CPAP Addiction

by Dee
(Cornwall, Ontario Canada)

I have been told by a friend that people can get addicted to the CPAP and have to use oxygen all the time and to avoid the CPAP at all costs.

Is this true?


It's true that some CPAP users experience the "feeling" of CPAP addiction.

This addiction is expressed as a difficulty of falling asleep without the CPAP. You can call it psychological dependence if you want, because there are psychological reasons for this "problem".

We already know that having a successful CPAP is not easy and straightforward. There are a lot of CPAP mask problems that may appear, such as:
However, some persons can fall asleep so much better with a CPAP machine, that the difference from before and after CPAP therapy is amazing. In fact, the benefits of sleeping with a breathing machine is amazing.

For these persons, CPAP addiction consists of knowing and feeling the difference between sleep and good sleep. If they nap without the mask, it is not a restful sleep and they feel it.

Not using a CPAP wrecks your cardiovascular system (leading to atrial fibrilation and other problems), among other systems. Even just for naps.

The fear of dying in sleep is another incentive for using a CPAP every time you sleep. Using the machine can make you feel relaxed and willing to sleep much easier.

In other words, when you feel the CPAP addiction, the body somehow psychologically knows the apnea episodes will occur when trying to go to sleep without the breathing machine. It's like your body fights going to sleep because of all the stress it would go through.

Bottom line... You can call it CPAP addiction, psychological dependence, or whatever. But if you have sleep apnea, you need CPAP to sleep, just like you need a pillow and a blanket.

Can you sleep without a pillow and blanket? Yes, but it will be difficult, because is so much better with them. You are hooked with your pillow.

Personally, I don't think there is such thing as a CPAP addiction. As an analogy, people need glasses to see. When they take their glasses off, their vision isn't blurry because they have become addicted to their glasses. Their vision is blurry because their eyes are physically not ideal.

You need a CPAP because your throat anatomy and physiology is not ideal (don't worry, many of us are imperfect). Using a CPAP does not make it worse.

I don't think we get addicted to CPAP. I just think we sleep so much better with them we don't want to go without.

I hope it helps. Don't be afraid to comment back.

Remy Thierry
Founder of Sleep Apnea Guide

Comments for CPAP Addiction

Average Rating starstarstarstarstar

Click here to add your own comments

Dec 31, 2019
Possibly harmful
by: My copper

I’m using a CPAP since July. After about 2 weeks I woke one morning with pain on inhaling. Upper abdomen. I thought it was bad hamburger meat night before.

Then got a mild temperature for three weeks and skipped a few days. I wasn’t getting better so stopped completely and told compliance not using it again until I’m completely normal.

Dr visits and many tests. They couldn’t find anything. Tested me for hepatitis and everything else. Eventually fever stopped. For three weeks in the summer I couldn’t do anything or go anywhere.

Afterward I started using it again pretty steady. I record myself with iPhone voice memo. On the off days my snoring was quiet calm and steady. It seemed like the machine was curing me. Early on first couple months.

Now lately when I don’t use it and listen, it sounds like I’m having trouble breathing through a tiny slit. Like my throat is getting spoiled and lazy. That’s why I googled CPAP addiction and got here.

I was told I have moderate sleep apnea. After I told the sleep doctor about my three week fever he suggested a dental appliance. But the other sleep doctor said don’t worry and keep using it until you get the other thing.

I’m ready to start weaning off this thing. I’m 75, but look like 55 or 60 I’m told often. The sleep Dr. said I probably had apnea since my 50s. So I was without it for 25 years.

A lady social worker I know MSCW told me she thinks it’s all a big dog and pony show.

Aug 04, 2019
Abuse? Really?
by: Anonymous

Calling this "abuse" or "addiction" is abject nonsense! If somebody had insulin dependent diabetes, you would never say that person was "abusing" or "addicted to" insulin! This is a true medical need due to an underlying medical issue; not an addiction!

As far as somebody who uses oxygen as a substitute for CPAP; that IS abuse! Oxygen is a fire hazard and is creating a danger for the individual in question and those nearby!

