Insomnia is a distressing condition that can take a lot of enjoyment out of life. People will turn to various medications as a way to deal with the problem. While most individuals will only use these pills as a means to cope with their sleeping difficulties there is the risk of addiction. This type of drug is one of the most common of all prescription medications. Those who only use this night sedation short term and under doctor’s instructions will have a low risk for addiction. It is more often those people who grow to rely on sleeping tablets over a long time period who are most at risk.
The word addiction is misused in modern culture, to the degree that the meaning has become blurred. People tend to use it to describe any situation where people like or use something regularly or habitually. When it comes to defining sleeping pill addiction, the meaning is more specific. It refers to a situation where an individual has become both physically and psychologically dependent upon this medication. If they were to stop using these sleeping pills they would not only have to battle a mental compulsion, but also go through physical withdrawal symptoms. People can abuse a substance for a period of their life without becoming physically addicted to it. Once the addiction has taken hold though, it will be a lot harder to deal with.
People do not normally start out with the intention of becoming addicted. Many start off taking sleeping pills that have been prescribed by their doctor for medicinal purposes. They later become dependent on this medication and might take it even when it is not required. There are also those who use this medication as a means to enhance the effect of alcohol or other drugs. People can grow to like the way that this type of drug sedates them and calms down the mind. Taking sleeping pills can create similar feelings to being drunk on alcohol. It can be tempting for individuals to abuse these substances as a way to escape their problems.
There is a wide range of different medications that are classified as sleeping pills. These drugs differ in their ingredients and how they work to promote sleep.
* Barbiturates are a type of drug that causes sedation by depressing the central nervous system. In larger doses it can be used as a general anesthetic to put people to sleep. Pentobarbital, Phenobarbital, and secobarbital are all types of barbiturates. This drug is not commonly prescribed for sleeping problems any more, because the risks from overdose are higher than with other types of sleeping pill.
* Benzodiazepines are commonly prescribed for sleeping problems. This is a psychoactive depressant that works by enhancing the effect of a neurotransmitter called GABA. This chemical has a sedative and calming effect which can help people sleep. There are many different types of benzodiazepine drugs including Librium, valium, Xanax, and Ativan. The withdrawal symptoms with this drug can be severe if people have been using it for a long time.
* Nonbenzodiazepine drugs cause similar effects as the benzodiazepines but they are created with a different chemical structure. Examples of this drug include Zolpidem, Lunesta, and Sonata.
* There are also different herbal remedies that people use because of their sedation qualities. Plants such as Valerian, Kava, and hops have all been praised for their sleep producing qualities. These herbal remedies are considered a safer to use than other types of sleeping pills. There is also far less risk of addiction.
Sleeping pill addiction can lead to deterioration in the quality of life and there are possible health consequences as well. The dangers associated with sleeping pill addiction will depend on the type of drug that is being abused but will usually include:
* Withdrawals symptoms will commence if the individual tries to quit the drug or significantly reduces the dosage.
* Increased tolerance
* The individual will feel compelled to take higher doses of the drug. This means that there is the risk of overdose.
* This type of drug abuse can lead to depression. There is an increased risk of suicide.
* People can be at much higher risk of accidents. Sleeping pills cause deterioration in the individual’s sense of coordination.
* Abuse of these medications can damage body organs.
* Different physical symptoms are associated with different types of sleeping pill. For instance, benzodiazepine abuse can lead to blurred vision and respiratory problems.
* There will be an obsession with ensuring a regular supply of the drug. The individual may become willing to break the law or act unethically in their attempts to obtain sleeping pills.
About 10% of adults in the US have a problem getting or staying asleep. Up to 40% of adults will occasionally have this problem. Benzodiazepine sleeping pills are the most widely prescribed with up to 100 million prescriptions a year. The number of people who rely on this medication to get to sleep is increasing each year. As more people use the drug there is sure to be a growth in the number who become addicted. Determining an exact figure for people who become addicted to sleeping pills is difficult. Many who end up seeking treatment will also abuse other substances such as alcohol as well.
Those people who become addicted to sleeping pills will tend to develop certain symptoms. These signs of addiction may be noticeable to other people but the individual who is abusing the drug will often use denial to rationalize them away. The symptoms associated with sleeping pill addiction include:
* The individual finds it hard to cope without sleeping pills
* Withdrawal symptoms when the drug is stopped or dosage is reduced
* An obsession with obtaining these drugs. This is more noticeable when the individual has been denied sufficient access to them.
* Increased tolerance to the drug
* Loss of interest in hobbies
* Deterioration of personal hygiene and grooming
* Defensiveness about drug use
* A reduction in the individual’s ability to meet their personal and social responsibilities
* Inability to reduce the sleeping pill dosage
The individual does not need to exhibit all of the above symptoms for them to be addicted. Even just one or two of these behaviors could indicate a problem.
The danger of sleeping pill addiction means that the only safe treatment is to come off them completely. If the addiction is mild it may be possible to recover by tapering off the medication. This involves gradually reducing the dose over time so that there are no sudden withdrawal symptoms. There are specific regimens available for the safe tapering off from sleeping pills. However, in some instances the doctor might decide to allow the individual to reduce the dosage as they feel comfortable.
A heavy or long-term addiction to sleeping pills may require some type of rehab program. In recent years there has been an increase in the number of people seeking residential treatment for this type of addiction. This can be a good way to deal with the problem because the individual will receive a lot of support and gain skills for living life without the drug.
The symptoms associated with barbiturate withdrawal can include:
* Nausea and Vomiting
* Digestive problems
* Slight fever
* Changes in blood pressure, pulse, and respiratory rate
The withdrawal symptoms associated with Benzodiazepine drugs include:
* Body pains
* Body spasms
* Confusion and inability to concentrate
* Heart palpations
* Changes to pulse, blood pressure, or respiratory rate
* Flu-like symptoms
Nonbenzodiazepine drugs can produce similar withdrawal symptoms as the benzodiazepines.