Sleep Medication Addiction Statistics

Sleep medications can include different types of benzodiazepines (diazepam, clonazepam, and alprazolam), z-drugs (zolpidem, eszopiclone, and zaleplon) sedatives, minor tranquilizers, barbiturates (mephobarbital, phenobarbital, and pentobarbital sodium), hypnotics, and some antidepressants.

Sleep Medication Addiction Statistics

Many sleep medications can be addictive or have other dangerous side effects. These drugs should be used as prescribed.

However, many people misuse these drugs by taking more than they are prescribed or taking someone else’s prescription.

  • 5.9 million Americans misused sedatives or tranquilizers in the past year.
  • 2 million Americans misused sedatives or tranquilizers in the past month.
  • 2.1% of Americans reported misusing prescription sedatives or tranquilizers in the past year.
  • 1.8% of Americans misused benzodiazepines in the past year.
  • 949,000 Americans misused prescription tranquilizers for the first time.
  • 239,000 Americans misused prescription sedatives for the first time in 2019.

Sleep Medication Overdose Statistics

Sleep medication can be dangerous. It’s rare to die of an overdose from using sleep medication alone, however many people overdose while using sleep medication with other drugs.

  • 899 people ages 15–24 died from an overdose of an antidepressant prescription drug in 2018.
  • 16% of overdose deaths involving opioids also involved benzodiazepines in 2019.
  • 9,711 people died of a benzodiazepine-related overdose in 2019.

Sleep Medication Abuse Statistics by Age

People of all ages misuse sleeping pills. While some people misuse sleeping pills to try to sleep better, others misuse them to get high. Young people ages 18-25 have some of the highest rates of sleep medicine misuse. However, sleeping pill misuse has also become a huge issue among older and elderly adults.

People ages 65 and older commonly have issues sleeping and require sleep medication prescriptions. Many of these older people end up dependent on sleep medication and some of them misuse their prescriptions.

Reported Misuse of Sedatives or Tranquilizers in the past year (from 2019)

  • 1.8% of people aged 12-17
  • 4.2% of people aged 18-25
  • 1.9% of 26 and older

Reported Misuse of Benzodiazepines in the Past Year (from 2019)

  • 1.5% of people ages 12-17
  • 3.8% of people aged 18-25
  • 1.5% of 26 and older

Reported Use of Tranquilizers by Adolescents in 2020

8th Graders 10th Graders 12th Graders
Lifetime 3.9% 4.9% 7%
Past Year 2.2% 2.6% 3.2%
Past 30 Days 1.1% 0.7% 1%

Misuse of Sleep Medication by Older Adults

  • In 2011 there were 290 drug-related emergency visits made by adults ages 65 and older involving illegal drug use, including misuse of prescription drugs. Benzodiazepine misuse was the second most common reason for these visits.
  • 48 out of 290 illegal drug-related Emergency Department visits by older adults were for benzodiazepine misuse.
  • 10.4% of the nation’s elders use central nervous system depressants (including sleep medications).
  • 20-50% of women over age 60 are prescribed benzodiazepines.
  • Somewhere between 9% to 54% of older adults have taken benzodiazepines in the past year.

Treatment Statistics, Types, and How to Get Help

Sleep medication addiction treatments vary but include detoxification and counseling programs.

Since there are many different types of drugs used to help people sleep, there are a variety of addiction rehab programs.

Tranquilizer (Including Benzodiazepines) Addiction Treatment Statistics from 2015

Sedative/Hypnotics (Including Barbiturates) Addiction Treatment Statistics from 2015

  • 2,801 people were admitted to treatment programs for abusing sedatives, they made up 0.2% of treatment program admissions.
  • 71.8% of people admitted for abusing tranquilizers received ambulatory/outpatient treatment.
  • 16.6% received residential/inpatient treatment.
  • 11.6% received 24-hour detoxification treatment.

Sleep medication addiction treatment varies by type of drug and severity of the addiction.

Reviewed by:Kent S. Hoffman, D.O.

Chief Medical Officer

  • Fact-Checked
  • Editor

Kent S. Hoffman, D.O. has been an expert in addiction medicine for more than 15 years. In addition to managing a successful family medical practice, Dr. Hoffman is board certified in addiction medicine by the American Osteopathic Academy of Addiction Medicine (AOAAM). Dr. Hoffman has successfully treated hundreds of patients battling addiction. Dr. Hoffman is Co-Founder and Chief Medical Officer of Addiction Guide and ensures the quality of our website’s content and messaging.

Written by:

Content Manager

Jessica Miller is a USF graduate with a Bachelor’s Degree in English. She has written professionally for over a decade, from HR scripts and employee training to business marketing and company branding. In addition to writing, Jessica spent time in the healthcare sector (HR) and as a high school teacher. She has personally experienced the pitfalls of addiction and is delighted to bring her knowledge and writing skills together to support our mission. Jessica lives in St. Petersburg, FL with her husband and two dogs.

7 references
  1. Results From the 2019 National Survey on Drug Use and Health: Graphics From the Key Findings Report. Retrieved from https://www.samhsa.gov/data/sites/default/files/reports/rpt29393/2019NSDUHFFRBriefSlides082120.pdf

  2. Monitoring the Future Study: Trends in Prevalence of Various Drugs | National Institute on Drug Abuse (Nida). (2020). Retrieved from https://www.drugabuse.gov/drug-topics/trends-statistics/monitoring-future/monitoring-future-study-trends-in-prevalence-various-drugs

  3. A Day in the Life of Older Adults: Substance Use Facts. (2017). Retrieved from https://www.samhsa.gov/data/sites/default/files/report_2792/ShortReport-2792.pdf

  4. Perceptions of Benzodiazepine Dependence Among Women Age 65 and Older. (2014). Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4205187/

  5. National Estimates of Exposure to Prescription Drugs With Addiction Potential in Community-Dwelling Elders – Pubmed. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/16492661/

  6. Prescription Depressant Medications. Retrieved from https://teens.drugabuse.gov/drug-facts/prescription-depressant-medications

  7. Treatment Episode Data Set (TEDS) 2005-2015 National Admissions to Substance Abuse Treatment Services. (2017). Retrieved from https://www.samhsa.gov/data/sites/default/files/2015_Treatment_Episode_Data_Set_National/2015_Treatment_Episode_Data_Set_National.pdf

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