Jun 23, 2019
CPAP addiction
by: Anonymous

So, I had a dog (Rocky) who passed away due to his airway collapsing. I also know that the human body abody dapts to changes that occur to our bodies. My concern is, what happens if the CPAP isn't available anymore. Do we become more endangered from apnea than before use and are there exercises that can help deter such a condition from happening. Are there breathing excersices that can keep the airway from weakening and is such a weakening even a thing?

May 03, 2019
I Think IT's Addictive Also.
by: Bryant

I was diagnosed with narcolepsy and obstructive sleep apnea. I refused to use the CPAP machine for 10 years. I finally was forced to use it in order to get treatment for my narcolepsy. I tried it for 2 months and my body was getting use to it. I had to take a road trip and was gone for 2 weeks and didnt have my machine. I sleep ok but missed the machine. Now that I am back home, I have been sleeping without the machine. I now find myself in bed craving for more air. That was the reason for googling this subject. I do recognize the good in the machine, but I refuse to become 100% dependant on a machine. This forum has been extremely helpful. Thanks Everyone

May 01, 2019
by: Anonymous

To the poster Truly Addicted.. your comment doesnt even make sense.. u call cpap a scam and are Angry that you need to use 1 YET you confirm that You Stop Breathing without it! how is a piece of machinery that keeps u from stopping to breath is a Big Scam?? You make absolutely No Sense

Dec 16, 2018
Truly Addicted
by: Anonymous

I used a CPAP on and off for a few years (3 or 4). Then I went off it. I did not use it every night, in fact I only used it about 2 or 3 times a week because I was married and liked to sleep with my wife. 30 years later, I am divorced and was told I have HORRIBLE sleep apnea and must go back on the CPAP. Now I use it every night. Now, I cannot sleep without it, with the exception of a quick nap when I am exhausted. There is no sleeping without it. I have tried multiple different positions and pillows.

You don’t need to be on drugs to be addicted to something as some suggest. I am CLEARLY addicted to it. No ifs ands or buts! I am extremely angry about it, as neither my doctor, the sleep apnea testing center or Apria, who delivered the machine told me about this possibility.

I travel a lot and now I have to drag this machine along everywhere I go. Does it help with sleeping... yes. What happens when my machine dies out? What happens if I can’t afford a new machine? That’s right. I die in my sleep quickly due to being addicted to it. No withdrawals in this case, you just stop breathing in your sleep. I would suggest stopping it now, if you can, unless you absolutely need it. You will regret it later if you don’t.

Until enough people find a good lawyer and go after these doctors and companies, they will continue to run this scam called CPAP! Stay away, if at all possible!!!

Aug 15, 2018
My Husband Died
by: Anonymous

My husband died in shower and we assume he fell asleep. He was on cpap for 20 years! Maybe as you get older and you have this dependence, it could lead to premature death. This really should be studied, but hey, I am sure this industry is a billion dollar industry so who really cares about the affect it has on its users.

Mar 18, 2018
Physical changes
by: Jack Hubley

I have severe apnea. I've been on CPAP for 5 months. Haven't had a sleep as good as I used to have without CPAP so definitely not emotionally addicted. Now I do 5 minutes of exercise and I can't take a deep breath so as anonymous said I am wondering if my diaphragm has weakened by lack of use in the night.

It would be nice to get THE answer rather than many comments with answers of what people prefer to believe to be true.

As far as oxygen is concerned you do get more oxygen with a CPAP. It may not be much but more. A supercharger on a dragster does not manufacture oxygen but more oxygen is the only reason it is used.

More air in equals more oxygen in.

Dec 23, 2017
CPAP Gives You Oxygen
by: Anonymous

In reply to CPAP not giving you oxygen in a way it does. The amount of oxygen you absorb is dependent upon the concentration of oxygen, and the partial pressure of the oxygen. The CPAP pumps air into your body which not only keeps your passage ways open it also increases the pressure of the air in your lungs. That will increase the amount of oxygen you absorb.

Dec 15, 2017
Not Addicted But
by: Anonymous

My worry is after years of depending on CPAP to help me breathe at night, won't the breathing muscles tend to atrophy?

