Addiction to sleep aids and insomnia medication abuse is a rapidly growing problem in the United States that is especially troubling considering reports of bizarre and dangerous behavior exhibited by people under the effects of these drugs. Sleep aids include drugs like Ambien, Lunesta, Tylenol PM and even Benadryl. These drugs work as hypnotics that help a person fall asleep and stay asleep longer. However, they are also extremely addictive when not used correctly, and because these drugs cause strange behaviors there is the potential to become addicted without even realizing it.
Insomnia and other sleeping disorders can ruin a person’s life, and some people struggle with these types of problems for years at a time, often getting only hours of sleep each week. For many, sleep aids can literally be a life-saving medicine. However, these drugs are only sold for occasional use, but serious sleep disorders might compel a person to use them every day for months or even years. This is because when some people stop taking these drugs the insomnia or other sleeping problem returns, and unless the sufferer resumes using the sleep aid they will be unable to maintain a normal biological rhythm.
With regular use all sleep aids can cause tolerance, physical dependence and eventually outright addiction. This is because the hypnotic and sedative effect of sleep aids like Ambien and Lunesta cause neurons and neurotransmitters in the brain to reduce their level of activity, thereby permitting a person to fall into an induced sleep. When these drugs are taken regularly, neurotransmitters will suddenly begin firing signals wildly when a person subsequently stops taking the drug. This can lead to a host of physical and emotional complications as part of a process known as Withdrawal Syndrome. In addition to the danger of possible addiction, sleep aids such as Ambien can cause troubling side effects:
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” 1. Anterograde amnesia: Memory loss which occurs mysteriously which may be short-lived that diminishes the capacity to learn, may result in failure to recollect facts, forget how to talk, etc.;
2. Hallucinations: May be visual, olfactory, gustatory, tactile, proprioceptive, nociceptive, thermoceptive, auditory. It is important to note that hallucinations are not the same as illusions which is a sensation which is attributed to misinterpreting what you see.” (1)
Once addicted to sleep aids, medical experts agree that a person should not attempt to detox and withdraw from these substances unmonitored. According to the National Sleep Foundation, “…persons taking hypnotics need to understand that sleep aids should be gradually decreased rather than stopped all at once. Without gradual tapering, stopping hypnotic use may cause insomnia to come back.” (2) Additionally, both Acute Withdrawal Syndrome and Post Acute Withdrawal Syndrome can cause serious side effects that may compel a person to use the drugs again in an effort to seek relief from symptoms. Therefore, if you or someone you know is addicted to sleep aids, professional help should immediately be sought. This can be in the form of an inpatient treatment facility or outpatient treatment center that can provide expert assistance to help you stop using sleep aids and insomnia medications and reset your natural sleeping patterns.
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(1) Ambien Overdose.ORG Ambien Side Effects/Addiction and Abuse/Dosage and Reviews
(2) National Sleep Foundation Sleep Aids and Insomnia