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Sonata Abuse, Addiction, And Treatment Options

Medically reviewed by

Jennifer Cousineau, MSCP, LPCI, NCC

March 28, 2019

Sonata is a prescription sleep aid that is also referred to by the generic name, zaleplon. This medication is commonly prescribed to treat insomnia, but can be highly addictive if abused.

What Is Sonata?

Sonata is the brand name that zaleplon is sold under. It belongs to a class of drugs known as non-benzodiazepine sedative-hypnotics, commonly referred to as Z-drugs. These medications are central nervous system (CNS) depressants that induce sleep by acting on the GABA receptors in the brain. Other z-drugs include Ambien (zolpidem), and Lunesta (eszopiclone).

Sonata is one of the fastest-acting sleeping pills and is most effective in helping people fall asleep. It has been approved for use for up to 30 days. An average dose of Sonata is 10mg, although 5mg has shown to be effective in both elderly and low weight individuals.

Sonata has risk factors for addiction and abuse, according to the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) Drug Scheduling list. This is why it is important to only take Sonata in the dosage prescribed and for the length of time recommended by the doctor.

Sonata has a number of street names, such as downers, tranks, rope, forget-me-pill, and sleep easy.

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Why Abuse Sonata?

Many CNS depressant drugs have risk factors for abuse and addiction. These drugs work by slowing the body down, and in the case of Sonata, the body becomes extremely relaxed and calm. These stress-free feelings can be a welcomed break from everyday life.

A person may desire to recreate the escape from reality and take Sonata in higher doses or at times other than bedtime and begin abusing Sonata. In other circumstances, a person may also wish to feel the effects of Sonata more quickly, and crush and snort the pills so they will kick in faster.

When a person takes medication for any length of time, they can become tolerant of the medication. This means that they would need a higher dose to feel the same effects. Adjusting the dosage of a medication like Sonata should only be done with the approval and under the supervision of the prescribing doctor.

Taking Sonata in any way that is not prescribed is abuse, and can lead to dependence and addiction.

Sonata Abuse Effects

A person who has begun abusing Sonata will often display noticeable side effects, including:

  • tingling
  • coordination issues
  • nausea
  • fatigue
  • aggression
  • confusion
  • ‘blackouts’

During these blackouts, a person may engage in behaviors like sleep-walking, sleep-talking, sleep-driving, sleep-eating, or even having sex while sleeping. These behaviors can be dangerous to the person and those around the person and can be very damaging to relationships, as the person has no recollection of engaging in these activities.

Sonata Addiction

It can be difficult to recognize if a person is struggling with a Sonata addiction, but there are some behaviors that can indicate addiction. A person who is taking a substance like Sonata and exhibits the following symptoms may be struggling with an addiction to Sonata:

  • taking Sonata in higher doses than prescribed
  • continuing Sonata after the recommended time period has passed (over 30 days usually)
  • craving Sonata
  • forging prescriptions for Sonata
  • visiting multiple doctors to obtain Sonata (doctor shopping)
  • withdrawal without Sonata
  • excessive amounts of time spent obtaining and using Sonata
  • avoiding situations and people that cannot involve using Sonata
  • losing interest in previously enjoyed activities
  • mixing Sonata with other drugs
  • overdosing on Sonata

Overdosing on Sonata is a good indication that a person is, at a minimum, abusing Sonata, but it could indicate an addiction as well. Sonata is not as strong as other z-drugs, so it would take a considerable amount of Sonata for the person to overdose. Most overdoses that involve Sonata also involve other CNS depressants, like alcohol.

Sonata Statistics And Information

  • Most emergency room visits that involve Sonata are for attempted suicides
  • People who take sleeping pills are at a significantly higher risk for developing respiratory infections
  • 2 in every 1000 children are taking some form of sleeping pill

Sonata Withdrawal

A commonly reported side effect when a person stops taking a sleeping pill, like Sonata, is called rebound insomnia. This happens when the original insomnia symptoms return more intensely and are coupled with high levels of anxiety. Although this rebound insomnia only lasts for about four days, some people develop a psychological dependence on Sonata, believing they cannot function without it.

Other symptoms of withdrawal include anxiety, sweating, mood swings, depression, nausea, and vomiting. If a person has been taking excessively high doses of Sonata and then stops, they can also experience disruptive withdrawal symptoms like night terrors, extreme anxiety, and other psychological impairments).

Sonata Addiction Treatment Options

When a person is addicted to Sonata, they may need a detoxification program that is medically supervised that provides the option to administer medications to offset the discomfort associated with withdrawal symptoms. These facilities can also address insomnia and other co-occurring disorders during this process.

After detox, many individuals are encouraged to continue on into a substance abuse program to address issues associated with addiction. Addiction is a disease that affects many aspects of a person’s life. Addressing the problems that are caused by addiction can help a person understand why they were abusing substances, to begin with.

Substance abuse treatment programs provide counseling, workshops, and education in a variety of ways to help the person develop appropriate coping skills to address addiction and maintain sobriety. Many of these programs also use a holistic approach that looks at the person as a whole and not just substance abuse. Contact us today so we can help you find a program for you or your loved one.

Drug Enforcement Agency - Drug Scheduling

Food and Drug Administration - Sonata Label

Psychiatric Times - Treating Insomnia in Patients With Substance Use/Abuse Disorders

U.S. National Library of Medicine - Insomnia: therapeutic approach

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