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Lunesta Withdrawal | Timeline, Symptoms, and Detox

Sleep is a welcome respite at the end of every day, and the quality of your sleep can set the tone for the following day. Since the night rest is our bodies’ time of repair and recharge, quality sleep can make or break your overall health. Some people have trouble getting asleep, staying asleep, or achieving restful sleep, which is why the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention considers insomnia as a public health problem.

For decades, the number one prescription remedy for sleep disorders has been benzodiazepines (or benzos). However, since they have a high probability of causing dependence and potential adverse reactions, doctors and patients have begun looking for alternatives. The popularity of non-benzodiazepines like Lunesta, the brand name for eszopiclone, has started to overshadow benzodiazepine options.

Lunesta (eszopiclone) is chemically similar to Zolpidem and produced a reasonably substantial clinical response during clinical trials. Due to moderate improvement in sleep onset and maintenance, Lunesta is popular in the elderly population. However, dizziness, impaired coordination, daytime drowsiness, or aggressive behavior can occur.

What Is Lunesta?

Eszopiclone, which is known as Lunesta, is a sedative-hypnotic medication used to treat insomnia. Lunesta comes in a variety of different doses to treat those with mild to moderate insomnia symptoms.

Lunesta works by interacting with the Gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) receptors in the brain.Lunesta is a Z-drug, and while it works similar to benzodiazepines,it has slightly less adverse effects. Although it has lesser-known risks, it can still cause side effects including headache, dry mouth, nausea, and dizziness.

Over the time since its release, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration changed their recommended dose of Lunesta. The dosage was lowered from 2 mg to 1 mg because of potentially dangerous next-day drowsiness. The drowsiness in some individuals was so severe that it affected their ability to drive a motor vehicle and operate heavy machinery. It is only one of the many side effects of Lunesta.

Side Effects of Lunesta

Like several of its counterparts, Lunesta is capable of producing severe side effects. Someone who is using the medication must monitor these, and immediately report back to the physician about any adverse effects you may experience.

Some of the most common Lunesta side effects include:

  • Nausea
  • Headache
  • Vomiting
  • Unusual dreams
  • Dry mouth
  • Daytime grogginess
  • Pain
  • Loss of coordination
  • Decreased sexual desire
  • Breast enlargement in males
  • Heartburn
  • Painful menstrual cycles in women

Lunesta may produce more severe side effects, which include:

  • Rash
  • Hives
  • Hoarseness in the voice
  • Itching
  • Swelling in the eyes
  • The feeling your throat is closing
  • Swelling in face, tongue, throat, lips, or hands

Lastly, Lunesta can also cause a chemical dependency, which leads to substance use disorder. Lunesta dependence can be observed when someone abruptly stops taking the medication and experiences withdrawal symptoms. Some of these symptoms can be severe.

What Are the Lunesta Withdrawal Symptoms?

Lunesta, like benzodiazepines, alcohol, or barbiturates, is a central nervous system suppressant. It increases the activity of neurotransmitter gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) at the GABA receptors resulting in sedative, hypnotic, anxiolytic (anti-anxiety), anticonvulsant, and muscle relaxant effects.

Over a prolonged period, the brain chemical balance changes, and a higher dose of Lunesta is needed to achieve the same effect.

When you stop taking or take a lower dose of Lunesta, your brain will experience a chemical imbalance, which will take time to be re-balanced. Lack of stimulation of GABA receptors will lead to increased anxiety and insomnia.

Besides cravings, you may also feel a number of physical symptoms as your body attempts to deal with the missing chemical.

Symptoms include:

  • Fatigue
  • Headaches
  • Cramps
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Sweating
  • Shaking or tremors
  • Dizziness

Withdrawal from Lunesta can result in anxiety, depression, cognitive impairment, and memory issues. If you believe you’ve developed a dependence on Lunesta, notify your doctor immediately.

What Are the Stages of the Lunesta Withdrawal Timeline?

Lunesta withdrawal symptoms, timeline, and intensity are affected by several different factors. The length of time you’ve used Lunesta can affect your level of dependency on the drug. The longer you have used or abused it, the more your body may rely on it for normal function. The dosage you are used to can also affect your withdrawal timeline. 

Since Lunesta’s effects are mild to moderate, some may feel inclined to take higher doses to increase its effectiveness. However, high doses can lead to deeper dependence. Finally, the amount you took at your last dose will affect the length of time it will take before you experience your first withdrawal symptoms.

