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What Is Lunesta?

Lunesta is the brand name for the drug eszopiclone. It is a sedative and part of the non-benzodiazepine drug class. According to the National Institute of Health (NIH) [1], Lunesta is used to treat insomnia (difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep). Lunesta is in a class of medications called hypnotics. It works by slowing activity in the brain to allow sleep.

But because of its high potential for abuse, addiction, and dangerous interactions with other substances and medications, doctors only prescribe Lunesta as a short-term treatment method for insomnia. Lunesta comes as a tablet to take by mouth [2]. It is usually taken once a day at bedtime or after unsuccessfully falling asleep.

When this drug is abused in high doses for a long period of time, the user will likely experience withdrawal symptoms if they discontinue its use, especially if they do so suddenly. In addition, individuals frequently abuse Lunesta with opioid drugs and alcohol, increasing the risk of overdose and dependence. 

Lunesta affects Gamma-Aminobutyric Acidreceptors (GABA). In doing so, this medication can calm neural activity and slow the central nervous system, helping people fall asleep and stay asleep. It is also referred to as a “z-drug.” According to Women’s Health [2], Women may be more prone to abusing sleeping pills than men as two-thirds of the emergency department visits for the non-medical use of sleeping pills were for women in 2010.

Lunesta Side Effects
Although its makers claim that Lunesta offers nothing more than a refreshing night’s sleep, it can have serious Lunesta side effects – and an overdose of this medication can be life-threatening.
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Lunesta Side Effects

Lunesta may cause a severe allergic reaction. Stop taking this drug and get emergency medical help if you have signs of an allergic reaction such as hives; vomiting, nausea; difficulty breathing; swelling of your face, tongue, lips, or throat.

Some individuals using Lunesta have engaged in activity while not fully awake and later had no memory of it. This may include driving, walking, or making phone calls. If this happens to you, stop taking this medication and call your doctor right away.

Lunesta may be habit-forming. Misuse can cause addiction, overdose, or death. Keep the medication in a place where others cannot get to it. Selling or giving away this medicine is against the law.

Lunesta will make you fall asleep. Never take this medicine during your normal waking hours, unless you have at least 7 to 8 hours to dedicate to sleeping.

Insomnia symptoms may also return after you stop taking Lunesta, and may be even worse than before. Tell your doctor if you still have worsened insomnia after the first few nights without taking Lunesta.

Along with its needed effects, a medicine may cause some unwanted effects. Although not all of these side effects may occur, they may need medical attention if they do occur.

Common Side Effects of Lunesta

Consult with your doctor immediately if any of the following side effects occur:

  • Chills
  • Cough
  • Fever
  • Hoarseness
  • Dizziness
  • Lower back or side pain
  • Painful or difficult urination
  • Sleepiness or unusual drowsiness
  • Headache
  • bitter taste in the mouth

Less common side effects includes:

  • Bladder pain
  • Bloody or cloudy urine
  • Confusion
  • Diarrhea
  • Discouragement
  • Fear or nervousness
  • Feeling sad or empty
  • Frequent urge to urinate
  • General feeling of discomfort or illness
  • Headache
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Unusual tiredness or weakness
  • Vomiting
  • Irritability
  • Joint pain
  • Lack of appetite
  • Loss of interest or pleasure
  • Muscle aches and pains
  • Nausea
  • Nerve pain
  • Runny nose
  • Seeing, hearing, or feeling things that are not there
  • Shivering
  • Sore throat
  • Sweating
  • Trouble concentrating

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Lunesta Uses

Lunesta is slightly effective in treating insomnia where difficulty in falling asleep is the primary complaint. Lunesta belongs to the class of medications called sedative-hypnotics. It is used for the short-term and symptomatic relief of sleep disturbances. It can help individuals with difficulty falling asleep, frequent wake-ups during the night, or early morning awakenings. 

