The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) estimates anywhere from 50 to 70 million Americans struggle with sleep disorders. Sleep disorders can include insomnia, not being able to stay asleep throughout the night, or waking too early. When someone suffers from insomnia, it can diminish their quality of life and their physical health. In some cases, doctors will prescribe sleep aids like Lunesta. The generic name of Lunesta is eszopiclone, which is a non-benzodiazepine sedative-hypnotic. Sedative-hypnotics are not technically benzodiazepine drugs, but they do have very similar mechanisms of action. Lunesta is classified by the United States Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) as a Schedule IV substance. A Schedule IV classification means Lunesta has medical benefits but also has the potential to be habit-forming. As with other sedative-hypnotics, Lunesta is a central nervous system depressant.
Lunesta, and another brand-name sleep aid, Ambien, are the most commonly prescribed short-term treatment medications for insomnia. These drugs aren’t intended to be long-term sleep aids. Long-term use of drugs like Lunesta and Ambien can cause negative side effects, as well as addiction and dependence. Other side effects of Lunesta can include changes in thinking or behavior, memory issues, depression and coordination impairment. There are around nine million people who use prescription sleep aids in the U.S. Of those, it’s estimated at least 30 percent of these patients are dependent upon the drugs -including Lunesta.
Lunesta is available in three different strengths: 1 mg, 2 mg and 3 mg. In the 1 mg pill, Lunesta comes as a round, blue tablet. The pill imprint on a 1 mg Lunesta is “S190.” The 2 mg dose is a round, white pill imprinted with “S191.” 3 mg Lunesta is a round blue tablet, imprinted with “S193.” Lunesta is longer-acting than alternative medications like Ambien. As a result, Lunesta can help people stay asleep for longer than immediate-release Ambien. The typical dosage of Lunesta is 1 mg per day for men and women. If necessary, a doctor will increase the dosage.
While sedative-hypnotics are considered to be less addictive than benzodiazepines, there is still a risk of addiction and dependence for drugs like Lunesta. It’s estimated that more than 500,000 million Americans are addicted to Ambien alone. Lunesta, and other sedative-hypnotics, interact with brain chemicals and neurotransmitters. In doing so, it’s possible for patients to feel pleasurable effects or a sense of euphoria. This is what triggers addiction. To reduce the risk of Lunesta addiction, it’s important to use this medication only in the short-term and exactly as instructed.
In addition to Lunesta addiction on its own, it is very common for people to abuse drugs like Lunesta with other substances. People often might mix Lunesta with alcohol or opioid pain relievers. This can increase the chances of addiction, as well as an overdose. Dependency is another risk associated with Lunesta. If someone develops a physical dependence, they will go through withdrawal when they suddenly try to stop using Lunesta. Anyone who uses Lunesta for more than ten days is at risk of physical dependency. Lunesta withdrawal symptoms can include nausea, vomiting and shakiness. For long-term, chronic Lunesta abuse, withdrawal symptoms can be severe.
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