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Sleeping Pill Overdose

December 18, 2020

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What people think of in reference to a sleeping pill could vary widely. While it is not recommended by medical professionals, some use allergy pills as many of them cause drowsiness. There are other over-the-counter (OTC) medications like Advil PM that are non-habit forming sleep aids. Stronger sleeping pills, like Ambien for example, are often controlled substances. This is often due to the risk of developing a tolerance and dependence. For most OTC sleeping pills, overdose is unlikely without intentionally consuming too many. Similarly, a sleeping pill overdose with prescription sleeping pills is unlikely without intentionally taking too many. Often when overdose does occur, particularly with prescription pills, other substances are present which contributes to the risk of overdose, coma, and death.

OTC Sleeping Pills

To reiterate, OTC sleeping pills are non-habit forming sleep aids and typically easy to purchase. While they are non-habit forming, some do misuse them, particularly younger people trying to experiment and sometimes feel a “euphoric high”. This is a dangerous gamble as at high enough doses, these substances do cause harm. Further, if a person combines with other substances, alcohol in particular, they are increasing the risk of serious health damage and even coma or death. For these reasons, many states have age limits for purchasing these products. 

Combining OTC sleeping pills with other substances increases the risk of serious health damage and even coma or death.

Ultimately, with proper use these substances do not cause serious harm. Still, it is best to always be careful with dosages and to avoid mixing with other substances. 

Prescription Sleeping Pills

Sleep is incredibly important to one’s health. Beyond giving a person the energy to go about their day whether that includes work, family, friends, or more sleep allows the body to rest. Without enough sleep, a person is at risk for a number of adverse health effects. In today’s world, sleep disorders are unfortunately a common occurrence. The reasons are complex and while there is a lot of research around the issue, there is still much for experts to learn. For severe sleep disorders, prescription sleeping pills are often a helpful and welcome aid to get some sleep. 

Hypnotic drugs are a class of psychoactive drugs whose primary function is to induce sleep. Sedatives work to calm or relieve anxiety. Many sleeping pills are referred to as sedative-hypnotics, with the functions of both classes interacting in some prescription sleeping pills. In some cases, antidepressants have been used for short-term treatment of sleep disorders, like insomnia. The risk, which also exists with many other prescription sleeping pills, is for a person to develop a tolerance and dependence on these drugs. 

Side Effects

The side effects for prescription sleeping pills varies depending on the makeup of the specific drug. While many people experience similar side effects, it is also hard to predict exactly how each person could react.

Common sleeping pills include Ambien, Halcion, and Sonata. Side effects possibly include:

  • Constipation
  • Diarrhea
  • Dizziness
  • Daytime drowsiness
  • Problems with attention or memory

For some sleeping pills, the FDA advises against driving the next day due to the possibility of continuing to feel the effects. The possibility to experience more severe effects like parasomnias exists. Parasomnias are involuntary actions during sleep, which you are not aware of and do not remember. This includes the potential for sleepwalking, sleep driving, sleep eating, and other actions. 

Possible sleeping pill side effects: constipation, diarrhea, dizziness, daytime drowsiness, problems with attention or memory.

Sleeping Pill Overdose

A sleeping pill overdose is more likely to occur when other substances are present. Whether OTC or prescription, it is possible to intentionally overdose. It is even possible for some people to unintentionally take too much and this becomes even more dangerous if they use other substances. Mixing substances, also known as polysubstance abuse, heightens the effects drugs have on one another. Some do this purposefully to enhance the “positive” effects, but many do not realize the danger of doing so. 

As most sleeping pills have sedative effects, mixing with other sedatives is particularly dangerous. With polysubstance abuse, alcohol is most commonly one of the substances involved. Because alcohol use is widespread and socially acceptable, few realize the dangers it presents alone as well as with other substances. Possible side effects of sedatives include slowed breathing, lowered heart rate, and impaired cognitive function. Increasing the amount of sedatives used presents a dangerous risk for anyone with the possibility of overdose, coma, and death.

If an overdose is suspected always call emergency services immediately.

Unfortunately, many miss when an overdose is occurring – especially with sleeping pills. The purpose of a sleeping pill is to sedate someone and allow them to sleep. While sedatives slow breathing, it is important to watch out for any irregular breathing patterns if possible. If an overdose is suspected always call emergency services immediately. Receiving care as soon as possible is critical. 

Addiction Treatment

Many people begin to use prescription sleeping pills to help guarantee necessary sleep. Others possibly acquire it illegally, in particular young people use it to experiment. Generally, sleeping pill prescriptions are best for short-term use. Long-term use increases the risk of dependence and addiction. As tolerance increases, more of a substance is necessary to experience the same effects. Whether intentional or not, abuse of and addiction to sleeping pills is a real possibility. One pill alone is not the most dangerous, it does carry risks though, but with an increase in use the risks increase. Whether for you or for a loved one, it is essential to seek help as soon as possible. Contact us today for help.