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RECOVERY: Insomnia

Insomnia is a common complaint when addicts are in recovery from opioids and benzos, chiefly because the addict has been dosing him or herself to sleep for months or years. You have to re-learn how to put yourself to sleep, and do it in a drug-free manner. Some people use breathing exercises, others use meditation, still others use self-hypnosis or soothing music.

What the addict in recovery has to be careful of is using over-the-counter (OTC) sleep-aids, because of the potential for abuse, and because it's not a long-term solution. It's not uncommon for recovering addicts to take Benadryl- either to try and 'take an edge off' or to help with sleep. While this is OK in the short-term, it's not if it becomes abusive; while Benadryl is a safe medication (the generic is diphenhydramine hydrochloride, and is found in OTC drugs like Tylenol PM), too much of it can be rough on the kidneys.

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mC's picture

I still suffer from sleep problems even though I have been clean for quite sometime. I often think it is due to stress but do you think it is still residual from my drug days?

"I have defied gods and demons. I am your shield; I am your sword. I know you; your past, your future."

Kopernica's picture

How long have you been clean? I've been clean over four years and it took me a good year or so to get over the insomnia. Not insomnia perse but trouble sleeping. And there were times in that year where I took way too many Benadryl, where I tried Valerian Root and other stuff because I was pretty desperate.

My experience says that the act of sleep- the whole ritual- is changed for me for good. Whatever kind of sleeper I was before drugs, that girl is long gone. I thought I was a good sleeper during addiction but I wasn't. These days I'm a more deliberate sleeper, I have to work at it a little bit.

So I guess what I'm saying is that I think sleep problems for people in recovery can seem to be very tied into physical withdrawals months and months down the road but this doesn't make any pharmacological sense. More likely, the addict is battling old habits and new systems, all of it psychological. To this day there are nights where I'm convinced I'll NEVER get to sleep- but once I can let that crap go, I inevitably fall asleep.

"Make it worth the price you pay."

sleepless1's picture

kopernica, your post was very helpful, thank you very much! do you have any suggestions for good resources for
-self hypnosis
-meditations and
-breathing exercises
......that are good for insomnia?
this is my first night, if i find some i will share them. one of the things that suffers with insomnia is the memory. no matter how important something is, it is easy to forget. these are some of the things i will be trying to remember. thank you for putting those useful tips out there again.
i am curious, are you sleeping well and consistently these days? also, was the valerian root at all useful?? thanks again.

bluidkiti's picture

I had to relearn how to go to sleep. My DOC was alcohol. One thing I did was since being that when I was active I slept alot during the day time, after coming into recovery I would have my light on by my bed and go to sleep with it on. Eventually I did get so I could go to sleep without the light on. A few other things were to read at bedtime and/or listen to a tape that was calming. Today I still may read some before falling to sleep but I can sleep with the light off now. I also pray before going to sleep.

Don't let what you cannot do interfere with what you can do. --John Wooden
God Himself does not propose to judge a man until he is dead, so why should we?
As long as you are alive and breathing - there is HOPE.

sethkerww's picture

This really answered my drawback, thank you!
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