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 to be less harmful and less addictive than other prescription drugs that serve a similar purpose. Nevertheless, Z drugs hold a 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 be in receipt of a continuous repeat prescription for a Z drug from 2015 to 2018 in England (1)
What is Zopiclone Used For?
Zopiclone is a sedative-hypnotic medication prescribed for the treatment of insomnia. Ideally not be prescribed for any longer than a period of 14 consecutive days. Longer than this, there is a high chance of tolerance and dependence developing.
Once a tolerance to a certain dosage of the medication has occurred, its effects become useless unless the dosage or frequency is increased.
The drug is sold under different manufacturing brand and trade names, most commonly including generic variations of Zopiclone (including Zimovane, Zalepon, Imovane, Zolpidem and Ambien)
Zopiclone comes in two different strengths 3.75 mg and 7.5mg. Although generic and counterfeit versions may have varying dosages and potency.
Generic brands come in capsule or tablet form. They are also available in a liquid form for those that struggle to swallow pills.
When it comes to prescribing medications for sleep issues, Zopiclone and Zolpidem tend to be favoured over benzodiazepines. Benzodiazepines are notoriously addictive and difficult to stop.
Benzodiazepine withdraw is one of the most dangerous detoxes a person can undergo and has a high risk of life-threatening complications.
Landmark review conducted on addictive prescribed drugs
The Government commissioned Public Health England to conduct the landmark review due to the increasing number of deaths resulting from certain prescription-only drugs, where tighter controls were needed as part of harm reduction measures.
The focus of the review was conducted on the following classifications of addictive prescribed drugs:
- Z drugs
- Opioids and opiates
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.
It is this worrying statistics that led the UK government to impose tighter restrictions on the prescribing of the 5 classes of addictive medications in 2019 (1)
Addiction to sleeping medication can impact on your quality of life, not only that but if you are abusing them, they can also put your life in great danger. Addiction tends to spill out into all areas of the sufferer’s life, regardless of the substance(s) involved.
We would 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 already 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)
Z drugs have a list of possible side effects. Everyone reacts differently to the effects of these drugs and 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
- Brain fog
- Dry mouth
- Feeling sleepy
- Inability to concentrate
- Impaired coordination and judgement, leading to accidents and falls (especially in elderly patients)
- Memory impairment
- Cognitive impairment
- Reduced motivation
- Vivid dreams
- Feeling sad and depressed
- Suicidal ideation
- Delusional thoughts and beliefs (3)
The effects of Zopiclone can often be felt the next day. If you still feel drowsy 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 are suffering the more severe effects of the drug, it is important to contact your healthcare provider and discuss your concerns without delay.
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 and general aches and pains.
These withdrawal symptoms can often lead an individual to return to using sleeping pills. It is important when approaching any detoxification to remember that the withdrawal symptoms are only temporary and that afterwards, you will feel much much better, physically, mentally and emotionally.
For those that are unable to stop taking sleeping pills through a reduction regime, inpatient detox is highly recommended. 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 find out more about our Zopiclone medical detoxes and sleeping pill pharmaceutical aided withdrawals.
How Does Zopiclone work?
Zopiclone works by tricking the brain into a hypnotic sleep-like state, and it also slows down the brains activity making falling asleep easier. It also helps to reduce the number of times a person wakes during the night.
Z drugs should only be used in conjunction with good sleep hygiene practices and/or 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.
Safer alternatives to Z drugs
Before being prescribed a Z drug, which is only a very temporary answer to what can sometimes be a chronic problem, other non-pharmaceutical sleep aids should be tried first.
Many people find that their lifestyle heavily contributes to their quality of sleep,(i.e. stress at work or home, poor bedtime routine, too much caffeine and substance misuse are just a few common causes). 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 bereavement, 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 very useful 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. All of your options and circumstances should be discussed in-depth with your GP so that they can make a fully informed decision as to 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 easier to withdraw from than benzodiazepines and 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.
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 very uncomfortable; in rare cases of chronic abuse, unmanaged withdrawal can be life-threatening.
Zopiclone should NEVER be mixed with other sedatives such as alcohol, benzodiazepines, gabapentinoids or opioids. Abuse of Z-drugs can result in death. It also vastly increases the risk of developing 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 individuals may think that 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, have developed a dependence or an addiction, it is important to seek professional help without delay.
Buying cheap sleeping pills online
Sleeping pills are easily available to purchase online. It is important to be aware of the possible risks and dangers associated with buying sleeping pills over the internet.
Most of the tablets that are sold are a generic form and imported from abroad. Their strength and content can vary tremendously, and they can contain very dangerous and addictive substances to keep you going back for more.
Sleeping tablets can be purchased online without a prescription, but there is no knowing how safe they are, their strength, or the substances contained within them.
If you have consulted your doctor and they have refused you a prescription for a sleeping medication such as Zopiclone ask them to explain the reasons why and help you to explore safer alternatives. Please, 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 full medical drug detox conducted within a first-class private CQC registered treatment centres.
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 find out more.
Further resources and help:
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
Operating to improve the lives of sleep apnoea patients and their partners and families.
1.Prescribed medicines review PHE
- ACMD advice on the control of Z-drugs (Zaleplon, Zopiclone and Zolpiderm) https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/
- NHS Zopiclone – Sleeping pills