Zopiclone & Zolpidem Addiction
Commonly known as Z-drugs, Zopiclone and Zolpidem are used as alternatives to benzodiazepines in order to treat short-term cases of insomnia and anxiety. They will not treat the underlying cause of these issues but can be useful in helping a patient to get through a difficult time in their life.
Many people believe that these medications are safe to take as they are prescribed by medical professionals. However the risk of addiction is so high that they should not be taken for more than 2-4 weeks, and many people who take Zopiclone and Zolpidem both legally and illegally over a long-term basis are likely to develop a physical and psychological addiction to these substances. 
What is Zopiclone?
If you struggle with falling and staying asleep for long periods of time, you may be prescribed Zopiclone to help treat the symptoms of insomnia.
Zopiclone tablets are small oval pills that are typically white, blue or orange, which should be swallowed according to medical instructions. Under no circumstances should Zopiclone tablets be crushed and snorted, as the medication is designed to be released slowly into the system and ingesting too much at once can lead to overdose.
While this medication is a non-benzodiazepine sedative, the effects are similar to those of benzodiazepines and as a result, Zopiclone is potentially addictive.  For this reason, Zopiclone is not available for purchase over-the-counter and can only be obtained with a medical prescription.
What is Zolpidem?
Zolpidem is commonly known by the brand name Ambien, and Zopiclone is used to treat the symptoms of insomnia by helping people to fall asleep more quickly and stay asleep for longer periods of time. 
This non-benzodiazepine sedative can only be legally obtained with a medical prescription, as the effects of Zolpidem can be highly addictive. In fact, some users have found that dependency can be formed in just a few weeks. There is a large underground market for Zolpidem, with many people purchasing this medication illegally through websites and social media.
Zolpidem is most commonly prescribed in tablet form but can also be ingested in the form of an oral spray. As with Zopiclone, it is highly dangerous to crush, snort or inject this medication as it could lead to a life-threatening overdose.
What are the signs and symptoms of a Zopiclone or Zolpidem addiction?
By nature, addiction is inherently secretive and often difficult to detect. This is particularly true when it comes to prescription medications such as Zopiclone and Zolpidem, as they are used for genuine medical conditions such as insomnia.
However, there are a number of warning signs to be aware of, both in yourself and also in your friends and family. If you or someone you care about has been prescribed either of these medications, it can be helpful to inform yourself about the potential symptoms of addiction so that you can take immediate action if problems begin to arise.
Common symptoms of a Zopiclone or Zolpidem addiction include:
- Continuing to use the medication even once it is no longer needed
- Visiting more than one doctor in order to obtain multiple prescriptions
- Using the medication in a way that is not intended – eg. crushing and snorting it
- Experiencing physical effects such as chest pain and heart palpitations
- Purchasing the medication from illegal street dealers
- Taking more than the recommended dosage
- Becoming withdrawn and isolated from others
- Spending large amounts of time obtaining and using the medication
- Combining the medication with other substances such as alcohol
- Poor performance at school or work
- Experiencing withdrawal symptoms when not taking the medication
- Attempting to reduce or completely stop taking the medication but being unable to do so
- Experiencing negative consequences related to taking the medication but continuing to use it
- Neglecting responsibilities at work, school and home
- Being dishonest and deceitful about the use of the medication
If you have noticed these signs in yourself or someone you can about, it’s possible that you or they are struggling with an addiction to Zopiclone or Zolpidem and should seek treatment as soon as possible.
Our friendly team are here to lend a hand and guide you towards the most effective recovery programmes that suit both your lifestyle and your budget – give us a call today and start working towards the life that you want to live.
What are the long-term effects of a Zopiclone or Zolpidem addiction?
Long-term addiction to Zopiclone or Zolpidem can result in a number of side effects that may have a detrimental effect on an individual’s physical, mental and emotional health.
