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Lunesta Addiction And The Best Rehab Centers For Treatment

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

Medically reviewed by

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

April 17, 2019

Lunesta is the brand name for eszopiclone, a prescription sleep aid. This prescription medication is used to treat insomnia, however, it can be highly addictive when abused.

What Is Lunesta?

Eszopiclone is known by the brand name Lunesta and is one of three z-drugs. Like zopiclone, zolpidem, and zaleplon, eszopiclone acts on GABA receptors in the brain to induce sleep. While z-drugs are considered sedative-hypnotics, they are different from barbiturates and benzodiazepines, in that they are believed to have a lower potential for dependence and addiction.

Very small doses of Lunesta are effective, in fact, the pills are only available in 1mg, 2mg, or 3mg doses. According to dosing recommendations, people are to start on 1mg tablets, and only increased if the medication is not effective at that does. Elderly patients are not to take more than 2mg per day.

Lunesta is also the only prescription sleep aid medication approved for long term treatment of insomnia. However, this is not without the potential of side effects, and risk of abuse or addiction.

Why Do People Abuse Lunesta?

Taking Lunesta in a way that is not prescribed or higher doses than prescribed is abuse. Lunesta is to be swallowed just before bed, without food. Attempting to stay awake on purpose, crushing and snorting the drug, doubling the dose, taking someone else’s Lunesta to get a good night’s sleep, or taking Lunesta without a prescription is abuse.

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Sometimes Lunesta abuse is a result of the person developing tolerance. As with many medications that are taken long-term, the body can become used to the dose and then require more of it to remain effective. A person is abusing Lunesta if they increase their dosage without approval and there is a higher probability of side effects or even overdose.

Other instances of Lunesta abuse are with the intention of getting ‘high’ from the effects of Lunesta. The relaxation and calm associated with Lunesta can also be intensified when a person uses alcohol or other drugs when taking Lunesta.

Signs Of Lunesta Abuse

A person abusing Lunesta may exhibit the following symptoms and behaviors:

  • severe irritability
  • headaches
  • confusion
  • loss of coordination
  • taking more Lunesta than prescribed
  • decreased sex drive
  • increased sweating
  • avoiding friends and family
  • constantly sleepy (residual daytime effect of taking too much Lunesta)
  • noticeable weight changes over a short amount of time
  • odd sleep patterns

Lunesta mixed with other sleeping pills can have additional adverse effects, that include:

  • daytime sleepiness
  • sore throat
  • headaches
  • bad taste in mouth
  • stuffy nose
  • sneezing

A person abusing Lunesta may take also take other drugs or alcohol to intensify the effects of both drugs. However, if a person takes more than one CNS depressant, it can cause significant impairments to judgement, concentration, balance, and awareness. High doses can also cause breathing and blood pressure to drop to dangerous levels.

Is Lunesta Addictive?

Just because Lunesta is considered less addictive than other, similar drugs (like Xanax or Ambien) does not mean that people taking Lunesta are not at risk for developing an addiction. When a person takes a medication that has a potential for addiction for a long period of time, they are at risk for developing both dependence and addiction.

Lunesta is classified by the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) as a schedule IV drug. Medications in this class have been determined to have some risk of abuse and dependence. Other medications included in this list are Xanax, Ambien, Ativan, Valium, Soma, and Tramadol.

Lunesta is addictive, which is why it is very important to take Lunesta exactly as it is prescribed. Deviating from this can result in dependence and addiction, or even worse, overdose.

Lunesta Addiction Symptoms

When a person abusing Lunesta begins to show the following signs, it may be indicative of a developing addiction:

  • doctor shopping
  • lying to doctors about symptoms to get more Lunesta
  • unable to stop taking or control the intake of Lunesta
  • obsessed with finding and taking Lunesta
  • withdrawal symptoms without Lunesta
  • taking other people’s Lunesta
  • craving Lunesta
  • avoiding or inability to fulfill responsibilities

A person who is struggling with addiction can have significant behavioral changes that are noticeable to those close to them. The fixation on getting Lunesta can become the most important thing in their life, and other elements seem to fall to the wayside. This abrupt behavior change can indicate that some type of intervention may be necessary.

Lunesta Overdose

Overdoses of Lunesta have been reported, but in most cases people recover. However, fatalities have been reported in situations where people mixed Lunesta with alcohol or other CNS depressants.

People experiencing an overdose from Lunesta usually show intensified side effects and symptoms of Lunesta abuse. The most intense symptoms of Lunesta overdose is severe impairment of consciousness, resulting in a coma-like state.

Lunesta Withdrawal

People who take Lunesta for over six months and those who abuse Lunesta are likely to experience symptoms of withdrawal when they stop taking it. While some side effects are mild (nausea, upset stomach, and vomiting), other side effects are quite disruptive (night terrors, extreme anxiety, cravings, and psychological impairments).

One reported side effect is referred to as rebound symptoms. These are a re-emergence of symptoms that caused the person to begin the medication in the first place. For Lunesta, the rebound symptoms would be insomnia or other sleep problems, coupled with intense anxiety. What most people don’t realize, however, is that rebound symptoms last less than a week.

Lunesta Abuse Treatment Options

A person struggling with Lunesta addiction may need assistance from a supervised detoxification program to stop taking Lunesta. These detox units are equipped to address withdrawal symptoms, rebound symptoms, co-occurring disorders, and other issues related to substance abuse.

The detoxification process is tailored to each individual and helps the person begin their journey into substance abuse treatment. Treatment plans are often developed in this stage and outline an individualized substance abuse program that will be most beneficial to the person in treatment.

Substance abuse treatment facilities use evidence and outcomes based interventions to treat the person as well as address how addiction has affected most areas of their life. In approaching treatment from a holistic, multi-faceted way, these rehab facilities have helped several individuals obtain sobriety.

Let us help you locate a substance abuse treatment program that best meets the needs of you or your loved one today.

Drug Enforcement Agency - Drug Scheduling

Nature and Science of Sleep - An approach to long term sedative-hypnotic us

Food and Drug Administration - Lunesta Label

Clinics (San Paulo) - Eszopiclone versus zopiclone in the treatment of insomnia

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