Sleep Problems, Disorders and Addiction. It is estimated that people with a substance abuse disorder are five to ten times more likely to develop a sleep disorder. To complicate this, one of the most basic elements of a healthy recovery program is proper sleep. We are told repeatedly to avoid becoming hungry, angry, and tired. These simple problems seem to be at the root of the much more complex problems which lead to relapse. Yet, sleep can be elusive especially in early recovery.
Key Issues With Substance Abuse Disorders
For many people, sleep problems are at the root of their substance abuse problems. In one research study, 46% of the patients in their study reported using drugs or alcohol to self-medicated because of problems with sleeping. Sleep disorders underpin substance abuse and they become complicated by substance abuse.
The key issue we run into with substance abuse disorders is that chemical alterations in our sleep patterns inevitably lead to sleep disorders. By artificially altering natural sleep patterns, we interrupt the body’s rhythm toward proper sleep. Over time it can be impossible to sleep without the help of substances.
It would seem logical that by removing drugs and alcohol that our bodies would naturally go back to a natural cycle of sleep. But the opposite is the case. After prolonged periods of drug or alcohol use. Sleep patterns can become so drastically altered that severe sleep disorders are the result. Most people who have been through drug and alcohol rehab can attest to this. Sleep can be sporadic. Insomnia is common. Nightmares are also common. It takes time to get back to a natural sleep pattern. Sleep disorders are extremely common in early recovery.
Alarming Studies Show High Rates Of Relapse From Sleep Problems
The most alarming aspect of this is that sleep problems are a serious trigger for relapse. Several studies have shown that as many as 62% of people in recovery for alcohol use disorder relapsed within 12 weeks due to severe sleep problems. While treatment professionals constantly stress the importance of sleep for proper recovery. Sleep can become the main stumbling block for sustained sobriety.
Doctors and other treatment professional have been reluctant to treat sleep disorder with pharmaceuticals for obvious reasons. Many of the drugs currently available for sleep problems are themselves addictive and may precipitate relapse back to the substances patients are trying to stop using. It is a dangerous predicament.
The light in this otherwise gloomy picture is that Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) has been shown to be extremely effective in re-establishing normal sleep pattern for people in recovery. By working with counselors in a program which includes CBT most patients were able to begin sleeping with comfortably within a fairly short time.
Regulate Your Sleep Schedule To Aid Your Recovery
One thing doctors recommend is to put rigorously regulate your sleep schedule in early recovery. While we may lose sleep at night due to the temporary sleep issues associated with early withdrawal phases. If we avoid our natural tendency to nap during the day or to try and go to bed extremely early. We will come to a natural sleep rhythm. This really just boils down to a week or two of not sleeping well with the pay-off of returning to the kind of refreshing sleep many people have not experienced in years.
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