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Many people suffer from poor sleep. In fact, almost 50% of US Citizens complain of disturbed, inadequate sleep or insomnia and many adults resort to sleeping pills to control these unpleasant symptoms. Most of these pills fall into the sedative-hypnotic group of drugs. These work by making someone sleep and maintaining them in a sleeping state. Some of these sleeping tablets can be extremely addictive and, if taken incorrectly and/or in large doses they can result in an overdose.
We have created this concise guide to commonly used sleeping pills, the symptoms, possibility and risks of side effects and overdose.
Xanax and Valium
These are benzodiazepines and are tranquilizing drugs that help with symptoms of anxiety. Also known as sedative-hypnotics they cause drowsiness which makes them popular with people suffering from insomnia. They are potentially extremely addictive.
Ambien and Lunesta
These are a different class of sedative-hypnotic drugs known as barbiturates. Barbiturates are often used as a form of anesthesia for surgical procedures and cause sedation by acting on the CNS (Central Nervous System). Ambien and Lunesta are more modern drugs that help sleep by increasing the speed at which a person falls asleep. They can be habit-forming. So, the question remains, can you overdose on ambien?
Sleeping pills, including Ambien, can produce several different side effects including:
Severe reactions can be a sign that a person is allergic to the drug and include:
Another strange side effect of all kinds of sleeping pills is parasomnia. This is a condition where the person has no control over their behavior and, in fact, are completely unaware of the fact that they may be sleepwalking, eating, holding conversations and so on.
The starting dose for sleeping tablets, including Ambien, is usually around 5-10mg. For some drugs doses of around 70mg can start to cause brain or body damage but with Ambien, it takes much larger amounts for damage to occur. With Ambien, an overdose will occur at around 400-600mg, with a lethal dose estimated to be around 2,000mg.
The way sleeping pills work is by relaxing muscles and slowing down bodily functions. The body then drifts off to sleep. Pills like Ambien are usually only prescribed for very short periods so getting enough of it to overdose is often difficult. If a sleeping medication is so potent they can easily cause an overdose they tend to be restricted to hospital settings. However, it is possible to obtain such medications illegally or to take medication prescribed for someone else.
It is dangerous to mix any sleeping pills with alcohol because both substances act as depressants. When combined they increase the risk that normal functions like breathing will slow down too much resulting in low oxygen levels and a build-up of carbon dioxide in the blood. This can lead to brain damage and death. If Ambien is taking with alcohol it has been known to cause hallucinations as well as having an extreme tranquilizing effect.
Combining these substances increases the way each one works within the body and can be deadly and can also lead to risky behaviors like driving while under the influence.
An overdose of Ambien, like other sleeping pills, would start to shut down the body. This includes all the essential functions such as the respiratory, cardiovascular and central nervous systems.
The immediate symptoms would include:
Action must be taken at this stage or it is highly likely that the person will fall into a coma leading either to serious brain damage or death.
There are several serious long term effects of a sleeping pill overdose. These include:
If a person takes an overdose of any sleeping pill, including Ambien, they will need professional medical treatment. There is an antidote (Flumazenil) which can be given to reverse the sedative effect. It may be that the individual will still need to have their stomach pumped to remove any pills before they can be further absorbed.
One the individual is physically stable they must look at receiving a dual diagnosis to deal with any underlying mental health problems as well as their addiction. If they don’t they will be more likely to relapse in the future.
To find out more about The Last House and our treatments for prescription drug addictions please call us to speak to one of our professional counselors or fill in our contact form.
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