Insomnia affects more than 50 million Americans. Most of them will rely on sleeping pills to get the much-needed rest. However, one sleeping pill could turn into a sleeping pill addiction. You could be having a sleeping pill addiction if you cannot sleep without the pills and are taking higher doses to get to sleep. Just One Recovery helps people dealing with sleeping pill addiction in their journey towards recovery. We have a drug rehab center in Orange County that will provide you with practical tips on how to get better sleep without relying on medication.
Overview of Sleeping Pill Addiction
Many people struggle with sleep due to stress, anxiety, insomnia, sleep apnea, and other conditions that cause sleep disturbances. These disturbances increase their likelihood of taking sleeping pills, as the solution to their problem.
About 9 million Americans rely on sleeping pills to sleep every night, some of them without a valid prescription. Sleeping pills are an effective solution for short-term and mainly severe insomnia. They are a sedative, which calms the brain and induces sleep.
To understand sleeping pill addiction, we need to understand how the process of falling asleep works. Sleep is controlled by circadian rhythms, which are controlled by the brain. These rhythms are also responsible for wakefulness. They are what most people call the internal clock.
Naturally, the rhythms trigger sleep in the dark hours and wakefulness during the day. Melatonin also influences circadian rhythms. Melatonin is the hormone that triggers drowsiness. The production of melatonin is influenced by light, making it easier to fall asleep at night than during the day.
However, the requirements and changes of modern life, which include traveling, working through the night and day shifts, stress, and technology, and lifestyle choices can throw the internal clock into chaos. Your body no longer knows when to be asleep or awake.
When your internal clock is uncoordinated, then you will experience sleeping troubles. If these continue for some time, you find that you cannot be as productive as you should be. At this point (or even earlier), most people opt to begin taking sleeping pills.
Sleeping pills are fast-acting medications that inhibit receptors in the brain. Once inhibited, the nervous system slows down, and you fall asleep.
Sleeping pill addiction develops when you take more than is required. For example, if your experience slight trouble sleeping, or are anxious, taking the sleeping pill becomes a form of misuse. Also, if you lose sleep in the middle of the night and take a pill (even when you took one when going to bed), then you are abusing the prescription. The common ways in which sleeping pills are abused include:
- Taking more than the prescribed dosage
- Using a different mode of administration. Most sleeping pills are taken orally. However, some people might crush and snort them for an instant effect
- Increasing the frequency of the dosage
- Using another person’s prescription
- Giving another person your prescription
Sleeping pills cause both physical and psychological addiction depending on the composition of the sleeping pills. The signs and symptoms of sleeping pill addiction are similar to those of drug addiction. They start appearing because your body has developed a tolerance for the medication and require more of it to get you to sleep. Some of these symptoms include:
- A steady increase in the dosage without a prescription
- Cravings for the sleeping pills
- Inability to sleep without them
- Inability to stop taking them
- You experience withdrawal symptoms if you stop taking the pills
- You continue taking sleeping pills even after experiencing negative effects
- Frequent memory loss
Abusing sleeping pills can result in several side effects, such as:
- Reduced anxiety
- Changes in appetite
- Weight loss or gain
- Dry mouth
- Impaired memory
- Dreamless sleep
- Dizziness and lightheadedness
- Lack of coordination
The major risk with the use of sleeping pill addiction is a potential overdose, which results in life-threatening conditions. The signs of a sleeping pill overdose include:
- Lethargy, which induces the body into an extremely lazy state and you lack the energy to do anything due to the overdose
- Unexpected behaviors such as clumsiness, lack of attention and drunken behavior
- Problems with breathing
Sleeping pill overdose can result in death or permanent damage, especially when combined with other depressants such as alcohol. Most people who take alcohol and drugs are likely to have a problem with sleeping pill addiction since these conditions are also linked to poor sleeping habits.
Dealing with Sleeping Pill Addiction
Sleeping pill addiction tends to behave in similar ways as drug addiction. You will find that you experience withdrawal symptoms and sometimes, worse insomnia than what you had before you started using sleeping pills.
Such rebounded or compounded insomnia can provide the perfect excuse to continue using the pills – it would be much easier to deal with the need for more than going for several nights without sleep.
