We all know that lack of sleep can take a normally happy person and drastically alter their mood. Sleep deprivation can also lower your quality of life if it’s not addressed, perhaps causing problems at work, parenting, in your relationship, and damaging your health.
Difficulty falling or staying asleep is fairly common. As a result, sleeping pill prescriptions like Ambien or Lunesta are also very common. While these sleeping pills or sedatives are beneficial to those who desperately need sleep, they don’t come without the risk of you becoming dependent or addicted to them.
What Are Sleeping Pill Withdrawal Symptoms?
For most sleeping pills, it only takes a couple of weeks regularly taking them to become addicted to them. The brain becomes dependent on a particular drug such as Ambien, Lunesta, or Restoril. When you try to reduce your dosage or stop taking the drug, you experience withdrawal symptoms as your brain and body try to re-balance.
Common sleeping pill withdrawal symptoms include:
- Increased anxiety
- Cravings for more of the drug
- Increased heart rate
- Hands shaking
Keep in mind that those that take sleeping pills as prescribed by their physician can easily become dependent on the drug. However, if they are not abusing the drug, the withdrawal symptoms may not be as harsh as someone who is abusing the drug.
Regardless of the severity of addiction to sleeping pills, it’s safest to undergo detox under the care of a physician. Some of the symptoms could be life-threatening, so it’s essential to be monitored regularly as you detox.
What Are the Stages of Sleeping Pill Withdrawal Timeline?
Generally, there are four stages of withdrawal that you may experience when coming off of sleeping pills. The intensity and pace at which you get through the stages will largely depend on the following factors:
- Level of dependence on the drug
- How frequently the drug was taken
- Dosage of the drug
- Overall health condition
- Whether or not you’re using other drugs
- Metabolic rate
- Level of support
- Taper schedule
Sleeping Pill Withdrawal Timeline
STAGE 1 (1- 3 DAYS)
You may begin to feel withdrawal symptoms as little as 24 hours after the last dose. Early symptoms include feeling confused, nausea, vomiting, anxiety, trouble with memory, and perhaps some mood changes. Heavy users may encounter more serious symptoms like hallucinations or psychosis.
STAGE 2 (5-10 DAYS)
In this stage, you may continue to feel a decent number of symptoms, such as continued sleep issues, anxiety, sweating, cravings, fast heart rate, and perhaps tremors. Symptoms usually peak within the first 10 days before decreasing.
STAGE 3 (1-2 WEEKS)
You’ll begin feeling greater relief once you hit Stage 3. Chances are that the physical withdrawal symptoms may have dissipated, but some psychological ones may remain. Some report lingering feelings like depression or anxiety.
STAGE 4 (3 WEEKS +)
Mild users are usually symptom-free by this stage. Moderate to severe users may continue to feel some anxiety, depression, and insomnia for several more weeks.
It’s tough to know exactly how long withdrawal symptoms may be experienced, but one to two weeks is generally the expected timeline. However, the more severe the addiction, the longer the timeline may be.
Why Should I Detox?
You should never try to stop using sleeping pills cold turkey at home. Stopping any sleeping pill abruptly can cause severe withdrawal symptoms, making you more prone to relapse. There is also the potentiality of experiencing a seizure, so undergoing detox under the care of a physician or at a detox center is the safest way to come off sleeping pills. This way, you’ll be tapered off over time rather than risk stopping abruptly. You’ll also be able to discuss alternative ways in which you can try to handle your insomnia.
Sleeping Pill Overdose
If you’re taking your medicine as prescribed, your risk of overdose is rare. But whenever you take a sleeping pill, your breath becomes shallower than usual.
If you’re abusing sleeping pills, you could develop parasomnia or overdose if your breathing rate becomes too slow. Parasomnia is when someone takes a sleeping pill and then begins to sleepwalk. They could get up and eat, drive a car, or do things that they won’t remember. Some people have done dangerous things in a state of parasomnia.
When you enter a medical detox, you’ll simply be able to get off sleeping pills much safer as the doctor tapers down the drug.
What Is the Next Treatment Step?
Detoxing from sleeping pills is simply the first step toward overcoming a sleeping pill addiction. Whether you detox in a medical facility, a detox center, or under the care of your physician, continued treatment for addiction recovery is recommended. Oftentimes, underneath an addiction are root causes that if not address, can lead to relapse or psychological or emotional issues.
Continue treatment is most common in either an inpatient, outpatient, or intensive outpatient program (IOP). The level of care that you need may depend on the severity of the addiction. Those that are considered heavy sleeping pill users are recommended to attend either an inpatient treatment center or intensive outpatient programs. Someone who has a mild addiction to sleeping pills oftentimes chooses to attend an outpatient treatment center.
A residential treatment center is a facility where patients reside and receive treatment from substance abuse professionals. This type of treatment works well for many reasons, including having access to medical professionals around the clock, being able to leave home for a period of time to solely focus on recovery, as well as access to both individual and group therapy. Oftentimes, patients will commit to 30, 60, or 90 days at the treatment center, then return home to continue their recovery there. Longer stays are available should the patient want or need them.
Outpatient and residential therapy methods are very similar, but for outpatient, the client lives at home and travels to the treatment center for sessions throughout the week. This type of treatment works well for those who are working or have family responsibilities that won’t allow them to pack up and leave. The number of sessions attended throughout the week will depend on the level of addiction and the needs of the individual. You’ll have access to a counselor, support groups, and group therapy.
INTENSIVE OUTPATIENT PROGRAMS
An intensive outpatient program (IOP) is similar to outpatient treatment in that you live outside of the facility. However, the difference lies in the fact that clients spend more time in sessions during IOP than in outpatient. The sessions will include educational classes about addiction, individual and group counseling, and most likely support groups.
All of these treatment modalities will help an individual overcome sleeping pill addiction and learn how to prepare for long-term success in sobriety. Having the added professional support can be very helpful in overcoming addiction. You’ll also be able to create a relapse prevention plan and perhaps learn alternative methods to contend with your insomnia issues.
Start Your Journey To Recovery Today
If you or a loved one are struggling with an addiction to sleeping pills, know that there is help available and you do not have to struggle any longer. You also don’t have to try to stop using these pills on your own. There are various addiction recovery services available to you.