Zopiclone | Zolpidem | Uses & Effects

Zopiclone is commonly prescribed for the short-term treatment of insomnia.

Its specific effects are only designed to help with sleep-related deprivation, unlike other drugs with sedative properties, which often have multipurpose uses.

Zopiclone and Zolpidem are generally considered less harmful and less addictive than other prescription drugs that serve a similar purpose. Nevertheless, Z drugs have moderate potential for abuse and can become lethal when combined with other depressive medications or alcohol.

According to the Prescribed Medicines Review conducted by Public Health England, 100,00 patients were found to receive a continuous repeat prescription for a Z drug from 2015 to 2018 in England.

On this page:

  1. What is Zopiclone used for?
  2. How Zopiclone works
  3. Side-effects
  4. Withdrawal
  5. Zopiclone alternatives
  6. Zopiclone vs Benzodiazepines
  7. Dangers of buying Zopiclone online
  8. Help for Zopiclone addiction

What is Zopiclone used for?

Zopiclone is a sedative-hypnotic medication prescribed for the treatment of insomnia.

Ideally, it should not be prescribed for any longer than 14 consecutive days. Longer than this, there is a high chance of tolerance and dependence developing. 

Once a tolerance to a specific medication dosage has occurred, its effects become useless unless the dosage or frequency is increased.

The drug is sold under different manufacturing brands and trade names, most commonly including generic variations of Zopiclone

Brand names:

  • Zimovane
  • Zalepon
  • Imovane
  • Zolpidem
  • Ambien)

Although generic and counterfeit versions may have varying dosages and potency, Zopiclone comes in two different strengths:

Zopiclone dosages:

  • 3.75 mg
  • 7.5mg. 

Generic brands come in capsule or tablet form. They are also liquid for those who struggle to swallow pills.

When prescribing medications for sleep issues,  Zopiclone and Zolpidem tend to be favoured over benzodiazepines; benzodiazepines are notoriously addictive and challenging to stop. 


How does Zopiclone work?

Zopiclone works by tricking the brain into a hypnotic sleep-like state, and it also slows down the brain’s activity, making falling asleep easier. It also helps reduce the number of times a person wakes at night. 

Z drugs should only be used with good sleep hygiene practices and CBT for the best long-term outcome. On their own, they are only a very temporary fix to sleep problems.

Most GPs who prescribe Z drugs will ask you to take a tablet every other night so as not to become dependent on them to be able to sleep. You must follow whatever your prescriber recommends.

Zopiclone and other Z drugs should be taken approximately an hour before bedtime, and you should avoid stimulating your mind during this time. There is a window in which they will work. Past this timeframe, they become far less effective.

Zopiclone side-effects

Z drugs have a list of possible side effects. Everyone reacts differently to these drugs’ effects; the higher the dosage, the more pronounced these effects will be.

Side effects of drugs, such as Zopiclone and Zimovane, include:

  • A metallic taste in the mouth
  • Nausea
  • Brain fog
  • Constipation
  • Dry mouth
  • Feeling sleepy
  • Lethargy
  • Inability to concentrate
  • Impaired coordination and judgement, leading to accidents and falls (especially in elderly patients)
  • Memory impairment
  • Confusion
  • Cognitive impairment
  • Reduced motivation
  • Paranoia
  • Hallucinations
  • Vivid dreams
  • Feeling sad and depressed
  • Suicidal ideation
  • Delusional thoughts and beliefs

The effects of Zopiclone can often be felt the next day. If you still feel tired or sleepy, you should not drive a vehicle or operate machinery until this wears off.

If you or someone you know are taking the drug and suffering the more severe effects, it is essential to contact your healthcare provider and discuss your concerns without delay.

Zopiclone withdrawal symptoms

When abused or taken for a prolonged period, Z drugs are addictive and can create tolerance and dependence.

Zopiclone and Zolpidem withdrawal can be troublesome and uncomfortable; unmanaged withdrawal can be life-threatening in rare cases of chronic abuse.

Zopiclone should NEVER be mixed with other sedatives such as alcohol, benzodiazepines, gabapentinoids or opioids. Abuse of Z-drugs can cause a risk to life. It also vastly increases the risk of dependence and addiction to one or more substances.

In cases where medical conditions require these medications to be combined with other CNS depressants or sedatives, your GP should carefully monitor your progress and look for signs of abuse and dependence.

Some may think crushing and snorting the sleeping tablets will enhance their effects. However, there is no evidence to suggest that this is true.

If you or a loved one are abusing Zopiclone or have developed a dependence or an addiction, it is essential to seek professional help immediately.

Sleeping pill withdrawal and detox

Withdrawing from Zopiclone and sleeping pills can often result in some unpleasant withdrawal symptoms, including rebound insomnia (the very condition you were trying to treat in the first place). 

