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Can You Get Addicted to Sleeping Pills?

Sleeping pill misuse is a widespread problem. While sleeping pills are not as variably addictive as other substances, like prescription painkillers or alcohol, for example, many people who are prescribed sleeping pills develop a tolerance and have a difficult time falling asleep without the medication. Typically, sleeping pills are prescribed to people who experience occasional sleeplessness or suffer from a diagnosable sleep disorder, like insomnia. Are sleeping pills addictive? Becoming addicted to sleeping pills is quite common. Some are prescribed benzodiazepines or “Z drugs,” medications containing zolpidem or zopiclone. Benzodiazepines and Z drugs are the most commonly prescribed sleeping pills and sedatives. 

If you or someone close to you has developed a sleeping pill addiction, medically monitored detox is an essential initial step on the road to recovery. This is especially true in the case of benzodiazepine addiction. The symptoms associated with benzodiazepine withdrawal can be life-threatening unless closely overseen in a designated detox center. To learn more about our Nashville detox center or to begin your journey of sleeping pill addiction recovery, contact us today. 

Types of Sleeping Pills

There are many types of sleeping pills, ranging from those prescribed by a licensed physician to those available over the counter. The best option for the individual will depend on several factors, including the severity of the sleep disorder, the presence of co-occurring issues, and personal history of substance use. 


Benzodiazepines are generally prescribed for severe sleep-related issues that negatively impact the overall quality of life. Because benzodiazepines have a longer half-life than other sleeping pills, their effects take longer to wear off. Additionally, benzodiazepines are highly addictive. For this reason, they are rarely prescribed to be taken for more than 2 consecutive weeks at a time. 

The most commonly prescribed benzodiazepines include:

  • Diazepam (Valium, Diastat, AcuDial)
  • Flurazepam (Dalmane, Dalmadorm)
  • Estazolam (ProSom, Eurodin)
  • Temazepam (Restoril, Normison)

Z Drugs

Zaleplon, zolpidem, and zopiclone are known as Z drugs. These sleeping pills are beneficial when used short term and work similarly to benzodiazepines. Z drugs can cause drowsiness the next day. In addition, this class of medication can lead to behaviors like sleepwalking, sleep eating, and sleep driving. Commonly used Z drugs include: 

  • Ambien and Ambien CR
  • Lunesta
  • Imovane
  • Sonata
  • Intermezzo

Z drugs have primarily replaced benzodiazepines like Valium as short-term insomnia treatment options. However, people who take Z drugs longer than recommended or use the medication recreationally can quickly develop a physical dependence. Z drugs, like benzodiazepines, can lead to the development of tolerance and result in withdrawal symptoms. 

Are Sleeping Pills Addictive?

Sleeping pills can be addictive, though it depends on the type of sleeping pill being taken and the duration of use. As it stands, benzodiazepines are the most addictive type of sleeping pill. However, when used as prescribed, they can benefit short-term treatment of sleep-related issues. 

An article published by the National Library of Medicine titled Using Medication: What Can Help When Trying to Stop Taking Sleeping Pills or Sedatives, states, “People who take benzodiazepines and Z-drugs for too long or in too high a dose can easily become dependent. That is why it is important to take as low a dosage for as short a time as possible. It is not possible to say at what stage their use becomes a problem – it varies from person to person. But people might become dependent after only a few weeks. But it is quite common for these drugs to be taken for several months or even on a permanent basis.”

If a person is struggling with occasional sleeplessness, they might benefit more from alternative treatment options. This could include breathing exercises, guided meditations, and non-habit forming, over-the-counter supplements like melatonin. 

Am I Addicted to Sleeping Pills?

People who have become addicted to sleeping pills will experience a range of associated symptoms. The most common symptoms of sleeping pill addiction include:

  • Using more sleeping pills than intended for longer than intended. 
  • Feeling stressed or anxious when sleeping pills are not easily accessible. 
  • Attempting to obtain more than one sleeping pill prescription at a time. 
  • Using sleeping pills even when symptoms of insomnia are not present. 
  • Experiencing sleeping pill cravings throughout the day. 
  • Experiencing personal consequences as a result of sleeping pill use. 
  • Developing a physical tolerance. 
  • Experiencing withdrawal symptoms when sleeping pill use is abruptly stopped. 

Short and Long-Term Effects of Sleeping Pill Addiction 

Short-term effects of sleeping pill misuse include:

  • Coordination issues and a loss of balance
  • Breathing difficulties
  • Oversleeping
  • Hallucinations
  • Drowsiness and lightheadedness
  • Memory issues
  • Impaired motor skills
  • Headaches

Long-term effects of sleeping pill misuse and dependence include: 

  • Rebound effects (worse insomnia when sleeping pill use is stopped).
  • The development of physical and psychological dependence.
  • Long-term memory loss.
  • Long-term effects on coordination and motor skills. 
  • Persistent daytime drowsiness. 

Detox Nashville Can Help You Overcome Sleeping Pill Addiction

If you are struggling with a sleeping pill addiction, Detox Nashville can provide you with the help you need to make a full recovery. Sleeping pill addiction is not a one-size-fits-all problem. The best treatment options will depend on the sleeping pills you use, how long you have used them, and the severity of the substance use disorder. However, medical detox is always a necessary first step on the road to long-term recovery. 

At Detox Nashville we offer comprehensive detoxification services for those struggling with prescription drug addiction of all types and severities. We combine effective medical care with evidence therapies and holistic treatment options. Contact us today to learn more or to begin your personal journey of healing. 

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