Lunesta is the brand name for a drug called eszopiclone, which is used to treat sleep disorders like insomnia. Lunesta is similar to a class of drugs called benzodiazepines, which are used to treat sleep and anxiety disorders. However, it’s in a separate class because of its unique chemical structure. It’s considered a non-benzodiazepine sedative-hypnotic. Drugs in this category are often called Z-drugs because of the fact that their generic names often start with or include a Z. Lunesta is also in a broader category of drugs called central nervous system depressants along with benzodiazepines, barbiturates, and alcohol. Drugs in this category all work to decrease excitability in the brain through interaction with a chemical messenger called gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA).
GABA is designed to bind to its receptors and regulate excitability in the nervous system. It allows you to calm down and relax when it’s time to rest. However, people with sleep disorders might have a psychological or biochemical problem that prevents them from resting and sleeping when they need to. Lunesta can bind to GABA receptors and increase the efficacy of GABA. Lunesta and other Z-drugs have gained popularity as sleep-aids because they typically aren’t as strong as benzodiazepine options.
However, in high enough doses, the Z-drugs can have some of the same side effects as benzodiazepines and other depressants. Abusing Lunesta can cause intoxication, similar to alcohol. It can also lead to chemical dependence, addiction, and potentially dangerous withdrawal symptoms.
Learn more about Lunesta withdrawal and how it can be treated safely and effectively.
As a depressant, Lunesta can cause your brain to adapt to it by increasing excitatory chemicals in order to counteract it. When you stop using the drug, your nervous system may become overexcited. The first withdrawal symptoms may come as a result of rebounding, which is a return of symptoms you were taking the drug to overcome, like insomnia. Anxiety and irritability are also common. In severe cases, tremors, seizures, and a life-threatening condition called delirium tremens may occur.
Symptoms may include:
Lunesta isn’t as likely to cause dangerous withdrawal symptoms as other depressants like alcohol. However, if you’ve ever gone through depressant withdrawal before, it may increase your likelihood of experiencing dangerous symptoms like seizures and delirium tremens. Withdrawal can cause a neurological phenomenon called kindling, which is when changes are made in the brain that makes subsequent withdrawals more severe.
The Lunesta withdrawal timeline you experience will depend on your personal history with the drug. Generally, people that are dependent for a long time and are used to a high dose will experience more intense symptoms early on. If you have just recently noticed chemical dependence and you are taking a dose much higher than average, you may not experience your first withdrawal symptoms until later. Though withdrawal timelines are variable, you are likely to experience withdrawal in a way that’s similar to the following schedule:
Medical detoxification, or detox, is the highest level of care you can get in addiction treatment, according to the American Society of Addiction Medicine. It’s designed to treat people that are facing severe withdrawal symptoms, but it can also be used to treat people that are going through other medical conditions alongside withdrawal. Depressants are the most common drug to require medical detox because of their potential for deadly symptoms. However, not everyone who goes through addiction treatment for Lunesta withdrawal will need medical detox. Still, if you’ve gone through depressant withdrawal before and you’re used to a high dose of the drug, the safest way to go through withdrawal is with medical help.
When you enter addiction treatment, you will go through medical and clinical evaluations to help find the best level of care and treatment plan for you. If you don’t need detox, you may still need to go through other levels of care in treatment. The other three main levels of care after detox are inpatient treatment, intensive outpatient treatment, and outpatient treatment. Inpatient or residential treatment involves 24-hour medical monitoring as you live in a medical setting or in on-campus accommodations. Intensive outpatient treatment can involve anywhere between nine and more than 20 hours of treatment services per week, while you live at home in the off-time. Outpatient treatment involves fewer than nine hours of treatment per week.
ASAM. (2019, November 4). What are the ASAM Levels of Care? from https://www.asamcontinuum.org/knowledgebase/what-are-the-asam-levels-of-care/
National Institute on Drug Abuse. (2016, February). 8: Medical detoxification. from https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/teaching-packets/understanding-drug-abuse-addiction/section-iii/7-medical-detoxification
Ogbru, A. (2018, February 6). Benzodiazepines Drug Class: Side Effects, Types & Uses. from https://www.rxlist.com/benzodiazepines/drugs-condition.htm
U.S. Food and Drug Administration. (2019, April 30). Taking Z-drugs for Insomnia? Know the Risks. from https://www.fda.gov/consumers/consumer-updates/taking-z-drugs-insomnia-know-risks
WebMD. (n.d.). Gaba (Gamma-Aminobutyric Acid): Uses, Side Effects, Interactions, Dosage, and Warning. from https://www.webmd.com/vitamins/ai/ingredientmono-464/gaba-gamma-aminobutyric-acid