Common long-term effects of a Zopiclone or Zolpidem addiction include:
- Digestive problems including chronic constipation
- Chest pains
- Heart palpitations
- Muscle pain
- Frequent headaches
- Persistent drowsiness and fatigue
- Suicidal ideation
- Strained relationships with family and friends
- Lack of employment
- Financial troubles
- Legal troubles
- Increased risk of overdose
Can I combine Zopiclone or Zolpidem with other medications and substances?
It is not recommended to combine Zopiclone or Zolpidem with alcohol or other illicit drugs such as cocaine or heroin, as this can cause dangerous side effects and increase the chances of overdose.
There are a number of over-the-counter and prescribed medications that may have an adverse reaction when combined with Zopiclone or Zolpidem, so it is important to inform your doctor of any medications that you are currently using before you accept a new prescription.
Common medications that should not be combined with Zopiclone or Zolpidem include:
- A number of antibiotics including clarithromycin and rifabutin
- Anticonvulsant medication
- Fungal treatment medication
- St. John’s wort
The above list is not exhaustive, and there are other medications and substances that should not be combined with Zopiclone and Zolpidem. Speak to your doctor if you have concerns and make sure to follow all medical directions when taking these medications.
Zopiclone and Zolpidem use – what are the laws?
Zopiclone and Zolpidem are both classified as Class C drugs under UK law. It is illegal to possess or use either of these medications without a prescription, and if found guilty you could be sentenced to up to two years in prison and/or an unlimited fine. 
The illegal supply and production of Zopiclone and Zolpidem can lead to a prison sentence of up to 14 years and/or an unlimited fine if found guilty.
Any penalties and sentences will vary depending on the amount of the drug found, whether you intend to use or sell It and your own personal criminal history. If you are under 18, police are legally able to inform your parents that you have been found in possession of drugs.
Recovery and withdrawal from Zopiclone and Zolpidem
As these medications are not intended for long-term use, recovery and withdrawal from a Zopiclone or Zolpidem addiction can be a difficult process if the drug has been used over a long period of time.
It is not recommended to completely stop using these medications – instead, the dosage should be slowly tapered off until the individual is no longer ingesting the substance. This process is known as detoxification and can help to manage and alleviate many of the more unpleasant withdrawal symptoms.
Common Zopiclone and Zolpidem withdrawal symptoms include:
- Nausea and vomiting
- Severe depression and anxiety
- Excessive perspiration
- Intense cravings for the medication
- Panic attacks
- Mood swings
- Extreme fatigue
- Abdominal pain and cramps
- Increased heart rate
It is recommended that anyone attempting to detox from Zopiclone or Zolpidem should do so under medical supervision due to the risk of seizures and other complications. Excessive perspiration and vomiting can cause dehydration which can be fatal if not treated promptly.
While it is important to treat the physical aspects of the addiction, long-term recovery from a Zopiclone or Zolpidem addiction can only be achieved by examining the psychological reasons behind the use of these substances.
A specialised rehabilitation centre or treatment programme for addiction can offer multiple forms of therapy including cognitive behavioural therapy, group therapy and holistic therapies that can address and treat the potential trauma, experiences and emotions behind substance use.
Who is more likely to develop a Zopiclone or Zolpidem addiction?
While addiction does not discriminate and anyone can potentially develop a dependency on Zopiclone or Zolpidem, there are certain factors that can increase the chances of addiction.
Some people are more prone to developing an addiction, and these include:
- People with a family history of substance or behavioural addiction
- People with a co-occurring mental health disorder
- People who begin using addictive substances from a young age
- People who associate with others that abuse addictive substances
- People who are having trouble at school or work and use substances to escape from the stresses of life
It’s possible to relate to many of the above factors and still not develop an addiction to Zopiclone or Zolpidem. Alternatively, you may not relate to any of them but become dependent on this medication once it has been prescribed to you.
There is no concrete method of predicting addiction, which is why you should only take medication that has been prescribed to you by a medical professional and use it exactly as directed.