Lunesta, also called eszopiclone or zopiclone, is a sedative-hypnotic prescribed drug that treats sleeplessness. About 30% of Americans experience some sort of sleep problem. Lunesta has been shown to treat sleeplessness.1
Sleep disorders can severely disrupt people’s lives both physically and mentally. Eszopiclone is a popular remedy for sleeplessness. It was #286 on the Top 300 Drugs of 2019 with more than 1.4 million prescriptions dispensed.2 However, there are risks with taking the drug. Addiction to Lunesta may require treatment in a rehab facility.
People displaying drug-seeking behavior tend to request Lunesta.
Despite the recommendation that it be taken for short durations, many people continue to take the drug nightly for many months.
Signs of Lunesta use disorder include:
Taking it in unintended ways
Taking it in larger doses than prescribed
Taking it without a prescription
Doctor shopping (the practice of going to different doctors to obtain larger quantities of a drug)
Increased tolerance to its effects
Hiding use of it
Lying about using it
Experiencing withdrawals when not taking it
An inability to function without it
Attempting to stop taking it and failing
Lunesta is classified as a sedative hypnotic drug. Lunesta, under its zopiclone name, has been deemed a “Z” drug. Z-drugs are a group of nonbenzodiazepine drugs that have effects like benzodiazepines.4 The names of these drugs usually begin with the letter “Z”.
These “Z” drugs are used to treat sleep problems. “Z” drugs are less likely to cause addiction than benzodiazepines, however, research supports the potential for dependence.3
Lunesta, or zopiclone, is a DEA Schedule IV drug, and it is not considered a narcotic.5 A Schedule IV drug means the drugs in this schedule have a low abuse potential as well as at least one accepted medical use.
There are safety concerns regarding Lunesta. One is that it may affect cognitive function (thinking, reasoning) and memory ability.1 There is also a risk for confusion. Motor skills can also be affected, so use caution when operating a motor vehicle while taking it. It’s preferred that prescriptions should be for short periods of time and within the recommended dosage guidelines.3
Before taking it, let your prescribing doctor and pharmacist know if you are taking any:6
Nutritional or herbal supplements
HIV protease inhibitors
Mental illness medications
The street names of Lunesta relate to its ability to cause drowsiness, which include:
It is taken before bedtime and is rapidly absorbed by the body. It’s meant to help people fall asleep and stay asleep. Lunesta is thought to inhibit signals from the nervous system that cause anxiety, stress and fear, which helps restore calm in the body.
Lunesta can cause a person to do activities while they are not aware they are doing so. These activities, called complex sleep behaviors, include:7
Driving a car while asleep
Preparing and eating food
Having phone conversations
Caution: Lunesta can cause next day drowsiness. Wait until fully awake to do any hazardous activities, such as driving.
Unpleasant taste in the mouth
Common cold symptoms
Painful menstrual periods
Male breast enlargement
Caution: Lunesta can cause next day drowsiness. Wait until fully awake to do any hazardous activities, such as driving.
Seek medical help right away if you experience any of these symptoms after taking Lunesta. The possible long-term effects of taking Lunesta include:7
Not fully awakening and doing an activity without knowing
Suicidal thoughts or actions
Abnormal thoughts and behavior
Swelling of the tongue or throat
Yes, it is possible to overdose with serious or fatal results. Symptoms of overdose may include:6
People with depression have been known to intentionally overdose on Lunesta.1 Anyone with depression or suicidal tendencies should be cautious about starting this drug.
There have been reports of fatal overdoses, especially when it was taken with other drugs that depress the nervous system.1
Don’t stop taking Lunesta without first talking to your doctor. A gradual decrease in the dosage will be planned. If its use suddenly stops, the brain and body could experience withdrawal symptoms, including:6
After Lunesta usage is stopped, the body may have more of a hard time falling and staying asleep than before its usage began.6 This is a normal reaction and should subside on its own after several nights.
Severe rebound of sleep problems
Racing and/or pounding heart
Heart rhythm issues
It’s more common to see Lunesta causing problems for people with a history of drug abuse or mental health issues.3
Use disorder treatment for Lunesta includes using therapies and medications to help an individual recover.
According to the American Society of Addiction Medicine (ASAM), there are 5 levels of care for treating drug use disorders.3 Here are the levels so you can see how inpatient and outpatient treatments fit into all the available options:
Level 0.5 early intervention services
Level 1 outpatient services
Level 2 intensive outpatient services
Level 3 residential and inpatient services
Level 4 medically managed intensive inpatient services
Treatment programs are usually residential (inpatient) and outpatient. The level of care needed depends on factors such as:
The first step in Lunesta use disorder treatment may be a medically supervised detox. A detox is especially important when:
There are other substances of abuse involved.
There are mental health concerns involved.
It has been taken for a long period of time.
High doses were taken.
It was used recreationally or illicitly.
A medical detox monitors the person around-the-clock. The medical staff is on call to address any emergencies and relieve any withdrawal symptoms. Complications from weaning off the drug can be monitored and taken care of, if they occur.
Detox helps stabilize the brain and body. Once the detox is complete, the next step in treatment is therapy sessions. The two main choices to receive therapies are inpatient (residential) or outpatient programs. An in-depth assessment is done before admission to determine which type of program would be the best fit.
