For a long time, benzodiazepines were the drug of choice when treating the symptoms of insomnia and other sleep disorders. However, it eventually became apparent that benzos came with a high potential for both abuse and addiction.
In the wake of this issue, non-benzodiazepine sedatives often referred to as “Z-drugs” were released onto the market as the safe sleep-aid alternative.
One popular Z-drug is Sonata, a sedative-hypnotic that is meant to carry a much lower risk of dependence despite being chemically similar to benzos. Ironically, this is part of the reason why people frequently abuse drugs like Sonata—they believe they are safe to misuse without any risks.
This, of course, is not the case. Even when used as prescribed, Sonata can have serious negative side effects and the potential to cause permanent damage to important brain functions like memory.
Even though it is not a benzo, Sonata works in very much the same way, entering the brain and activating what are known as GABA receptors. Gamma-Aminobutyric acid (GABA) is a brain chemical that inhibits nerve impulses in the central nervous system that cause feelings of stress or anxiety, blocking them from the brain to help keep you calm.
Sonata binds with these GABA receptors and stimulates them into producing a flood of excess GABA, creating strong feelings of sedation. Unlike benzodiazepines, however, Sonata does not bind with all GABA receptors. Instead, it specifically binds with the receptors involved in inducing sleep.
Ready to get Help?
We’re here 24/7. Pick up the phone.
Part of what makes identifying the signs of a Sonata addiction more difficult than you might think is the fact that so many people are unaware of or minimize the dangers involved in misusing or abusing it.
This makes people more likely to abuse Sonata as opposed to other prescription drugs like benzodiazepines, which are seen as more dangerous. It also means you might not even catch the signs of increasing dependence on Sonata in yourself if you are not actively thinking about your use or looking for signs.
While it is often only in hindsight that we recognize the pattern of behavior that signals an addiction to Sonata, there are many side effects of long-term Sonata abuse that may become apparent over time, including:
Apart from the side effects specific to Sonata, there are many abnormal behaviors associated with substance use disorders in general. As someone grows more addicted to Sonata, obtaining and using it becomes the driving force behind their actions and the basis for the decisions they make. When this happens, Sonata users usually begin to display these behaviors that indicate dependence.
As an individual’s Sonata addiction progresses, the signs and signals will also become much harder to miss, including:
Whether you have seen these signs of Sonata addiction in a friend or family member or are experiencing them yourself, it is vital that you seek the help and services of a professional addiction treatment center as soon as you can to avoid overdose and the damage caused by long-term abuse.
Even though Sonata is a Z-drug and considered to be fairly low on the addiction scale relative to other sleep aids, it still can manifest withdrawal symptoms on par with benzodiazepines that are dangerous and difficult to deal with, especially alone.
Because of this, it is highly recommended that the first step in your Sonata addiction treatment be medical detoxification at a professional treatment center. Attempting to detox on your own can leave you at the mercy of potentially deadly symptoms such as hallucinations, suicidal behavior, convulsions, and what is known as rebound anxiety and insomnia.
The rebound forms of anxiety and insomnia are the return of these symptoms once Sonata is no longer in your system. They are much stronger than regular insomnia and anxiety and can leave you in a state of total sleeplessness while struggling with crippling panic attacks.
Detoxing in the care of a team of experienced medical professionals who can administer medications to ease withdrawal symptoms like anxiety, insomnia, and cravings, and are more than capable of handling any possible complications, is the obvious choice.
Once you have achieved sobriety and the potential danger from any Sonata withdrawal symptoms has passed, the next step in Sonata addiction treatment is ongoing care in a recovery treatment program.
Even if your Sonata addiction was comparatively mild and you do not require the more intensive care of residential inpatient treatment, you should still attend an outpatient program so that you can avoid future relapses by learning to understand how your addiction works, the issues at the root of it, and how to best manage it in the long-term.
Generally, this will be done using a variety of evidence-based treatment modalities, including individual and group counseling, addiction education workshops, behavioral therapy, and more.
Despite it being viewed as a “safe” alternative to benzos, the common side effects of Sonata, even when taken at the prescribed dosage, can be unnerving and extremely dangerous. The most prominent example is the prevalence of not only sleepwalking but performing a variety of different activities while unconscious, including:
People who experience these side effects will typically wake up with no memory of having done them at all. This worrying side effect is common even in users who had never previously exhibited any sleepwalking or similarly unconscious behavior.
On top of this, people who misuse and abuse Sonata will regularly experience memory loss, blackouts, and thoughts of suicide and suicidal behavior.
Because Sonata has an extremely short half-life, its effects will typically only last for about an hour, which creates an increased risk of overdose as someone will take increasingly larger and more frequent doses for a stronger high that will last longer.
If a Sonata overdose is not treated as soon as possible, it can lead to coma, organ damage, and death due to a lack of oxygen from stopped breathing.
Symptoms of Sonata overdose include:
Chen, Y. W., Tseng, P. T., Wu, C. K., & Chen, C. C. (2014, December). Zaleplon-induced Anemsic Somnambulism with Eating Behaviors Under Once Dose. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26082420
Huedo-Medina, T. B., Kirsch, I., Middlemass, J., Klonizakis, M., & Siriwardena, A. N. (2012). Effectiveness of non-benzodiazepine hypnotics in treatment of adult insomnia. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3544552/
Kapil, V., Green, J. L., Lait, C. L., Wood, D. M., & Dargan, P. I. (2018, January 02). Misuse of benzodiazepines and Z-drugs in the UK | The British Journal of Psychiatry. Retrieved from https://www.cambridge.org/core/journals/the-british-journal-of-psychiatry/article/misuse-of-benzodiazepines-and-zdrugs-in-the-uk/82D4C6507C3DC2444CF0192959F4D43E