Sleep problems and substance use disorders often go together, according to a specialist who says many people continue to have insomnia even after they are able to successfully stop abusing drugs and alcohol.
Doctors who treat sleep disorders and those who treat substance use disorders need to be aware of the possible connection between the two, particularly when prescribing sleep medications, according to Khurshid A. Khurshid, MD, Associate Professor in the Department of Psychiatry at the University of Florida College of Medicine in Gainesville.
He spoke about the connection between sleep disorders and addiction recently at the Florida Society of Addiction Medicine annual meeting.
According to Dr. Khurshid, sleep disorders are between five to 10 times higher in people with substance use disorders, compared with the general population. Alcohol dependence can lead to insomnia and sleep disruption that can last long after a patient achieves abstinence, he says. Many people who take opiates report difficulty in falling asleep and staying asleep. Sleep problems can be serious enough to reverse the success of drug or alcohol treatment and cause a relapse, he notes.
In addition, evidence is increasing that insomnia is a risk factor for developing psychiatric disorders, including substance use disorders. “Many people use alcohol as a sleep aid,” Dr. Khurshid noted. Alcohol can also cause or worsen sleep apnea, and can contribute to restless leg syndrome, he added. Read more