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JLeslie's avatar

Is any sleep aid actually non habit forming?

Asked by JLeslie (61046points) March 5th, 2014

I was watching a commercial for some over the counter sleep drug and they market it as non habit forming. I think everything is potentially habit forming. Just the ritual of taking it can be habit forming, even if the medicine was replaced with sugar water.

I know they are saying that it is not physcially addictive, but I question that too. If something is psychologically addictive then isn’t it physical too? It will cause distress if you can’t get your drug won’t it?

Do you you think anything taken daily for any ailment is potentially habit forming?

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23 Answers

LuckyGuy's avatar

I’m with you. I feel anything can be habit forming – from that cup of coffee in the morning to the milk and cookies before bed. If you need to do it every day, it’s a habit by definition: A recurrent, often unconscious pattern of behavior that is acquired through frequent repetition.

That said, there are different degrees of habit forming: from one time and you’re hooked and willing to sell your own mother to using the bathroom before taking a nighttime shower and going to bed.

I have used benadryl as a sleep aid. I take it about an hour before bed on the rare occasions when I need some help. It is cheap, effective, and easy to store in my shaving kit. You probably have some around the house already. One of the “latest and greatest” new sleep aids is merely benadryl (25mg dph h) in liquid form. Save your money.

By the way, I believe nothing said by drug advertisers when it is spoken at an auctioneer’s pace or flashed on a screen in a font so small my 1080p monitor can’t resolve it. That is an immediate turn off and convinces me they have something to hide.

JLeslie's avatar

Never owned any Bendryl, except the topical spray for mosquito bites. We have never owned any Nyquil either. I look for drugs that don’t cause drowsiness.

delphysmith's avatar

There could be. You can read book before sleep. This will not become habit i suppose but even if it does, not bad at all.

LuckyGuy's avatar

You don’t have benadryl in your house? What about people with allergies? Hives? They are the same famous pink pill that have been around for ages. A bottle costs about $6 for 200. You should have some anyway. Just in case.

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

@LuckyGuy Good idea. I don’t have any in the house but I probably should. I have my Epi pens though. I would guess any sleep aid has the potential to become habit forming, just by it’s nature.

LuckyGuy's avatar

I by a bottle every 5 years or so and give some to my sons for their medicine cabinets. It is much cheaper to buy them in the bottle rather than individually packed. I also carry a couple in my wallet wrapped in cellophane and hidden behind my credit cards.

JLeslie's avatar

No allergies. Well, I have some allergies to medicines and some contact dermatitis “allergies” like some lotions and soaps with plant stuff in them gets my skin red in a minute, but if I wash it off fast I am fine. Obviously, For the most part I buy products I know I am not allergis too. Also, latex and some adhesives. I do think it is a good idea to have epipens in the house even if there are no known allergies. I don’t have any currently, but I think it is a good idea.

If I get a cold I buy a decongestant antihistimine combination, and some of them make me drowsy. I never would take it unless I had a cold, which is maybe once every 2–3 years.

LuckyGuy's avatar

Epipens are expensive, expire, and take up a lot of space. They don’t fit in my wallet. ;-)
They should only be used in emergencies.
Benadryl is useful for symptoms of hay fever, dust allergies, hives, etc. And it makes you drowsy. Isn’t that what you want a sleep aid to do?

I just checked prices. Publix has them. A bottle costs $6.79 for 400, not 200! Of course you can buy them in 12 and 24 packs.

JLeslie's avatar

LOL. I don’t need allergy medicine. Neither does my husband. Or, are you just informing everyone on the Q? My “cold” medicine is almost a year expired. It probably came with 40 pills? I don’t know. It’s the rectangular box with the blister cards. I know it is expired because my husband actually had a cold a few weeks ago and I looked at it and then gave him a pill. I probably bought it two years ago. Still a bunch of pills left in the box.

janbb's avatar

Supposedly melatonin isn’t habit forming but I don’t know how effective it is either.

JLeslie's avatar

@janbb I recently saw a show that said that many people who take melatonin take way too much of it, and it is actually, supposedly, making people sick. I don’t know how valid that is.

I’m not looking for a sleep aid, I was just wondering how people look at the addictiveness of them, and other drugs for that matter.

