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Sleeping Pills Addiction

If you are like most people, you have suffered from occasional bouts of insomnia lasting anywhere from one or two nights to a full week or so. You may have even considered taking advantage of an over-the-counter sleeping pill just to get you through. Yet unfortunately, more and more people are turning to prescription sleeping pills – prescriptions that carry with them the very real possibility of addiction.

According to, doctors are reluctant to prescribe sleeping pills for chronic insomnia. They say that prescription sleeping pills are a last resort. However, according to health minister Anna Soubry, the rising frequency of sleeping pill addiction is largely due to doctors over-prescribing them. She says the culture among GPs must change for the UK to truly get a handle on sleeping pill addiction.


Different Types of Sleeping Pills

Sleeping pills come in a variety of different kinds, some of which were not even developed specifically for that purpose. The most common types of prescription drugs used for treating insomnia are:

  • Benzodiazepines – Along with ‘Z’ drugs, benzodiazepines are depressants used primarily to treat anxiety. Their calming, tranquillising effect makes them useful for insomnia as well.
  • Antihistamines – You may be familiar with antihistamines if you suffer from allergies. Because they produce drowsiness in some people, they can be effective medications for insomnia. However, it is common for them to cause what is known as ‘rebound insomnia’.
  • Barbiturates – This class of drugs includes most of the ‘old school’ sleeping pills that are rarely used any more. However, barbiturates may be an option if benzodiazepines or ‘Z’ drugs prove ineffective.
  • Melatonin – This is not a drug per se, but a hormone naturally produced by the human body. Elevating melatonin levels helps to regulate the ebb and flow of the body’s daily cycles. Because it can throw off so many other things, melatonin’s useful lifespan as a sleeping aid is only about three weeks.

People suffering from insomnia should adopt the mindset that prescription sleeping pills are an absolute last resort. There are plenty of other things you can try to solve your insomnia before going down the prescription drug route. Prescription drugs for insomnia are dangerous because of the tolerance issue.


Sleeping Pill Tolerance

Sleep is an interesting natural phenomenon inasmuch as the body requires it in order to repair, regenerate, and rejuvenate. When an individual regularly gets enough restful sleep, he or she typically enjoys better health and a better mental and emotional outlook. The opposite is also true.

The biggest problem with sleeping pills is the fact that they rarely provide enough restful sleep. This lack of restful sleep makes it more difficult for the body to repair itself as it should. What’s the result? Whatever is causing the insomnia is not truly being dealt with. After just a couple of weeks, the sleeping pills begin to lose their effectiveness.

After prolonged use, a cycle of tolerance is likely to develop. The individual will not get the sleep he or she’s used to, so they will increase the dosage to make up for it. That will last for a couple of weeks before the effects begin to wane again. If the cycle continues unabated, sleeping pill addiction is inevitable.

Some doctors will rotate prescriptions for patients who suffer from chronic insomnia. They may take one regimen of benzodiazepines followed by antihistamines and a melatonin regimen. Nevertheless, even when rotating prescriptions, if the cause of the insomnia is not found and addressed, the patient may reach a state where he/she cannot sleep at all unless heavily medicated.


Victims of Sleeping Pill Addiction

Addiction to sleeping pills can occur to anyone, at any age. However, there are three groups of people who are more prone than others are. They are:

  • The Middle-Aged – Middle-aged people, particularly those dealing with stressful jobs or life circumstances, are the most likely to begin taking sleeping pills for chronic insomnia. They are also the most likely to become addicted. Why? Because their busy lives prevent them from dealing with the original cause of insomnia.
  • Seniors – As the body ages many of its systems do not function as efficiently as they did in youth. It is not uncommon for seniors to suffer through multiple bouts of insomnia in the last decade or so of life. Continually advancing age only increases the potential for sleeping pill addiction.
  • Chronic Pain Sufferers – Unfortunately, chronic pain is something that can keep you up at night. People suffering from conditions like diabetes and fibromyalgia deal with chronic pain throughout their lives. When that pain prevents sleep, sleeping pills and pain medication combined can lead to addiction.


Addiction Treatment

Sleeping pill addiction is unlike just about any other addiction to alcohol or drugs. As such, it is very difficult to treat on an outpatient basis. What’s more, experts recommend it be done only under the supervision of a medical professional. That’s why we recommend that those suffering from this type of addiction seek out a residential treatment programme through a private clinic.

The two basic components of addiction recovery – detox and rehab – are part of recovery from addiction to sleeping pills. However, the two components are approached differently.

Starting with detox, a sleeping pill addiction is generally handled on a gradual basis. In other words, the individual is gradually given lower doses of the prescription medication rather than going cold turkey all at once. A sleeping pill addiction is one case in which cold turkey could be dangerous.

During the gradual detox process, the individual being treated will also begin rehab. A comprehensive rehab programme will deal with all sorts of things, including the mental and emotional problems often accompanying a lack of restful sleep.

When detox is complete, rehab will continue through to the end of the treatment programme. Clients will learn other ways to cope with insomnia as well as develop important life skills that will teach them how to avoid sleeping pills or other artificial sleeping aids in the future.


Choosing a Treatment Centre

There are a small handful of private clinics specialising in sleeping pill addiction. Because recovery from this type of addiction is so unique, we recommend a specialised clinic if it is at all feasible. If not, other private clinics also accept sleeping pill addicts.

We can help you locate a private clinic in your area when you call us. We urge you to do so today if you are suffering from sleeping pill addiction. Every day you wait makes it more difficult to overcome.

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