Sleeping Pill Abuse

Sleeping Pill Abuse

Sleeping pills are abused both as a recreational drug and by users who accidentally become addicted or dependent on the drug.

Recreational users typically use Ambien and other prescription and over the counter sleeping pills to reduce stress or to feel a ‘high’. Some also combine sleep aids with alcohol or other drugs to increase the high. Users will often steal pills from family and friends with a valid prescription, or buy them on the street, where people often sell them for $4-$17 per pill and sometimes more depending on the strength and brand of the drug.

While recreational sleeping pill abuse is common, many users accidentally become ‘hooked’ through normal usage. This is especially prevalent when prescription users begin taking sleeping pills every night, or every time they have a stressful day or difficulty sleeping. The brain quickly adjusts to sleep aids in the system, making it difficult to impossible to sleep without taking a dose. Over time, even the best-intentioned user can find themselves physically dependent and unable to sleep without the drug.

Many users also develop tolerance, where the recommended dose ceases to have the same effect. Persons who avoid going back to their doctor to discuss the problem, often out of fear of having the sleeping aid removed, typically begin taking a higher dose to get the same effect, resulting in increased tolerance and addiction.

Today, most sleeping pills are prescribed for short-term use in combination with therapy or behavioral therapy to attempt to correct the sleep problem. If you or someone you love is addicted to sleeping pills, there is help available. Simply going ‘cold turkey’ and quitting the drug often isn’t enough to get clean or to recover from a sleeping pill addiction, simply because the drug affects your brain, behavior patterns, and thoughts. 

Getting help will break this cycle by first taking the user through substance abuse to safely remove the drug from their system. Detox typically lasts 1-2 weeks, with some users experiencing more severe symptoms. 

Many users also develop tolerance, where the recommended dose ceases to have the same effect. Persons who avoid going back to their doctor to discuss the problem, often out of fear of having the sleeping aid removed, typically begin taking a higher dose to get the same effect, resulting in increased tolerance and addiction.

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