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Belsomra Abuse, Addiction, And Treatment Options

Isaac Alexis, M.D., AAMA, AMP-BC

Medically reviewed by

Isaac Alexis, M.D., AAMA, AMP-BC

January 17, 2019

Belsomra is a drug used for the treatment of those with insomnia. The abuse potential for this drug is low, but individuals who take it with other substances or take more than prescribed have a greater chance of becoming addicted to this drug.

What Is Belsomra?

Belsomra is the brand name for a generic drug called Suvorexant. It is a relatively new drug on the market and is prescribed to treat people who insomnia or have difficulty falling or staying asleep.

The drug is one of the first sleeping pills that works as an orexin-receptor antagonist. The goal of this new drug is to block the parts in the brain that are associated with wakefulness. By blocking the areas of the brain that promote wakefulness, the person will likely fall asleep easier than usual.

Belsomra comes in tablet form and is available in up to 20 mg tablets. The drug is directed to be taken 30 minutes prior to bedtime, with a recommended dose of 10 mg.

Belsomra abuse is likely if a person takes the drug for non-medical reasons, or doesn’t use the drug as directed. The drug is a DEA schedule IV substance, meaning it has some potential for abuse.

Many other commonly abused prescription drugs are categorized as a schedule IV substance, including benzodiazepines like Xanax, Valium, and Ativan. Although abuse potential is low, Belsomra still poses a risk for abuse and addiction.

A person may develop a Belsomra addiction if they abuse it with other substances or take more than is necessary. Abusing Belsomra is likely to lead to an increase in side effects, one of several signs and symptoms of Belsomra abuse and addiction.

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Signs And Symptoms Of Belsomra Abuse And Addiction

As a medication for insomnia, Belsomra makes a person sleepy. A person suffering from Belsomra abuse and addiction will likely appear drowsy and disoriented. They may also show a decrease in mental awareness and seem confused.

Side effects are likely increased when a person abuses Belsomra. Side effects may include:

  • cough
  • diarrhea
  • dizziness
  • drowsiness
  • dry mouth
  • headache
  • unusual dreams

Besides an increase in side effects, people suffering from Belsomra addiction will likely feel sleepy the day after taking the drug. Belsomra has been reported to cause extreme sleepiness the day after taking a dose to help with insomnia.

A person may also experience adverse symptoms related to Belsomra abuse and addiction. Some of these symptoms may include:

  • aggressiveness
  • anxiety
  • confusion
  • depression
  • hallucinations (seeing or hearing things that aren’t there)
  • lack of coordination
  • memory problems
  • “out of body” experience
  • strange behavior
  • suicidal thoughts

Other signs of Belsomra addiction include abrupt changes in mood or behavior. If a person begins acting odd or out of character, abnormally sleepwalks, or seems irregularly tired, they may be abusing Belsomra or struggling with Belsomra addiction.

If a person shows any signs of Belsomra abuse, help should be contacted right away. Battling a Belsomra addiction can lead to dangerous consequences and health effects.

The Dangers Of Belsomra Abuse And Addiction

One of the main dangers of Belsomra abuse is experiencing somnolence, or constantly being on the verge of sleep. This may endanger a person’s daily activities, like driving.

There are reports of people feeling extreme drowsiness the day after taking the drug, which may lead to accidents after they get behind the wheel. The drug likely increases the risk of falling asleep while driving, which can result in severe injuries or death.

Doctors recommend not driving for 8 hours after taking Belsomra, and people taking more than directed likely put themselves at risk when driving at all.

Other reports indicate some people taking Belsomra were not aware of making phone calls, driving, having sex, or eating and preparing food. When they became more awake, they had no recollection of the event.

Belsomra may also cause overdose if too much of the drug is taken. Symptoms of overdose include extreme drowsiness and slowed breathing. If a person is overdosing, 9-1-1 should be contacted immediately.

The risk of overdose and extreme impairment increases when a person mixes Belsomra with alcohol. Drinking alcohol with Belsomra is likely to increase side effects like confusion and drowsiness.

Belsomra abuse may also cause temporary paralysis, which means a person loses the ability to move or speak. This can be scary and dangerous for people with other mental health conditions, as feelings of panic, anxiety, and fear are likely to set in.

While many sleeping medications are likely to cause physical dependence, and then withdrawal when a person stops taking them, Belsomra abuse will likely not produce symptoms of withdrawal.

Belsomra Withdrawal – Is Belsomra Addictive?

Clinical studies and trials have found no evidence that Belsomra causes withdrawal symptoms after stopping use.

However, the drug is only a few years old and research is limited. Belsomra still remains a controlled substance with potential for abuse and addiction, and should be taken as directed.

Even though physical dependence is unlikely to occur, a person with a history of substance abuse and addiction may be more at risk of developing Belsomra abuse and addiction.

A person struggling with insomnia, and a history of substance abuse, is likely even more at risk.

Due to the dangers of Belsomra use, and the potential for abuse, treatment may be needed to overcome addiction.

Treatment Options For Belsomra Abuse And Addiction

As a relatively new drug, there is little evidence regarding effective treatment for Belsomra abuse and addiction.

That being said, addiction is a chronic brain disease that causes unpredictable behavior, compulsive drug use, and continual use despite harm. A person abusing any drug, Belsomra included, will likely need treatment to avoid the risk of further addiction.

The goal of treating any addiction is to motivate a person to stop using all drugs, stay drug-free, and become productive in day to day activities, like work or school.

No single addiction treatment is right for everyone, and effective treatment must take into account the needs and preferences of the individual. Plus, treatment needs to address other issues, like mental health conditions or emotional trauma, to be effective.

Traditional evidence-based approaches to treatment usually include a combination of medication and behavioral therapy. Like other sleeping medications, there are no government approved medications for Belsomra abuse and addiction.

Behavioral therapy is the most common form of addiction treatment. The goal of behavioral therapy is to change a person’s thinking and attitudes towards drugs.

If a person becomes used to the effects of Belsomra and thinks they need it to sleep or relax, they’ll need to address why they believe using Belsomra is so important in their lives. Behavioral therapy can help a person understand their drug-seeking habits, and then work to change them.

If a person’s addiction to Belsomra is severe, the best course of action may be a stay at an inpatient treatment center. Inpatient treatment centers are residential facilities where a person lives during treatment.

Inpatient treatment centers likely provide around the clock care, access to behavioral therapy and peer support, and a stable environment to ensure the best chances for recovery.

Call now for more information on Belsomra abuse, addiction, and treatment options.

Journal of Pharmacology and Pharmacotherapeutics - Suvorexant: The first orexin receptor antagonist to treat insomnia

MedlinePlus - Suvorexant

FDA - Belsomra

NIDA - Treatment Approaches for Drug Addiction

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