We Have Beds Available! Call for Same Day Admission.855-722-6926
We Have Beds Available! Call For Same Day Admission. 855-722-6926

Nodding Off: What Does it Mean and What Causes it?


The image of an addict floating in and out of consciousness is a difficult yet all too familiar one. They can’t quite decide if they can hold on. Their eyes close, and their body can begin to bend over. This unique drug-induced drowsiness blurs the distinction between awareness and sleep, making it difficult for many people to tell if they are actually going to sleep or experiencing a more harmful reaction. In order to shed light on its mechanics, consequences, and the significant repercussions it can have on individuals who succumb to it, Banyan Treatment Centers Delaware is delving into the risks and causes of nodding off.

What Is Nodding Off?

Nodding off is a strange physiological response that occurs when an individual suffers drowsiness and tries to stay awake due to the influence of drugs. When someone nods off, their consciousness shifts between a wakeful and sleeping state. It is characterized by a dream-like, confused state of consciousness in which the person may appear to be half awake but actually displays signs of lethargy and impaired motor coordination. As they struggle to stay awake, their head may slump forward, and their eyelids may flutter or briefly close.

Interestingly, this can occur even when an individual is in an upright position, leading to the remarkable phenomenon of nodding off while standing. When this happens, the person may slump or sway for a brief period of time, occasionally even needing to lean against things or other people for support. This odd occurrence, however, illustrates the enormous effect that some medicines can have on the body's capacity to sustain alertness, overriding the normal tendency to remain aware even in the most basic of positions.

What Drugs Cause You to Nod Off?

Certain medications have the ability to induce nodding off, making it difficult for users to fight the urge to fall asleep. It may be a result of a side effect of the medication or an accidental overdose after taking too much of it for the body to handle.

These substances include:

  • Opioids: Opiates and prescription opioids like oxycodone or hydrocodone, as well as heroin, morphine, and codeine, can profoundly depress the central nervous system (CNS), causing acute drowsiness and dozing off.
  • Sedatives and tranquilizers: Both barbiturates like phenobarbital and benzodiazepines like Xanax, Valium, and Ativan have sedative and tranquilizing effects. These medications have a relaxing impact on the CNS, which can lead a person to nod off, especially when abused.
  • Certain hallucinogens: Some hallucinogens, including ketamine and PCP (phencyclidine), can have dissociative effects, which can change perception and induce a dream-like condition. These drugs have the potential to cause extreme drowsiness and sleepiness at higher doses.
  • Antihistamines: Because they have sedative characteristics, over-the-counter antihistamines like diphenhydramine (Benadryl) and prescription sedating antihistamines might make you feel extremely sleepy and make you nod off.

It's crucial to remember that other substances, such as alcohol, some antidepressants, and muscle relaxants, can also cause drowsiness as a side effect, especially when used in large quantities or in combination with other medications. Each person may react to these medications differently, and variables including dosage, tolerance, and unique physiology might affect whether and how much a person will nod off.

Address Drug Addiction at Our Delaware Rehab Center

If a person is nodding off as a side effect of their substance abuse, it could be a sign that there is a significant issue at play. The first step to addressing this problem is obtaining withdrawal management services from our detox in Delaware. This is an excellent precursor to the addiction treatment programs to follow. With an array of therapy treatments at our disposal, we offer our patients a sincere shot at overcoming their chemical dependency.

Call Banyan’s Delaware drug rehab at 888-280-4763 to learn about the benefits of our treatment options and how they can help you or your loved one achieve long-lasting sobriety.

Related Reading

How Many People Die From Heroin Abuse?

How to Choose a Rehab Facility That Is Right for You

Alyssa, Director of Digital Marketing
Alyssa, Director of Digital Marketing
Alyssa is the National Director of Digital Marketing and is responsible for a multitude of integrated campaigns and events in the behavioral health and addictions field. All articles have been written by Alyssa and medically reviewed by our Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Darrin Mangiacarne.