When using the CPAP machine you don't have to struggle to breathe. Wouldn't this, make the CPAP even more necessary over time?

Oct 26, 2017
People who just don't know
by: Pitt

I am assuming the person who told you about 'cpap addiction' was not a specialist in sleep medicine! People sometimes like to show how much they know by telling other people how to treat their health problems. This is neither helpful or kind. I can imagine a conversation:
"Anne, great to see you! How are you?"
"Well Amy, since I got my CPAP I feel great!"
"Oh no Anne! You'll become addicted and have to bring an oxygen tank everywhere!"

What a jerk. Don't spend two seconds worrying, and don't discuss your health with any 'Amy' in your life!

May 07, 2017
I must disagree about dependence being purely psychological.
by: John B

I have used a CPAP for over 10 years now, and it's been a life changer. However, my dependence is definitely more than psychological. I have found this out, because I have experienced power cuts, and invariably, I wake up choking.

I would like to find a way of being free from my CPAP, because I love wild camping. However, I am not going back to those days when I lived in a haze of exhaustion, waking up with hypoxia headaches and lived a joyless existence.

I don't know if losing weight and avoiding all the exacerbating factors would enable me to unlearn the CPAP way of breathing. I'm probably clutching at straws, seeking some Holy Grail. I suppose I'm really wondering if sleep apnoea is reversible.

In the meantime, I'm exploring the possibility of affordable battery options, but portability would be an issue.

Dec 26, 2016
C-Pap Addiction
by: Lizanne Berger, Nurse Practitioner and C-Pap user

CPAP doesn't give you oxygen, it just provides room air at a positive pressure to keep your airways open during sleep, therefore there isn't a need for supplemental oxygen "all the time"

Dec 16, 2016
CPAP dependency
by: chrisf

I have been using CPAP for a 9 months with great benefits. However, on recent overseas trip I thought I could cope for a week without my CPAP machine. It was a nightmare. I barely slept.

I think my body had forgotten how to snore and breathe through my mouth. Instead I kept waking up. Since coming home I try to sleep once a week without the machine but the sleep is poor quality.

Much as I benefit from the machine, I am resentful that I am dependent on it. I hope my weekly exercise in withdrawal will be useful.

Nov 02, 2016
cpap not addictive
by: Joanne

I'm waiting for my cpap machine and I am excited to start use it!

However that's not really why I'm commenting. The question that started this discussion implied that using a cpap machine to sleep better might later cause the user to need oxygen to breath. And that's the point I wanted to make... that cpap in no way 'creates' oxygen but merely allows the sleeper to get the proper amount of oxygen that they need to sleep well. The air going into the nose is ONLY THAT... air and NOT oxygen.

So I can't see ANY reason why using the machine would cause one to need supplemental oxygen later on and certainly NOT because they use(d) a cpap machine.


Jun 10, 2016
CPAP- Can't Sleep Without It
by: Kyle

I've been a CPAP user for over 5 years now. It may not be a medically defined addiction, but the 3 nights I have been without it have been miserable. I have very narrow sinuses.

Before CPAP most of my breathing was done by mouth. I had to train myself to breath through my nose only. It is very difficult for me to breath through my mouth now.

Without my CPAP machine forceing air into my nasal sinuses, I don't sleep. It would be the closest thing to addiction I have experienced in my 51 years of living.

May 14, 2016
by: David Arntz

I liked your coment that the body avoids going to sleep without it to avoid the stress I would go through. This is a good statement which I can identify with. I feel 1000% better since using these machines, and I'm pretty sure it has prolonged my health and life.

Feb 16, 2016
My friend died
by: Anonymous

I just had a friend who took only a nap without his CPAP & he died. He was only in his 50's. I am wondering if becoming so conditioned to wearing this product makes one totally dependent on it so the individual forgets how to "breathe" on their own without it!

It was a devastating loss! Maybe in the future, they will have a pill you take to keep airways unobstructed and oxygen flowing freely!
Until then CPAP is important for those with Sleep Apnea, but maybe side effects should also be investigated!