This medication should not be taken more than seven to ten days in a row. It should be used only by people for whom disturbed sleep results in problems functioning during the day. Do not give this medication to anyone else, even if they have the same symptoms as you do. It can be harmful for people to take this medication if their doctor has not prescribed it.

Lunesta Side Effects & Warnings

There are several potential side effects of taking Lunesta, especially if someone takes these prescription drugs for more than a few months. While physicians monitor their patients for symptoms and Lunesta side effects, including addictive behaviors, it is crucial for individuals who receive a Lunesta prescription to discuss any concerns they have about Lunesta side effects, both short-term and long-term, with their medical professionals.

Individuals who do not plan to get more than seven hours of sleep should not take this medication, and those who regularly drink alcohol or take certain dietary supplements should not consume this drug. It is important to let doctors know about any other prescription medications you are taking as well because combining this prescription with other drugs can be dangerous to organ systems like the kidneys, liver, or brain [3].

Short-term Lunesta Side Effects

Somnambulism is one of the more serious side effects. People who take this drug may get out of bed and hold a conversation, eat a large amount of food, leave the house, or even engage in sexual activity while still asleep. This side effect can get worse when Lunesta is mixed with alcohol, recreational, or illegal drugs.

Another side effect of this prescription drug, which can be worsened when combined with alcohol or drugs, is the possibility to not be fully awake or alert the next day. If someone takes Lunesta as a prescription [4], it is crucial to follow all the prescribing doctor’s advice, such as getting at least seven hours of sleep and taking only the smallest required dose, in order to reduce this possibility.

However, if Lunesta is taken recreationally, or in combination with recreational drugs or alcohol, it is possible that the individual will not wake up completely from sleep the next day. This puts the person in physical danger, particularly if operating heavy machinery or driving. Usually, the individual suffering this Lunesta side effects will feel awake and alert for the most part, but could still suffer sleep-related hallucinations or other effects of this hypnotic medication.

Occasionally, an individual may feel hungover after taking Lunesta. This feeling can heighten if Lunesta is taken in too large quantity, with alcohol, or combined with other recreational drugs. Headaches become worse or more common, as well as feeling fatigued, dehydrated, and depressed.

The potential for Lunesta side effects increases when an individual takes this medication for longer than necessary, without doctor supervision, in too high a dose, or in combination with recreational drugs or alcohol[5].

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Long-term Lunesta Side Effects

A long-term Lunesta side effects of taking this medication is tolerance to the drug. This means that the individual will have to consume higher doses of in order to feel the same effects. When Lunesta is consumed as a prescription and monitored by a medical professional, when tolerance develops, the prescribing physician can either switch the person to another medication, or help the person stop taking Lunesta and try other insomnia treatments.

However, if a person misuses or abuses the insomnia medication for recreational purposes or struggles with an addiction to Lunesta, there are other long-term Lunesta side effects that could become severe. Memory loss can happen in some situations even when the person follows the prescribing doctor’s instructions.  However, when taken in quantities that are too large, amnesia can become a frequent problem.

Individuals who struggle with Lunesta-related amnesia forget events while they are on the drug, either due to sleepwalking and related activities or because the Lunesta directly affects the brain and prevents the person from properly forming memories. Amnesia could be a side effect of too large a dose, in which case individuals should consult their doctors about lowering the dosage, or it could be a side effect of addiction or combining this drug with alcohol or other drugs. Also, Lunesta can cause problems with cognitive function over time. 

Psychological problems may develop with long-term consumption of Lunesta as well. Pre- existing depression can get worse, suicidal thoughts may develop, and neurosis and anxiety may be present. With very long-term abuse, the drug can cause paranoia and hallucinations 

Long-term use or abuse of of this drug can also lead to a loss of coordination and fine motor control. Uncontrollable eye movements, called nystagmus, can start, and muscles may shake, twitch, and become weak. In addition, the person may experience inflammation of the whites of the eyes (conjunctivitis), sensitivity to light, and have dry eyes. The individual may also develop tinnitus, or a ringing in the ears that becomes progressively worse.

