Is Unisom Addictive?


Is Unisom addictive? To answer this question we first need to understand what Unisom is and what it is not, and we need to affirm our definition of addiction.

What is Unisom?

Unisom is the brand name of an over-the-counter sleep aid, the chemical name of which is doxylamine.

There is no secret ingredient in Unisom. The drug is simply an antihistamine that works by depressing the central nervous system and reducing the effects of histamine, a natural chemical in the body that causes sneezing, itching and similar symptoms. The result is that a person feels tired.

The makers of Unisom regard the medication as a short-term solution for sleeping problems. Taking it for more than two weeks is not recommended, in part because the need to take it for longer than two weeks may be indicative of a more complex problem.

Is Unisom Addictive?

Can Unisom become an addictive substance? While there is probably no clear answer, some things are clear: doxylamine does not have the kinds of phsyiological effects on the brain that well-known and established substances do.

Opioids. for instance, are received in the brain by so-called opioid receptors. The longer one takes opioids, the more the brain creates opioid receptors to receive the opioids. This is an aspect of tolerance. When opioids are suddenly withdrawn from an opioid-dependant person, they are left with an over-abundance of opioid receptors that were created during the addiction. This physiological transformation in the brain is a hallmark of addiction.

It is not a consequence of taking Unisom.

This doesn't mean that one can't abuse Unisom. In theory, any substance can be abused if consumed beyond moderation, or consumed when it isn't necessary.

Nor does it mean that one can't become depedent upon Unisom to fall asleep at night. However, when compared to the cravings and the withdrawal syndromes associated with frequently abused drugs like opioids or amphetamines, Unisom falls far short of being a substance with any true degree of abuse or addiction potential.


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