Addictive Potential: Medium
Emergency Room Visits Yearly: Unknown
Mandatory Minimum Sentence: Not more than 3 years
Mechanism of Action: Type A γ-aminobutyric acid (GABA) receptor agonist
Zopiclone is used medicinally for the short term treatment of insomnia where sleep initiation or sleep maintenance are prominent symptoms. Zopiclone is also distributed under the brand names Imovane and Lunesta. Long-term use is not recommended as tolerance, dependence, and addiction can occur. Zopiclone is typically prescribed in the dosage range of 5 mg to 7.5 mg daily for adults and at dosages of 3.75 mg daily for the elderly.
Side Effects & Adverse Reactions:
Addiction. Zopiclone is a benzodiazepine-like drug that was introduced and initially promoted as having less dependence and withdrawal than traditional benzodiazepine drugs. However, zopiclone may have an even greater addictive potential than benzodiazepines and has been described as a “benzodiazepine in disguise”. Tolerance to the effects of zopiclone can develop after only a few weeks. Long term use should be avoided in most cases. However, patients with severe insomnia resulting from anxiety can be successfully treated for months. Abrupt withdrawal, particularly with prolonged use and high doses, can cause seizures and delirium in severe cases.
Sleepwalking and sleep driving. Zopiclone has been linked with sleepwalking and sleep driving in some individuals. Sleep driving is driving a car while not fully awake after taking a sedative-hypnotic drug. Often, patients will have no memory of the incident.
Deaths & Overdoses:
- Two cases of fatal zopiclone overdose
- Fatal overdose of zopiclone in an elderly woman with bronchogenic carcinoma