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For the purpose of this paper, a case study was done on a patient in recovery from alcoholism & other drug use addictions. The patient was interviewed using the Pittsburg Sleep Quality Index (PSQI) and Epworth Sleepiness Scale to assess quality of sleep. The PSQI responses and a score of 16 on the Epworth Sleepiness Scale indicate that this patient experienced sleep disturbance especially sleep latency. Sleep disturbance is a common ailment among patients recovering from alcoholism. People with substance use or alcoholism disorder normally have sleep problems. Sleep can be defined as a naturally recurring state of body and mind characterized by decreased consciousness, reduced interest with the surroundings, and inhibited sensory activity as well as inhibition of body’s voluntary muscles. Therefore, sleep disturbances entail difficulties initiating and maintaining sleep. Substance use or alcoholism can exacerbate sleep disturbances, which can in turn present a risks factor for further alcoholism. The types of sleep disturbances among alcoholic patients vary and can include total insomnia, disturbances in sleep cycles, sleep latency, hypersomnia, and sleep continuity.
Numerous studies have revealed that sleep disturbances can affect alcoholic patients’ ability to function in both social and occupation settings. For instance, sleep disturbances deprive an individual better sleeping patterns and ability to initiate and maintain sleep. Patients become habitual pill users to an extent of becoming easily reliant on drugs or other forms of medications in order to fall asleep. This can lead to serious health consequences including psychological and physical addiction. A recovering alcoholic has difficulties experiencing normal sleep patterns, which may affect their recovery plan and at times make them relapse. Evidently, alcohol helps trigger the onset of sleep but impacts the quality and duration of sleep.
According to Halter (2018), despite alcohol having sleep-inducing effects, it decreases deep sleep, rapid eye movement (REM) sleep, awakens the user, and makes it difficult to go back to sleep. Overall the quality of sleep is disturbed. Halter (2018), further adds that sleep disturbance can increase the risk for accidents and injury. Psychomotor impairment as a result of sleep loss increases the risk for errors. Errors are a safety hazard for both the patient and others, especially when working with vehicles or operating machinery. Sleep deprivation makes one very irritable, short-tempered, and emotionally volatile making one unwelcome company in social settings. Many people with history of alcohol use usually suffer from insomnia and sleep disturbances. For individuals in recovery sleep disturbances could hamper their recovery effort. A study revealed that 69.3% of patients in early alcohol recovery have sleep disturbances, and 49.1% still had sleep disturbances even after their first month of abstinence. According to Halter 2018, “insomnia occurs in most patients in alcohol recovery and may persist for months or even years thus increasing the risk for relapse to alcohol abuse”.
The patient in this study was on Divalproex 500 mg per day which has insomnia listed as a side effect. This medication could be one of the contributing factors leading to the patient’s sleep disturbances. The patient was also on melatonin tablets, with a dosage of 2 tablets daily containing 3mg of the medicine. Melatonin, usually taken by people with delayed sleep phase syndrome or those with insomnia or people diagnosed with attention deficit-hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) can be a good sleeping aid. This is especially true for alcohol recovering patients. Thus, by taking melatonin this could have helped the patient to relax more and reduce sleeping disturbances. As Kolla, et al. (2014) opinion, melatonin could help reduce sleep disturbances in individuals recovering from alcohol abuse. In conclusion, it should be noted that sleep disturbance has major implication on individual’s health. Thus, a recovering alcoholic is more likely to be affected by sleeping disturbances depending on the medications they are using to treat the disorder.
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