Addicted to Sleeping Tablets

Prescription sleeping pills are a common treatment by doctors for poor sleep (insomnia). However it is very easy to become addicted to sleeping tablets. They can help restore sleep in a crisis or during illness. Dosage and length of time they should be taken depends on the individual and the circumstances.

Addicted to sleeping tablets

Most over-the-counter sleeping aids contain anthistamines, usually used to treat allergies, but can also cause drowsiness and so sleepiness. Prescription sleeping pills contains more powerful drugs, in the UK the two most commonly prescribed are benzodiazepines and ‘Z drugs’. Benzodiazepines which are tranquilisers are designed to reduce anxiety and promote calmness, relaxation and sleep. They include flurazepam, nitrazepam, loprazolam, lormetazepam and temazepam. Z medicines are a newer form of sleeping tablet that work in a similar way to benzodiazepines in that they have similar effect on the brain cells. They include zopiclone, zolpidem and zalepon. There’s little difference between the two; therefore if one doesn’t work, it’s unlikely switching to the other is going to have a different effect.

Side effects

Doctors are often reluctant to prescribe sleeping pills for a number of reasons. Notwithstanding the longer side-effects, sleeping tablets carry a number of short-term problems including:

–          Drowsiness the next day

–          Dizziness

–          Dry throat or mouth

–          Headaches

–          Nausea

–          Change in appetite

–          Unusual dreams

–          Clumsiness, drowsiness, and confusion in the night


Users also often find problems with tolerance if they have used sleeping pills over a prolonged period of time. By taking them each night your body becomes accustomed to the drug in your blood stream and with time, the usual dose has no effect. It only takes between three and fourteen days of continued use to become tolerant to a benzodiazepine or Z drug sleeping pill. People therefore often up their dosage to obtain the required effect, which they then become tolerant to and so on. Research has shown little improvement in the amount of sleep gained with continued use. This leads to a more serious problem regarding the sleeping pill of dependence. Addiction to sleeping pills can progress quickly when considering the issue of tolerance.

Withdrawal symptoms

Despite the knowledge that sleeping pills are only of short-term benefit, many people continue to experience problems with withdrawal from long term use. Fear of going through a process of withdrawal means that many people stay on the medication long after it has ceased to be effective. Dependency can be therefore both physical and emotional as patients feel that they are unable to cope without the drug, and the physical symptoms of withdrawal support their belief. Many doctors continue to renew prescriptions without offering adequate support and information on withdrawal. Withdrawal starts when the body becomes dependent and the tablets are stopped suddenly. Unfortunately with sleeping pills withdrawal can take up to two to three months or even longer. Medication will then be gradually reduced or taken less frequently until the process is complete.

We can help people who suffer from addiction to alcohol, drugs, food and gambling. You can book a free assessment with us and come and look around our clinic with no obligations. You can alternatively just call us, if rehab is not an option and we can guide you to the services that are available to you in your area.

Sleeping tablets are far from the only drugs that can lead to prescription medication addiction.

Call the Haynes Clinic on 01462 851414 for confidential advice with your addiction.

Addicted to Sleeping Tablets