In an inpatient treatment program, individuals live in a specialized facility for a certain length of time and attend individual and group therapy sessions, life skills training classes, and educational programs. Holistic treatment methods are also provided. These services are provided within a structured schedule. Residential treatment programs typically last between 28 to 90 days or sometimes longer.
Outpatient treatment programs provide similar therapies and services, but individuals return home each night. Outpatient programs offer more flexibility, so clients can maintain their family and work obligations. There are different levels of outpatient treatment:
Intensive outpatient programs (IOPs) for substance abuse treatment provide services for people with substance use disorders who don’t meet the criteria for inpatient treatment. IOPs are also a good choice for people who complete residential treatment programs and need more support than weekly or bi-weekly sessions that traditional outpatient programs provide. IOPs are a higher level of care than traditional outpatient services and a lower level of care than inpatient services.
IOPs offer at least 9 hours of service per week in three, 3-hour sessions. There are IOPs that provide more sessions per week and/or longer sessions per day. Many IOPs gradually reduce the intensity of the treatment over time.
IOP services are provided in outpatient settings, so it may extend the length of the treatment compared to inpatient services. IOPs allow individuals to live at home, which can improve their adjustment to daily life.
Traditional outpatient programs offer several hours of treatment each week. Services can include substance abuse treatment therapies, mental health services and other support services. These services are provided in individual and group counseling sessions.
Sober living homes (SLHs) are residences where the client lives with other people who are in recovery. SLHs serve as a good way to help clients re-enter society, especially when the client is homeless or has an unstable home environment. In many sober living homes, residents receive substance abuse counseling. In addition, clients benefit from social support from other residents who are in recovery.
Provided in both inpatient and outpatient treatment programs, different therapies can help individuals who find themselves struggling with Lunesta dependency or use disorder find recovery.
In CBT therapy sessions, participants learn healthy coping mechanisms for stress and anxiety. CBT also helps them to discover the root causes as to the reasons why Lunesta abuse became a problem in the first place. This understanding helps individuals recognize the triggers that lead to Lunesta abuse, so they can avoid or handle them differently going forward. CBT works to turn negative thoughts into positive ones, which influences self-esteem and helps modify behaviors.
MI is a non-confrontational type of therapy that helps people find internal motivation to change while learning to accept themselves. Motivational interviewing works to help people resolve ambivalent feelings and insecurities. MI takes on a practical, “hands on” approach in a short-term process that understands how hard it is to make life changes. This empathetic and safe relationship built between the therapist and client creates a safe space where change can take place.
Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) is a highly effective treatment that helps individuals regulate their emotions. The theory behind DBT is that some individuals tend to react in out-of-the-ordinary ways that are too intense given the situation. These overblown reactions happen more in emotional situations with romantic partners, friends and family. DBT sessions help people by teaching skills for dealing with sudden, intense surges of emotion to reduce stress and anxiety. Generally, DBT is provided in weekly individual “talk” therapy sessions as well as weekly group therapy sessions.
12-step programs, made popular by Alcoholics Anonymous, can be a vital part of addiction recovery. Many inpatient and outpatient programs hold 12-step meetings as a part of treatment.
The 12 steps look at how to heal the spirit by outlining the process of admitting powerlessness and surrendering to a higher power. This type of program also takes a behavioral approach in controlling one’s behaviors and refraining from addictive habits. Group meetings offer reinforcement and support to start and continue these healthy changes.
Since Lunesta is a drug for sleep problems, people who have a Lunesta use disorder probably suffer from sleeping difficulties. Learning holistic and alternative methods for healthy sleep during substance abuse treatment is useful.
Therapies and sessions that can help promote healthy sleeping habits include:
Educational classes to learn tips for improving sleep can include:
Sticking to a regular sleep schedule with regular sleep and wake times
Eating a nutritious, healthy diet
Limiting caffeine intake
Performing regular physical activity
Practicing relaxation techniques
Avoiding naps during the day
Avoiding any stimuli right before bed
Keeping the bedroom dark
Using the bedroom mainly for sleep
Putting a nightlight in the bathroom to avoid bright light during nightly bathroom visits
Many sleep problems stem from stress and anxiety. There are medications that can help to reduce stress and anxiety. The use of antidepressants or anti-anxiety medications may be helpful.
Most treatment programs offer strategies that help clients recognize triggers that can make them more likely to abuse substances. Then, clients use what they have learned in treatment to respond in healthy ways to those triggers. A relapse prevention plan packages all those triggers and healthy responses for the individual so it can be used to prevent a relapse.
Other relapse prevention services can include journaling. Many treatment programs recommend journaling as a way to track moods, so that clients can use the journals to increase their recognition of situations or people that underlie the urge to use drugs.
In addition, most relapse prevention plans include training on recognizing signs of a mental illness and how to manage those feelings in healthy ways.
In family therapy and education sessions, family members and loved ones of clients in treatment receive information about substance abuse. If mental health disorders are involved, information is provided on that too. A family therapy support group can be helpful as well.
To build and keep support around the person in recovery, family members and loved ones need to understand the complexities of substance abuse. Programs should provide this instruction in an open forum that allows questions. Information should include:
No single treatment works for everyone. Therefore, treatment should be individualized. You or your loved one should receive the type of treatment that works for the individual.
If you or a loved one is struggling with Lunesta abuse or use disorder, it’s important to get help right away. The potentials for sleep complex behaviors, dependence and overdose must be treated seriously. Talk to your doctor or treatment center about the problem, so you can get help and live a healthy life in recovery.