Sleep is more than just good for you — it’s essential. Your physical, mental and emotional health all depend upon you catching your z’s. Yet, with our busy schedules, high-stress jobs and frantic lifestyles, sleep eludes many of us. In fact, over 50 million people in the U.S. alone struggle with sleep problems. Sometimes doctors prescribe sleeping pills to help relieve short-term insomnia. Sadly, many people become dependent on them, leading to a sleep pill addiction.
Are Sleeping Pills Addictive?
Many people begin taking sleeping pills without realizing how dangerous they are. It’s not just the long-term dangers you need to watch for, but also the immediate risks they can pose because of their addictive nature.
Most sleepings pills are in a class of drugs called sedative-hypnotics. This category also includes benzodiazepines, such as Xanax. However, most sleeping pills are non-benzodiazepine hypnotics, also called z-drugs. They encourage drowsiness in people who have a hard time sleeping. Although each sleeping pill has a different chemical makeup, they all control the GABA receptor — the part of the brain that affects our ability to relax.
The three most common sleeping pills are Ambien, Sonata and Lunesta. People underestimate the powerful grip these prescription medications can have over your life. Users frequently misuse these drugs, upping their doses without the guidance of a doctor if they urgently want to sleep. This leads to increased tolerance and a high risk of dependence and addiction.
Is Melatonin Addictive?
Melatonin is a hormone naturally made in your body that promotes sleep. Today, you can buy it wherever vitamins and supplements are sold. There is no evidence that melatonin is addictive. However, you should still be careful using it and follow the directions on the bottle.
Dangers for a Sleeping Pill Addict
If you become addicted to sleeping pills, research has found that there is a more than four-fold higher risk of death and serious health conditions. These sleep medications have several potentially dangerous side effects, including:
- Severe fatigue
- Depressed breathing
- Irregular heartbeat
- Difficulty breathing
- Chest pain
- Parasomnia sleep disorders, such as sleepwalking, sleep-driving and other dangerous sleep-related activities
- Risk of fatal overdose
Sleeping pills can also contribute to heart disease, cancer and other serious ailments.
Signs You May Be Addicted to Sleeping Pills
Recognizing the signs of sleeping pill abuse can save your life or the life of someone you care for. The side effects of a sleeping pill addiction tend not to be as obvious as addictions to other drugs. So, it’s important to look out for the most common signs of an unhealthy dependence on sleeping pills:
- Feeling the need to use pills every time you want to fall asleep
- Preoccupation with bedtime, so you can take your medication
- Needing more pills to feel the same effects
- Upping your dosage without talking to your doctor
- Trying to quit sleeping pills, but failing
- Taking sleeping pills to feel their effects, not for sleep
- Craving sleeping pills
- Running out of your prescription early
- Going to multiple doctors for prescription refills
- Using despite negative effects
- Having withdrawal symptoms
- Experiencing mood swings
- Memory loss or confusion
- Unsteady gait
- Slurred speech
- Unusual euphoria
Dangers of Mixing Sleeping Pills With Other Substances
Some sleeping pill addicts use alcohol and other substances such as painkillers and benzodiazepines to bump the potency of their medication. All sleeping pills include a warning about mixing them with other substances such as alcohol. That’s because taking sleeping pills and alcohol can turn into a deadly combination. Alcohol amplifies the sedative effects of sleepings pills, increasing your risk of a fatal overdose.
Find Treatment for Sleeping Pill Addiction
If you struggle with a sleeping pill addiction, breaking the cycle of use and abuse is imperative to your physical, psychological and emotional health. At Gateway Foundation, our evidence-based treatment programs will get you the help you need to get sleeping pills out of your system and break free from addiction.
We tailor our programs to your exact needs. So, whether you’re struggling with a benzo addiction or addiction to another type of sleeping pill, we provide treatment that works. Contact us today to find out more.