Zopiclone belongs to a class of sedative drugs known as ‘z drugs’. Unlike other drugs in this class, however, zopiclone is banned for use in the United States. It is chemically similar to the prescription drug eszopiclone, also known as Lunesta.
According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, zopiclone can cause significant physical impairment in smaller doses than other ‘z drugs’. In some other countries, zopiclone is legally prescribed for the short-term treatment of insomnia under the brand name Imovane.
In the United States, the use of zopiclone has largely been replaced by other prescription sedatives such as benzodiazepines and other ‘z drugs’ like zolpidem (Ambien) and zaleplon.
How Zopiclone Works
Zopiclone belongs to a class of drugs known as central nervous system depressants (CNS). This means it can depress the central nervous system, composed of the brain and spinal cord.
It produces its effects by boosting gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) receptors in the brain, similar to legal prescription drugs such as diazepam, temazepam, and other sleep medications.
Side Effects Of Zopiclone
Zopiclone use can cause strong sedative effects. This makes it effective as a sleep aid, although it may also cause significant cognitive and physical impairment. In turn, this can increase your risk for falls and other serious accidents.
Common side effects of zopiclone include:
- bitter taste
- dry mouth
- upset stomach
Serious side effects can also occur after taking zopiclone, including severe psychological symptoms, heart problems, memory troubles, and skin rashes.
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If you experience any of these side effects after taking zopiclone, consider calling your doctor for clinical guidance.
How Zopiclone Can Be Abused
Zopiclone has a potential for drug abuse and addiction. This means it can be abused for its effects and may become addictive through repeated misuse.
In New Zealand, zopiclone is directed only for short-term use to treat insomnia. Prescribing the drug for long-term use of zopiclone may result in drug tolerance, dependency, and addiction.
Methods of zopiclone abuse can include:
- taking zopiclone illegally
- crushing and snorting zopiclone
- taking excessive doses of zopiclone
- mixing zopiclone with other drugs (including alcohol)
People who become dependent on zopiclone may crave the drug between doses. They may feel reliant on the drug to sleep or sedate themselves chemically. Zopiclone dependence can develop in those who take the drug for more than four weeks.
Dangers Of Zopiclone Abuse
Abusing drugs like zopiclone can be dangerous for a variety of reasons. First, it can be dangerous to take drugs that are illegal. This can lead to legal repercussions.
One of the reasons zopiclone was banned in the United States is due to its addictive potential. Before the drug was banned for use in the U.S. it was considered a highly effective medication for insomnia.
Unfortunately, zopiclone was discovered to pose dangerous risks to physical, cognitive, and mental health in moderate doses. These dangers include physical impairment, symptoms of psychosis, and addiction.
Zopiclone: Overdose Signs And Symptoms
Taking too much of any drug can overwhelm the body, causing a condition known as overdose. Overdose can also occur from taking multiple drugs at once or mixing drugs with alcohol.
People who take zopiclone may engage in risky or impulsive behavior due to its effects on certain chemicals in the brain. This includes taking excessive doses of zopiclone or taking it alongside other drugs, leading to an overdose.
Signs of zopiclone overdose may include:
- excessive drowsiness
- low blood pressure
- slow or shallow breathing
- pale skin
- blurred vision
Overdosing on zopiclone is most dangerous when it has been mixed with other CNS depressants, such as benzodiazepines, antidepressants, opioids, or alcohol.
Mixing these drugs may lead to life-threatening health problems without emergency medical treatment.
Stopping your use of zopiclone suddenly after taking it for more than four weeks can cause withdrawal symptoms. Withdrawal occurs when you’ve developed physical dependence.
Symptoms of zopiclone withdrawal may include:
- rebound insomnia
- drug cravings
- panic attacks
- heart palpitations
- shaking of the hands (tremors)
Medically supervised detox is highly recommended for people who have become addicted to sleeping pills like zopiclone.
During detox, healthcare providers can provide supervision, medical care, and help you begin tapering your dose.
Zopiclone Abuse And Addiction Treatment Options
Becoming addicted to drugs like zopiclone can make someone feel as if they have no way out. Fortunately, there is a wide range of treatment programs that can help people overcome drug addiction and begin the path towards lifelong recovery.
Treatment for zopiclone abuse may include:
Recovering from substance abuse isn’t easy, but it is possible. The type of treatment you need may depend on how long you’ve been abusing zopiclone and the severity of your addiction.
If you or a loved one is struggling with zopiclone abuse or addiction, don’t wait to seek help. Call our helpline today to learn more about available treatment options for zopiclone abuse near you.
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- New Zealand Medicines and Medical Devices Safety Authority: MedSafe—Dependence with Zopiclone
- U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA)—FDA Drug Safety Communication: FDA warns of next-day impairment with sleep aid Lunesta (eszopiclone) and lowers recommended dose
- Medicines.org.uk—Zopiclone 7.5mg Tablets