A National Directory of Drug Treatment Centers and Alcohol Treatment Centers, Therapists and Specialists. A free, simple directory providing assistance and guidance for those seeking help regarding alcohol addiction, drug addiction, dependency and many other conditions that affect the mind, body and soul.
Call 800-580-9104 to speak with an alcohol or drug abuse counselor.

Canadians spend millions drinking just to sleep

Canadians are spending hundreds of millions of dollars every year self-medicating their insomnia with alcohol, a new study suggests.

“We were very surprised to see that so many people use alcohol as a way to promote sleep, particularly because it has more detrimental than beneficial effects on sleep,” says Charles Morin, a professor of psychology at Laval University and one of the authors of the study, published this week in the journal Sleep.

Overall, eight per cent of the sample reported using alcohol as a sleep aid. Among people with insomnia, 28 per cent reported self-medicating with alcohol.

The study, one of the first in Canada to put numbers to the societal and economic burden of insomnia, estimates the total annual costs of the sleep disorder in Quebec alone is $6.5 billion.

“We know insomnia is a very prevalent problem, it has a very negative impact on people’s quality of life,” Mr. Morin said. “If we can show that it’s 10 times more costly not to treat insomnia because of its impact on absenteeism from work and reduced productivity than it is to treat it, why aren’t we treating it more often?”

Part of the problem is that so few people seek help. Mr. Morin says some people take sleeping pills, “but there are many more who self-medicate with over-the-counter products or, worse, with alcohol.”

“Why do people do that? Is it because they’re scared of using prescribed sleeping pills because of the stigma associated with it, or because they don’t know there are other treatment options available?”

The research found the money spent on the use of booze as a sleep aid far exceeds costs associated with visits to doctors and the use of prescription pills and over-the-counter products from antihistamines to herbal teas.

“The idea that schnapps before your bedtime is good for your sleep might have been right about 100 years ago, as long as it was the occasional schnapps,” said Dr. Adam Moscovitch, medical director of the Canadian Sleep Institute and associate clinical professor at the University of Calgary.

“When you knock yourself out as a way of dealing with it, if you can’t shut your mind off in any other way, then alcohol has a very negative effect on your sleep. It deprives you of any of the deep stages of sleep and, once it wears off, it has a rebound effect. So your problem becomes much worse.”

Of the $6.5 billion estimated annual costs associated with insomnia in Quebec, the biggest indirect cost by far — $5 billion — was reduced productivity.

The highest direct cost — $339.8 million — was money spent on alcohol to help sleep. By comparison, an estimated $16.5 million was spent on prescription drugs, and $1.8 million for over-the-counter products.

The study involved Quebec only, but the researchers are doing a similar study throughout Canada. “I expect we will get pretty much the same results,” Mr. Morin says.

The study, based on a random sample of 948 adults, distinguished between those people who drink at the end of the day, and those who use booze specifically to help them sleep, meaning they drink before bedtime or in the middle of the night.

The worrisome thing is that insomnia is becoming more common, sleep researchers say.

True insomnia is a significant sleep disturbance lasting for at least a month. People have trouble falling asleep, staying asleep, waking too early or “waking up and feeling like you were run over by a truck,” Dr. Moscovitch says.

According to the study, between six and 10 per cent of the population meets diagnostic criteria for “insomnia syndrome,” and about a third show symptoms “at any given moment.”

Canadians today live in a stressed society with multiple pressures balancing work and family responsibilities. “One of the things we cut corners on is our sleep,” Dr. Moscovitch said.

source: Ottawa Citizen

More Treatment & Detox Articles

Pill could fight alcoholism

For alcoholics, experts say the consequences of addiction last long after an evening binge to affect abusers’ entire lives, from restless mornings to sleepless nights. BU School of Medicine is conducting a clinical trial to test the effectiveness of a psychiatric medication that could eliminate or significantly reduce heavy drinkers’ cravings for alcohol, according to….

Continue reading

Mental health: Broken system, shattered lives

Miller Jordan Jr. never gave up on his only son. The Clarke Central High School assistant principal tried for years to get treatment for Miller Jordan III’s mental illness. But the younger Jordan stabbed his father and grandfather to death Dec. 30 – hours after doctors sent Jordan home from a hospital where he told….

Continue reading

Homeless alcoholism drains city

The Biggest Little City gained notoriety in a 2006 edition of the New Yorker after two Reno police officers estimated that ignoring one of the city’s homeless chronic alcoholics cost the city more than $1 million over the years. Malcolm Gladwell’s story quoted Reno police officers Patrick O’Bryan and Steve Johns explaining that Murray Barr,….

Continue reading

Parents, administrators fight binge drinking

Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools have a new program to tackle binge drinking in teens, which seems to start before they head to college, according to a national survey. The survey by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services said 18 percent of 12 to 20-year-olds are binge drinkers. The school system is using federal money for….

Continue reading