Lunesta is a prescription sleep-aid used to treat insomnia or other sleep disorders. While it is structurally similar to benzodiazepines, it was designed as an alternative that was less addictive than popular depressant drugs. As you might expect, Lunesta is GABAergic, which means it works in the brain by affecting GABA.
Unfortunately, you can become dependent on Lunesta in a short period and experience withdrawal symptoms upon cessation. Withdrawal symptoms are an indicator that you may be developing an addiction to Lunesta that requires professional help to treat.
Since Lunesta is milder than other sleep medications, many people believe withdrawal symptoms will be as well. That is not the case, and symptoms can be severe in specific circumstances. If your body acclimates to substantial doses of Lunesta and you stop using abruptly, you’re more likely to experience intense symptoms. However, those who use smaller doses of Lunesta will experience withdrawal to a lesser extent.
The most common symptoms of Lunesta withdrawal include:
Severe symptoms such as hypertension, chest pains, or seizures for Z-drugs can occur in certain circumstances. If you or someone you know is dealing with sleep-aid dependence, you should speak with a doctor before stopping cold turkey.
The rate at which you experience withdrawal symptoms will vary based on your personal history with Lunesta. If you have used Lunesta for an extended period or become used to a high standard dose, you may experience more intense symptoms more quickly by quitting cold turkey.
A general timeline of what you can expect goes as follows:
While the effects are milder than benzodiazepines, you can still develop a condition known as delirium tremens (DTs) if you stop suddenly stop using a high dose of Lunesta. The condition can be deadly, but with treatment, these severe symptoms can be avoided.
Severe symptoms are also more common in those who have gone through depression withdrawal previously. A neurological phenomenon, which is known as kindling, can cause changes in our brain after prior withdrawal. The changes can make this process dangerous. Attending medical detox will help you avoid deadly symptoms and treat other ailments.
Once you complete detox, you will still need to treat the underlying factors that caused your addiction in the first place. While detox is critical, it does not cover everything that addiction treatment will. The clinicians will determine your next step, which may include residential or outpatient treatment.
Becker, H. C. (1998). Kindling in Alcohol Withdrawal – National Institutes of Health. Retrieved from https://pubs.niaaa.nih.gov/publications/arh22-1/25-34.pdf
National Institute on Drug Abuse. (2016, February). 8: Medical detoxification. Retrieved from https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/teaching-packets/understanding-drug-abuse-addiction/section-iii/7-medical-detoxification
Ogbru, Annette. (n.d.) Benzodiazepines Drug Class: Side Effects, Types & Uses. Retrieved from https://www.rxlist.com/benzodiazepines/drugs-condition.htm
U.S. National Library of Medicine. (2019, September 11). Delirium tremens: MedlinePlus Medical Encyclopedia. Retrieved from https://medlineplus.gov/ency/article/000766.htm
WebMD. (2017, March 20). What is GABA? Retrieved from https://www.webmd.com/vitamins-and-supplements/qa/what-is-gaba