Excerpted from "A Year of Health Hints"
365 Practical Ways to Feel Better and Live Longer
Used improperly, prescription sleeping pills (called
sedative-hypnotics) can be as addictive as alcohol and can
produce unpleasant withdrawal symptoms if stopped abruptly.
You can develop a tolerance to sleeping pills in as little as
two weeks of frequent use. In other words, you need higher and
higher amounts to fall asleep. Older people should be especially
cautious about taking sleeping pills, since their tolerance for
medication is usually lower than middle-aged or younger adults.
If you or someone you're close to takes prescription sleeping
pills, possible signs of misuse include:
pills nightly for more than two weeks.
Needing to take
higher doses to fall asleep.
dosage without consulting the doctor.
If you've become dependent on sleeping pills, don't quit cold
turkey--you're apt to suffer confusion, slurred speech,
drowsiness, difficulty concentrating, relentless insomnia, and
possibly death. So contact your doctor for instructions on how to
wean yourself off the drug. (If you've been tortured with
insomnia, see Tip 4 in chapter 1, Fast Relief for Everyday Health