LuckyGuy's avatar

@JLeslie I’m suggesting it for anyone and suggesting you try it before going to the scarier stuff I see advertized on TV – the one with the radioactive butterfly spreading hot alpha and beta particles all over your bedroom.
Do users need to call in HAZMAT teams to clean up the mess in the morning ?

JLeslie's avatar

Haha. :). Like I said just above, I am not looking for a sleep aid.

LuckyGuy's avatar

I see you wrote that while I was answering. (You should have some benadryl anyway – for guests.)

I’ll tell you right now I’d be sleeping with the windows closed and a shotgun by my side if there was any chance Mothra’s progeny could fly into my bedroom at night.

Judi's avatar

I don’t think Melatonin is. It’s just a hormone that many of us are deficient in. Of course, if that’s not your problem it probably won’t work. It works great for me when I remember to take it.

janbb's avatar

I think one needs to take what one needs to take to function and yes, many drugs are habit forming. I try to watch out for that with meds I take but do need to get sleep.

JLeslie's avatar

@janbb I’m with you there. We need to be able to function.

KNOWITALL's avatar

I was going to say that baths and hot decaf tea is recommended for sleep and not habit-forming, but I guess ‘habit-forming’ is atoo subjective.

Buttonstc's avatar

I have been taking Benadryl for years so you could say that its a habit for me.

I take it both for my sinus congestion and the slight drowsiness at night.

HOWEVER, if I run out and don’t take it for a few days the worst consequence I get is a ton of sinus congestion.

Its not like I can’t sleep or go into withdrawal symptoms as would happen if it were addictive.

You may think that there’s little difference between physically addictive and habit forming but I’m sorry to say that’s just flat out wrong.

There are some substances which are physically addictive and can produce life threatening withdrawal symptoms and must be medically managed as opposed to going cold turkey.

A few that come to mind are Alcohol, Valium and some synthetic narcotics.

Those are vastly different from innocuous things which are “habit forming”.

Its apples and oranges here.

If you don’t wish to take anything habit forming that’s all well and good.

But comparing it to dangerously addictive things and making them equivalent is just not factually correct.

JLeslie's avatar

@Buttonstc When you say “you” do you mean me? I am fine with taking habit forming drugs when necessary. I don’t need a sleep aid. I was just thinking about a commercial I saw. I don’t put Nyquil and Ambien in the same category, don’t worry, but I do think stating something is non habit forming might be an overstatment.

It would be interesting to know how the brain really is affected. There is research now showing how food can light up the brain centers just like very addictive drugs. Many people I know who say they are fine without their daily non-addictive ritual, if you ask the people who live with them they might say differently.

Buttonstc's avatar

The main thing is that you seem to be minimizing the severe dangers of some dangerously addictive substances by stating that food or other habit forming things are just as bad. No, they are not just as bad, plain and simple.

If you suddenly stop taking the habit forming substance (food or sleep aid) the worst consequence is feeling uncomfortable NOT DEATH.

You’re speaking as if habit forming is just as bad as addictive. And it just plain is not. Ceasing habit forming substances has never resulted in death. Ceasing addictive substances has and can.

I don’t know how to state it any simpler.

Am I trying to say that something habit forming is good. No, of course not. I’m stating that there is an essential difference between habit forming and ADDICTION. One is not as bad as the other.

If one has the potential to kill you and the other does not then they are markedly different.

JLeslie's avatar

To be clear I do not consider drugs that cause life threatening withdrawal the same as food or even Nyquil. I know addictions Ambien, bensos, crack, Oxycontin, even alcohol are serious, physically addictive drugs that when withdrawing should be monitored by medical professionals because of the dangers and for the person withdrawing is more than just uncomfortable, but comes with serious symptoms, including everything from tremors, blood pressure, changes, racing heart, vomiting, headache, etc. etc. I’m not sure how to emphasize that I don’t see them as the same. I actually believe a friend of mine’s dad died because his doctor failed to give him alcohol when he became hospitalized. She has never said that, but listening to his symptoms and knowing he was an alcohol I think sudden withdrawal helped kill him. I don’t think anyone is dying from melotonin or Nyquil withdrawal.

But, I do think many people play down some habits or addictions, and don’t realize how much they are affected by those things.

My question was really about truth in advertising, nothing else. It wasn’t comparing hard, very addictive drugs, to OTC sleep aids.

filmfann's avatar


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