Getting an appropriate amount of sleep is important for your physical health and your mental well-being. But what should you do if you can’t fall asleep or stay asleep? Some people try sleeping pills. This choice, though, can raise several important questions, such as: What ingredients are in sleeping pills? Are sleeping pills dangerous? Can you get addicted to sleeping pills?
What are Sleeping Pills?
As their name implies, sleeping pills are medications that help people sleep. But within that general description, there are several varieties of sleeping pills. Each sleeping pill can have different features, benefits, and drawbacks. The two primary categories of sleeping pills are over-the-counter (OTC) medications and prescription pills.
Many common OTC sleeping pills, such as Unisom and Benadryl, contain antihistamines. Antihistamines, which also treat allergies, can have a sedating effect. Some other OTC sleeping pills are melatonin supplements. Melatonin is a sleep-related hormone that your body produces naturally.
However, if you get a prescription for sleeping pills, there’s a good chance you’ll get a benzodiazepine or a “z-drug.” Benzodiazepines, or benzos, also help people reduce the symptoms of anxiety disorders. Valium and Xanax are examples of prescription drugs that contain benzodiazepines.
The term z-drug refers to the presence of the letter z in the generic names of these types of drugs: eszopiclone, zaleplon, zolpidem, and zopiclone. Z-drugs are approved for use in the United States only to treat insomnia. Furthermore, Ambien, Lunesta, and Sonata are examples of prescription sleep aids that contain z-drugs.
Effects of Sleeping Pills
If you take a sleeping pill, the desired effect is that you will get to sleep and stay asleep. But, as with all medications, sleeping pills have side effects.
Depending on which medication you are taking, the effects of sleeping pills can include the following:
- Becoming dizzy or lightheaded
- Stomach ache
- Dry mouth
- Constipation or diarrhea
- Feeling drowsy after you wake up
Some effects of sleeping pills are relatively minor. Others can be sources of great distress. It’s important to understand the possible side effects of any medication you take. This includes both prescription and over-the-counter sleeping pills.
Can You Get Addicted to Sleeping Pills?
The prolonged use of over-the-counter sleep aids can be dangerous, but these drugs typically have a low likelihood of causing addiction. Benzos and z-drugs, which are the primary ingredients in most prescription sleeping pills, are more likely to cause dependence.
In other words: Yes, you can get addicted to sleeping pills.
The abuse of sleeping pills can lead to both tolerance and withdrawal:
- As your body adapts to the effects of a sleeping pill, you will need to take larger doses to get the same effect. This is known as developing tolerance.
- If you’ve been using sleeping pills for too long or taking them too often, you may have physical pain and emotional distress if you try to stop. These are known as withdrawal symptoms.
Tolerance and withdrawal are classic signs of addiction.
Signs and Symptoms of Sleeping Pill Addiction
In addition to tolerance and withdrawal, other possible signs and symptoms of sleeping pill addiction include:
- Muscle weakness
- Drastic mood swings
- Significant changes in energy level
- Impaired coordination
- Diminished appetite
- Trying to buy, borrow, or steal sleeping pills meant for someone else
- Doctor shopping (visiting several doctors to try to get multiple prescriptions for sleeping pills)
- Using sleeping pills in a manner that is unsafe, such as when drinking alcohol or taking other drugs
- Trying to stop using sleeping pills, but not being able to quit
A person who has become addicted to sleeping pills should consult with a doctor or another qualified healthcare provider. This professional can assess their needs and recommend appropriate treatment options.
How Sleeping Pill Addiction is Treated
Sleeping pill addiction treatment can include several types of therapy. It may also involve medication. In some cases, detoxification may be the first step in a person’s treatment for sleeping pill addiction.
Detoxification, or detox, can help people get through withdrawal safely and with minimal discomfort. During detox, patients benefit from the care and supervision of a team of experienced professionals. Once they’ve completed detox, they’ll be ready to fully engage in therapy.
During therapy sessions, people can address the issues that may have caused them to abuse sleeping pills in the first place. For example, if a person developed insomnia due to an undiagnosed anxiety disorder or depression, therapy sessions can help them learn to manage their symptoms. Therapy can also help people adopt healthier ways of responding when they have trouble sleeping.
If a person’s sleep problems are related to certain mental health disorders, their treatment plan may also include the careful use of prescription medications.
Get Treatment for Sleeping Pill Addiction in Nashville, TN
Brentwood Springs Detox is a premier provider of detox services for people who need sleeping pill addiction treatment in the Nashville area. Our dedicated professionals can help you take this vital step on the path toward a healthy future. After you’ve finished our detox program, we can develop the aftercare plan that best meets your needs. Contact us today to learn more about our programs and services.