Sleeping Pill Addiction: Yup, it’s still a thing
Sleeping pill addiction, made famous in the 1950s, continues to be a problem in the U.S. Among adults, problems with sleeping pills are common and as many as four percent ― that’s nearly 10 million people ― use them, according to an estimate published in 2013 from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
While they may seem harmless, there are some potentially serious side effects. If you browse through the medication guide for Ambien, you’ll see warnings of side effects ranging from aggressive behavior and confusion to hallucinations and “suicidal thoughts or actions.”
With this in mind, it’s prudent to know what precautionary measures one should be taking when considering the use of sedative-hypnotic medications.
A study in the American Journal of Psychiatry says that the answer to this question isn’t clear. The subject of this study was to determine exactly how much taking a hypnotic increased someone’s risk of suicidal thoughts or behavior. The researchers confirmed that prescription sleeping pills were linked to higher rate of suicides, but the study seemed to raise more questions than it answered. The biggest problem was that the studies couldn’t distinguish a clear connection between those who were misusing and those who were properly using sleeping pills.
In plain English, the only thing certain was that sleeping pill addiction is dangerous because any use of these sedative-hypnotic medications brought risk. Even using the medication correctly could have unwelcome and dangerous side effects.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. For those struggling with depression, taking sleep aids can be especially dangerous.
It’s a well-known fact that insomnia and depression have a complicated relationship. If you are undergoing treatment for both, it’s vital that your doctors are fully informed of both situations and of ALL medications you’re taking.
Although the evidence collected in the research doesn’t prove that existing depression increases the risk of suicide, it doesn’t disprove it, either. Overdoses of sleeping pills can kill, that much is known and sleeping pill addiction significantly increases the chance of an overdose. For those suffering from extreme depression or other forms of mental illness, sleeping pills may be seen as a means to complete a decision that has already been made.
2. During the first few days of taking sleeping pills, those are the most dangerous days.
You really need to monitor yourself if you start prescription sleeping pills. Write down any side effect or anything out of the ordinary, no matter how small. Contact your physician if you have even the slightest concerns about what’s happening to you.
Some of the more urgent warning signs that the medication is not working the way it should could include things like depression, bad dreams, sleepwalking, or including sleepwalking or suicidal thoughts. If you experience any of these symptoms, stop taking the drug and call a physician.
3. Hypnotics can be deadly in combination with other drugs (and alcohol!).
One of the more alarming things is that even in cases where the drug is taken at the prescribed dose, they can still be deadly if you were to mix them with other medications or alcohol. Heath Ledger’s accidental deadly overdose in 2008 was a tragic example of what happens when prescription pills of any kind are mixed with other substances.
For this reason, it’s absolutely critical to ensure your doctor knows about any other medications you’re taking if he chooses to prescribe a sleeping pill ― and make sure he or she gives you CLEAR PERMISSION to take those medications at the same time.
Some people have trouble figuring out what constitutes sleeping pill addiction, but if you have any doubts, you should know when it’s time to call an addiction helpline.
4. Read and heed the labels’ warnings.
It may seem obvious, but we’ll say it again: prescription sleep aids should be used as directed.
NEVER take more than the recommended dose.
NEVER take after you’ve had alcohol.
NEVER mix with other drugs unless you’ve gotten the go-ahead from your doctor.
ALWAYS go to sleep within 15 minutes of taking the medication ― and stay in bed for the recommended amount of time it takes for the drug to wear off (typically seven to eight hours).
The bottom line: These drugs are potent pills. Use only under the direction of your doctor and heed the warnings.
If you or someone you know is suffering from sleeping pill addiction or any other substance abuse problem, let us help.
Help is a phone call away and it’s usually covered by most private insurance programs.