ClickCease Sleeping Pills Withdrawal: Symptoms, Timeline & Detox Process | Granite Recovery Centers

Sleeping Pills Withdrawal: Symptoms, Timeline & Detox Process

Authored by Granite Recovery Centers    Reviewed by James Gamache    Last Updated: August 27th, 2021


James Gamache Medical Reviewer
Jim is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LICSW) and Licensed Masters Level Addictions Counselor (MLADC). He has been working in the field of mental health/addiction treatment since 1995. Jim earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Human Services from Springfield College in 2000, and a Masters Degree in Social Work from Boston University in 2002. In 2002 Jim was hired by the Mental Health Center of Greater Manchester holding the position of Clinical Case Manager. From 2004-2019, Jim was employed at WestBridge Inc. During his time at WestBridge, Jim held the following positions; Clinician, Team Leader, Director, & Chief Operations Officer. In 2019 Jim transitioned employment to GateHouse Treatment Center as the Clinical Director for 10 months. In October of 2020 Jim transitioned to Granite Recovery Centers and is currently serving as the Senior VP of Clinical Services and Quality Assurance.

Sleeping pills can help address fatigue and stress brought on by modern living. The number of individuals using these drugs has seen a sharp increase in recent times as many people seek to get adequate rest. However, just like any other drug, sleeping pills can cause adverse effects on your health if used haphazardly.

Many people are unaware of dependency on sleeping pills until they feel it is time to stop using the medication. If you suspect dependency in yourself or in someone you love, it can be helpful to learn more about seek to analyze sleeping pills, their withdrawal symptoms, the withdrawal timeline, and the detox process.

What Are Sleeping Pills?

Sleeping pills belong to a class known as psychoactive drugs. Doctors can use them as anesthesia during surgery, but they are primarily used to treat insomnia. A sleeping pill prescription is given to adults struggling to get sleep or finding it hard to stay asleep long enough to feel rested.

Since these pills can result in dependence, doctors recommend using the drugs for short periods. Generally, there are three categories of sleeping pills:

  • Melatonin-receptor agonists – They leave the body quickly. They target the brain’s melatonin receptors, and they do not have dependence capabilities. An example of these drugs is Ramelteon.
  • Benzodiazepines like Restoril (temazepam) and Ativan (lorazepam) – They target gamma-aminobutyric acid, a brain chemical that reduces nerve activity and consequently promotes sleep. Benzodiazepines can cause dependence with side effects such as daytime sleepiness and probable dementia.
  • Non-benzodiazepines like Lunesta (eszopiclone) and Ambien (zolpidem) – They also target gamma-aminobutyric acid and only stay in the body for a short period. The side effects tend to be fewer than with benzodiazepines. However, there is still the risk of daytime sleep and sleepwalking.

Common Withdrawal Symptoms of Sleeping Pills

The continued use of sleep pills can lead to addiction. The body builds a tolerance to the drugs, which prompts you to use a higher dosage to sleep or to achieve standard functionality. By the time you realize you are addicted, the effects are more severe.

Some of the effects of dependence include lack of coordination, hallucinations, memory loss, failed attempts to quit, problems at work, light-headedness, and high tolerance to the drug. When these effects become predominant, it is normal for you to try quitting the drug. Quitting the use of sleeping pills leads to withdrawal symptoms, however. They occur because the body is trying to cope without the drugs. These symptoms may include:

  • Spasms
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Hallucinations
  • Confusion
  • Sweating
  • Seizures
  • Delirium
  • Insomnia
  • Nausea
  • High heart rate
  • Vomiting
  • Shaking hands
  • Irritability

Quitting the use of sleeping pills is challenging. The rebound insomnia often makes the withdrawal symptoms worse, so getting some sleep is close to impossible. Insomnia convinces you that you need the pills to sleep. You create dependence characterized by drug preoccupation, consequently interfering with everyday life.

If you have existing mental health issues or any other form of addiction, the withdrawal symptoms tend to be more severe. You will likely need to stay in medical detox longer to receive therapy and the treatment of other health issues.

Sleeping Pills Withdrawal Timeline

The withdrawal timeline varies from one individual to another depending on the dependency level and the amount of dosage. Self-prescription is dangerous because there is a high probability of an overdose.

Sleeping pill withdrawal symptoms can occur within hours after your previous dosage. The intensity of these symptoms decreases a week after the detox process begins. Psychological issues are more challenging, and they may last for a month or more after your last dose. Therapy plays a significant role in helping you overcome these issues.

The first few days after quitting tend to be very challenging. You will likely experience nausea, vomiting, and hallucinations. There is a high likelihood of a relapse if you try to quit on your own. Frequent contact with your doctor is crucial because a medical team can help you stay focused.

Cravings and withdrawal symptoms peak between four to 10 days after you quit using the pills. However, with enough patience, these symptoms taper off after around two weeks. Psychological issues can last an additional week or two. Constant use and a high dosage of sleeping pills can cause depression and dependencies that last for months, so it’s important to only use sleeping aids for short periods.

The Risk of Driving on Sleeping Pills

Sleeping pills may help you get some rest, but the use comes with a chance of impairment and amnesia. The side effects depend on how long the drug revolves around your system. A straightforward way of realizing you have side effects is having a hard time waking up in the morning. At this juncture, you are at risk for impaired driving.

There is a likelihood of amnesic behavior. You may do a particular activity like cooking or driving and completely forget that you engaged in such an action. When you use sleeping pills, make sure you know how long they will remain in your system.

