Sleeping Pill Addiction and Abuse

Sleeping pills are sedative-hypnotics generally prescribed for insomnia. Unfortunately, many people become dependent on them and from there, an addiction can develop.

Addiction to Sleeping Pills

Although people successfully treat short-term insomnia with sleeping pills, many become dependent on them. With over-the-counter sleeping pills being easily accessible and medical professionals writing millions of prescriptions a day, it’s easy to understand how many people fall prey to the power of the pills. The numbers aren’t in their favor. Approximately 38 million prescriptions for Ambien (a common sleeping pill) were written between 2006 and 2011.

Most people don’t realize they’ve become addicted until they stop taking their sleeping medication. All of a sudden they begin experiencing withdrawal symptoms, a telltale sign of addiction.

Other signs that sleeping pill use has gotten out of control include:

  • Having several failed attempts to quit.
  • Getting cravings for sleeping medications.
  • Seeing more than one doctor for prescription refills.
  • Continuing to take pills despite negative consequences.
  • Experiencing frequent memory loss from the pills.

For many, an addiction to sleeping pills starts when they begin upping their doses. This often happens without the guidance of a physician.

Understanding Sleeping Pills

Sleeping pills fall into a category of drugs known as sedative-hypnotics which includes barbiturates and benzodiazepines. However unlike other drugs in this category, sleeping pills are non-benzodiazepine hypnotics. They are commonly known as “z-drugs” since they induce sleep.

The three most common sleeping pills are:

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Sleeping Pill Effects and Abuse

Sleeping pills are intended for short-term use. Unfortunately, many people begin using sleeping pills anytime they have difficulty sleeping or for anxiety.

At higher doses than prescribed, sleeping pills produce the same drowsy, feel-good effect as their highly addictive counterparts, benzodiazepines. Sleeping pills can also produce hallucinatory effects when an individual takes the drug but fights the urge to sleep.

Other effects of sleeping pills include:

  • Reduced anxiety
  • Dreamless sleep
  • Lack of coordination
  • Dizziness
  • Lightheadedness
  • Hallucinations

Sleeping pill abuse has escalated for high school and college students just looking to have a good time. The drug can escalate the buzz when consumed with alcohol or cause a similar feeling on its own. Among young people still living at home, access to a prescription (of their own or their parents) is often all too easy.

Breaking an addiction to sleeping pills can be hard without the right treatment and support. If you or someone you love is struggling to overcome an addiction to sleeping pills, call us now for more information on treatment.