Is Lunesta Addictive?
Can prescription medications become addictive? Is Lunesta addictive? Lunesta is a non-benzo hypnotic sedative medication that is often used to treat insomnia. The sleep aid is also prescribed for people who have trouble falling and staying asleep. According to the CDC, an estimated 9 million people use sleep aids such as Lunesta. With long-term use, the medication can easily become habit forming leading to the development of serious side effects and addiction.
What is Lunesta?
Lunesta is the brand name for the prescription sleep aid eszopiclone. Its street names include rophies, forget me pills, and zombie pills. This central nervous system depressant is a sedative-hypnotic that functions most similarly to benzodiazepines. It slows down brain activity by interacting with the GABA transmitters to slow overactive brain function. This makes it helpful for treating sleep disorder conditions resulting from anxiety, panic attacks, acute stress reactions and insomnia.
Lunesta is a Schedule IV controlled substance under the DEA’s Controlled Substance Act. It is part of a group of popular sleeping sedatives similar to Ambien and
Sonata. The FDA first approved this medication in 2004, for the treatment of insomnia and other sleeping disorders. Due to its addictive nature, the FDA has issued a black box warning label on the product, indicating the potential dangers of the drug.
Lunesta provides users with uninterrupted sleep. Users fall asleep faster and stay asleep longer, which helps improve energy levels and cognitive function the following day.
Medication dosage will depend on multiple factors such as age, liver function and interactions with other medications you may be taking. A typical dosage starts with 1mg and increases to a maximum of 3mg per day. The effects of Lunesta can start working within an hour of taking it.
Is Lunesta Addictive?
Substance abuse is when a drug is used for anything other than its intended purpose. Crushing pulls into a powder for snorting, taking more than the recommended dosage, using a drug without a prescription, or using for a longer period than prescribed are all considered forms of substance abuse. Similar to other sedative medications, Lunesta has a high potential for addiction and is only intended for short-term use.
With long-term abuse of Lunesta, side effects can include:
- Abnormal thoughts and behaviors
- Severe depression
- Memory loss
- Complex sleep behaviors such as sleepwalking sleep driving, cooking, making phone calls, having conversations and engaging in activities without being completely awake
Signs that a person may have a Lunesta addiction:
- The person continues to take Lunesta after the prescription has expired
- The person begins to isolate themselves from family, friends and loved ones
- The person repeatedly puts off quitting Lunesta
- The person increases their medication dosage without consulting a medical professional
- The person feels their quality of life will decline if they stop taking the medication
- The person uses Lunesta to get high
- The person develops intense drug cravings and mixes Lunesta with other substances to increase the sedative-like effects
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Lunesta enhances the chemicals that are naturally abundant in the brain and nervous system. These chemical receptors include GABA, serotonin and melatonin. When using Lunesta, the body’s ability to regulate these chemicals begin to depend on the drug. Once a person stops taking the drug, it disrupts the system of sleep and wakefulness and the body is unable to compensate for the missing chemicals it has become highly reliant on when using Lunesta.
The risks of Lunesta’s addictive nature
Lunesta can become an addictive substance even when use correctly. Polysubstance use has become very popular among users of Lunesta. Lunesta is a CNS depressant and mixing it with other drugs can enhance the effects of the euphoric feelings. This is especially common when using both Lunesta and alcohol. Side effects of polydrug use include daytime drowsiness, headaches, sore throat and other cold-like symptoms.
Long-term users of sleep aids like Lunesta often develop withdrawal after they have stopped taking the medication. The first seven days without the usage of the drug are usually the most difficult to overcome.
Common symptoms of withdrawal include:
- Nausea and vomiting
- Sweating and tremors
- Mood swings and fatigue
- Anxiety and depression
- Poor concentration and short-term memory impairment
Lunesta Withdrawal Timeline:
- Day 1-2: Within 48 hours after the last dose, symptoms of withdrawal can include intense insomnia and anxiety.
- Day 3-7: During this period, withdrawal symptoms will begin to peak and can include other sleep troubles, irritability, fatigue and sometimes nausea.
- Day 8-21: By this time, symptoms will begin to fade and become milder.
- Day 22: Towards the end of the withdrawal timeline, some people may begin to develop Post Acute Withdrawal Syndrome (PAWS), which can take another four to eight weeks to peak.
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Another risk and major side effect of Lunesta withdrawal is a condition called rebound insomnia. Rebound insomnia is when it becomes difficult to initiate or maintain sleep that can progressively get worse. This occurs when a daily or long-time user stops taking prescription and over-the-counter sleep aid medications. In severe cases, people can experience a complete loss of sleep for hours or days.
How does Lunesta compare to other Sleep Aids?
Ambien is another popular sleep aid that falls under the category of a controlled substance with risks for dependence. It is also used to treat sleeping disorders. Both medications are taken once daily at bedtime. Both medications help users fall asleep more quickly and stay asleep longer. Both medications are recommended at the lowest dosage possible and for short-term use.
Treatment Options for Addiction
For people who have developed an addiction to Lunesta, the most effective treatment comes from the resources and support of a drug and alcohol treatment program. Hotel California by the Sea offers specialized treatment for patients suffering from a Lunesta addiction. Many people often ask “is Lunesta addictive” and are not aware that even when taken at a recommended dosage, Lunesta can become extremely habit-forming.
During the detox phase, it is typical for patients to receive the appropriate taper medication and dosage to safely remove the drug from their system. Intensive therapies such as CBT, DBT and EMDR therapy target any mental health symptoms that can affect the progress of recovery. The combination of physical and psychological treatments will help patients overcome their Lunesta addictive urges.