Being able to recognize the signs of sleeping pill abuse can save the life of someone you care about.
Many people abusing sleeping pills experience memory and concentration problems.
Some of the signs of sleeping pill use include:
- Slurred speech
- Uncoordinated movements
- Unsteady gait
- Inability to focus
- Impaired memory
- Unusual euphoria
The Dangers of Sleeping Pills
Both the immediate and long-term dangers of sleeping pill abuse are enough for most people to exercise caution when using them. However, many people aren’t aware of the dangers of these medications.
The dangerous effects of sleep medications range from seizures to depressed breathing. Some people also experience allergic reactions from sleeping pills that can cause difficulty breathing, chest pain, nausea and swelling.
Though rare, people who use sleeping pills may even develop parasomnias. Parasomnias are defined as sleep disorders that include behaviors like sleep-walking, sleep-eating, sleep-sex, sleep-driving and other potentially dangerous sleep-related activities.
The immediate dangers of sleeping pills range from minor fatigue to coma. Some of these side effects can even lead to deadly overdoses, casting light on the true dangers of sleeping pills.
Common symptoms of sleeping pill abuse include:
- Dry mouth
- Difficulty with coordination
- Daytime drowsiness
- Memory loss
- Unusual dreams
- Itching and swelling
- Depressed breathing rate
Those who use sleeping pills over a long period of time are likely to experience intensified side effects. As they continue taking these pills over time, the substance builds up in their body and produces unwanted side effects. These effects may include high blood pressure, irregular heartbeat and depression.
One side effect that most chronic sleeping pill users experience is “rebound insomnia,” or the resurgence of sleeping troubles once the user stops taking the drug. Often, this kind of insomnia is worse than the original insomnia. Rebound insomnia might even cause bizarre and disturbing dreams that can lead to panic attacks and increased anxiety upon waking.
Rebound insomnia is a withdrawal symptom from an addiction to a sleeping pill and should not be considered a reason to continue use. Rebound insomnia is often the cause of relapse for those trying to recover. This can create a dangerous cycle of abuse.
Recognizing a Sleeping Pill Addiction
Sleeping pills pose a serious threat of dependence, as they are oft-prescribed and commonly abused.
Many people who develop an addiction to sleeping pills have reported increasing their dose after the effects had diminished. Over time, they developed a tolerance that turned into an addiction. The first step in overcoming this powerful addiction is recognizing that there’s a problem.
The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders outlines the full criteria for clinically diagnosing an addiction. These criteria include behavioral and physical symptoms that result from prolonged drug use. Those who become addicted to their sleep medication may exhibit symptoms such as:
- Needing larger doses to fall asleep
- Trying and failing to quit more than once
- Ignoring social, professional and familial obligations
- Seeming confused or frequently detached
Intervention and Next Steps
If someone you care about exhibits the signs and symptoms of having an addiction to sleeping pills, whether it’s Lunesta, Sonata or Ambien, it’s time to talk to them about getting help. Staging an intervention is one of the best ways to show an addicted person that you are on their side and that it’s okay to get help.
The goal of intervention is to get the addicted person in treatment immediately. Some families hire an intervention specialist for help managing the situation. Specialists can also help you figure out what to say to your loved one and outline consequences if they refuse to get help.
Withdrawal and Treatment
Those who have taken sleeping pills frequently over a long period of time will experience withdrawal symptoms when quitting. These symptoms may last for over a month depending on the user. These symptoms can be damaging and are best managed through a professional medical detox.
These withdrawal symptoms are caused by the body’s dependence on sleeping pills to create a physical and mental equilibrium. Symptoms include anxiety, sweating, and, sometimes, seizures.
Rebound insomnia is also particularly hard to overcome for many people, but it can be managed through proper treatment. A trained medical professional can help you overcome your sleeping pill addiction without the symptoms of quitting “cold turkey.”
Sedative abusers have the highest rate of suicidal thoughts of any group of drug users. If you or someone you know has a problem with sleeping pills, get in touch with a treatment specialist today for help finding treatment.