September 5th, 2023
Sleep is essential for physical and emotional health, and a good night’s rest can make a world of difference to our wellbeing. Zopiclone, a medication often used to combat sleep disorders, can be a godsend for those who have insomnia. However, its use can quickly turn into a nightmare when an individual becomes addicted to zopiclone. Zopiclone addiction can be as debilitating and terrifying as any sleep disorder and cause poor health, damaged relationships and an uncertain future. Fortunately, it is possible to overcome zopiclone addiction, which begins with understanding the condition as much as possible.
What is zopiclone?
Zopiclone is a type of medication known as a non-benzodiazepine hypnotic. It is commonly used to treat severe insomnia and some other types of sleep disorders. Zopiclone works by increasing the activity of a neurotransmitter called GABA in the brain, which induces a state of calmness, helping you to fall asleep.
Despite its therapeutic use, zopiclone can be addictive when used for extended periods, taken in higher doses than prescribed or used recreationally. The body can develop a tolerance to the drug, requiring more substantial amounts to achieve the same effect, leading to a cycle of dependency and, eventually, addiction.
Zopiclone 101: Did you know…?
- The medication is typically prescribed for short-term use to reduce the risk of dependency.
- In 2021, there were 132 deaths due to zopiclone and zolpidem poisoning in the UK.
- Zopiclone has a half-life of approximately 5 hours.
What is zopiclone addiction?
Zopiclone addiction is a state of psychological and physical dependency where you can’t sleep or function normally without zopiclone and continue to use it despite its negative effects. Like other forms of sleeping pill addiction, zopiclone addiction often begins subtly, with you gradually increasing the dosage as your tolerance develops. With time and prolonged excessive use, you then become reliant on zopiclone, experiencing withdrawal symptoms like anxiety, restlessness and insomnia when you try to stop using it.
Zopiclone addiction can develop through:
- Recreational zopiclone use – Where people take zopiclone for its sedative effects
- Prescription zopiclone use – Usually, when zopiclone is used for longer than recommended or in higher doses
- Using zopiclone to self-medicate – Especially for people dealing with untreated mental health issues like anxiety or depression.
Am I addicted to zopiclone?
Recognising zopiclone addiction symptoms can be challenging as, like all forms of prescription drug addiction, the symptoms can be subtle and gradually progress over time. Here are some questions to ask yourself to determine if you might be addicted to zopiclone:
- Do I take zopiclone in higher doses or for longer than prescribed?
- Do I experience withdrawal symptoms when I try to stop taking zopiclone?
- Am I aware of the negative impacts of zopiclone use but continue to take it anyway?
- Have I neglected my responsibilities due to zopiclone use?
- Do I need to take more zopiclone to get the same effect?
- Have I ever taken zopiclone to deal with stress?
- Have I given up important activities or hobbies because of zopiclone use?
- Do I use zopiclone even when it puts me in danger, such as when driving or operating machinery?
If you answered “yes” to these questions, then you are exhibiting zopiclone addiction symptoms and should seek professional assistance.
What causes zopiclone addiction?
There are various factors that can increase the chances of you becoming addicted to zopiclone. These include:
- Long-term use: Using zopiclone for a long time can lead to tolerance and physical dependency, increasing the risk of zopiclone addiction.
- Mental health issues: Individuals with untreated mental health conditions, such as depression, anxiety, or trauma disorders, are at a higher risk of zopiclone addiction if they use the drug to self-medicate.
- Recreational use: Using zopiclone recreationally for its sedative effects can quickly lead to dependency and zopiclone addiction.
- Genetic predisposition: People with a family history of addiction or substance abuse may be more susceptible to zopiclone addiction.
- Environmental factors: Stressful environments, peer pressure and easy access to the drug can also increase the risk of zopiclone addiction.
How can you recover from zopiclone addiction?
