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Addiction to Sleeping Pills

Sleeping pills are sedative-hypnotics. They are a class of drugs that slow down
the brain’s functions and induce sleep.

Sleeping pills are sedative-hypnotic drugs that are often prescribed for people who are struggling with insomnia. Unfortunately, a lot of people end up becoming dependent on them until the point where they develop an addiction.

In fact, there were more than 30,000 emergency room visits due to the non-medical use of the sleeping pill Ambien back in 2011. Sleeping pills can be dangerous when abused. In 2012, 21 percent of those who were abusing sleeping pills reportedly had suicidal thoughts related to their drug use.

With the widespread usage of sleeping pills, it is important to understand what makes them so dangerous.


Sleeping Pills Overview

Sleeping pills are sedative-hypnotics, which means they are a class of drugs that slow down the brain’s functions and induce sleep. They can be very helpful for people with insomnia. This category also includes substances like barbiturates.

Sleeping pills are non-benzodiazepine hypnotics. Because of their sleep-inducing effects, they are also referred to as “z-drugs”. They work by binding to the same GABA receptors in the brain as benzodiazepines. However, unlike benzodiazepines, they are believed to have fewer side effects.

Common examples of sleeping pills are: Ambien (zolpidem), Sonata (zaleplon), and Lunesta (eszopiclone). In 2013, almost 9 million Americans regularly used sleeping pills to help them sleep at night.

Although sleeping pills can successfully treat short term insomnia, some people can become dependent on them. The number one reason sleeping pills are so frequently abused is because they are so common. Sleeping pills are very accessible.

There is also a misconception that because they are prescribed by medical professionals, they are “safer” to abuse. They assume that they can’t get addicted to sleeping pills. Later on, they find out that breaking an addiction to sleeping pills can be very difficult, especially without medical assistance. Proper addiction treatment is needed.

Some people can develop dependence by misusing sleeping pills, even if they don’t mean to take it recreationally. As the body builds up tolerance, the person has to take larger doses just to experience the desired effects.

A lot of people who take sleeping pills don’t realize that they’ve become dependent or addicted to the drug until they stop taking their medication. Once they stop, they experience withdrawal symptoms and even cravings.

Addiction is characterized by the inability to quit a particular drug, even when you are already experiencing its adverse effects. Going through several failed attempts to quit the drug is a telltale sign of addiction.

Sleeping Pills: Effects of Abuse

Sleeping pills are generally prescribed for short term use only. Doctors may prescribe them for severe cases of insomnia. Sleeping pills are fast-acting and can be used on an as-needed basis.

However, a lot of people start taking sleeping pills any time they have difficulty sleeping. They sometimes self-medicate and use it for anxiety. When used this way, it is considered drug abuse.


Potential effects of sleeping pills include: dizziness, lightheadedness, hallucinations, and lack of coordination. Recreational users take sleeping pills to get high, putting themselves at risk of developing addiction.

If someone in the family is struggling with drug or alcohol addiction, it is important to seek help. A combination of medical detox and behavioral therapy can go a long way in the fight against substance abuse. But because every individual is affected by addiction differently, a comprehensive program tailored to their specific needs is necessary. Look for a nearby addiction treatment facility today and find out how drug treatment programs work.

Rehab is Your Best Chance

Treatment is an addicted individualʼs best option if they want to recover. Beating an addiction not only requires eliminating the physical dependence, but also addressing the behavioral factors that prevent them from wanting to get better. Simply quitting may not change the psychological aspect of addiction. Some people quit for a while, and then take drugs again, only to overdose because they did not detox properly. Recovery involves changing the way the patient feels, thinks, and behaves.

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Fel Clinical Director of Content
Felisa Laboro has been working with addiction and substance abuse businesses since early 2014. She has authored and published over 1,000 articles in the space. As a result of her work, over 1,500 people have been able to find treatment. She is passionate about helping people break free from alcohol or drug addiction and living a healthy life.

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