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Lunesta Addiction: Signs, Symptoms and Treatment

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Lunesta Addiction Treatment in Chattanooga, TN
Medically Reviewed By: Dr. Mohsin Ali, MD

Medically Reviewed By: Dr. Mohsin Ali, MD

Dr. Mohsin Ali MD is board certified in Psychiatry and Child and Adolescent Psychiatry. Trained in Syracuse NY, he has worked in Tennessee for the last sixteen years.

Table of Contents

Lunesta, prescribed for insomnia and sleep disturbances, belongs to a class of sleep aids distinct from benzodiazepines, known as non-benzodiazepine sedative-hypnotics. While it shares many effects with benzodiazepines, Lunesta is generally considered milder and more tolerable. Nonetheless, its prolonged or excessive use can lead to dependency, addiction, and intense withdrawal symptoms. As a central nervous system depressant, Lunesta influences the brain’s gamma-Aminobutyric acid (GABA) pathways, modulating neural activity. At high doses, it may produce euphoria by increasing dopamine levels, which can lead to addiction as the brain begins to equate the drug’s intake with essential survival behaviors. This article explores the signs, symptoms, and effects of Lunesta addiction, available treatments, Lunesta withdrawal, and the risks of overdose.

What is Lunesta?

Lunesta is categorized under sedative-hypnotics, acting as a depressant on the central nervous system. It’s similar to benzodiazepines but is classified as a Schedule IV controlled substance, indicating its medical validity in the U.S. but with a lower risk of dependency compared to Schedule III substances. The potential for misuse and dependency on z-drugs like Lunesta, as well as benzodiazepines, escalates with increased dosage, prolonged treatment, and simultaneous use of other psychoactive substances. Individuals with a past of alcohol or drug misuse or other mental health conditions face a heightened risk of dependency on Lunesta.

Why Do People Abuse Lunesta?

Lunesta, while structurally different from benzodiazepines, shares a similar action mode and effects, positioning both as Schedule IV controlled substances due to their recognized potential for abuse and dependency. This risk escalates when Lunesta is used in ways not prescribed, such as in higher doses or more frequently than recommended.

Individuals may misuse Lunesta and similar drugs for reasons akin to those driving nonmedical use of benzodiazepines, notably for the euphoria that can intensify with higher doses. Moreover, combining it with substances like alcohol and opioids amplifies this euphoric effect and raises the danger of severe central nervous system depression, escalating the associated risks.

Signs of Lunesta Abuse

Lunesta can lead to tolerance or dependence when used beyond the recommended two-week period. As tolerance develops, individuals may find themselves increasing dosage or frequency to achieve the initial sleeping aid effect or to experience the drug’s euphoric and hallucinogenic properties.

Common sigs of Lunesta addiction include:

  • Disrupted sleep patterns
  • Excessive sweating
  • Heightened irritability
  • Confusion
  • Blood pressure fluctuations
  • Regular hiccupping
  • Significant weight changes
  • Withdrawal from social interactions
  • Self-increasing dosages without medical advice
  • Continuing Lunesta use post-prescription
  • Mixing Lunesta with alcohol or other substances
  • Resisting sleep to chase the drug’s euphoric sensations

These behaviors highlight the risks associated with Lunesta abuse, underscoring the importance of using this medication strictly as prescribed and consulting healthcare professionals for any concerns about dependency or side effects.

Side Effects of Lunesta

Lunesta was once touted for its safety and low addiction potential compared to other sedatives for insomnia treatment. However, significant concerns arose, prompting the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in 2019 to mandate a boxed warning for all z-drugs. This warning highlights the risk of complex sleep behaviors that can lead to serious injuries or even death, albeit rare. Additionally, individuals who have exhibited complex sleep behaviors are strongly advised against using these medications.

Before this stringent warning, the FDA had already revised Lunesta’s recommended starting dose downwards in 2014, cautioning that it might impair next-day activities requiring sharp alertness, such as driving.

Lunesta’s side effects can manifest from both prescribed usage and misuse, with symptoms ranging from minor ones like dry mouth and drowsiness to severe ones including hallucinations and suicidal ideation. Misuse, especially in higher doses, tends to exacerbate the severity of these effects.

Common side effects of Lunesta include:

  • Unpleasant taste or dry mouth
  • Drowsiness
  • Dizziness
  • Headaches
  • Symptoms resembling a cold
  • Daytime drowsiness or impaired functioning

More severe side effects of Lunesta include:

  • Unusual thoughts or behavior
  • Agitation
  • Confusion
  • Memory issues
  • Anxiety
  • Hallucinations
  • Intensified depression
  • Suicidal thoughts

Particularly alarming is the potential for engaging in complex activities while asleep, such as driving or cooking, without any memory of the actions, posing a significant risk of harm or fatality.

Is Lunesta Addictive?

Is Lunesta Addictive?

While Lunesta alone rarely leads to addiction that necessitates treatment, this doesn’t imply it’s free from misuse. Reports have not commonly linked Lunesta misuse directly to treatment admissions. However, it’s crucial to recognize that Lunesta is often misused alongside other substances.

Some individuals combine Lunesta with alcohol to enhance euphoric feelings. Additionally, there’s a notable link between the misuse of Lunesta and the abuse of prescription opioids. High doses of Lunesta have been reported to produce euphoric effects comparable to significant doses of diazepam in those with a history of sedative misuse. Moreover, individuals who misuse stimulants like cocaine or amphetamines might use Lunesta to counteract the stimulating effects or ease withdrawal symptoms.

