Sleep aids are medications available either on an OTC (over the counter) or prescription basis to treat insomnia. Many people have difficulty either falling asleep or staying asleep through the night. When they are not getting the type of quality sleep they need to function properly, they may turn to sleeping pills or talk to their doctor about a prescription-strength solution for the problem.
OTC Sleep Aids
The most common active ingredient used to promote sleep in over-the-counter sleep aid pills is diphenhydramine, which is an antihistamine. When taken at bedtime in high enough doses, it will usually make you feel relaxed enough that you will feel drowsy, leading to sleep. These types of products may cause a “hangover effect” the next morning, though, and leave you feeling a bit groggy the next day.
These products should only be taken as directed and are not meant to be used for more than a few days.
Is Diphenhydramine Addictive?
Diphenhydramine has the potential to be abused for its sedative effect. When taken along with prescription drugs used to treat anxiety, such as Valium, Ativan, Klonopin or Xanax, the combination of these benzodiazepines and the antihistamine is multiplied, to create an increased level of sedation.
Risks Of Using Sleep Aids And Alcohol Together
Some people use high doses of diphenhydramine with alcohol to get this increased sedative effect. Abusing this mix in this way can lead to a number of health issues, such as
- double vision
- increased heart rate
- liver dysfunction
- low blood pressure
- stomach issues
Benzodiazepine Receptor Agonists Sleep Aids
Aside from antihistamine sleep medications, there’s also the benzodiazepine receptor agonists type. This type of drug works differently than diphenhydramine. These agonists can cause a hypnotic affect and should never be used without a doctor’s prescription or other than directed.
Benzodiazepine receptor agonists drugs like Ambien, Sonata, Rozerem and Lunesta should never be combined with alcohol or taken with any other type of sedating medication. Be sure that your doctor knows about all other medications you are currently taking.
Prescription Sleeping Pills And Addiction
If you start taking a prescription sleep aid, do not take more than the prescribed dose or for longer than absolutely necessary. Doing so can lead to an addiction. The goal of using these drugs is to take them for a short term and to get off of them. In the meantime, you should be looking at the underlying cause of your insomnia.
Individualized Drug Addiction Treatment
Are you concerned that you or a loved one may be addicted to sleep aids or other drugs? The Dunes East Hampton has customized drug treatment programs that are created for each client’s individual needs and goals. We make sure that you are the focus with our high staff-to-client coverage.
Learn More About Individualized Programs For Addiction Recovery