Jan 13, 2016
no longer on nightime supplimentl O2
by: Mike

It has been 5 years, and many sleep studies, but when I first was prescribed my Bi-Pap, I was also was prescribed supplemental O2 at night only. My pre machine breathing was so bad my oxygen levels dropped off and it was warranted. Since My BI Pap, I no longer need the supplemental oxygen (since I breathe all night now)

I even nap with my bi-pap, I was concerned about an addiction, but as it was stated about wearing glasses, it is the same correction to a flawed system.

Oct 06, 2015
I was wondering if I was addicted
by: Annas

I was wondering if I was addicted, even for a nap I just cant fall asleep, lately I was traveling in a new motorhome and was stuck a couple of night not using it.

I was zombie like for two days, my hubby stop to buy a inverter and bypass it on the coach battery, the next day I was able to drive also.

Life without a cpap is just not the same. I am dead sleepy if I don't sleep with it, its why I thought I was addicted.

When I place my cpap on I dose off fast , and my cpap mask is very small just goes on my nose and on top of my head.

May 27, 2015
c-ap addiction
by: Anonymous

c-pap is really helpful......i was starting to get pissed off with people and irrational due to lack of sleep and air...i now have 10 x more energy and am starting to feel more calm and relaxed...its true you start to want to use the machine because you feel better....but it also happens that the machine gets kicked under the bed when the right company arrives....

Aug 08, 2014
Addiction - yes
by: Anonymous

The definition of addiction is "the fact or condition of being addicted to a particular substance, thing, or activity." You most certainly can get addicted. After 2yrs of use, I have trouble breathing when going to sleep without it. If I nap without it, I wake up with a worse headache and general crappy feeling (like a hangover). I am much healthier with my CPAP addiction than without it. I don't believe anyone ever needed oxygen after prolonged use...that seems illogical.

Jun 02, 2014
by: subhalaxmi

I'm CPAP dependent. For7 years I sleep with the machine before that I lost 10 years of my life (Prime time)fighting for sleep at night and in the day time fighting for notto sleep. So I got a new life with this.Even if some one says addiction it is his/her problem. Only thing when I go for pleasure trip I just don't like to carry it to explain all the people at the Air ports about my problem . I carry mild sleeping pills those help me a bit.I just want to know is there any problem if I go without it for 10-15 days a year? I'm 57 years and high B.P patient.

May 28, 2014
Auto CPAP ( Felt High )
by: Terry Harrington

Greetings all

When I first started using my CPAP the first morning when I woke up after 9 hours, I felt as though I was HIGH and felt dizzy and off balance
( frightening ):) but now I don't get that anymore ( I hope ) is this what usually happens to people who start using it?

Sep 12, 2011
CPAP Addiction?
by: Anonymous

CPAP addiction? CPAP does not introduce drugs to your system, so it cannot be truly addicting. If it were psychologicall addicting, then just sleeping with the machine turned on would satisfy the addiction as well as actually using it. Oxygen? Introducing excess oxygen into your system can be damaging. People with serious breathing conditions have to use supplemental oxygen, but it is supplemental.

Where did the writer of the question get his/her information?

Sep 10, 2011
by: Anonymous

I have recently been diagnosed with severe sleep apnea and received my CPAP yesterday. After using my CPAP machine for just 1 night I feel like an entirely new person today. I slept the whole night through without getting up several times and without tossing and turning. If this is an addiction so be it. I feel rested for the first time in years.

Sep 01, 2011
by: Curmujeon

The 'oxygen' word in the original indicates that some who might say this may be misinformed. Most CPAP users are not on oxygen anymore than everybody else. They are just breathing regular air that is pressurized to keep the airways from obstructing. We are all addicted to oxygen. Without it we die.

Aug 25, 2011
Great Answer
by: Kath Hope

Great answer there Remy. Addiction is not the correct word to use at all. The 'need' to feel well and alert everyday feeds us with the 'common sense' to wear our CPAPs everyday. If we don't want to feel ill we eat food and drink liquids, which doesn't equate to addiction either.

Aug 24, 2011
by: shylakay

Amen brother.. well said.

Click here to add your own comments

Join in and write your own page! It's easy to do. How? Simply click here to return to CPAP and Mask Questions and Answers.