Getting Help With Sleeping Pill Addictions
Sleeping pills are available as over-the-counter (OTC) medications and as controlled medications that require prescriptions from medical practitioners.
Self-medication with OTC medications fluctuates between mild temporary success and total failure. It is best to solicit intervention by professional health practitioners.
Types of Prescribed Sleeping Pills
- Benzodiazepines: Sedative-hypnotics developed for controlling anxiety and stress, but also used as sleeping pills. Its sedative effect causes drowsiness and sleep. Has addictive potential, so prescribed dosages must be strictly adhered to. Should not be used for longer than 14 days.
- Non-benzodiazepines: Sedative-hypnotics that chemically differ from benzodiazepines, but act on the same brain areas and produce similar results, except that it is less addictive and has fewer side-effects. Works for most people, but not for everybody.
- Barbiturates: A less popular sedative-hypnotic sleep medication. Was found to interfere with REM sleep (the most restful phase of sleep), which means a user may not get the full benefit of sleeping. Can lead to dependency if dosage is exceeded.
- Antihistamines: Intended for allergies, but also marketed as sleeping pills, due to their sedative properties. Sedation lasts for a long time and can extend into the next day, with ongoing drowsiness and potential risks if patient operates machinery.
- Antidepressants: Not marketed as sleeping pills, but some have sedative properties that help patients to sleep. Not addictive, but patients must taper off before stopping it. Outcomes can be unpredictable and experimentation may be required to find the right one.
Prominent brand name sleeping pills include the non-benzodiazepines Ambien, Lunesta and Sonata, as well as Amytal (a barbiturate), and Rozerem.
Rozerem works like melatonin, a natural human hormone that regulates our sleep-wake cycles. It has weaker side-effects than other sleep medications, for instance it is less addictive, and this makes it a preferred sleep medication.
Uppers and Downers
All mood-altering drugs fit into one of the following utilitarian groups:
- Stimulants: Drugs that provide feelings of energy, vitality and alertness.
- Depressants: Drugs that depress the nervous system and calm you down.
People who do not get enough sleep, tend to use stimulants to keep them awake when they have duties to perform, and then switch to depressants when they want to sleep. Mixing drugs often leads to experimentation and unpredictable drug interactions, as well as multiple addictions.
Sleeping Pill Precautions
It is not uncommon for people to underestimate the impact of sleep medications. Improper use of sleep medications can be very dangerous. If you have a serious sleep disorder, you should pay attention to the following:
- Always consult a doctor or psychiatrist before you start taking sleeping pills.
- Tell the doctor about all the other medications that you are currently taking.
- Tell the doctor if you have, or had, other medical or psychological problems.
- Read and heed the leaflet that usually comes inserted within the packaging.
- Do not take other drugs close to the time that you take the sleeping pills.
- Ensure you have ample time to sleep. Avoid having to wake up prematurely.
- Do not operate any machines until you are sure that your mind is clear.
- Try the first dosage when you don’t have to go out when you wake up.
- Ask someone to keep an eye on you, if you are prone to sleepwalking.
- Do not exceed the prescribed quantity or duration of treatment.
- Do not share prescribed sleeping pills with other people.
Acute and chronic cases of insomnia or disruptive sleeping patterns are often related to either physical or psychological issues, or both. The best approach to solving a serious sleeping disorder, is to have it medically and psychologically diagnosed and treated by qualified practitioners in both fields.