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Sleeping Pill Addiction: Signs, Symptoms, & Treatment

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One in ten U.S. adults use sleeping pills to help them fall asleep or stay asleep, according to CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention).

If you have been struggling with insomnia, read on to discover:

  • Are OTC sleeping pills addictive?
  • Can addiction to sleeping pills develop quickly?
  • Is sleeping pills addiction dangerous?

Are Sleeping Pill Addictive?

There are two main categories of sleeping pills:

  1. Benzos: While benzodiazepines have a long history, their side effects, pronounced potential for addiction, and withdrawal symptoms have prompted some doctors and medical professionals to favor alternative medications.
  2. Z-drugs: Representing a newer generation of sleeping pills, Z-drugs generally exhibit fewer side effects compared to benzos. However, they can still be highly addictive, especially when abused recreationally or used in manners divergent from prescribed guidelines.

There are two primary pathways to developing an addiction to sleeping pills: through prescription use and recreational abuse.

Prescription sleeping pill use

Some people start using prescription sleeping pills to address genuine sleep disorders. However, extended use or surpassing prescribed quantities can lead to tolerance, requiring larger doses to achieve the same effects. Over time, dependence may develop, and withdrawal symptoms may arise when discontinuing use.

Recreational sleeping pill abuse

Others may misuse sleeping pills recreationally, either to experience a high or alleviate symptoms of underlying mental health issues. Similar to prescription use, ongoing misuse can result in tolerance and physical dependence, where the individual relies on the pills for normal functioning.

Several risk factors increase the likelihood of developing a sleeping pill addiction, especially if one or more of the following are present:

  • Underlying mental health conditions
  • A history of trauma
  • Family history of addiction
  • Easy access to sleeping pills
  • Stressful or chaotic lifestyle

Recognizing these pathways and risk factors is crucial for early intervention and seeking professional help when needed to address sleeping pill dependence and addiction effectively.

Signs You’re Addicted to Sleeping Pills

Recognizing the signs of sleeping pill addiction is essential for prompt intervention. If you or someone you know is using sleeping pills, watch for the following indicators of addiction:

  • Increasing tolerance: Needing higher doses over time to achieve the same sleep-inducing effects.
  • Dependence: Relying on sleeping pills to fall asleep regularly, feeling unable to sleep without them.
  • Failed attempts to quit: Unsuccessful efforts to stop or reduce sleeping pill use.
  • Cravings: Intense urges or cravings for sleeping pills.
  • Continued use despite negative consequences: Persisting with sleeping pill use even when experiencing negative consequences such as impaired daily functioning or strained relationships.
  • Social isolation: Withdrawing from social activities or relationships due to sleeping pill use.
  • Doctor shopping: Seeking prescriptions from multiple doctors or obtaining sleeping pills through non-medical channels.
  • Secretive behavior: Engaging in secretive or deceptive behavior regarding sleeping pill use.
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Symptoms of Sleeping Pill Addiction

Identifying the symptoms associated with sleeping pill addiction can help in understanding the extent of the problem. Look for the following signs that may indicate an individual is grappling with sleeping pill addiction:

Physical symptoms may include:

  • Drowsiness
  • Slurred speech
  • Impaired coordination

Behavioral changes may include:

  • Increased irritability
  • Mood swings
  • Changes in sleep patterns

Psychological signs may include:

  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Memory impairment

Neglect of responsibilities may encompass:

  • Decline in work or academic performance
  • Neglect of daily responsibilities

Health issues may include:

  • Gastrointestinal problems
  • Respiratory issues
  • Headaches

Withdrawal symptoms associated with sleeping pills may include:

  • Sweating
  • Tremors
  • Nausea

If these signs and symptoms present, seeking professional help is crucial. A healthcare provider or addiction specialist can provide guidance on developing an appropriate treatment plan to address sleeping pill addiction.

