Don't close eyes to sleeping pills' addiction risks


July 17, 2005|By Joe Graedon and Teresa Graedon | Joe Graedon and Teresa Graedon,King Features Syndicate

Why do doctors put patients on sleeping pills for years? A friend has taken Ativan for a long time and is now addicted to it. She is not the same person she once was. Is there any hope for her?

Sleeping pills can seem like a simple solution for insomnia, but drugs like Ativan (lorazepam), Dalmane (flurazepam), Halcion (triazolam), ProSom (estazolam), Valium (diazepam) or Xanax (alprazolam) may lead to dependence. Sudden discontinuation can cause rebound sleeping problems as well as other symptoms (agitation, anxiety or tremor). Short-acting drugs like lorazepam or triazolam may be especially problematic.

Gradually withdrawing over weeks or months may work. Some doctors prescribe longer-acting sleeping pills to ease this process.

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