Combining Lunesta with alcohol, opioids, or other central nervous system depressants, such as benzodiazepines, elevates the risk of adverse reactions and the danger of a potentially fatal overdose. It’s important to be aware of these risks and the potential for Lunesta to be involved in substance misuse patterns, particularly when used in conjunction with other substances.

Combining Lunesta With Other Drugs

Combining Lunesta with other substances is a risky practice that can escalate the severity of its side effects and increase the dangers associated with its use. Some individuals may blend Lunesta with different drugs to amplify the effects, not fully realizing the potential hazards of polydrug use.

When Lunesta is used alongside other sleeping medications, it can significantly boost its common negative side effects, such as:

  • Daytime sleepiness
  • Headaches
  • An odd or unpleasant taste in the mouth
  • Nasal congestion
  • Sneezing
  • Sore throat

The risks are particularly high when Lunesta is mixed with alcohol, as both substances act as Central Nervous System (CNS) Depressants. This combination can significantly enhance Lunesta’s sedative properties, leading to increased dizziness, drowsiness, problems with concentration, and poor judgment. For individuals who consume alcohol excessively while on Lunesta, there’s a heightened danger of respiratory issues and a dramatic drop in blood pressure.

Using Lunesta in conjunction with other drugs not only elevates the possibility of an overdose but also raises the stakes for potentially life-threatening consequences.

Lunesta Overdose

Experiencing an overdose from Lunesta, especially when combined with alcohol or other substances that induce drowsiness, is a serious risk. Immediate medical help is crucial if you suspect an overdose in yourself or someone you care about. Key symptoms to be vigilant for include:

  • Challenges in breathing or swallowing
  • Severe headaches
  • Falling into a coma

Recognizing these signs early and seeking prompt medical intervention can be lifesaving, underscoring the importance of careful usage and monitoring when taking Lunesta or similar medications.

Lunesta Addiction Withdrawal

Lunesta generally doesn’t lead to withdrawal symptoms if stopped suddenly, provided it’s used within prescribed limits.

Clinical studies show that a minimal number of users (about 2% or less) report symptoms like anxiety, abnormal dreams, nausea, and stomach discomfort within the first 48 hours after their last Lunesta dose.

Yet, those combining Lunesta with other CNS depressants might face withdrawal challenges. Abrupt cessation of substances like alcohol or benzodiazepines alongside Lunesta can trigger severe withdrawal symptoms. If considering stopping Lunesta or any polysubstance use, seeking guidance from a healthcare provider or an addiction specialist is crucial for a safe and effective withdrawal process.

How to Recognize a Lunesta Addiction

Lunesta addiction, if unnoticed or untreated, carries the severe risk of life-threatening consequences, including the possibility of overdose. Doctors typically prescribe Lunesta for short-term use, about 2 to 4 weeks, and put limitations on refills to prevent misuse. However, individuals grappling with addiction may try to bypass these safeguards by seeking prescriptions from multiple healthcare providers, a practice known as “doctor shopping.”

Those struggling with Lunesta dependency may exhibit behaviors such as financial irresponsibility, heightened irritability, withdrawal from social circles, and noticeable changes in personality. They often neglect their duties at home, work, or school and lose interest in activities they once enjoyed. Moreover, addicted individuals might consume Lunesta at times unrelated to sleep, chasing the drug’s euphoric effects and finding themselves craving more. Recognizing these signs is crucial for initiating timely intervention and support.

Comparing Lunesta to Other Sleep Medication

Lunesta and Ambien are two widely used medications for managing sleep disorders, each classified as a controlled substance due to potential dependency risks. Administered once nightly, they aid in hastening the onset of sleep and extending its duration. Both are advised to be prescribed in the lowest effective dose and intended for brief treatment periods.

Treating Lunesta Addiction

Treating Lunesta addiction is both a necessary and personalized process, acknowledging that this condition can escalate if not addressed. A comprehensive treatment plan, crafted to meet the unique requirements of each individual, is essential for a successful recovery. This plan goes beyond addressing substance use to include interventions for medical, psychological, and social aspects of the individual’s life.

A medically supervised detox may be the initial step due to the potential risks associated with Lunesta withdrawal. This phase involves round-the-clock medical management, potentially utilizing specific medications to ease withdrawal symptoms. Following detox, the journey may continue with a choice of inpatient or outpatient programs, including intensive outpatient program or partial hospitalization program, depending on the severity of the addiction and the specific needs of the individual.

Lunesta Addiction Treatment in Chattanooga, TN

At Iris Wellness Group, we provide a spectrum of outpatient treatment options for those struggling with Lunesta addiction, including detox, Intensive Outpatient Programs (IOP), Partial Hospitalization Programs (PHP), and Adolescent IOP. Our approach is holistic, integrating cognitive behavioral therapy, group counseling sessions, support groups, and relapse prevention education to help clients break free from psychological dependence on Lunesta.

If you or a loved one is battling with Lunesta addiction, support is available. Contact Iris Wellness Group at 423-441-4650 or fill out our online contact form to discover our Lunesta addiction treatment in Chattanooga, TN designed to guide you through every step of recovery.

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