Every year, 70 million Americans suffer from some form of a sleep disorder. If you’re one of these people, it’s safe to assume that your doctor has offered you relief in the form of a sleeping pill.
Your practitioner may have said it was a safer alternative than a benzodiazepine (or benzo). In some respects, it is. But like any drug, it can lead to an array of unexpected problems. Users who want relief from insomnia may not know the possible outcomes that can arise from abuse. Since sleep is the fuel for life, it’s easy to understand why people use Lunesta and sedative-hypnotics.
For individuals dealing with these disorders, sleep may be viewed more like a chore than a vital life function. When you actually have to schedule in time for tossing and turning, you may simply avoid sleep altogether. Full-time students and employees are already stressed, so adding sleeplessness makes these commitments even more challenging.
A lack of sleep can result in illness, a lower sex drive, car accidents, heart disease, memory loss, and diabetes. All of these problems can lead to a less happy and productive life.
When barbiturates and benzos were first synthesized to treat the symptoms of insomnia, it became evident that the drugs were too addictive to adequately address the problem. A better solution was required to address the growing number of people dealing with sleep-related disorders. Lunesta is technically less addictive than other drugs, but the perception that it’s safe creates its own set of problems.
Some dangers stem from abusing the drug, and it can eventually become a problem, even when used responsibly. These specific risks include memory loss, organ damage, and depression.
How Does Lunesta Work?
Lunesta falls into a class of drugs called sedative-hypnotics. It increases the levels of the neurotransmitter named gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA). GABA is a natural chemical found in our brains that blocks and inhibits nerve signals that cause stress, anxiety, and fear. GABA maintains these feelings of calmness.
But after taking Lunesta for an extended period, GABA receptors will become less sensitive, so users will have trouble creating the chemical on their own. Therefore, they could develop tolerance and start having rebound insomnia, which is when the symptoms you treated come back even worse than when they started.
What are the Signs of Lunesta Addiction?
The early stages of substance use disorders are difficult to spot, especially when the drug is prescribed by a doctor. If you’re using Lunesta, it may be difficult to determine if your use of the drug has turned into a full-blown addiction. For some, it may be too late to recognize a real problem has developed, which will make it more difficult to treat.
Someone who’s been using Lunesta for an extended period of time will exhibit outward symptoms, which will indicate they’re abusing it. These side effects could include:
- Ongoing sinus problems and cold-like symptoms
- Regular bouts of confusion
- Difficulty remembering things
- Frequent mood swings
- Noticeable increase in aggressive behavior
Once the abuse evolves into an addiction, individuals could lose control over their usage. Someone abusing Lunesta will start compulsively taking the drug and make using it their primary objective.
By this stage, the behaviors someone displays will be more in line with a substance use disorder, which consist of:
- Overusing Lunesta
- Crushing and snorting it
- Using it without a prescription
- Experiencing an increased tolerance to it
- Shopping for doctors
- Hiding it
- Experiencing withdrawal symptoms
- Feeling unable to function normally without it
- Being unable to stop using it, even after repeated attempts
What’s Involved in the Treatment of Lunesta Addiction?
Lunesta deals with a more dangerous portion of the brain than other drugs. Therefore, treatment must begin in the most intensive level of care. Sudden cessation of Lunesta can lead to undesirable and deadly side effects.
During detox, all foreign substances in the body will be removed from your body. To ensure everything is going according to plan, you’ll be monitored by trained professionals round-the-clock. All care requires a tailored approach, and the length of stay or path of action will vary from client to client.
There are several options, including residential treatment, intensive outpatient, and outpatient services. While the requirements all differ, the treatments offer the same therapies, which include:
- Cognitive behavioral therapy
- Individual therapy
- Group therapy
- Family therapy
Lunesta Abuse Statistics
- A 2016 study found that regular users of sleep aids and hypnotics are about 15% more likely to die at night, due to respiratory suppression.
- In a study conducted by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), approximately 21 million Americans reported they abused prescription sleep aids at least once.
- In 2015, more than 2 million prescriptions for Lunesta were written in the U.S.