Sleeping Pills Addiction

Estimated reading time: 29 minute(s)

For anyone struggling with falling asleep or maintaining it at night, experts usually recommend sleeping pills. These tiny little pills work like magic in helping insomniacs finally get the sleep they deserve every night and let them live productive lives. However, despite all the benefits, these sleeping pills have a significant downside that they can easily make anyone dependent on them. This is particularly true for those using these medications for a long time or at very high doses.

Suppose you or someone around you has been using or abusing sleeping pills for a long time. In that case, it is essential to familiarize yourself with the phenomenon of addiction, its common signs, and possible treatment options.

Common Sleeping Pills Addiction Symptoms

For anyone who is taking a sleeping pill at a dose that’s higher than usual for a long period, dependence can easily develop. This dependence can be psychological, where a person feels like they cannot live their life without using the drug, or physiological, where they develop withdrawal symptoms when they stop using the drug. Regardless of the type, some common sleeping pills addictions symptoms that an individual may exhibit include the following:

  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Lightheadedness
  • Garbled speech
  • Memory challenges
  • Dizziness
  • Mood swings
  • Hallucinations
  • Unsteady movements
  • Itching
  • Odd dreams and nightmares
  • Drowsiness during waking hours

If you observe someone abusing sleeping pills, you may notice their urge to use these medications at all times during the day and night. The euphoric feeling usually drives this need to use these pills that they lead to instead of trying to sleep. Moreover, people who are abusing sleeping pills typically run out of them faster than an average person since they are using these pills in much higher doses.

Who Can Develop Sleeping Pill Dependence?

Anyone can become dependent on sleeping pills, irrespective of age, race, gender, and socioeconomic status. However, some factors may contribute to this addiction, such as the following:

Genetic Factors

Some people have a natural genetic predisposition to drug use and addiction. Some people may continue to use sleeping pills for a good night’s sleep every day without developing any pattern of addiction, while others may use it occasionally yet end up creating a dependency on them.

Environmental Factors

If you live in a household or neighborhood where people find it normal to use drugs, such as sleeping pills, you may think of it as a standard coping mechanism. This continuous normalization of using sleeping pills can come from family members, friends, and peers. Some people may force you to use sleeping pills the minute you have a restless night due to avoidable causes, such as a long flight. This peer pressure often influences a person’s ability to judge the impact of these pills on their life in the long run.

Underlying Mental Health Issues

The presence of certain mental health issues, such as anxiety and depression, may make it harder for certain people to go about their business during the day. As a result, they may struggle to sleep at night and are more likely to use a sleeping pill. Research has also revealed that people struggling with mental health issues are much more likely to abuse drugs, such as sleeping pills.

The Need to Manage Sleeping Pill Abuse: How it Affects Life

Many people consider sleeping pills addiction a trivial matter that does not require as much attention as other addictive patterns. However, such individuals are not aware of how this problem carries an equal potential to deteriorate and damage different parts of life. Mentioned below are some common ways abusing sleeping pills can affect your life and the lives of your loved ones.[1]

It physically damages you.

Any addiction, including sleeping pill abuse, can damage your physical health. It may alter the normal heart rhythm, elevate blood pressure, and deteriorate the overall life quality. You may struggle to sleep every night without using these pills, which only reinforces their use in the long run and puts you at risk of acquiring permanent changes in the brain anatomy.

It jeopardizes your career.

Regardless of the type of sleeping pill you may be taking, abusing it can make employment challenging to acquire or maintain. In the short term, these pills impair judgment while causing fussiness which may interrupt one’s performance at work. In the long run, this addiction may force you to take excessive absences and lie to cover them up, which may become intolerable for your employer.

It leads to poor mental health.

In addition to negatively altering physical health, abusing sleeping pills can also take a toll on the mental well-being of a person. It may lead to symptoms like anxiety, depression, delusions, paranoia, and hallucinations and exacerbate pre-existing mental health issues. While many of these effects are temporary and reversible with abstinence, some may persist forever.

It triggers financial burdens.

Fulfilling cravings for sleeping pills may require you to spend thousands of dollars per year. The more you abuse yourself, the more you need to maintain this dependence and save yourself from an uncomfortable withdrawal. With time, this excessive need for sleeping pills may start causing financial difficulties.

It may get you in trouble with the law.

Sleeping pill abuse can easily make anyone get in trouble with the law. Many people may experience delusions following the ingestion of these pills and may engage in illegal or risky activities. Others may resort to illegal means to obtain more of these drugs and end up serving jail time.

