January 8th, 2024
Known for its ability to help individuals fall asleep quickly and maintain sleep throughout the night, Zopiclone has improved the lives of countless people seeking a good night’s rest. However, Zopiclone is like a coin with two faces, and while it offers substantial benefits as a sleep aid, there is a darker side to Zapiclone use: the risk of addiction. Zopiclone addiction is a serious issue that can lead to significant health and personal problems. Both users and healthcare providers must understand these risks and take proactive steps to prevent them. This will ensure that the potential for misuse and dependency does not overshadow Zopiclone’s benefits.
What is Zopiclone?
Zopiclone, often known by the brand name Imovane, is a non-benzodiazepine hypnotic agent used in the treatment of insomnia. It is part of a class of medications commonly referred to as “Z drugs,” developed to provide similar effects to benzodiazepines but with fewer side effects.
Zopiclone works by modulating the activity of the neurotransmitter GABA in the brain, which promotes relaxation and sleep. Its effects include reducing the time it takes to fall asleep and preventing frequent waking at night. Despite its effectiveness, the medication can cause Zopiclone side effects like metallic taste, dry mouth and drowsiness.
One of the critical concerns with Zopiclone, similar to other Z drugs, is its potential for abuse, especially when used for prolonged periods or in higher-than-prescribed doses.
What is Zopiclone addiction?
Zopiclone addiction is essentially a physical and psychological dependence on the medication. Like all forms of sleeping pill addiction, Zopiclone addiction can develop through various pathways:
Prescription use: Zopiclone is generally safe When prescribed for short-term treatment. However, prolonged use or using doses higher than prescribed can lead to dependency.
Recreational use: Some people may start using Zopiclone recreationally for its sedative effects, increasing the risk of addiction.
Self-medication: Using Zopiclone to self-medicate for issues other than insomnia, such as anxiety or stress, can quickly lead to misuse and addiction.
In all of these cases, the stages of addiction typically begin with tolerance where, after taking large quantities of Zopiclone over an extended period, the body requires increasing doses to achieve the desired effect. This can progress to physical dependency, characterised by the need to continue using Zopiclone to function normally and avoid withdrawal symptoms. Finally, psychological addiction develops, marked by a compulsive desire to use Zopiclone despite being aware of its adverse effects.
Identifying Zopiclone addiction symptoms
Recognising Zopiclone addiction can be difficult as most people who become addicted to Zopiclone were originally prescribed it for a genuine reason. However, if you are worried, here are some Zopiclone addiction symptoms to look out for:
- Increasing the dose of Zopiclone without medical guidance.
- Experiencing withdrawal symptoms, such as anxiety or insomnia, when not using the drug.
- Continual use despite being aware of the negative impacts on health and daily life.
- Neglecting responsibilities at work, home or school due to Zopiclone use.
- Developing a tolerance, needing more Zopiclone to achieve the same effects.
- Engaging in risky behaviours while under the influence.
- Cravings or a strong desire to use Zopiclone.
- Isolating yourself from family and friends.
- Giving up previously enjoyed activities in favour of Zopiclone use.
- Unsuccessful attempts to quit or reduce Zopiclone use.
If these Zopiclone addiction symptoms resonate with you, you may already be addicted to Zopiclone and require professional advice and support.
Why is Zopiclone addictive for some people?
While anyone who takes the drug is potentially at risk of becoming addicted to Zopiclone, there are several underlying factors which can increase the chances. These include:
People with pre-existing mental health conditions, particularly those involving anxiety or depression, may find Zopiclone’s sedative effects particularly appealing. This can create a psychological dependency as Zopiclone becomes a coping mechanism for underlying issues.
Stress and environmental factors
High levels of stress, either from personal, professional or social environments, can push people towards using Zopiclone as an escape. While temporarily effective, the immediate relief Zopiclone provides can pave the way for regular use and eventual addiction.
A history of substance abuse
A history of substance abuse significantly increases the risk of developing an addiction to Zopiclone. People with past drug or alcohol addictions may be more prone to misuse Zopiclone, seeking its sedative effects as a substitute. Likewise, substance abuse history in the family may point to a genetic predisposition to addiction.
