Nearly ten percent of the American population suffers from chronic insomnia, another quarter experiences occasional trouble getting to sleep and nine million Americans, or around four percent of the population, depend on prescription sleeping medications to get a good night’s sleep.
Sleeping medications are generally safe and effective for short-term use, but for some, they can lead to addiction, dependence and other health problems.
Two Types of Prescription Sleeping Medication
Prescription sleeping medications fall into the class of hypnotics, also known as central nervous system depressants, which slow down the central nervous system. These medications should be taken no more than three days per week for insomnia. Hypnotics commonly prescribed for insomnia are generally either benzodiazepines, such as Halcion, Ativan, Klonopin and Restoril, or non-benzodiazepines, which include Ambien and Sonata.
Benzodiazepine Sleeping Medications
Benzodiazepines, also known as benzos, were developed to replace highly addictive barbiturates. Although they’re less addictive than barbiturates, they have similar undesirable side effects. These include daytime drowsiness, symptoms similar to a hangover and the worsening of certain breathing conditions.
When used with alcohol or other drugs, benzos can be very dangerous. Over time, they can lose their effectiveness for treating insomnia. This leads many people to increase their dosage, but doing so can lead to addiction and dependence.
Quitting benzos cold-turkey can be dangerous and, in some cases, fatal, especially if you’ve been taking high doses for some time. Quitting benzos should be supervised by a physician, and it involves decreasing the dosage over time to prevent withdrawal symptoms and dangerous shifts in heart rate, breathing rate and blood pressure.
Non-Benzodiazepine Sleeping Medications
Non-benzodiazepine (non-benzo) sleeping medications are approved for short-term treatment of insomnia. While they’re considered to be less addictive than benzos, numerous cases of Ambien abuse and dependence in Europe and the U.S. warns that that may not be the case.
Non-benzo sleeping aids can have dangerous side effects, including engaging in certain behaviors while asleep, such as driving, eating and having sex. Like benzos, quitting non-benzos if you’ve been taking them for more than two weeks can lead to serious side effects, which may include seizures.
Sleeping Pill Abuse
The abuse of sleeping medications is largely associated with adolescents and young adults who take them recreationally, either orally or by crushing up the pills and snorting them.
With frequent or chronic use of sleeping medications, whether you’re using them recreationally or as prescribed, the brain changes the way it functions in order to compensate for the presence of the drug in the body. Over time, this can lead to physical dependence, which indicates that the brain now operates more normally when the drug is present than when it’s not. As a result, potentially dangerous withdrawal symptoms will set in when the use is discontinued.
Treating Sleeping Pill Dependence and Addiction
You can be physically dependent on sleeping pills without being addicted to them. Medically supervised detox, which is offered through any high-quality drug treatment program, is essential for quitting taking sleeping pills. Medical detox is supervised by physicians and involves tapering off doses over time to prevent withdrawal symptoms.
Addiction is characterized by continuing to take a drug even though it’s causing negative consequences and even though you want to or have tried to quit. The psychological issues behind addiction—and in many cases, those behind insomnia—are complex and must be addressed through various behavioral therapies in order to effectively treat the addiction and, if applicable, insomnia.
If you or someone you love is addicted to or dependent on prescription sleeping medications, finding a high-quality rehab program that takes a holistic approach to treatment will help ensure long-term recovery, help address any issues behind the insomnia and improve overall quality of life.
Give us a call or come visit our Detox Treatment Center In Los Angles California