Lunesta (eszopiclone) belongs to a class of drugs called sedative hypnotics. Lunesta is a popular sleep aid, most commonly prescribed to individuals suffering from insomnia (trouble falling asleep or staying asleep). Combining Lunesta with alcohol consumption is warned against as the side effects of Lunesta are very strong and, when coupled with alcohol, they can be devastating.

Hypnotic drugs like Lunesta act on the GABA (gamma-aminobutyric acid) receptors of the brain, which are associated with mood. This action helps to slow brain activity and depress the individual’s central nervous system -which regulates autonomous functions such as digestion and breathing.

Lunesta has been shown to be habit forming, so much so that in 2014, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) made a change to the recommended lowest dose, decreasing it from 2 mg to 1mg. The reason for making this change had to do with the drug’s sleep-hypnotic side effects that could last into the individual’s wakeful state. For some people who have taken Lunesta, this stupor results in a feeling of dulled or suspended reality after waking up. Their sensibility is in a checked state, similar to someone who is sleepwalking, and they have been known to take part in activities (driving, eating, holding conversations, having sex) while not fully conscious of their actions.

Lunesta is frequently prescribed as it is considered a non-narcotic and is advertised as being safer to use than benzodiazepines and narcotics, other classes of drugs frequently prescribed to assist with insomnia. However, Lunesta has been shown to be habit forming and it can cause serious side effects when taken in large doses or when paired with alcohol. Because Lunesta works on some of the same parts of the brain as alcohol, side effects normally associated with drinking are amplified. People who use Lunesta are warned not to use alcohol at any time while taking the drug. Alcohol has been shown to intensify the mood-related side effects derived from the use of Lunesta.

General Side Effects of Lunesta

  • Difficulty waking
  • Grogginess after waking
  • Headache
  • Dizziness
  • Dry mouth
  • Bitter or metallic taste on the tongue
  • Flu-like symptoms
  • Stomach cramps
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Tremors or shakiness
  • Flushed feeling

Serious Side Effects of Lunesta and Those Complicated by Alcohol Use

  • Memory Loss
  • Agitation
  • Anxiety
  • Aggression
  • Confusion
  • Depression
  • Suicidal thoughts
  • Hallucinations
  • Somnambulism (sleepwalking)

Detoxing from Combined Lunesta and Alcohol Use

Similar to alcohol, Lunesta can be addictive as the body can develop a tolerance to the drug. If both are being consumed at the same time, higher doses/quantities are often taken to achieve the desired effect. An individual who is consuming both substances will need to complete a special detox program designed to help them recover from the misuse of both. Their treatment provider needs to consider that quitting Lunesta has shown to bring on strong new bouts of insomnia, along with withdrawal symptoms like those experienced when detoxing from street drugs. This, paired with the withdrawal symptoms associated with alcohol, makes this a difficult process but it can be done over time with the help of qualified treatment professionals.

Medical Disclaimer

The Recovery Village aims to improve the quality of life for people struggling with substance use or mental health disorder with fact-based content about the nature of behavioral health conditions, treatment options and their related outcomes. We publish material that is researched, cited, edited and reviewed by licensed medical professionals. The information we provide is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. It should not be used in place of the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare providers.