During withdrawal, insomnia can be exaggerated and accompanied by:

  • acute anxiety
  • a racing mind
  • restlessness
  • general aches and pains

These withdrawal symptoms can often lead an individual to return to using sleeping pills. When approaching detoxification, remember that withdrawal symptoms are only temporary, and you will feel much better physically, mentally and emotionally.

sleeping problems

Inpatient detox is highly recommended for those who cannot stop taking sleeping pills through a reduction regime. Medical detoxes ensure that you feel minimum if any, discomfort and that you remain safe throughout the entire process. 

Call Detox Plus UK now to learn more about our Zopiclone medical detoxes and sleeping pill pharmaceutical-aided withdrawals.

Safer alternatives to Z drugs

Before being prescribed a Z drug, which is only a temporary answer to what can sometimes be a chronic problem, other non-pharmaceutical sleep aids should be tried first. 

Many people find that these common lifestyles heavily contribute to their sleep quality:

  • stress at work or home
  • poor bedtime routine
  • too much caffeine
  • substance misuse 

These issues can usually be rectified with good sleep hygiene practices and simple changes made to the person’s lifestyle.

For others, insomnia can be brought about as a reaction to an event such as grief, job loss or relationship breakdown. In instances such as this, Z list drugs can help a person to mentally deal with their troubles better by aiding their sleep. 

Cognitive behavioural therapy is also a handy tool for long-term chronic cases of insomnia where trauma, depression, anxiety or PTSD can be an underlying factor.

Antihistamines and over-the-counter herbal remedies are considered safer, non-addictive alternatives to Z drugs. Your options and circumstances should be discussed with your GP so that they can make a fully informed decision about the best treatment plan.

The difference between Z drugs and benzodiazepines

Zopiclone and Zolpidem are two of the most commonly prescribed hypnotic sleeping tablets.

Z drugs are structurally very different from benzodiazepines.

Z drugs have a faster onset of pharmaceutical effects; they also leave your system quicker than benzodiazepines, minimising daytime sedation and cognitive impairment.

Z drugs are also safer and more accessible to withdraw from than benzodiazepines and are considered the less addictive of the two.

Benzodiazepines carry a far higher risk of abuse, dependence and addiction. Withdrawal from high doses of benzodiazepine medication can be life-threatening and should be very carefully medically monitored.

Landmark review conducted on addictive prescribed drugs 

The Government commissioned Public Health England to complete the landmark review due to the increasing number of deaths resulting from certain prescription-only medications, where tighter controls were needed for harm reduction measures.

The focus of the review was conducted on the following classifications of addictive prescribed drugs:

The medical review on addictive prescribed medicines also found that 1 million people in England received a prescription for a Z-drug medication between 2017 and 2018. 

These worrying statistics led the UK government to impose tighter restrictions on prescribing the five classes of addictive medications in 2019.

Addiction to sleeping medication can impact your quality of life; not only that, but if you abuse them, they can also put your life in great danger. Addiction spills into all areas of the sufferer’s life, regardless of the substance(s) involved.

We urge anyone struggling with a problem with a Z-drug medication to contact us and discuss your circumstances and treatment options with one of our experts.

Z  drug classification in the UK

Zolpidem is listed under the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971 as a controlled Class C drug under Schedule 4, Part 1 of the Misuse of Drugs Regulations. 

The ACMD recommends that the other two Z-drugs, Zaleplon and Zopiclone, are similar to Zolpidem and, therefore, should be controlled in the same manner (2)

Buying cheap sleeping pills online

Sleeping pills are readily available to purchase online. Awareness of the possible risks and dangers of buying sleeping pills over the Internet is essential.

Most of the tablets sold are in generic form and imported from abroad. Their strength and content can vary tremendously and contain hazardous and addictive substances to keep you returning for more.

Sleeping tablets can be purchased online without a prescription, but there is no knowing how safe they are their strength, or their substances.

If you have consulted your doctor and refused a sleeping medication such as Zopiclone prescription, ask them to explain why and help you explore safer alternatives. Please do not attempt to buy Zopiclone online from the dark web or street dealers.

Help for Zopiclone addiction

If you have an addiction to a Z drug sleeping pill such as Zopiclone, we can provide a complete medical drug detox conducted within a first-class private CQC registered treatment centre.

Following successful and safe detoxification, our addiction professionals will work with you closely to treat the underlying causes that led you to become addicted in the first place. 

Our distinguished multidisciplinary teams of psychotherapists, counsellors, doctors and holistic therapists use evidence-based treatments to help heal our patients on every level possible. During your time with us, our team will work hard to instil a set of recovery tools to ensure that you never have to rely on addictive medications again.

Help for Zopiclone addiction near you is available today; call our addiction treatment experts to learn more.

Further resources and help:

Age UK

Advice and information on sleeping well.
British Snoring and Sleep Apnoea Association

A charity dedicated to helping snorers and their bed partners improve their sleep.

Information on sleep disorders and sleep problems from the NHS.
The Sleep Apnoea Trust

They are operating to improve the lives of sleep apnoea patients and their partners and families.

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