Everyone knows about the importance of a good night’s sleep — but how does the lack of and/or poor sleep affect individuals with substance addiction? Lack of good sleep has been shown to affect depression and even cause weight gain, and for individuals with substance abuse issues, sleep disorders could trigger a litany of physical and mental health problems.
Sleep research has revealed that individuals who abuse drugs and/or alcohol are five to ten times more likely to suffer from a sleep disorder as compared to the general populace. Problems with sleep have also been linked to the onset of psychiatric disorders such as depression and bipolar disorder. Addicts who are dual diagnosis have a co-occurring mental illness and substance addiction.
Although sleep disorders are not yet cited for dual diagnosis, it can be a factor in drug and/or alcohol abuse and contribute to other health issues like depression, bipolar disorder, etc. There are other health risks like heart disease and chronic inflammation that can be increased if an individual has a sleep disorder.
People who self-medicate with drugs like benzodiazepines (tranquilizers or sleeping pills) and alcohol are actually negatively impacting their well-being. The drugs or alcohol can become part of the problem and put them at risk for substance addiction and dependence. There is also misinformation regarding the use of alcohol to help bring on sleep. Alcohol is a depressant and it can make you drowsy; however, alcohol negatively affects deep sleep, thus you wake feeling tired instead of refreshed.
On the other hand, a drug addict or alcoholic can develop sleep problems through their substance abuse. Their substance abuse can interrupt deep sleep and natural sleep cycles to the point of causing a sleep disorder. Suffering from poor sleep, the addict continues to abuse more drugs and/or alcohol to help deal with this deficiency. It’s plain to see how poor sleep contributes to the cycle of substance abuse when the addict doesn’t receive the treatment that he or she needs.
If you experience problems with sleep while in or out of treatment, speak to a medical doctor. There are behavioral and pharmaceutical approaches to treat a sleep disorder. There are non-habit forming medications available as well. Men and women in recovery can falter due to sleep problems, making them exhausted and irritable. The purpose of recovery is to bring normalcy back into your life and that includes sleeping well once again.