sleeping pills withdrawal and detox

Modified: 27th Feb 2019

Last updated on February 27th, 2019 at 10:28 am

Nobody wants to feel tired and full all of the time. Unfortunately, that is the fate of many people who turn to sleep aides.

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) reports 4% of the adult population in the U.S. looks to prescriptions for relief. This number doesn’t account for the people taking antidepressants as sleep aides, a problem uncovered by the American Academy of Sleep Medicine (AASM).

With the existence of rebound insomnia, many users of sleep aides end up in vicious cycle seeking relief. Rebound insomnia isn’t the only risk when it comes to sleeping pill withdrawal.

Understanding the symptoms of withdrawal empowers you to find help. It is also important to learn about treatment options to detox effectively. 

What Causes Sleeping Pill Withdrawal?

Sleeping pills withdrawal causes problems for several reasons. The first is the psychoactive substances create a behavioral dependence.

A person that thinks they need the pills will associate any negative feelings with their absence of the drug. This becomes worse when the second group of effects comes in. 

The second is the physical dependency in which the receptors in the brain and natural sources of sleep-inducing neurotransmitters in the body switch off. This makes the person’s initial sleep disturbances worse when coming off the drug.

A lack of restful sleep will cause issues in itself, so withdrawal from a sleep aide spirals into other health problems associated with poor sleep.

Withdrawal occurs from the nonbenzodiazepine ingredient such as zolpidem or eszopiclone.

Withdrawal Symptoms

Sleeping pills can produce drug dependence quickly. Users experience physical and behavioral symptoms within a few weeks. 

Behavioral symptoms include:

  • depression
  • anxiety
  • insomnia
  • paranoia

Physical symptoms include:

  • headaches
  • nausea
  • seizures
  • sweating
  • racing pulse
  • irregular heartbeat
  • delirium

Sleeping pill addiction with withdrawal afterword can be an intense process. The dual involvement of psychoactive substances and general poor sleep feed into each other. 

Duration of Sleeping Pill Withdrawals

Symptoms decrease dramatically after three weeks. Acute symptoms can persist beyond this point for months. These symptoms pale in comparison but create hardships to recovery.

Complications which arise from dealing with symptoms can require their own recovery period. Most dehydration and fluid balances level out slowly.

Sleeping Pill Withdrawal Timeline

A detox program focuses on three main weeks of symptom management and recovery. This holds true for assisted programs, solo efforts, and medical detox.

Week 1

Within 24 hours of the last use, symptoms of withdrawal arise. The first week deals with the most severe anxiety and confusion in behavioral areas. Physically, vomiting and convulsions may occur. 

Memory loss and mood changes can occur depending on the prior duration of usage.

It is important to engage in a program with around the clock monitoring during this week. This helps craft a better recovery program and manage further withdrawal symptoms. 

Week 2

The second week features the peak of symptoms. Irregular heartbeat, blood pressure, and extreme sweats accompany insomnia. Tremors and panic attacks follow along with depression and intense cravings.

This week is hardest for backsliding and strong pulls to escape.

Monitoring is crucial to keep a person healthy. The changes in blood pressure, respiration, and temperature swings require specialized knowledge. Each of these can cause lasting damage if not carefully regulated. 

Week 3

Physical symptoms retreat in the third week. Depression and cravings can persist longer, depending on the duration of abuse. These reflect the lasting neurological changes from prolonged use. 

Depression symptoms in aftercare can include medications and therapy.

Detoxing from Sleeping Pills on Your Own

Working through detox on one’s own is not recommended for sleeping pill withdrawal. As noted, even a few weeks of use can lead to heavy physical and behavioral symptoms. 

Since many of these symptoms include irregularities it is important to be monitored. An objective outsider is necessary to understand and control fluctuations.

The behavioral issues alone can make the process confusing. Grasping what is happening is difficult and hard to continue along a set course of action.

Tapering and medical detox are far safer for sleeping pill abuse.

Medical Detox for Sleeping Pills

The purpose of a medical detox is to use stabilizing drugs to alleviate the worst of symptoms. This allows a person to recover and avoid a significant amount of pain and discomfort. 

How Medical Detox Works

A patient is brought into treatment and given a starting evaluation. Doctors will go over the course of options and timeline. 

Where possible, a lower dosage of sleeping pills may be introduced in order to taper to patient’s use. This is uncommon as even low dose and limited use have associated issues. 

What To Expect

Results won’t happen instantly. The several weeks of heavy withdrawal pass with monitoring and assistance.

Afterward, the path to full recovery requires changes to habits and patterns. Some of these are aimed at preventing relapse and abuse. Others are aimed at mitigating other lasting symptoms.

Finally, changes that will help with sleep are necessary. This is about removing the underlying problems that resulted in the abuse to start with.

Programs can include:

  1. Group therapy: To build external support and understand the recovery process.
  2. Relaxation techniques: Meditation, yoga, and breathing all help to achieve a sense of calm which makes sleep more approachable. Removing anxiety and stress from life leaves less to worry about when the eyes are closed at night.
  3. Diet and Exercise: More water helps remove lingering detox problems. Healthier eating regulates internal systems. Exercise provides natural endorphins and regulates up and down times.
  4. Sleep: Resting, even if no sleep occurs, is important. Being overtired can be a result of too much doing and not enough rest. Sleep isn’t the only way to recharge.

Medications Available for Sleeping Pill Detox

Buspirone is commonly used to regulate anxiety. It has a multi-week uptake process. A user may be prescribed buspirone in addition to tapering dosages of sleeping pills before treatment. 

Clonidine helps with nausea and vomiting. This will be administered as needed during a detox process. The more fluids a person can keep in, the better off they will be in recovery.

Get Started

The most important steps to follow from here are to find a program suited for an individual’s needs. A strong detox program sets the stage for finding relief from sleeping pill withdrawal.