Are Sleeping Pills Addictive?


Insomnia is a problem that affects countless numbers of people. Although the causes vary the treatment for many is the same, sleeping pills. Far too many begin to rely on sleeping pills and find themselves taking them on a regular basis. The question that begs to be answered, are sleeping pills addictive? There is no doubt that they can be habit forming, but can one develop a physiological dependence?

The answer to that question depends on the type of sleeping pill in question. Benzodiazepines can certainly cause life threatening symptoms such as seizures if they are not tapered off slowly. Most of the drugs advertised on television are being marketed as ‘safe’. What exactly does ‘safe’ mean.

Benzodiazepines have been prescribed for treating sleep disorders since the late 60’s early 70’s. The carry a relatively low risk of overdose when taken alone and do not interact with liver metabolism the way that barbiturates do. However they are indeed habit forming and sudden withdrawal can be life-threatening.

Nurses, pharmacists, and physicians need to be educated on the signs and symptoms of the abuse of sleeping pills. Patients need to be carefully examined to rule out possible underlying causes of their sleep disturbance before sleeping pills are prescribed.

Depression can be one cause of sleep disturbance and if properly addressed the patient may find their sleep improved without the use of a sleeping pill. As with all prescription drugs that carry the potential of abuse, there is a strong need for the implementation of a check and balance system to prevent the abuse and exploitation of obtaining prescriptions.

Nurses, physicians and pharmacists need to be fully aware of the potential for sleeping pill abuse regardless of whether or not research has proven them to be addictive. The fact that they are habit forming makes them enough of a danger.

Patients need to be fully informed of the potential to become reliant on them, and with the help of their physician discuss a long term treatment plan to address their sleep disorder since sleeping pills are not meant to be taken for long periods of time.

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