Prolonged medical use
Patients prescribed Zopiclone for long-term treatment of insomnia may inadvertently develop a dependency as their bodies adapt to the drug’s presence, leading to tolerance and eventual addiction.
The recreational misuse of Zopiclone, often driven by a desire to experience its calming effects, can quickly lead to addiction. Recreational users may rapidly increase the dosage to maintain the desired effects, escalating the risk of dependency.
What are the negative side effects of zopiclone addiction?
Zopiclone addiction and abuse can lead to various negative side effects, impacting health, life and relationships:
Physical side effects of Zopiclone addiction
These include the potential for overdose, liver damage, respiratory issues and increased risk of accidents due to impaired coordination and drowsiness. The risk of overdose is greatly increased when Zopiclone is mixed with other substances, particularly other sedatives such as alcohol or opiates/opioids.
Mental health complications
Chronic abuse can exacerbate or trigger mental health issues such as depression, anxiety and, in severe cases, hallucinations or delusional thinking. For those taking Zopiclone to self-medicate for mental health conditions, the drug may temporarily soothe symptoms but will ultimately make them worse. This then leads to the person taking more Zopiclone to try and alleviate those heightened symptoms, which creates a vicious cycle.
Prolonged usage may result in memory issues, concentration difficulties, and a decline in cognitive function. Recognising these signs of Zopiclone addiction can be crucial. If someone you know displays unusual forgetfulness, appears “spaced out,” or seems generally confused, it could indicate an addiction problem that requires attention.
Ironically, prolonged use can alter natural sleep patterns, leading to increased insomnia and dependency on the drug for sleep. This keeps the user trapped in Zopiclone use without the drug providing any real lasting benefits.
Zopiclone addiction can lead to social withdrawal and strained relationships due to behavioural changes and prioritisation of drug use. It can also cause denial, which can then make the person defensive or aggressive when confronted about their addiction.
Work and academic issues
Impaired cognitive function and increased absenteeism can negatively impact professional and academic performance. This can lead to lost opportunities and a general decline in quality of life.
What does zopiclone addiction treatment involve?
Zopiclone addiction is a complex condition, and so it needs a multi-level treatment approach. At UKAT, we systematically address each aspect of Zopiclone addiction through a series of steps:
Sleeping pill detox: This is where you are safely weaned off Zopiclone under medical supervision to manage withdrawal symptoms.
Sleeping pill rehab: Rehab involves counselling, therapy, holistic recovery and lifestyle coaching, all designed to address the root causes of Zopiclone addiction and develop coping strategies.
Aftercare support: This is ongoing therapy and participation in support groups for long-term recovery and relapse prevention. UKAT provides one year of free group therapy for all our clients to help them transition from rehab to everyday life.
This holistic approach to Zopiclone addiction treatment will give you the best chance of both short-term recovery and long-term sobriety. Every stage is equally important, which is why UKAT offers all of the stages in our comprehensive treatment programmes.
Overcome zopiclone addiction today
Recovery from zopiclone addiction is possible with the right support and treatment. UKAT provides comprehensive care to help you overcome your addiction to Zopiclone and regain control over your life. If you or someone you know is struggling with Zopiclone addiction, reach out to UKAT today and take the first step towards a healthier, drug-free future.
Is Zopiclone less addictive than other types of sleeping pills?
As part of the non-benzodiazepine class of medications known as ‘Z drugs,’ Zopiclone is generally considered to be less addictive than traditional benzodiazepines. However, this does not mean Zopiclone is without risk. While Zopiclone’s chemical structure differs from benzodiazepines, potentially leading to fewer withdrawal symptoms and less risk of dependency, it can still be habit-forming, especially with long-term use or misuse. It is essential for users to follow the prescribed guidelines and for healthcare providers to monitor usage closely to minimise the risk of addiction.
What non-medicinal alternatives are there to Zopiclone?
Non-medical options, including lifestyle changes like a consistent sleep schedule, a calming bedtime routine, and practices like mindfulness, meditation, yoga, and deep breathing exercises, can effectively manage insomnia. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for Insomnia (CBT-I) is a highly effective therapy that targets sleep habits and addresses thoughts and behaviours hindering good sleep. Additionally, natural supplements like melatonin or herbal remedies such as valerian root, chamomile, or lavender may aid in improving sleep.