results.

Until now, most research on sleeping pills addiction and sleeping pills abuse use has relied on administrative claims data, which represent the number of times sleep aid prescriptions have been filled rather than the number of persons who have actually utilized prescription sleep aids.

The first person-based national data on prescription sleep aid use in the non-institutionalized adult population of the United States is presented in this paper. 

In the previous month, about 4% of persons aged 20 and up said they had used most strong and addictive sleeping pills sleep aid. 

Women, non-Hispanic white individuals, and those with a high school degree were more likely to use it as they became older. Use differed by sleep duration and was significantly higher in persons with sleep disorders or difficulty sleeping.

Yes, people can have an adverse reaction to any prescription, which could be caused by the active ingredient or any of the inactive ingredients in the drug (such as binders, dyes, or coatings). People who are allergic to specific types of sleeping pills should stay away from them. It’s critical to contact your doctor as soon as you notice any of these dangerous side effects, which include:

  • Problem with your vision, such as blurred vision
  • Pain in the chest
  • Breathing or swallowing problems
  • Feeling as if your throat is closing in on you
  • Hoarseness
  • Hives
  • Pounding heartbeat
  • Itching
  • Nausea and Vomiting
  • Breathing problems
  • Face, eyes, tongue, lips, or throat swelling

Withdrawal of Sleeping Pills in Case a Person is Addicted to Sleeping Pills 

When sleeping medications or sedatives are abruptly withdrawn, withdrawal symptoms might arise. 

Symptoms can appear quickly, but they can also take a long time to appear, sometimes even weeks after the medicine has been stopped. 

Sleep disturbances, restlessness, anxiety, shivering, and circulation issues are all common withdrawal symptoms in sleeping pills addicted persons. They’re comparable to the symptoms that the sedative was prescribed for in the first place. 

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This could lead to a vicious cycle in which many people revert to utilizing sleeping drugs or sedatives to alleviate their symptoms. 

To minimize relapses, it’s critical to keep withdrawal symptoms to a bare minimum after stopping use.

As a result, a popular strategy is to gradually break the addiction to sleeping pills is reducing the amount over several weeks before totally quitting the medicine. 

There is no high-quality research on the optimal outpatient withdrawal period. Experts advocate a two-to-four-month time frame.

People who take a substitute prescription while reducing their benzodiazepine dose are not more likely to cease taking them, according to research. 

Safety Considerations

Prescription sleeping drugs (even other nonprescription sleeping pills) and certain antidepressants may not always be safe. In older persons, sleeping pills may raise the risk of nocturnal falls and injury. 

To lessen your risk of difficulties, your doctor may recommend a lower dose of medication if you’re an older adult.

Your options may be limited if you have kidney disease, low blood pressure, heart rhythm disorders (arrhythmias), or a history of seizures. 

Prescription and over-the-counter sleeping pills addiction can also interact with other pharmaceuticals. It’s also vital to follow your doctor’s advice because taking certain prescription sleeping drugs might lead to sleeping pill addictions or dependence.

Prescription sleeping pills may be an alternative if your best efforts to get a good night’s sleep have unsuccessful. Here’s some guidance on how to utilize them responsibly.

  • Obtain a medical examination: See your doctor for a full examination before taking sleeping pills. Your doctor may be able to pinpoint the source of your insomnia. 

If you’ve been using the most strong and addictive sleeping pills for more than a few weeks, talk to your doctor about setting up a follow-up appointment to chat about your drugs.

  • Read the instructions for taking the drug: Read the patient’s medication guide to learn how to take your medication, when to take it, and what the greatest potential side effects are. Ask your pharmacist or doctor if you have any queries.
  • Never take a sleeping pill unless you’re about to retire to your bed: Sleeping medications can make you less aware of what you’re doing, potentially putting you in danger. Wait to take your sleeping medication until after you’ve finished all of your evening activities and are ready to sleep.
  • When you can obtain a full night’s sleep, take your sleeping tablet: Only take a sleeping tablet if you are confident that you will get at least seven to eight hours of sleep. Short-acting sleeping tablets are intended for awakenings in the middle of the night, so use them only if you can stay in bed for at least four hours.
  • Keep an eye out for negative consequences: Talk to your doctor about modifying your dose or weaning off your tablets if you feel tired or dizzy during the day or if you have any other serious adverse effects. You shouldn’t try a new sleeping pill the night before a big event or appointment because you won’t know how it will impact you.
  • Avoid consuming alcoholic beverages: Never combine sleeping medications with Alcohol. The sleepy effects of the tablets are amplified by Alcohol. Even a modest amount of Alcohol mixed with sleeping medications can cause dizziness, confusion, and even faintness. 

When Alcohol is combined with some sleeping medicines, it might result in dangerously delayed breathing or unresponsiveness. In addition, Alcohol might promote sleeplessness.

  • Take sleeping tablets exactly as your doctor prescribes: Some prescription sleeping drugs are only meant to be used for a short period of time. Make sure to seek medical advice from your doctor. Also, do not exceed the recommended dosage. If the first dose does not deliver the desired sleep effect, don’t take any more pills without first consulting your doctor.
  • Quit with caution: Follow your doctor’s or pharmacist’s instructions or the directions on the package when you’re ready to stop taking sleeping tablets. Some drugs must be tapered down over time. 

Also, be warned that if you stop taking sleeping drugs, you may experience some short-term rebound sleeplessness for a few days.

If you’re still having difficulties in sleeping, consult your doctor.

Long-term use of sleeping pills is not recommended for insomnia or other sleep disorders. They can have major health consequences, but they also don’t fix the problem. 

Reliance on sleeping drugs on a regular basis can actually prevent someone from receiving a correct diagnosis.

To effectively address the problem, sleep testing must first be used to identify the underlying sleep disturbance. 

For persons who are suffering from chronic sleep deprivation, there are drug-free, long-term treatment options available. 

Cognitive Behavior therapy, for example, has been found to be an effective treatment for stress and insomnia. You can read more about Private Inpatient Insomnia Treatment

Talk to your doctor about a clinical sleep evaluation if you’re having trouble falling asleep or getting enough rest during the night. Do not succumb to sleep deprivation for an extended period of time. 

FAQs (Sleeping Aid Addiction)