What is Lunesta?
Lunesta (eszopiclone) is a sedative or hypnotic. It is used to treat insomnia. It causes you to relax, fall asleep easier, and stay asleep. It can become addictive and withdrawal symptoms may need to be treated at a rehab facility.
Is Lunesta Addictive?
Eszopiclone does have the potential to be addictive, and withdrawal symptoms may occur for those who become dependent.
Where is Eszopiclone on the Drug Schedule?
Eszopiclone is a Schedule IV drug. This means the drug has the potential to be addictive, yet is not as addictive as other medications that appear higher on the drug schedule, such as opioid painkillers. Other Schedule IV medications include benzodiazepines, such as Xanax or Valium, as well as zolpidem (Ambien), another medication doctors prescribe to treat insomnia.
Is It Safe?
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved eszopiclone in 2004. It emerged as a long-term alternative to benzodiazepines like lorazepam (Ativan) for sleep.1 Previously, doctors considered the other medications to be short-term ones. In 2013, pharmacies dispensed an estimated three million prescriptions for eszopiclone.2
Eszopiclone may have street names that are similar to those of other sleeping pills. Examples include rophies, forget-me pills, rope, roofinol, or Mexican Valium.
How Is It Used?
Lunesta is prescribed as a means to go to sleep and stay asleep.1
Effects of Lunesta
Lunesta is used as a means to fall asleep more quickly and also stay asleep. The medication can cause side effects, which include headaches and an unusual, bitter taste in the mouth.
Also, lingering effects of feeling tired the morning after using the drug may be present for some, along with feeling sleepy during the day, which may affect the ability to drive or work.
Doctors prescribe eszopiclone to those who have long-term problems sleeping, and usually know that a patient may take it for some time while they try to address their sleeping problems. However, problems can arise from taking the drug for long periods. These include:
Unusual behaviors, such as doing activities when not fully awake, like:
- Eating food
- Making phone calls
- Having sex without knowing it
- Suicidal thoughts
- Excessive daytime drowsiness, even after a full night’s sleep
Can you Overdose on Lunesta?
It is possible to overdose on eszopiclone. Doctors warn of the possibility of a coma if too much is taken. Or, excessive drowsiness from taking too much could cause injury or accident.
Doctors warn against taking eszopiclone with other central nervous system depressant medications that can cause drowsiness and affect breathing. Taking these medications, along with eszopiclone, could increase the likelihood of overdose.
- Benzodiazepines (like Ativan, Valium, and Xanax)
- Cold/cough medicines which may cause drowsiness
- Muscle relaxants
Narcotic pain medications (such as morphine, Fentanyl, or hydrocodone)
What is Withdrawal Like?
Withdrawal symptoms can be possible if eszopiclone is taken for more than ten days.3 Examples of these symptoms include:
- Problems sleeping
- Severe anxiety
Seizures due to withdrawals may occur, as well. This is because Lunesta affects the central nervous system and slows it down. Withdrawal from Lunesta, causes the system to start “speeding up,” which can result in seizures.
Professional help is advised for a possible addiction or dependency on eszopiclone. A rehabilitation professional can help create a drug tapering plan, which is helpful because it’s not recommended to suddenly stop taking the drug due to concerns of a seizure or more severe withdrawal symptoms.
In addition to tapering off drug dosages, doctors may recommend therapy to help identify ways to relax and promote sleep that do not involve medication. Also, therapy to learn how to resist cravings to start taking Lunesta again may be needed.