Since Lunesta has a half-life of about 6 hours, you may start feeling withdrawal symptoms much sooner than with its benzodiazepine counterparts. It takes 12 hours after your last dose before you start to feel symptoms. Peak symptoms may occur after one week, and it may take up to two weeks before they disappear.

A general Lunesta timeline includes:

Week 1: Within a few days of stopping your Lunesta dose, you will feel the first signs of withdrawal. These may include rebound insomnia and anxiety.

Week 2: The symptoms will start to gradually decrease at this stage. As long as someone has committed to medical detox, they will start to feel better.

Week 3: After three weeks, a user may still feel a bit fatigued because they are still trying to sleep normally without the medication.

Week 4: Symptoms may still persist for several weeks, but most will feel much better by this point.

Why Should I Detox?

Quitting Lunesta cold turkey may sound like a good idea, but it can be difficult, painful, and dangerous.

Given the difficult physical symptoms, withdrawing on your own without professional medical help can be very challenging. It’s important to find a professional, medically assisted detox program to support you during the process of Lunesta withdrawal.

Doing this will ensure that you are carefully monitored in a safe environment while your body goes through the difficult detoxification process. Participating in an addiction treatment program also gives you a better chance at lasting recovery as a result of the structured medical and emotional support you will receive.

What is the Next Treatment Step?

A full continuum of treatment ensures the best opportunity for a successful recovery. Following a full continuum of treatment means starting with the medical detox process and then progressing gradually from an inpatient status to outpatient treatment. You will then have the opportunity to participate in an alumni program after the formal treatment program is completed. The stages of addiction treatment include:

The primary goal is medical stabilization during the first stage of withdrawal treatment, which is known as detox. Expect the detox stage to last from a few days up to a week. When you arrive, your medical team, which will include doctors, nurses, and support staff will complete your comprehensive medical assessment, which will help determine your level of addiction and additional medical needs you may have. The assessment includes a medical exam plus a urine screening for drugs.

Your medical team will monitor you 24/7 to help manage uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms and prevent dangerous Lunesta withdrawal symptoms.

Many people also experience anxiety, depression, and other emotional and psychological challenges during the detox period. Your treatment plan will also include comprehensive support to help you with these symptoms. A longer-term treatment plan will be put into place for you once you are medically stabilized.

If you and the treatment team determine that you need further medical treatment, you may continue the next stage of treatment on an inpatient basis, which might be because of co-occurring medical conditions or post-acute withdrawal symptoms. Inpatient treatment is intensive and includes 24/7 clinical monitoring. At this stage, you will start seeing a therapist regularly to help you process the emotional and psychological aspects of addiction and recovery.

Partial hospitalization (PHP) is in-between outpatient treatment and inpatient care. The goal of PHP is to stabilize your mental status and better prepare you for success once you return to independent living after you leave the treatment center. During this stage, you’ll live at a transitional living facility while undergoing a supportive and rigorous treatment program. This program will be five days a week for six hours each day. You will be able to participate in individual, group, and family therapy programs to help you address emotional and mental health needs.

Learning positive life skills, coping mechanisms, and techniques to help prevent relapse so that you will be prepared for long-term recovery will be the primary focus during PHP.

The next stage is the intensive outpatient program (IOP). An IOP allows you to live at home while also attending counseling and programs to help support your recovery. Depending on your treatment plan, you will participate in about nine or more hours of clinical therapy several times each week.

Intensive outpatient therapy will help you to continue learning new ways to manage cravings, stress, and other challenging issues that may arise once you live on your own again. After you complete the IOP stage, you will transition into the Outpatient and Alumni programs, which is also known as aftercare.

Sources

National Institute on Drug Abuse. (n.d.). 8: Medical detoxification. Retrieved from https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/teaching-packets/understanding-drug-abuse-addiction/section-iii/7-medical-detoxification

National Institute on Drug Abuse. (n.d.). How long does drug addiction treatment usually last? Retrieved from https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/principles-drug-addiction-treatment-research-based-guide-third-edition/frequently-asked-questions/how-long-does-drug-addiction-treatment

Eszopiclone: MedlinePlus Drug Information. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://medlineplus.gov/druginfo/meds/a605009.html

Huedo-Medina, T. B., Kirsch, I., Middlemass, J., Klonizakis, M., & Siriwardena, A. N. (2012, December 17). Effectiveness of non-benzodiazepine hypnotics in treatment of adult insomnia: meta-analysis of data submitted to the Food and Drug Administration. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3544552/

Data & Statistics | Features | CDC. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/features/datastatistics.html

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