Sleeping Pill Withdrawal

Our inability to sleep has reached staggering levels throughout the United States. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) goes as far as to say it has reached a public health epidemic. We are made up of a society weighed down by stress and an addiction to technology, which are all contributing factors to sleeplessness. Sleep is considered the fuel to live, but it is more than that – it promotes good health and accounts for one-third of our lives.

Our bodies crave sleep to the same extent it needs oxygen or food. Those with compromised immune systems or chronic diseases rely on the body’s ability to sleep for healing. With these factors playing such a large role in our lives, it’s essential to note that 50 to 70 million Americans around the country deal with some type of sleep disorder. The individuals that responded to the study come from all socioeconomic backgrounds as these disorders do not discriminate.

There are varying degrees of these sleep issues that take shape as a medical disorder. They can be related to someone’s work schedule, which requires being available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Others admit to not receiving adequate amounts of sleep at least once a month, which accounts for 70 percent of those surveyed. Another 11 percent describe insufficient sleep regularly. The most recent contributor to sleeplessness is our easy access to technology.

Social media has played a significant factor in the rise in teens’ and adults’ sleep problems. Video games have always been a problem, but today we seem to ignore our primal urge to sleep only to keep a steady stream of content flowing into our brains. Unfortunately, it has been shown that technology suppresses melatonin, which will keep you alert long after you’ve put the controller, phone, or remote down. At this point, our natural urge is to grab a sleeping pill to whisk us away into a dream state.

Sleep deprivation continues to rise, which should not come as much of a surprise. Twenty-five percent of adults in the U.S. report insufficient sleep 15 out of every 30 days. In our media-driven era, we seek short-term results to fix long-term issues. Sleeping pills continue to become an integral piece of our society. Unfortunately, sedative and hypnotic medications can cause deadly consequences. Sleeping pill withdrawal is a common phenomenon for those that attempt to stop when they’ve fallen into an addiction.


What Are the Most Common Sleeping Pills?

The sleeping pill market is dramatic, and there is not a shortage of drugs that promise to help you fall asleep fast. The drugs were initially created as an alternative to more potent medicines known as benzodiazepines. The purpose was to create a product that helps you achieve sleep while not possessing addictive properties. Despite their best attempts, sleeping pill medication can be addictive over a long period of usage. Sleeping pills are seldom prescribed for longer than three weeks due to these addictive traits.

Despite not being prescribed for extended periods, it will not stop someone from using the medication to fall asleep. 

The Most Common Sleeping Pills On The Market Are Known By:

  • Ambien: The active ingredient in Ambien is known as Zolpidem, which works by acting on the brain’s natural receptors to release increased levels of GABA. The primary difference between sleeping pills and benzodiazepines is that a drug like Ambien works on specific GABA receptors. Benzo drugs will affect most of these receptors at once.
  • Lunesta: Another popular Z-drug that contains the active ingredient Eszopiclone causes the brain to slow down function and cause someone to become relaxed. It allows the person to fall asleep quickly.
  • Sonata: Sonata is similar to Ambien, but it contains a different active ingredient. It causes feelings of numbness, drowsiness, and can cause issues with concentration or memory. In addition to the adverse effects it may produce, Sonata is known to alter mood and behavior in those who use the drug as prescribed.

Sleeping Pill Withdrawal Symptoms

The withdrawal symptoms created by sleeping pills can be downright uncomfortable. It may produce physical and psychological discomfort in the person trying to stop. As you will find with most drugs, the effects will vary from one person to another. Some factors include how much a person was using, how long they used the drug and the severity of their addiction. Their last dose will also play a role in how severe the symptoms may become.

The Most Common Symptoms You May Experience During Sleeping Pill Withdrawal Include:

  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Nausea
  • Tremors
  • Hallucinations
  • Vomiting
  • Drowsiness
  • Rebound insomnia
  • Confusion
  • Delirium
  • Memory loss

What Are the Stages of Sleeping Pill Withdrawal Timeline?

What makes society so great is we all experience life in a different way. With that said, we all respond to the symptoms of withdrawal differently, as well. While the timeline will vary from one person to another, a general guide is necessary to understand what you may face. 

The first week someone will notice a considerable increase in their anxiety and inability to fall asleep. They may not have experienced anxiety before, but as their GABA is readjusting to life without pills, it may be a severe side effect.

Other reactions you may experience will include shivering, chills, and an urge to continue using sleeping pills. You must seek detox during this point as they can gradually reduce your dose and wean you off the medication. The effects will range from one to seven days. 

After the first week, you may experience muscle cramps or feel like you are in a fog. While these symptoms may not be viewed as dangerous, the dosage will determine the severity. Someone who took copious amounts could experience life-threatening seizures. You must check into NCBI due to how these medications affect GABA.


Sleeping Pill Withdrawal Treatment

As we’ve mentioned numerous times above, you must seek medical detox and avoid the cold-turkey approach to detox. While the symptoms may not be as dangerous, the dose you ingested will dictate the severity. It’s not a safe method to abstain from any drug alone, but since sleeping pill abuse is rooted in a sleep disorder, residential treatment will not be a standard outlet after detox.

If the addiction is not too severe, you might be able to complete detox on an outpatient basis. If the clinicians determine there is a driving factor that pushes you to use drugs, they may suggest continued treatment and therapy on an outpatient basis. Sleeping pill withdrawal should not be overlooked. If you are ready for a better life, it is time to reach out for help.

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