Zopiclone addiction treatment often involves a two-step process: detox and rehabilitation. Detox involves managing withdrawal symptoms and removing the drug from the body to break physical dependence and allow yourself to begin healing. Rehab focuses on addressing the underlying reasons for zopiclone addiction and teaching coping strategies to prevent relapse in the future.
What are the effects of zopiclone addiction?
Zopiclone addiction can have extensive and multifaceted effects on your health and overall quality of life.
Health effects of zopiclone addiction:
- Insomnia and other sleep disturbances: Ironically, prolonged use of zopiclone can lead to rebound insomnia, a condition where sleep disturbances re-emerge or worsen once the medication is stopped or reduced. This can create a vicious cycle, with people taking more of the drug to combat the very problem it’s causing.
- Memory problems: Chronic use of zopiclone can lead to cognitive issues, particularly with memory. This can manifest as frequent forgetfulness, difficulty recalling recent events or struggles with focus and concentration.
- Increased anxiety and restlessness: Despite its calming effects, long-term use of zopiclone can result in increased levels of anxiety and restlessness, especially during periods of withdrawal. This can also exacerbate the insomnia it was initially meant to treat.
- Physical symptoms: Regular use of zopiclone can lead to various physical symptoms such as drowsiness, dizziness, dry mouth and, in some cases, gastrointestinal issues like nausea or constipation.
- Increased risk of falls and injuries: The sedative effects of zopiclone can lead to dizziness, unsteady gait and slower reaction times, particularly in older adults. This increases the risk of accidents, falls and consequent injuries.
It’s important to note that the impacts of zopiclone addiction can extend far beyond these health effects, infiltrating every area of your life and significantly affecting your wellbeing. These effects include:
- Neglect of responsibilities at work, school or home: This can be due to time spent obtaining the drug, recovering from its effects or because of decreased cognitive function and motivation caused by the addiction.
- Strained relationships due to drug use: Zopiclone addiction can strain relationships with family, friends, and colleagues due to changes in behaviour, unreliability, or the secrecy and dishonesty often associated with addiction.
- Financial difficulties: Sustaining a zopiclone addiction can be costly, leading to financial stress. This can result in difficulties meeting essential living expenses and can even lead to legal problems due to theft, fraud or other crime to fund the addiction.
- Legal problems: Zopiclone is a class C drug in the UK, and obtaining it without a prescription is illegal. Those struggling with zopiclone addiction may resort to illegal means to acquire the drug, leading to potential legal consequences.
- Reduced enjoyment of life and activities: As zopiclone addiction progresses, some people lose interest in activities they once enjoyed or isolate themselves from their loved ones. This can be to hide zopiclone addiction or because it leaves little time or energy for anything else, but in either case, isolation can lead to further psychological distress, such as depression and anxiety.
What are the signs of a zopiclone overdose?
A zopiclone overdose is a serious, potentially life-threatening situation. It can occur when a person intentionally or accidentally consumes more zopiclone than their body can safely process.
Signs of an overdose may include:
- Extreme drowsiness: This can range from feeling excessively tired to having trouble staying awake.
- Slowed breathing: Breathing might become very slow, shallow, irregular, or even stop.
- Loss of consciousness: The person may be unresponsive, and they could slip into a coma in severe cases.
- Impaired motor control: They may stumble, have trouble walking, or be unable to coordinate their movements.
- Slurred speech: Their speech might become unclear or mumbled.
- Confusion or delirium: They may seem disoriented or have difficulty understanding what’s happening around them.
If you suspect someone has overdosed on zopiclone, it is critical to seek emergency medical help immediately. To prevent an overdose, always use zopiclone exactly as prescribed and never mix it with alcohol or other substances that can intensify its effects.
How to get help for zopiclone addiction
If you or a loved one is struggling with zopiclone addiction, Oasis Runcorn offers a comprehensive treatment programme that can help you transform your life. Get in touch with us today to find out more about our zopiclone addiction programmes or to get started on your journey to recovery.