Eszopiclone, better known by its brand name, Lunesta, is in a class of drug called sedative-hypnotics. With 70 million Americans suffering from sleep disorders each year, there have been several types of medications created for these disorders. A sleep disorder is a condition that prevents and limits a person from getting restful sleep. This can create an unhealthy life filled with drowsiness and lower the threshold for illness.
Sleep disorders are nothing to take lightly, and developing medications such as Lunesta have given back individuals their lives. The problem is being able to distinguish the difference between treating your disorder and abusing the medication. Lunesta is a drug that holds a low risk of abuse, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t occur. When you get your body into the habit of taking a pill every night to fall asleep, you have, in essence, reprogrammed your body to become dependent on a pill to go to sleep each night.
This is when chemical dependence occurs, and you start taking more of the medication to achieve the desired results. Nearly 10 million people across the United States use prescription sleep aids like Lunesta, which is marketed as a safer alternative to other sleep aids on the market. This perception, however, lowers individuals’ inhibitions and makes them more likely to abuse the drug because of their false impression.
Dangers associated with Lunesta include memory loss, depression, and organ damage. There is a potential to become addicted to Lunesta in just a few weeks of regular use.
Lunesta works in a way that is similar to benzodiazepines although it falls into a different class of drug. It increases levels of the neurotransmitter known as gamma-Aminobutyric acid (GABA), which is naturally produced in the body. It inhibits nerve signals that cause stress, anxiety, and fear to restore calm in the body.
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Lunesta acts like these neurotransmitters and binds to the brain’s GABA receptors. It then activates them to create an excessive amount of GABA. The difference between how Lunesta and benzodiazepines work is that benzos will bind with all GABA receptors while Lunesta focuses on specific targets to initiate sleep. This is what gives off the impression that the drug could be used more medically and has reduced abuse potential.
GABA, however, becomes desensitized over time because of the medication, and the brain will begin creating less of the natural chemical on its own. This is a tolerance building up, and Lunesta over time becomes less effective in the treatment of sleep and can actually intensify your insomnia.
Substance abuse symptoms differ from person to person, and while it might seem easier to spot a Lunesta addiction, it really depends on the person. Since Lunesta is prescribed as a sleep aid, it is more difficult to spot warning signs about an impending addiction.
The reason for this is a lack of awareness about Lunesta addiction and that misuse and addiction are likely with this drug. Both of these factors combined with it being prescribed from a doctor make it less likely to observe or recognize characteristics being displayed that are common with addiction.
Even those abusing Lunesta themselves may not realize the point where it went from innocently consuming the medication for sleep to a full-blown addiction. It is necessary to be aware of these signs for yourself or a loved one you may suspect of abusing Lunesta.
The longer the drug is used will net more outward signs of abuse. It can show up in different ways as a combination or as an intense version of the common side effects associated with it.
As the progression continues from abuse into addiction, any control the user once had will begin to slip away. There will be compulsive behaviors to obtain the drug. The user will begin prioritizing getting and using Lunesta over relationships, work, and school. This is when the problem can have dire life consequences.
As the drug becomes more prevalent in the user’s life, there are more behaviors to look for that could indicate a growing addiction. The behaviors will be abnormal compared to what you could be used to and align with a substance use disorder.
If you or anyone that you know has been experiencing the symptoms as mentioned above, it is time to consider treatment. Professional addiction services can be the bridge back to sobriety that will return your life to normalcy. This may be an overwhelming time, but you are never alone.
The universal beginning of addiction recovery starts with medical detoxification. Once you have taken the first and most difficult step to acknowledge that there is a problem, it is time to consider your treatment options. Detox is the process of ridding the body of drugs and other toxins to attain mental and physical stability. Lunesta withdrawals are relatively mild when compared to stronger sedatives such as barbiturates or benzodiazepines. Due to the lower level of risk, detox from Lunesta can take place on an outpatient basis. This does not at all mean it should be attempted alone without medical intervention. Lunesta still does pose risks such as hallucinations, suicidal behavior, uncontrolled vomiting, and in rare cases seizures if not taken care of properly.
Whether your team recommends a residential or outpatient recovery as your next step in the recovery process, it is necessary to follow through and make sure stay in treatment for as long as possible. Statistics show that individuals who participate in longer treatment episodes will be more successful long-term. Addiction therapy was created with the sole intention of giving someone the tools to succeed outside of rehab. Individuals will learn tools that will help them cope with triggers and how to properly address their needs. They will also learn how to avoid relapse. Many therapies can be incorporated into Lunesta addiction treatment.
The client’s plan will be tailor-made to fit their unique needs. This can include medication-assisted treatment, stress management, group therapy, holistic therapy, or a dual-diagnosis treatment that could adequately address all of an individual’s unique needs. All cases are situational based.
In comparison to other benzos, Lunesta is admittedly weaker. That doesn’t mean the medication is OK to abuse. When taken in moderation or as prescribed, Lunesta can significantly increase someone’s quality of life. The drug does, however, have a dark side that paralyzes users who are in its clutches. There are instances where using the drug as prescribed can lead to negative outcomes. Sleepwalking is just one serious side effect of Lunesta. There also are activities the user could engage in when taking Lunesta that they will not remember later.
While engaging in activities with no memory can be dangerous enough, there are other long-term effects from Lunesta. These can include irreparable damage to the lungs, kidneys, and liver. These can remain long after cessation of the drug.
If you or someone you care about is suffering from a Lunesta addiction and ready to take first steps towards recovery and a better, sober tomorrow, Ocean Breeze Recovery in Pompano Beach, Florida, can help. We offer outpatient treatment to those that have either graduated from a residential program or those that can’t afford to put their lives on hold for treatment. For more serious needs, we provide a partial hospitalization program and intensive outpatient treatment, and medical detox and residential treatment at our sister facility, Arete Recovery.
Call (844) 554-9279 now to speak with an addiction recovery specialist about which of our treatment programs is best for you or your loved one. You can also reach out to us online for more information.
Center for Drug Evaluation and Research. (n.d.). Drug Safety and Availability – FDA Drug Safety Communication: FDA warns of next-day impairment with sleep aid Lunesta (eszopiclone) and lowers recommended dose. Retrieved from https://www.fda.gov/drugs/drugsafety/ucm397260.htm
National Institute on Drug Abuse. (n.d.). Principles of Effective Treatment. Retrieved from https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/principles-drug-addiction-treatment-research-based-guide-third-edition/principles-effective-treatment
Sleep Disorders. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/articles/11429-common-sleep-disorders
NIDA. "Misuse of Prescription Drugs." National Institute on Drug Abuse, 13 Dec. 2018, from https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/research-reports/misuse-prescription-drugs.
U.D. Food and Drug Administration. (2016, January 2015) FDA Drug Safety Communication: FDA warns of next-day impairment with sleep aid Lunesta (eszopiclone) and lowers recommended dose. from https://www.fda.gov/drugs/drug-safety-and-availability/fda-drug-safety-communication-fda-warns-next-day-impairment-sleep-aid-lunesta-eszopiclone-and-lowers