Addiction Melanie Buttner begins more than twenty years ago. The then 23-year-old administrative worker from Sauerland has personal problems, does not sleep well. And appeals to her family doctor. This then prescribes a relatively new drug for sleeping zolpidem. The drug from the group of new drugs, which include zolpidem, as well as zopiclone and zaleplon – abbreviated Z drugs. Unlike previously used benzodiazepines, they are relatively well tolerated and, apparently, have few side effects. But appearances are deceptive, as the example of Melanie Buttner shows. “For a long time in the evening I got along with the tablet.When after a few years I got worse, my family doctor prescribed me only two, ”recalls Melanie Buttner. “I did not think about it.
Health specialist Professor Gerd Glaske of the University of Bremen criticizes the often careless handling of Z drugs: “Zolpidem is currently the second most frequently prescribed drug after zopiclone. It refers to agonists of benzodiazepine receptors, which means that these agents “dock” to the same receptors as benzo. Therefore, the effects and range of side effects are also comparable. In the foreground is the development of addiction after several weeks of eating, in addition to the negative effect on balance and muscle control, you may also need to consider memory problems. ”
Two thirds of all sleep addicts are women. After all, the “silent addiction” occurs at home, behind covered curtains. Most of these women are over 65 years old. “Nursing homes are full of elderly women, who are asleep under the influence of Z-drugs, with only a few emotional fluctuations downstairs. And family members often think: “Grandma is humiliating,” says Glaske.
At some point, a young woman’s sleeping pill develops the opposite effect, a paradox that is more common in addictive substances. They are not tired, but awake. “I took ten pills at night to sleep. And then I swallowed ten more pills during the day to wake up. My body reacted this way. It was just this drug, I could not stand all the other” – Melanie says Buettner. Increasingly, she has gaps in her memory, in the morning she doesn’t know what she was doing in the evening.This doesn’t remain hidden from their surroundings.Work colleagues are surprised at the many absences related to diseases and their strange behavior: “I called my colleague. I forgot that through three minutes rang again.“The family also suffers from a break Melanie. Because more and more often she also falls asleep during the day – another side effect of the pills. In addition, Melanie has another problem: buying medicines from her. She is engaged in jumping doctors, looking for surrogate doctors , doctors in other cities, the emergency room in the hospital. “I had to get prescriptions from somewhere.” In desperation, she gets prescriptions on the street, eventually. Ironically, she communicates with the dealers during her time at the clinic. ” I had to get recipes from somewhere. ” In desperate And she gets the prescriptions on the street, after all. Ironically, she contacts the dealers during her time at the clinic.“I had to get recipes from somewhere.” In desperation, she gets the recipes on the street, after all. Ironically, she contacts dealers during her time at the clinic.
Only three attempts Melanie Buttner to the exit. In 2015, at the height of her addiction, she feels so badly that she decides to make a third attempt. In the new clinic, with a narcologist, who explains the connection for the first time. Melanie Buttner will be at the drug clinic in Arnsberg for thirty days. Chief physician Rüdiger Holzbach explains: “Under no circumstances should you stop taking the medicine suddenly. Because the active ingredients must keep a certain level. If it falls below this level, it leads to withdrawal symptoms. ” Melanie Buttner receives a replacement drug, which is reduced every day until it arrives in thirty days at zero.Melanie Buttner: “I didn’t have any serious withdrawal symptoms. But this third detox was only successful.
The addiction doctor Holzbach cannot understand the behavior of some general practitioners: “Every time after detoxification, we write a letter to the family doctor, stating that the patient was dependent and had detox. And worry every day that z-drugs are prescribed again. This does not work “.