Lunesta Addiction and Treatment

Last Updated: July 2, 2021

Authored by Olivier George, Ph.D.

Lunesta is now one of the most popular sleep aids in America, and is in the same category of sedatives as Ambien and Sonata. While it is designed with safety in mind, long-term use or misuse can lead to abuse and addiction.

Lunesta Effects

At some time, most everyone experiences some form of insomnia. While the occasional night of little to no sleep is usually nothing to be concerned about, chronic lack of sleep can be detrimental to health, and one’s ability to function at home and at work. When insomnia gets to be too much, Lunesta is often prescribed. It is a prescription medication that is used to help patients fall asleep faster and stay asleep longer. It also touts that it can help users sleep more soundly.

Does Lunesta contain benzodiazepine?

For too many people, the use of Lunesta is considered “worth the risks.” Dependency can become a serious problem, and side effects could occur if the issue is not identified and treated immediately.
Lunesta is in the non-benzodiazepine class of sedatives. It can become addictive if it is taken for a long periods of time, if more than the recommended dosage is taken, or without the consent of a doctor.

How many people use Lunesta addiction?

More than 31 million prescriptions for Lunesta have been written since the medication made its debut in 2004. Almost 10 million Americans currently have a prescription for sleep aids. As of 2012, approximately 21% of Lunesta users experienced headaches as its side effect.

Side Effects of Using Lunesta

If one takes Lunesta, especially more than recommended, side effects may include:

  • Nausea
  • Irritability
  • Frequent drowsiness or fatigue
  • Muscle cramps
  • Panic attacks
  • Obsessive thoughts about getting or taking the drug

Although overdose is rare, and is almost always associated with the simultaneous use of another drug, such as heroin or alcohol, it can occur. Use with alcohol is one of the most dangerous combinations, as the effects of each substance intensifies the other. This can lead to lowered respiratory function, which can, in severe cases, become so low that breathing stops and death occurs.

Signs of Lunesta Overdose

  • Hallucinations
  • Seizures
  • Severe mental confusion
  • Death

Psychological symptoms are also common among those who have withdrawal symptoms from taking Lunesta. These may include anxiety and depression.

Lunesta Addiction Risk Groups

Sleep aid abuse is most common among those who are also taking other drugs or alcohol. While drug addiction and abuse is a chronic problem which can affect those who wouldn’t expect, there are some at-risk groups.
Professionals – Those in professional fields are more likely to do drugs and alcohol. This is often due to stress on the job and related anxiety or insomnia.
Veterans – Anyone who has suffered from trauma, as many veterans have, are at risk of abusing prescription medications and other drugs.
Young adults – Teens, college students, and young professionals may try drugs, including sleep aids, to cope with work or school pressure, or because they are easily accessible when parents or others in the household are prescribed medications.
Sleep disorders – Since Lunesta is most commonly prescribed as a treatment for insomnia, those with certain sleep disorders may be more likely to abuse Lunesta. This could increase the chances for developing a full-blown addiction. For instance, if someone is taking Lunesta and becomes tolerant to it, more medication will be needed to achieve the desired results. Doing this over time increases one’s dependency.
Mental illness – Those with certain mental disorders may also have a high rate of addiction. Patients with anxiety, depression, and panic disorders are at a particularly high risk of abusing sleep aids.
Drug Addition – Patients who are already addicted to another drug or substance are more likely to become addicted to Lunesta. This is primarily due to the fact that Lunesta is often combined with alcohol and other drugs to enhance or increase their effects. Those who have a preexisting drug addiction or history of abuse should discuss this with their doctors before trying Lunesta.
Additional groups may be at a higher risk of abusing Lunesta, although statistics on these groups are not yet available.

Recognizing Lunesta Addiction

What are the signs of addiction to Lunesta?

Signs of addiction to Lunesta may include:

  • Tolerance to the drug
  • Taking the drug daily over a longer period of time
  • Looking for doctors who can provide an additional prescription
  • “Doctor hopping” to avoid questioning about drug use
  • Behavioral changes
  • Poor personal hygiene

It can be hard to tell if someone is addicted to a sleep aid. When taking sleep aids and other sedatives, users may appear drowsy, fatigued, and groggy. However, they may also appear this way when they are suffering from insomnia, the primary reason Lunesta is prescribed, so these symptoms may not send up any red flags at first.

Signs of addiction may include:

  • A tolerance to the drug and taking higher than normal dosages
  • Taking the drug every day, and/or for a long period of time
  • “Doctor hopping,” which includes going from doctor to doctor to avoid being questioned about drug use
  • Having more than one prescription for the same medication (another reason doctor hopping occurs)
  • Changes in behavior, such as becoming more aggressive or irritable than usual for no apparent reason
  • Changes in personal hygiene

Since Lunesta made its debut in 2004, over 31 million prescriptions have been written.
Almost 10 million Americans currently have a prescription for sleep aids.
As of 2012, headache was the most common side effect of taking Lunesta. It affected approximately 21 percent of users.

Lunesta Addiction Treatment Options

There are numerous treatment options available for those who have a drug abuse or addiction problem. While there are few facilities for those who are addicted to Lunesta specifically, various avenues for getting help exist for all manner of drug issues.
The first step in finding help, though, is recognizing and admitting a problem exists. Those who don’t believe they are really addicts will likely not follow through with a rehabilitation program.
Once it has been established that the person is addicted to Lunesta and/or other drugs, a professionally trained drug and alcohol abuse counselor should be contacted. He or she can give further steps and tips on what type of ongoing interventions may be more appropriate.

There are a variety of options available

Support groups and 12-step programs – These groups are usually attended by other addicts, and a team leader or professional counselor to lead the discussions. Attendees have the opportunity to get to know others who are in various stages of their journeys to sobriety, and get moral support along the way. This is a great encouragement to many addicts.
Outpatient counseling – Seeing a counselor one on one is a good idea for anyone abusing drugs or medications. He or she can help get to the bottom of why the drug abuse is occurring, and point out potential pitfalls and stumbling blocks.
Inpatient Rehabilitation – Inpatient facilities are often the safest and most effective way to overcome a drug addiction. During the process of detoxifying and getting off the drugs, withdrawal symptoms can present potentially deadly side effects. Trained medical personnel will be there to oversee this process in an inpatient facility. Some of these facilities also have sleep centers to get to the bottom of underlying sleep disorders. They continue by offering one on one counseling, and support groups are usually available, as well.

Page Sources

  1. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration. LUNESTA® (eszopiclone) tablets. 2014.
  2. Brielmaier B.D. Eszopiclone (Lunesta): a new nonbenzodiazepine hypnotic agent. Proceedings (Baylor University. Medical Center). 2006; 19(1): 54–59. doi:10.1080/08998280.2006.11928127.

Published on: October 2nd, 2015

Updated on: July 2nd, 2021

About Author

Olivier George, Ph.D.

Olivier George is a medical writer and head manager of the rehab center in California. He spends a lot of time in collecting and analyzing the traditional approaches for substance abuse treatment and assessing their efficiency.