Symptoms of Sleeping Pill Addiction

Sleeping pill addiction is clinically described as sedative use disorder. DSM-5-TR (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders) outlines the symptoms of sleeping pill addiction as follows:

  1. Continuing the use of a substance, whether it be a barbiturate, benzodiazepine, or another sedative-hypnotic, despite facing adverse personal consequences.
  2. Recurring inability to fulfill essential functions at work, school, or home due to substance use.
  3. Repeated engagement in physically hazardous situations while under the influence.
  4. Persistent use despite experiencing recurrent or enduring social and interpersonal problems caused or exacerbated by substance use.
  5. Development of tolerance, evidenced by the need for significantly higher doses to achieve intoxication or the desired effect, or a notable reduction in the effect despite continued use of the same amount.
  6. Experiencing withdrawal symptoms characteristic of the substance, or using the drug to avoid withdrawal.
  7. Consuming more of the substance or using it for a more extended period than originally intended.
  8. Having a persistent desire to reduce use or making unsuccessful attempts to control it.
  9. Investing a substantial amount of time in obtaining, using the substance, or recovering from its effects.
  10. Ceasing or diminishing important occupational, social, or recreational activities due to substance use.
  11. Experiencing cravings or a strong desire to use the substance.

Treatment for Sleeping Pill Addiction

Addressing sleeping pill addiction involves a multifaceted approach tailored to the individual’s needs. Here are key components of treatment for sleeping pill addiction:

Medical assessment

Begin with a thorough medical assessment to evaluate the extent of dependence and any potential underlying health issues. Collaborate with healthcare professionals to develop a safe and effective treatment plan.


In cases of physical dependence, a supervised detoxification process may be necessary to manage withdrawal symptoms. Medical supervision ensures safety and the potential use of medications to ease withdrawal discomfort.

Behavioral therapy

Engage in behavioral therapy, such as CBT (cognitive behavioral therapy), to address the psychological aspects of addiction. Explore and modify thought patterns and behaviors associated with sleeping pill misuse.

Counseling and support groups

Participate in individual counseling or support groups to share experiences and receive guidance from others facing similar challenges. Counseling can provide coping strategies and emotional support during the recovery journey.

Addressing underlying issues

Identify and address any underlying issues contributing to sleep disturbances or the reliance on sleeping pills. Psychological assessments can help uncover root causes and inform a comprehensive treatment plan.

Education on healthy sleep habits

Receive education on establishing and maintaining healthy sleep habits. Learn alternative strategies for managing stress and improving sleep quality without the use of medication.

Relapse prevention

Develop a relapse prevention plan that includes strategies for managing triggers and maintaining long-term recovery. Acquire skills to navigate challenges and stressors without resorting to sleeping pill use.

Holistic approaches

Explore holistic approaches, such as mindfulness, relaxation techniques, and lifestyle adjustments, to support overall well-being. Integrating holistic practices can contribute to sustained improvements in sleep and mental health.

Family involvement

Involve family members in the recovery process, fostering a supportive environment at home.

Family therapy can address relational dynamics and promote understanding among loved ones.

Aftercare planning

Develop a comprehensive aftercare plan to ensure ongoing support and monitoring post-treatment. Follow-up appointments, continued counseling, and support group participation contribute to sustained recovery.

Individualized treatment plans are essential, considering the unique factors contributing to each person’s sleeping pill addiction. Seeking professional guidance and building a robust support system are critical steps in achieving lasting recovery. Here’s how you can get help right away in California.

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Find Treatment for Sleeping Pill Addiction at Drug Rehabs Centers

If you need a prescription drug detox and ongoing treatment to address the psychological aspect of addiction to sleeping pills, reach out to Drug Rehabs Centers in Southern California.

We can help you connect with detox centers, inpatient rehab facilities, and outpatient centers, enabling you to engage with sleeping pill addiction treatment throughout California. Addiction is a chronic and progressive condition, and although it usually gets worse when untreated, evidence-based interventions deliver effective outcomes.

Call (844) 739-2005 and get underway with your recovery from prescription drug addiction tomorrow.

Juan Bonnet
Author: Juan Bonnet


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