Ever since I was 14, I have had difficulty sleeping.
At that age, I was a busy person, involved in many activities, as well as school. But even then, it was not strange to wake up an hour after falling asleep and wander into the living room to find my mom sitting in a chair, knitting or crocheting.
Later on, I would find out that our entire family, bar one, had the same issue with sleep.
With eight kids and a household to run, sleep should have been automatic, but it never was for my mom. It could have been anxiety or anything else (my doctor says stress), but we all seem to have inherited the same gene.
To battle this issue of sleeplessness, many of us turned to the use of sleep aids; different ones used different aids.
I call them aids because there was just no way we wanted to be involved with drugs or opioids, so we just blindly called them sleep aids, or just sleeping pills. After some years, I have come to accept the fact that they are drugs, pure and simple.
In my years at the kitchen, where I railed against the use of drugs of any type, including weed, it always made me question how people could keep taking these substances that they knew at one point would destroy them.
Questions like, “what started you on this destructive path,” or “why do you keep taking them if you know they are destroying your body?”
After a visit to the doctor to renew my prescription, I asked if it was true that what I was taking was somewhat addictive, to which he replied, “very addictive.”
In my mind, I asked myself, “did you mention that when I first was prescribed this pill, or did I feel that I was beyond that kind of a problem?”
Try as I might, I could not remember being specifically warned about its addictive properties, but then as one of the stronger sleeping pills on the market, I should have known (if I had done my homework) that this pill was a highly addictive opioid.
After receiving a different prescription, one not quite as addictive, I proceeded to use the new one and experienced quite a shock. The first night, I slept only about one and a half hours. But what really struck home was that all night long, I had terrible shakes and chills.
I knew immediately that it was a case of withdrawal symptoms. I knew that because of the different people who have stopped drugs while I was at the kitchen; one person was using only cannabis, but the withdrawal symptoms were the same.
Thankfully for me, it lasted only two nights, because I have seen that for some folks, it can last for several weeks or more, depending how long they have been on drugs.
I’ve only been on this sleeping pill for about a year, and that was more withdrawal than I ever want to experience again.
From all the studies and reports on addictions, prescribed drugs are responsible for many who become addicts. I wonder if it is because not enough warnings are given or that the pain is so severe that a person ignores the warnings.
One question my doctor asked was, “Scientifically, how much sleep do you think you need at your age” to which I answered about seven.
“Only six at the most,” was his reply. “I advise that you should take a sleep course provided by PCN (primary care network),” which I have just enrolled in.
At first, I thought I was a victim, but I soon realized there really is no such thing as an innocent addiction.
Chris Salomons is a retired Red Deer resident with a concern for the downtrodden.