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Zopiclone Addiction And Treatment

Jennifer Cousineau MSCP, LPCI, NCC

Medically reviewed by

Jennifer Cousineau MSCP, LPCI, NCC

January 25, 2019

Zopiclone is a drug that used to be prescribed for the treatment of insomnia in adults. Extended use of this drug may lead to an increased tolerance which makes an individual even more susceptible to addiction. Due to the highly addictive nature of this drug, it is no longer legal in the United States.

Zopiclone became available in 1986. Since then, several studies have been conducted that show that it has addictive properties, especially in individuals with a history of substance abuse or addiction. It is estimated that 54 million people in the U.S. have abused or misused prescription drugs in their lifetime. Zopiclone became another prescription drug added to that list.

Have you ever had trouble sleeping? Maybe you were under a lot of stress, lost a loved one, or maybe you had trouble sleeping and didn’t really know the reason behind it. Perhaps you sought an agent that would help you get some much-needed rest, such as Zopiclone. Though no longer legal in the United States, Zopiclone is a new sleep agent which has been adopted in other countries.

Although Zopiclone abuse is part of the larger epidemic of prescription abuse, it is dangerous in its own right. Therefore, it is important to understand Zopiclone—what it is, what side effects are associated with it, and the withdrawal symptoms—in order to prevent or treat abuse.

What Is Zopiclone?

Zopiclone is classified in a group of medications commonly referred to as “Z” drugs. Another example is zolpidem (Ambien). These medications are called “Z” drugs because they work in similar ways, and have effects on the brain and body comparable to that of benzodiazepines.

Zopiclone works to help a person sleep better and to sleep for longer periods of time. It also helps a person fall asleep faster than usual. As explained on Patient.info, Zopiclone, “works by acting on the way messages are sent in your brain, which helps you to sleep. It reduces the time it takes for you to fall asleep and increases the length of time you spend sleeping.”

Zopiclone was not meant for long-term use in treating insomnia. This is largely because, after a short time, the body adapts to the effects of it, and would require more of the medication to produce the same results. This tolerance fosters dependence and possibly abuse. Zopiclone is also not recommended for use in children or adolescents under the age of 18, as no safe dosage has been determined for this age group.

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Why Is Zopiclone A Risk For Substance Abuse?

While Zopiclone is intended to help people overcome insomnia, it could do more harm than good in the long run. It is rarely prescribed for more than four weeks due to risk of dependence, yet even such a short time period is enough time for the effects to lessen. When a person finally feels relief with a prescription after a long period of symptoms, he or she may fall victim to abuse in order to continue seeking relief.

Zopiclone, like many prescription drugs, may be prescribed to help a person abate symptoms, however, it can also foster substance abuse and even addiction. This can be a much larger problem in a person’s life, as these things can have severe effects on a person’s emotional, physical, and mental health. It can also have staggering effects on a person’s work or school performance, familial obligations, personal relationships, and other aspects of life. Therefore, if the abuse of Zopiclone is suspected, it may be best to seek treatment.

Zopiclone Side Effects

The effects of withdrawal range from light to moderate to severe, and differ with each person.

While on the medication, some light to moderate side effects may occur which may include:

  • bitter taste in the mouth
  • drowsiness
  • dizziness
  • dry mouth
  • bad breath
  • feeling lightheaded
  • headache
  • nausea

If a person is suffering from Zopiclone abuse or addiction, though, the side effects may persist or worsen. Further, if a person has been a victim of addiction and recently has tried to stop taking the medication, or no longer has access to it, that person can undergo withdrawal.

Zopiclone Withdrawal

Because Zopiclone is a fairly new drug, not a lot of research has been conducted on the effects of it. However, one study cited in an article found on the U.S. National Library of Medicine website shows that a small clinical study of patients who took Zopiclone experienced withdrawal symptoms.

These symptoms occurred in patients who had developed a dependency on it, and include:

  • anxiety
  • tremors
  • heart palpitations
  • tachycardia (elevated heart rate)
  • seizures

These symptoms can be dangerous in some forms if not medically supervised.

Zopiclone Addiction Treatment

Because Zopiclone has not surfaced mainstream as a potentially harmful drug, those who take it may not realize the potential for abuse. But, as highlighted by the U.S. National Library of Medicine, dependency can result from abuse. Abuse of prescription drugs is defined as taking a prescription in a way other than prescribed (such as snorting it to produce faster effects), sharing prescriptions with others for whom they were not prescribed (or taking a drug that is not prescribed to you), and taking prescriptions for reasons other than prescribed (getting “high”).

Treatment often begins with a detoxification period, during which the body rids itself of the toxins gained from substance abuse. The withdrawal process can be a difficult one, and usually should not be attempted alone. Either a strong at-home support system or medical staff in an inpatient drug rehab facility can help during this time. More severe addictions, especially when paired with an accompanying mental health disorder, most commonly require the latter.

After withdrawal, treatment can begin. Recovery may take weeks to months, and extended care may be important for continued success. Because of this, when considering treatment plans, it is important to decide if treatment should be completed in a facility or at home.

Treatment methods come in many forms. Cognitive behavioral therapy is one option, and teaches a person to develop lifestyle habits which focus on life fulfillment, free from substance abuse. Medication can help ease withdrawal symptoms, and may help treat any co-occurring disorders if necessary. Counseling in an individual, family, or group setting aids a person in voicing thoughts and emotions associated with recovery. It also allows those recovering to be part of a group of people undergoing the same sorts of trials.

Whenever a person considers treatment, he or she should have connections to resources and information to aid in the process. Recovery requires a full commitment and support system. It can also be costly. Depending on if a person needs a stay in an inpatient facility, the costs can quickly escalate. Luckily, many options are in place to help a person fund treatment, such as grants or scholarships, state insurance programs, and sliding fee scales in some facilities. Whatever the case, it may be helpful to be armed with professional support and resource connections when making treatment decisions.

Getting in touch with resources and a professional team who will be dedicated to your addiction treatment can be as easy as picking up the phone. Contact us today at RehabCenter.net to learn more.

MedicineNet - Zopiclone (Oral Tablet)

Medicines.org/UK - Zopiclone 7.5mg Tablets

MedSafe.govt/NZ - Dependence With Zopiclone

Patient: Trusted Medical Information And Support - About Zopiclone

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