There are three classes of sleep medications:

  • Short-acting like Ambien (zolpidem)
  • Medium-acting like eszopiclone and temazepam
  • Long-acting like flurazepam and clonazepam

If you have a problem with falling asleep, pick a drug that lasts for a short time. On the other hand, if your problem is waking up in the middle of the night, choose a drug that lasts longer. However, be sure to ask your doctor about how long it takes for the medication to leave your system.

When you take a sleeping pill, put aside adequate time for you to rest until the drug flows out of your system. If you wake up and feel groggy in the morning, ask for a different medication. Only drive when you are fully sober.

Sleeping Pills Detox Process

Breaking the use of sleeping pills can be physically and mentally challenging. Although it can be difficult, it is worth the fight because you get to live a sober life without the adverse effects of the drugs.

How do you quit the use of sleeping pills? The road to recovery starts with medical detox during which your doctor gradually reduces the dosage. Detoxification helps in tapering off the drug from your body and controlling the withdrawal symptoms. Tapering also helps in preventing relapses so that you don’t use the pills again to suppress the withdrawal symptoms.

The detoxification process can take up to four months depending on your level of dependence. Throughout the process, you’ll have brief, motivating visits with your doctor. Communication is essential because your doctor gets to monitor your progress. For example, if you are still having challenges finding sleep after the detox process, your doctor might recommend activities like yoga to enhance slumber.

Therapeutic support is also a vital step in the detox process. Behavioral therapy is helpful because your doctor constantly evaluates your behavior when you stop using sleeping pills. If you are having a difficult time, your doctor will encourage and motivate you to completely quit using sleep aids.

It is not wise to withdraw from sleeping pills on your own because the symptoms can be dangerous. For example, seizures are life threatening and treatment requires the presence of a medical practitioner. It is wise to go to a detox facility to cater for safer rehabilitation.

Try the Following Tips That Help Improve Sleep

Reducing medication is essential in stopping the use of sleeping pills, but it may not be sufficient to allow you to rest each night. Your doctor can help you find other ways to enhance a response that will let your body relax and find sleep. These methods could include:

  • Cognitive behavioral therapy – This type of counseling is highly effective against insomnia. The talk therapy aims to change the way you are thinking and to enhance productive thinking. Talk therapy typically takes a minimum of six weeks.
  • Relaxation techniques such as yoga and guided vision – This can help quiet the thoughts that keep you awake at night.
  • A change in diet – Avoid alcohol, coffee, and anything that promotes acid indigestion.
  • Reduction in stimuli that prevent sleep – For example, television, smartphone screens, or computers can interfere with the sleep process. It’s best to limit screen time for several hours before you go to bed.
  • Improve your sleep hygiene – Use the bed for sleep only and not for reading or for doing work. Block any sources of noise and light. An effective way of enhancing sleep hygiene is sleeping and waking up at the exact same times every day. If you get in bed and fail to sleep within 20 minutes, get out and try something else like reading a novel for 20 minutes. Then, try again to fall asleep.

Getting Help at Granite Recovery Centers

If you are having side effects from using sleeping pills or if you know someone who is experiencing difficulties, it is vital to get help. Any form of substance abuse disorder can have long-lasting consequences on your physical and psychological health. For example, the long-term effect of using sleeping pills is insomnia, which occurs when you cannot get any sleep at all.

Granite Recovery Centers is the ideal place for you to get rehabilitation services. We have been helping individuals overcome substance use disorder for over 10 years, transforming the lives of drug-dependent adults around the country. Granite Recovery Centers provides medical detoxification for people who do not need immediate medical intervention, are not a danger to themselves, and are capable of self-evacuation in the event of an emergency. We offer the following rehab services:

  • Exclusive residential addiction centers in New Hampshire – They include Green Mountain Treatment Center, Granite House, and New Freedom Academy in Effingham, Derry, and Canterbury, respectively. These facilities offer residential detox programs, structured client schedules, evidence-based clinical therapies, and discharge planning.
  • Mental health program – Professional counseling for addiction recovery includes cognitive behavior therapy and dialectal therapy. Our main aim is to help you overcome addiction through motivational interviews, one-on-one individual therapy, process groups, and various therapies.
  • Intensive outpatient program – Our Green Mountain Treatment Center offers clinical modalities, holistic therapies, and medical detox without requiring a 24/7 stay at the facility.
  • Structured sober living programs – Our sober living homes in Manchester offer a conducive environment to help you get accustomed to the challenges of living in the real world. You get to live with peers who are instrumental in maintaining sobriety.
  • Alumni program – Our program helps you form a cohesive bond with your peers in recovery. This bond is essential because you can interact with them and share your experiences during the rehabilitation process.

Recovery is a challenging process, and it requires patience and hard work. When you get professional help from caring therapists and doctors, overcoming sleeping pill addiction is possible.

Conclusion

Sleeping pills are one way of inducing sleep. However, if you develop a dependence, the withdrawal symptoms can take a toll on your life. Remember, drugs affect the chemical components of your body, especially the brain.

If you have tried to quit and the withdrawal symptoms become impossible to handle, seek our detox services. We will be glad to help you with the recovery process.

At Granite Recovery Centers, we want to provide accurate information about health and addiction so that our readers can make informed decisions.

We have credentialed medical doctors & clinicians who specialize in addiction treatment review the information on our website before it is published. We use credible sources such as government websites and journal articles when citing statistics or other medically related topics.