Table of Contents


Sleeping pills like Lunesta and Ambien can be effective for the short-term treatment of insomnia. Regrettably, sleeping pill abuse and sleeping pill addiction are common outcomes associated with the sustained use of sleep aids.

Today’s guide explores how addiction to sleeping pills can develop, and also outlines how to connect with sleeping pill addiction treatment.

Request a call.

We want to help, let’s setup a call and figure out the best treatment options for you or your loved one. Our detox specialists will get back to you immediately.

Common Types of Sleeping Pills

Research indicates that U.S. physicians wrote 38 million prescriptions for Ambien, one of the most commonly prescribed sleeping pills, between 2006 and 2011. CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) reports that Ambien is the most hypnotic medication in the U.S. The same data shows that only 23% of those prescribed Ambien follow FDA safety recommendations. 

According to the latest data from SAMHSA (Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration), 73,000 U.S. adults reported an addiction to either tranquilizers (like Xylazine and Ketamine) or sedatives in 2020. 

Many people do not realize they have become addicted to sleeping pills until they attempt to discontinue use. If you try to stop using sleeping pills when you have developed physical dependence, intensely unpleasant withdrawal symptoms will manifest in the absence of sleeping pills. 

You can find various sleep medications available over the counter. These medications typically contain an antihistamine. Antihistamines are used to treat allergies, but this class of medication also induces drowsiness. 

There are three types of sleeping pill commonly prescribed: 

  1. Antidepressants for insomnia
  2. Benzodiazepines
  3. Z-drugs

1) Antidepressants for insomnia

Studies show that antidepressants can positively impact sleep physiology in those with depression and co-occurring insomnia. That said, sleep quality does not seem to be improved. 

AFP (American Family Physician) reports that no antidepressant or class of antidepressant is most effective for treating insomnia in those with depression. 

2) Benzodiazepines

Benzodiazepines are a depressant of the CNS (central nervous system). Benzos are usually prescribed for the treatment of panic disorders, anxiety disorders, and seizures. Beyond these applications, benzodiazepines have been used to treat insomnia since the early 1970s. 

Common drugs in the benzodiazepine family include: 

Among the benzodiazepine class, the following benzos are prescribed as sleeping pills: 

  • Temazepam (Restoril)
  • Estazolam (ProSom)
  • Triazolam (Halcion)
  • Flurazepam (Dalmane and Dalmadorm)
  • Quazepam (Doral)

Benzos are only prescribed for the short-term treatment of insomnia due to the risk of abuse, dependence, and addiction. 

3) Z-drugs

Z-drugs have a similar mechanism of action to that of benzodiazepines. These medications were introduced as supposedly safer sleeping pills with a lower potential for abuse and addiction to benzos. 

The most common Z-drugs are: 

  • Eszopiclone (Lunesta)
  • Zolpidem (Ambien)
  • Zaleplon (Sonata)

Z-drugs like Ambien initially appeared to be the ideal hypnotic drugs due to the quick onset of effects and the short half-life of the medication. Unfortunately, later research implicates Z-drugs in many cases of abuse and dependence, as well as many deaths over the past decade. 

According to WHO (World Health Organization), zolpidem carries the same risk profile for addiction as benzos. 

Accordingly, Z-drugs like Lunesta and Ambien are classified as Schedule IV controlled substances. Like all drugs in this class, Z-drugs have recognized medical utility, but some potential for abuse. 

The sustained use of Z-drugs, even exactly as prescribed, can be habit-forming. Studies now show that the risk of dependence, tolerance, and withdrawal associated with Z-drugs is higher than anticipated.

Of all Z-drugs, Lunesta is most commonly prescribed for the treatment of insomnia. Is Lunesta addictive, though? 

A Schedule IV controlled substance, limited Lunesta dependence can develop. 

The risk of Lunesta addiction increases in line with the following factors: 

  • Higher doses of Lunesta.
  • Longer duration of insomnia treatment.
  • Concurrent use of other addictive substances.
  • History of substance abuse.
  • Co-occurring mental health disorders.

SAMHSA treatment admission data indicates that Lunesta is unlikely to result in addiction requiring treatment when used in isolation. People typically abuse Lunesta in combination with other psychoactive substances, whether alcohol or illicit drugs.  

Sleeping Pill Abuse

If you use sedatives like sleeping pills other than as prescribed by a physician, this is considered sleeping pill abuse. 

Taking high doses of sleeping pills can induce the same euphoria as that triggered by benzos. If you take a sleeping pill and then try resisting the urge to sleep, you may experience hallucinatory effects. 

Other common side effects associated with sleeping pill abuse include: 

  • Dizziness
  • Lightheadedness
  • Impaired coordination
  • Reduced anxiety levels
  • Dreamless sleep
  • Hallucinations

The abuse of sleep aids is prevalent among students at high school or seeking a euphoric high rather than a good night’s sleep. 

Sleeping pills, like all prescription medications, might seem benign but they can start altering brain function from the first use. With sustained use, your brain becomes accustomed to the sedative effects. 

If addiction to sleeping pills develops, rebound insomnia may present when you discontinue use. This is a common side effects resulting in symptoms of insomnia that are worse than those that presented before treatment. A supervised medical detox can largely mitigate this issue. 

If you become addicted to sleeping pills, you can expect to experience any of these side effects: 

  • Trying other drugs 
  • Buying black market sleeping pills
  • Obtaining sleeping pills illegally
  • Impaired decision-making
  • Increased likelihood of accidents
  • Depression
  • Organ damage
  • Suicidal thoughts
  • Accidental overdose

Sleeping Pill Addiction Treatment

There is no universally effective approach for treating a sleeping pill addiction. Here at California Detox, you can enjoy personalized luxury rehab for sedative use disorder at all levels of intensity, from outpatient treatment through to residential rehab.

After your initial assessment, the treatment will assess the extent of your sleeping pill addiction and they can also identify any co-occurring mental health disorders. 

If you are not able to quit sleeping pills with your doctor’s assistance and a tapered reduction, you might benefit from our supervised medical detox. 

The most effective overall strategy for conquering addiction involves the following evidence-based therapies delivered in combination: 

  • MAT (medication-assisted treatment)
  • Individual counseling
  • Group therapy
  • Psychotherapy (talk therapies such as CBT and DBT)
  • Family therapy
  • Holistic therapy

When you are ready to start sleeping without the aid of Lunesta, Z-drugs, benzos, or antidepressants, we can help you kickstart your recovery in Orange County. Call admissions right now at (949) 694-8305 for immediate assistance.


Yes. Both benzodiazepines and Z-drugs, the most commonly prescribed sleeping pills can be addictive. Benzos are Schedule III controlled substances. Z-drugs are Schedule IV controlled substances. All drugs in Schedules III and IV have some potential for addiction.

Sleep Foundation and most experts agree that sleeping pills should not be used long-term. Although there is limited data on the use of sleep aids for more than four weeks, some research indicates that using sleeping pills daily could be associated with increased mortality. Evidence shows that the chronic use of sleeping pills can also impair sleep quality.


Request a Call