However, with the right professional and rehabilitative care, you can and will overcome your addiction. Getting help is the first step towards recovery. You have to admit that you have a challenge and cannot solve it on your own.
It takes courage and will power to admit you have a sleeping pill addiction both to yourself and to others. Once you take this step, you have mostly overcome the bigger part.
Finding the right rehabilitation center is important in accessing the right treatment for sleeping pill addiction. The right treatment center should have a number of features that distinguish it from others:
- Determine your goals and needs so that you can choose a facility that meets these needs and goals
- Consult with a treatment professional who will advise you on rehabilitation for sleeping pill addiction. He or she will provide information about some common treatment options and might recommend some rehabilitation facilities
- Consult with different facilities to determine what treatment options they provide so that you can choose the best fit for your needs.
- Decide on which treatment option (either inpatient or outpatient) works for you better. An inpatient facility will likely lead to faster recovery but might be expensive and disruptive compared to outpatient treatment. Weigh the benefits and risks associated with each to determine what works best for you.
- Before settling on one facility, determine whether they deal with sleeping pill addiction. Some facilities specialize in one specific type of addiction, therefore, might not be helpful to you
- Identify the amenities available in each facility and determine which one works well for you
- The rehabilitation center you choose should be in a convenient location, preferably near your home. This way, you can attend to your life commitments and attend treatment if you are in an outpatient program.
- The length of the program at various facilities – most rehabilitation centers offer programs that last at least thirty days. The rehabilitation period may be shorter or longer. Identify one with a good track record of success with the program length
- Find a rehab that is affordable for you. Various facilities and treatment programs have various prices. Price is a huge determinant of the best rehab facility you can afford. However, you can ask about the payment options available. Choose a center whose costs and payment terms match your budge or income.
- Remember that you might not find a center that fits all your specifications; therefore, you have to find one that closely matches and enroll there.
Treating sleeping pill addiction involves a gradual reduction in sleeping pill consumption and counseling. Reducing the number of sleeping pills is key in controlling and reducing withdrawal symptoms. As such, it is easier to break the addiction compared to the cold turkey approach.
If you receive treatment at an inpatient facility, this detoxification is necessary. You should never attempt detoxification by yourself - detoxification is a dangerous process that may result in serious withdrawal symptoms like seizures. When you are at a rehabilitation center, the caregivers constantly monitor your progress throughout the process to ensure that it is as safe as possible.
Some of the common withdrawal symptoms include:
- Anxiety, irritability, and mood swings
- Cravings for the sleeping pills
- Nausea or vomiting
- Abdominal cramps and discomfort
- Panic attacks
- Rapid heart rate
Withdrawal symptoms will reduce within one to two weeks, with the worst days being the first three to five days. However, the psychological symptoms persist for up to two weeks. Additional symptoms such as cravings might persist for months after you break the addiction.
The length it takes to adjust to the withdrawal of sleeping pills depends on several factors, including:
- The length of time you were taking the sleeping pills
- The dosage you took to fall to sleep
- The drug combinations you took – combining sleeping pills with other illegal drugs and alcohol can increase your addiction and lengthen the time it takes to recover from withdrawal symptoms
Cognitive-behavioral therapy is a part of treatment that involves the modification of behavior. It involves the use of rewards or punishment to reward good behavior or discourage negative ones.
Through CBT, you are taught how to stay in touch with your inner emotions, thoughts, and feelings. One sign of addiction is the inability to stop taking sleeping pills even if their consumption results in negative consequences. Cognitive-behavioral therapy enables people with an addiction to sleeping pills to understand their thoughts, beliefs, and emotions. They identify the unrealistic expectations they have of themselves as well as the negative beliefs that keep them addicted.
Once they are in touch with their inner selves, they learn how these thoughts and beliefs interact and the influence they have on their behavior.
CBT focuses on identifying negative thought patterns and triggers. It increases your self-awareness, positivity, and control over negative behavior. With CBT, you are equipped with the skills to deal with the deeper issues that trigger your dependence on sleeping pills.
Outpatient treatment is usually done after the inpatient detoxification program. In this program, you will continue treatment while at your home. You will need to attend the scheduled counseling sessions to help you develop the skills you need to avoid sleeping pill addiction. Outpatient treatment can continue for an extended period where you meet with a support group.
