Avoiding Sleeping Pill Addiction
Insomnia is a common sleep disorder. If you have it, you may have trouble falling asleep, staying asleep, or both. As a result, you may get too little sleep or have poor-quality sleep. You may not feel refreshed when you wake up.
Roughly, one-fifth of adults in the US experience insomnia, and they will try everything from counting sheep to popping pills to get some sleep. In 2012, more than 60 million prescriptions for sleep medications were filled in the US and sales topped $1.6 billion.
Insomnia (trouble falling asleep or staying asleep) is a common problem. It can cause daytime tiredness and difficulty paying attention at school or being alert at work. Affecting people of all ages, it can be transient (short-term) and related to a specific condition or it can be a chronic (long-term) problem that persists for many months.
Despite the fact that all clinical guidelines and recommendations restrict therapeutic use of the different types of sleeping pills to 6 weeks or less, we know that at least 10% of all patients with chronic insomnia use benzodiazepine regularly for more than a year. Sleeping pills can seem like a simple solution for insomnia, but may lead to dependence.
Generally, individuals who take hypno-sedatives (this is the technical name for sleeping pills) for more than 45 days will develop some sort of physiologic and psychological dependence. Thus, after taking sleeping pills for more than two months patients should expect to see their sleeping power diminish week after week and expect to have problems to quitting the sleeping pills. In other words, the more you use sleeping pills, the harder it is to get and stay asleep on your own. Conventional dependence management, benzodiazepine tapering, is commonly a protracted process over several weeks or months.
Research has shown a relationship between the brain-reward system, involved in addiction, and benzodiazepine use. When long-term benzodiazepine use is recognized as problematic, different treatment modalities are available to support individuals in achieving abstinence. Two out of three long-term users are able to stop their usage with the aid of systematic tapering protocols guided by a physician or psychologist, provided there are no other substance abuse issues present.
Individuals should avoid using sleeping pills for an extended period without introducing appropriate long-term treatment approaches for insomnia. Treatments may include lifestyle changes, cognitive-behavioral therapy, relaxation techniques and sleep hygiene. Avoiding sleeping pill addictions by finding solutions to sleep difficulties is possible and much healthier than popping a pill.