Lunesta Side Effects
Don’t drink alcohol before or while taking these medicines. Together they may be more likely to cause serious alcohol and Lunesta side effects.

An individual can experience increasingly poor reflexes along with other musculoskeletal problems such as inflamed joints, which become painful or stiff. Other parts of the body may suffer from inflammation as well, especially the lungs in people who suffer from allergies or asthma. Inflammation in the lungs can reduce breathing capacity and make these conditions worse.

Because medications are filtered through the kidneys and liver when they are digested, long-term abuse or addiction to this medication can lead to kidney and liver damage. The likelihood of this is increased if the individual suffers from kidney disease or liver disease already.

Are the Side Effects of Lunesta Reversible?

While short-term Lunesta side effects may be reversible, it is not clear to what extent long-term Lunesta side effects can be reversed. If an individual suffers episodes of amnesia due to Lunesta misuse or abuse, then the person will not be able to get those memories back. However, mood swings and cognitive issues can clear up after withdrawing from Lunesta. More severe side effects like kidney, liver, and lung damage may or may not clear up, depending on how long the person suffered from addiction to Lunesta.

High Doses Trigger Lunesta Side Effects

The central nervous system (CNS) regulates the body’s autonomous processes, such as digestion and breathing. Because Lunesta functions by depressing the central nervous system and slowing down activity in the brain, taking too much of this medication can lower those autonomous functions to alarmingly low levels – or stop them completely.

Lunesta overdose symptoms can vary from relatively mild to life-threatening. Mild Lunesta overdose symptoms from consuming just a little too much can include extreme grogginess and more severe versions of typical Lunesta side effects such as forgetfulness, poor coordination, and problems concentrating.

Higher doses of this drug can also trigger the more potentially dangerous and dramatic Lunesta side effects. Individuals taking high doses of Lunesta are more likely to experience risky “sleep activity,” when users drive, walk, eat, have sex and do many other things while under the influence of the medication.

Dangers of Lunesta Overdose

In large doses or quantities, though, users can become unresponsive and unconscious. Breathing can even stop, depriving the brain of the necessary oxygen. Too much of the drug can also lower the heart rate, so that blood pressure drops, and blood fails to circulate properly. Consumed in high doses or in combination with other drugs, Lunesta can also cause coma, brain damage or death.

Most individuals who overdose on this drug recover from experience, but it’s crucial to get help fast. That help depends somewhat on determining whether the person has used Lunesta alone or in combination with other drugs or substances. Lunesta overdose alone can be treated with an antagonist called Flumazenil combined with general supportive care to improve respiration and heart rate.

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Causes of Lunesta Overdose

An overdose to Lunesta might be an isolated accident, or perhaps a symptom of a bigger issue, especially if other substances are involved too. Lunesta isn’t a narcotic, but because it can be highly addictive, stopping it abruptly can cause withdrawal symptoms similar to those of typically addictive drugs like heroin and alcohol.

Lunesta overdose can also mean depression or an equivalent mood disorder that’s connected with thoughts of suicide – and those kinds of thoughts can be triggered by Lunesta itself, too. It’s crucial to find and address the underlying issues leading to the overdose as well as treat the immediate symptoms.

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If you or someone you love is struggling with Lunesta side effects brought about by misuse, abuse, or addiction, get them the safest help they need and deserve. We Level Up NJ offers a safe and medically-assisted Lunesta detox. Contact our team at We Level Up NJ today!

Lunesta side effects
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Sources:

[1] NIH – https://medlineplus.gov/druginfo/meds/a605009.html

[2] NCBI – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1325284/

[3] NCBI – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK548047/

[4] SAMHSA – https://www.samhsa.gov/data/sites/default/files/NSDUH-FFR2-2015/NSDUH-FFR2-2015.htm

[5] FDA – https://www.fda.gov/consumers/consumer-updates/taking-z-drugs-insomnia-know-risks