Support groups are important in sharing the experiences and your journey with others in a similar condition. You meet with people who are at various stages in their journey and learn from each other. Support groups strengthen your resolve to stay clean and adopt healthy sleeping techniques.
During residential treatment, your days are spent in a safe space, absent of triggers and stress. Recovery is, therefore, mostly positive. However, once you leave the rehabilitation center, there is a risk of a relapse. A relapse occurs when you shift back into the negative thought patterns and behavior you had before treatment, which increases the chance of another addiction.
To prevent such as relapse, you will learn various sleep techniques to help you fall asleep and enjoy quality sleep. These techniques include:
- Increasing your exposure to light during the day and reducing it during the night. The brain triggers the production of melatonin in the dark hours and reduces it during the day. This keeps you asleep at night and awake during the day by regulating your sleep-wake cycle. However, exposure to light both during the day and the night interrupts your sleep-wake cycle and could trigger sleeping pill use
- Avoid caffeine a few hours before bedtime. Caffeine is a stimulant, which increases alertness and energy levels. Taking coffee before you sleep triggers the nervous system making it had to remain calm and sleep. Preferably, you should avoid coffee or caffeinated beverage six to eight hours before bedtime. This ensures that your body is winding down at the end of the day and is ready for sleep. If you have to drink coffee, use decaffeinated products.
- Reduce irregular and long naps during the day. These naps interrupt the circadian rhythm and cause trouble sleeping at night. If you have to sleep during the day, limit the time to between 15 and 30 minutes.
- Establish a regular routine where you sleep and wake up at the same time every day. The routine will improve the quality of your sleep by regulating the sleep-wake cycle. A bedtime routine could include calming activities that you engage in before sleep. These could include taking a shower, planning for the next day, powering off and listening to calming music — a routine will condition your brain to fall asleep at regular times every day.
- Optimize the bedroom for sleep by regulating the temperature, noise, and lighting. Make it a cool and relaxing place to sleep. Ensure that your temperature-regulating systems are working efficiently to ensure that the bedroom is comfortable for sleeping
- Make sure that your bed, mattress, and pillow are comfortable for better sleep
- Exercise regularly (except before bed) to reduce the time in which you fall asleep and to increase the quality of sleep
- Reduce the intake of drinks about two hours before bed so that you do not have to wake up during the night for bathroom breaks
- Finish your daily tasks: some people experience insomnia because they feel they still have a lot to do, and they have not accomplished the tasks they set out for themselves. Such pressure creates anxiety and insomnia. To avoid that, plan your tasks and allocate sufficient time for each (without compromising on sleep). Keep a to-do list and cross off tasks as you complete them. Reschedule those that have not been completed for the next day.
- Engage in relaxing activities such as journaling, meditation, praying, and reading before bedtime. These techniques are a way of reducing anxiety and stress.
How to Prevent a Sleeping Pill Addiction
Sleeping pills are medications designed to aid falling asleep for short periods only. They are not meant to replace good sleep habits and practices. The best way to avoid a sleeping pill addiction is to develop good sleep habits, as mentioned before. These habits include minimizing light during the night, exercising, and reducing caffeine intake a few hours before sleep.
Other ways include:
- Get a medical examination to determine the root cause of your sleep problems
- If you have to use sleeping pills make sure you have a doctor’s prescription and that you follow the instructions
- Follow the safety precautions
- If you need more sleeping pills, contact a doctor
- See a therapist for counseling to get to the root of psychological issues that might be contributing to your sleep problems
Find a Rehabilitation Centre Near Me
Sleep is an important part of a healthy lifestyle. However, it does not come easily to most people. They struggle with one or more sleep disorders, anxiety, hyperactivity, and poor sleep hygiene. These challenges could result in dependence on sleeping pills to get them to enjoy a little sleep. If you or your loved one is showing signs of sleeping pill addiction, contact Just One Recovery in Orange County for rehabilitation care. Our staff is trained at dealing with a sleeping pill addiction, including detoxification, counseling, and caregiving. The team is compassionate and understanding – we offer our services without judgment to our clients. Contact us at 714-538-8085 for a consultation.