Hooked on Cocaine and Sleeping Pills: What You Should Know

Cocaine with sleeping pills is a dangerous mix. The risk of double addiction is high, as is the risk of harmful reactions and side effects. Many cocaine users turn to sleeping pills because of insomnia or as a way to manage the high and the comedown. Mixing drugs is always risky, especially two substances that are habit-forming. There are better ways to manage insomnia and it begins with treatment for cocaine addiction.

Mixing uppers and downers is nothing new. Drug users have long mixed substances with opposing effects to achieve a balance. The calming sleepiness triggered by Ambien and similar pills counteract the stimulating effects of cocaine, for instance.

Cocaine is a dangerous illicit drug. Sleeping pills, while useful, should be used with care.

Mixing the two together to counteract the cocaine high, to sleep, or to alleviate the comedown of withdrawal from cocaine is risky and dangerous.

The Dangers of Cocaine

Cocaine is a stimulant drug that increases activity in the central nervous system and triggers euphoria. Many people use the drug to get high, to feel good, and for energy. One of the biggest dangers of cocaine is that it is highly addictive.

In the short term, cocaine can cause an overdose with symptoms that include aggression, anxiety, agitation, hallucinations, tremors, delirium, and seizures. Cocaine can also trigger acute psychosis and may be fatal. Over time and with regular cocaine use, you may develop heart conditions and cognitive deficits.

The Dangers of Ambien and Other Sleeping Pills

Prescription sleeping pills can be used responsibly and under the direction of a doctor. However, even with responsible use, sleep aids can cause dangerous side effects. Some of the most commonly used sleeping pills are Ambien, Sonata, and Lunesta. These and others can cause:

  • Dizziness and falls
  • Headaches
  • Gastrointestinal symptoms like diarrhea
  • Memory problems
  • Sleepiness the day after use
  • Sleepwalking and other behaviors while asleep, even driving

Many sleeping pills, including Ambien, are also habit-forming. Misuse can lead to an addiction. Long-term use of sleep aids has also been associated with difficulty learning, mental health disorders, memory problems, and recurring insomnia.

The Relationship Between Cocaine and Sleep

People who use cocaine tend to use sleeping pills because the stimulant makes it difficult to fall asleep. As a stimulant, cocaine raises heart rate, blood pressure, and respiration. It stimulates the central nervous system, which is counter to good sleep.

It’s not just that cocaine is a stimulant, though. Researchers have found that cocaine, as well as other addictive drugs, affects genes related to sleep. These genes help regulate the body’s circadian clock, but they also impact dopamine, the neurotransmitter associated with pleasure, reward, and addiction.

These studies confirm that people addicted to cocaine take longer to fall asleep than other people. They also enjoy less deep sleep once they finally fall asleep. If you feel tired as a result of poor sleep, you might be even more inclined to turn to cocaine to perk up, which further fuels this harmful cycle.

In a study that involved only lab animals, researchers found that poor sleep encouraged addictive use of cocaine, and not just because of tiredness and fatigue. The mice in the study, when sleep-deprived, experienced a greater reward, or high, from cocaine.

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What Are the Risks of Mixing Cocaine and Sleeping Pills?

Aside from perpetuating unhealthy sleep patterns, there are several dangers and risks of misusing both drugs. The most obvious is the development of a double addiction. Cocaine is highly addictive, but sleeping pills can also be habit-forming. By using both, you run the serious risk of a double addiction, which is more difficult to treat and manage than just one addiction.

There are not many studies on the interactions between sleeping pill medications and cocaine. Mixing these two types of drugs is less dangerous than other combinations. For instance, mixing cocaine with another stimulant would have an additive effect, increasing side effects and overdose risk. This is riskier than mixing a sedative like Ambien with a stimulant like cocaine.

Even so, a dangerous interaction is possible. One case study of a man addicted to both cocaine and Ambien proved this. He took up to 300 mg of Ambien per day with cocaine and became dangerously hyperactive. The researchers believe that the very high dose of Ambien actually had the opposite of its usual effect. Instead of acting like a sedative, it began to have a stimulating effect.

Another potential risk is that taking a sedative could lead to more cocaine use. If you take enough of the sleeping pill to come down from the high, it could push you to take another or a higher dose of cocaine.

The Importance of Treatment

The connection between cocaine and sleep difficulties highlights just how complex substance use disorders are. Drug misuse is clearly dangerous and causes obvious side effects, but it also affects the body and brain in many ways that are not as obvious but just as insidious.

A study of cocaine users found that many experience what is known as occult insomnia during early treatment phases. This means they feel like their sleep is improving when it is actually worsening. This and other unusual effects of the drug make it clear just how important it is to get professional, evidence-based treatment.

In a good cocaine treatment center, the staff understands these issues. In the specific case of cocaine users, they know how important it is to work on sleep and managing insomnia as part of an effective plan. If you don’t address sleep issues, they can reappear later, increasing the risk of a relapse.

How to Improve Sleep Naturally

Whether you currently use cocaine or are in recovery, you’re probably struggling with sleep deprivation and insomnia. Instead of turning to Ambien or other sedatives, develop healthy sleep habits. It may take longer for these to improve your sleep, but in the long run you’ll enjoy better sleep without drugs:

  • Go to bed and get up at the same time every day to create a routine, even on weekends.
  • Keep your bedroom dark and a little bit cool at night.
  • Get outside during the day. Exposure to sunlight supports the natural sleep-wake cycle.
  • Exercise every day, outside when possible.
  • Avoid caffeine in the afternoon and evenings.
  • Stop eating and drinking a few hours before bedtime.
  • Avoid naps or only naps earlier in the day and for short periods of time.
  • Read a book in bed instead of watching TV or scrolling through your phone.
  • Use relaxation strategies regularly and especially before bed. This could include gentle stretching, deep breathing exercises, or meditation.
  • When you can’t sleep, get up instead of staying in bed, which can cause anxiety. Do a short activity and try again in 10 or 20 minutes.

Working with a sleep therapist may also help. They can do tests to determine the underlying causes of insomnia and suggest tools and habits that make sleeping easier and that improve sleep quality.

If you or someone you care about is misusing cocaine, sleeping pills, or both, it’s essential that you seek treatment. Both types of drugs can cause addiction and serious side effects and long-lasting consequences. Treatment is available and effective.


Alta Mira offers comprehensive treatment for people struggling with drug and alcohol addiction as well as co-occurring mental health disorders.

Contact us today to start the journey toward lasting recovery.