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Lunesta Withdrawal

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.

What Are the Lunesta Withdrawal Symptoms?

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:

  • Sleep disturbances
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • General discomfort
  • Tremors
  • Muscle spasms
  • Shaky hands
  • Mood swings
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Nausea
  • Panic
  • Seizures

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.

What Are the Stages of the Lunesta Withdrawal Timeline?

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:

  • Two days: Lunesta boasts a short half-life of six hours, which means it will take that much time to reduce to half of its original concentration in your blood. Soon after, the drug will wear off, and you’ll start to experience withdrawal symptoms. The earliest symptoms will include insomnia and anxiety.
  • Seven days: During the week at some point, your symptoms will start to escalate and reach the peak. You will experience your most severe symptoms once they hit the peak, and this can include seizures. You would be best suited in a professional treatment center during this stage. 
  • Two weeks: You will start noticing an improvement in your condition once you reach the peak. Physical symptoms should subside first, but psychological symptoms will linger on for some time. In some cases, they must be addressed in treatment.
  • One month: Symptoms such as insomnia or anxiety can continue indefinitely without treatment. It can lead to relapse if they are not adequately addressed. 

Why Should I Detox?

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. 

What Is the Next Treatment Step?

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.

Sources

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

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