At Free by the Sea, located in the State of Washington, professional counselors and associate staff members provide assistance for individuals struggling with a variety of drug addictions.
Serving the Nation, based in the Pacific Northwest.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, between 50 million and 70 million Americans struggle with sleep disorders. The majority of them turn to sleeping pills to get the sleep that they so desperately crave. Unfortunately, it’s easy to become dependent on sleeping pills; after continuous abuse of these substances, sleeping pill addictions can develop.
Many people assume that you can’t become addicted to sleeping pills. However, sleeping pill addictions are real and very dangerous. The more sleeping pills that a person takes, the more tolerance increases. Eventually, users have to take higher doses to achieve the desired effect. Being addicted to sleeping pills is a serious issue, but help is available here at Free by the Sea.
Before you can tell if you or a loved one is a sleeping pill addict, you have to understand sleeping pills. They’re a class of drugs categorized as sedative-hypnotics. There are a number of drugs that fall under this category, including doxepin, temazepam, and zolpidem.
Of course, you might know these drugs better by their brand names. For example, Ambien is a brand of zolpidem, and Silenor is a brand of doxepin. All of these drugs work in different ways. Doxepin, for instance, is prescribed to people who have trouble staying asleep, whereas temazepam helps people fall asleep quicker.
While there are over-the-counter sleeping pills, it’s not hard for people to get a prescription for stronger sleep aids. In fact, most sleep aids are prescribed in the United States, likely because nearly one-third of all Americans are diagnosed with issues that cause poor sleep quality.
Instead of addressing the underlying problems, it’s easier and more profitable for physicians to prescribe prescription drugs. However, this has led to millions of Americans becoming addicted to sleeping pills.
Even when taking sleeping pills as directed by your doctor, you might need to look out for some side effects. Some of these include:
When loved ones first start abusing sleeping pills, it can be hard to notice. That’s because individuals typically appear well-rested, so it might look like an improvement over what they looked like before taking the pills. Eventually, a sleeping pill addict will show signs of abuse, such as:
Something else that a sleeping pill addict might do is “doctor shopping”. This term refers to the practice of jumping from doctor to doctor in order to find one that will prescribe sleeping pills. Typically, addicts engage in this behavior when their previous doctors cut them off.
Unlike with some types of addiction, the harm of abusing sleeping pills may not be noticed right away. However, the long-term effects cannot be understated. The biggest concern is the increase in tolerance levels, which leads to a sleeping pill addict taking higher doses. Over time, it could lead to that individual overdosing on sleeping pills.
Yes, sleeping pill overdose is real and can be deadly. Some of the most common problems that can arise include slowed breathing, a decrease in heart rate, and coma. As you can guess, shallow breathing paired with a decrease in heart rate can be life-threatening.
Another problem that can arise from the continued abuse of sleeping pills is a condition known as parasomnia. With this condition, people perform behaviors and actions while they’re in a hypnotic state. Sometimes these acts are simple, like sleepwalking. Other times, these acts put their and other people’s lives at risk, such as driving a car during this hypnotic state.
Sleeping pill addictions are dangerous in their own right. However, it’s not uncommon for people with an addiction to abuse other pills as well. In fact, some of the most common drugs that they take with sleeping pills are antidepressants, painkillers, and benzodiazepines.
The combination of these drugs, or others, can have dangerous side effects, including fatal reactions. Even mixing sleeping pills with alcohol can increase the risk of having a fatal overdose.
Sleeping pill withdrawal is what happens when someone who abuses sleeping pills stops taking them suddenly. The result is both physical and psychological side effects. Sleeping pill addictions are tough to beat because the body becomes reliant on them, and withdrawal is the process of the body trying to adjust to life without the pills.
The symptoms that occur during detox from sleeping pills can be intense. That said, they vary between individuals. The severity of the symptoms also depends on how long the individual has been abusing sleeping pills. For example, a person who has been abusing medications for months might not have as severe a withdrawal as someone who has been taking them for years. Generally, the most common side effects that occur from sleeping pill withdrawal include:
It can be difficult for people to eat or drink properly while they go through withdrawal. As a result, individuals may be at risk of dehydration and other problems. These problems stacked on top of withdrawal can make it easy to relapse. For this reason, it’s a good idea to check into a rehab center that offers detox services.
Detox services provide assistance and management of withdrawal symptoms. Checking into a detox center reduces the risk of people relapsing during the process. Also, it lessens the discomfort that people feel.
Another common side effect that people often experience when they stop taking sleeping pills is a phenomenon known as rebound insomnia. As the name suggests, this condition involves insomnia recurring after they stop taking sleeping pills.
This happens because the body is used to taking sleeping pills in order to fall asleep. Thankfully, rebound insomnia doesn’t last long. Eventually, the body returns to its normal sleep cycle.
Experience and practicing healthy sleep habits can prevent the condition from lasting a long time. If you experience rebound insomnia, try setting a sleep cycle and sticking to it. It will help your body get used to going to bed and staying asleep for a healthy amount of time.
There’s no set timeline for how long it takes to overcome withdrawal from a sleeping pill addiction. There is a general timeline that most individuals fall into. The actual timeline, though, depends heavily on the length of time that they’ve been abusing sleeping pills and their willingness to get help.
Most of the time, people start feeling the effects of sleeping pill withdrawal within 24 hours. Sometimes, it can take as long as 48 hours to fully set in. Within 72 hours, most people reach the peak of sleeping pill withdrawal.
After the 72-hour mark, they continue to feel the effects of withdrawal, but the symptoms usually begin to wane. Mild side effects can last for weeks, but difficulty sleeping can last for weeks to months. Once people are past the worst of withdrawal, it’s typically safe for them to enter rehab. There, they’ll learn how to overcome the addiction and live a life without sleeping pills.
People who abuse drugs don’t usually want help or don’t believe that they have a problem. When it’s clear to friends and family that they need help, an intervention is a good solution. Some of the best rehab centers offer intervention assistance. The goal is to convince the addicts to check themselves into rehab to get treatment.
Once again, the length of rehab changes from one individual to the next. Some people simply recover quicker than others. In addition, some individuals need longer in rehab before they can deal with triggers. There’s no right or wrong amount of time that it takes someone to overcome addiction.
Usually, people participate in a step-down approach to treatment. This means that, after detox, they enter a residential or intensive outpatient rehab. From there, they move to standard outpatient rehab.
Do you or a loved one struggle with a sleeping pill addiction? If so, it’s important that you get help to overcome it. At Free by the Sea, we pride ourselves on helping individuals overcome sleeping pill addictions. We offer a wide range of programs in order to do so, including:
Don’t feel like you have to handle your addiction alone. You can get the help you need to overcome sleeping pill abuse. Contact us today to take your first step toward freeing yourself from addiction.
Dr. Richard Crabbe joined our team in 2019 as our psychiatrist and medical director. He attended the University of Ghana Medical School where he became a Medical Doctor in 1977. From 1978 through 1984, he was a medical officer in the Ghana Navy and provided a variety of services from general medicine to surgeries. He received his Certificate in General Psychology from the American Board of Psychology and Neurology in 2002.