It creates distances in relationships.

Every healthy relationship is based on trust. However, many who abuse sleeping pills may engage in deceitful behaviors that break this trust in minutes. Such people lie about their pill use and the financial restraints caused by their addiction. Moreover, they lie about their whereabouts to keep their addiction a secret from their partners and other family members. As a result, they may destroy their close relationships, sometimes to the extent that a patch-up becomes impossible.

How to Stop Sleeping Pills Addiction?

Sleeping pills are usually helpful for people who find it difficult to sleep at night. However, misusing these medicines is equally possible and potentially dangerous as they can easily become deadly. So, seeking help from a rehab center is necessary for someone fighting this drug addiction.[2]

Detox and Tapering

Those dependent on sleeping pills may develop withdrawal symptoms when they stop using them. Withdrawal symptoms associated with sleeping pill abuse may develop within 7 days. To ensure a client remains safe during this tenure, the best way out is to join an addiction treatment detox program. Medical detox at a rehab allows clients to cleanse their bodies of any chemicals and focus on recovering. As a part of the detox process, rehab may include tapering, which involves gradually reducing the dose of sleeping pills until the time when the addiction-related use is over.


Certain therapies, such as cognitive behavioral therapies, help clients focus on the identification of the root cause of addiction and get over them to start a new life. Some rehabs may also offer holistic therapies alongside treatment to treat poor people in time so that they don’t need to go back home and come back tomorrow.

Self-Help Measures

In addition to undergoing a detox program and taking help from therapy, experts also encourage clients to follow some self-help tips for complete recovery. Some of these may include the following:

  • Maintain sleep hygiene: Make sure your bedding and pillows are comfortable, the temperature is optimal, and there is no sound disturbing you from going to sleep. Turn off the lights and set soothing music to make the mood to sleep every night. All these tips fall under the category of sleep hygiene and play an essential role in regulating imbalanced sleep patterns.
  • Exercise every day: Exercise has been proven to possess many benefits, such as stress reduction. Studies have also revealed that performing mild to moderate exercises, such as walking, can significantly help tackle insomnia while promoting better sleep quality.
  • Fix a bedtime: Many people have very inconsistent and unplanned bedtimes. Some days, they sleep early before even clock hits 8; at other times, they are wide awake past midnight. Due to these variable bedtimes, the body’s internal clock is thrown out of balance and may disturb sleep. Hence, make sure to fix a bedtime so everyone can enjoy a good night’s sleep.
  • Root out the underlying cause: Insomnia often presents as a part of depression and anxiety. Those who ignore these mental problems and don’t do anything about them face more trouble going to sleep at night. This throws them into a vicious cycle comprising sleepless nights. Hence, make sure to identify and productively work on his personality.


Which sleeping pill carries the highest addiction potential?

All benzodiazepines and Z drugs carry the highest addiction potential as they work by soothing the nervous system and binding to the receptors that create a soothing effect.

Is it possible to overdose on sleeping pills?

People who tend to consume sleeping pills beyond their prescribed limit are at risk of experiencing an overdose. Some initial symptoms of this overdose may include changes in thinking and emotional state, breathing changes, and slurry speech. Call for immediate medical assistance at once if you see these symptoms in someone who abuses sleeping pills.

Do people combine sleeping pills with other drugs?

A lot of people do not pay any attention to the warning labels pasted on the pill bottles that strictly advise against mixing sleeping pills with alcohol or any other drug. This is because alcohol can significantly amplify their results and lead to life-threatening complications. Nevertheless, many people use them in combination with other painkillers, antidepressants, benzodiazepines, and cannabis.

How does sleeping pills addiction develop?

Most people typically develop sleeping pills addiction after continuously using them for at least seven days or using them in very high doses. Remember that these factors and how they influence the addiction timeline may vary from one person to another. Sleeping pills addiction may also stem from using these medications as a coping mechanism. Many people rely on them to sedate their minds and bodies against some kind of stress to get through difficult circumstances without any trouble.


1 Break, G. T. S. N. T. Sleeping Pill Addiction: When It Becomes Tiring.

2 [Internet]. Cologne, Germany: Institute for Quality and Efficiency in Health Care (IQWiG); 2006-. Using medication: What can help when trying to stop taking sleeping pills and sedatives? 2010 Apr 20 [Updated 2017 Aug 10]. Available from:

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