Lunesta is a sedative that is most commonly prescribed as a short-term solution for those who struggle with insomnia. The medicine works by slowing down the firing of certain nerves in the brain so that the life and heart rate slows down enough to fall asleep.
Lunesta depresses the central nervous system, giving many people sleep relief. However, just like many of the other sedative-hypnotic sleep aids, such as Ambien, it doesn’t come without the risk of addiction.
How can you tell if you’ve become addicted to Lunesta? Here are some signs:
Those that have taken Lunesta long-term may experience withdrawal symptoms when they try to stop taking the drug. These uncomfortable symptoms can make it challenging to overcome an addiction to Lunesta, which is why it is recommended to seek help at a professional treatment center.
The following are common Lunesta withdrawal symptoms:
According to the Neuropsychiatric Disease and Treatment journal, the half-life of Lunesta is around six hours, so withdrawal symptoms may begin within about 12 hours from the last dose. It’s challenging to pinpoint exactly how the withdrawal timeline will unfold for each individual. This is because there are factors that can affect the intensity of withdrawal symptoms psychologically and physically, as well as the time frame. These factors include:
Most commonly, the withdrawal timeline is as follows:
Withdrawal symptoms generally begin to surface between one and two days after the last dose. This can depend on the dosage, frequency, and duration of use. Common early withdrawal symptoms include trouble sleeping and increased anxiety.
Withdrawal symptoms tend to peak within three to seven days. Common symptoms in this stage include restlessness, headaches, increased anxiety, insomnia, and fatigue. Those that have been on larger doses for long durations tend to experience more intense symptoms, and this is why it’s recommended to be under the care of a medical team for observation.
Within two to three weeks, most withdrawal symptoms will have subsided, though some may linger on for up to around four weeks. For those that were heavily addicted to Lunesta, symptoms could linger up to eight weeks or more. These symptoms are known as post-acute withdrawal syndrome (PAWS), and for the most part, include psychological symptoms like anxiety, mood swings, depression, and cravings for the drug.
The first three to five days may be the most challenging when it comes to withdrawal symptoms.
Professionals agree that it may be necessary to gradually taper off the drug under medical supervision rather than to quit cold turkey. In fact, stopping abruptly can be dangerous, leading to severe withdrawal symptoms. To avoid medical complications, do not try to stop using Lunesta cold turkey at home. Rather, seek help from substance abuse professionals who can help you contend with the psychological and physical withdrawal symptoms in a safe environment.
Detoxing from Lunesta is simply the first step in recovery from the addiction.
It is safest to go through the detox process at a medical facility such as an inpatient treatment center.
There, you will be surrounded by professionals that can monitor you around-the-clock and if need be, give you medications to help decrease the intensity of symptoms.
Once the detox phase is complete, ongoing recovery efforts are recommended at either an inpatient or outpatient treatment center.
If you’re able to leave your home for around 30 days, going to a residential treatment facility is recommended. There you will be able to continue to meet with a therapist and receive professional care regarding your recovery. You may also be able to receive treatment regarding insomnia, improving your quality of sleep without medication.
At a residential center, you’ll receive comprehensive care to help you stay on the right path. You’ll have a counselor to work on emotional or behavioral issues, you can attend classes or support groups to foster growth, learn about holistic methods that can help your mind, body, and spirit, and you can work on an aftercare recovery regimen for once you return home.
If you cannot attend a residential program, outpatient treatment is a great alternative. This level of care works well for those who are mildly dependent on the drug and may not need the amount of support that heavy users need. You’ll still receive the same type of care as you would at a residential center, but you’ll be able to go home in between your sessions. The number of sessions you’ll attend may be between three to five sessions per week and decrease over time as necessary.
Insomnia and other sleep disorders are quite common, and we certainly know that it can be challenging to conquer them on your own. Becoming addicted to a sleeping aid is also common. However, know that there is help available to get free from that addiction. If you’re contending with Lunesta addiction, know that the withdrawal symptoms associated with such can be managed with a medical detox.
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Span, P, (March 2018).A Quiet Drug Problem Among the Elderly. New York Times. Retrieved December, 2018 from https://www.nytimes.com/2018/03/16/health/elderly-drugs-addiction.html
(n,d). Lunesta. Web MD. Retrieved December 2018 from https://www.webmd.com/drugs/2/drug-92350/lunesta-oral/details