When it comes to treating insomnia, most experts suggest that therapy works best. In a structured treatment program, people can learn more about how to prepare their minds and their bodies for sleep, and with this help, they can amend their daily routines and learn how to avoid the endless struggle to relax when nighttime draws near. Those who haven’t succeeded in therapy, or who wouldn’t consider enrolling in therapy, might ask for medication assistance. In 2005, doctors had a new drug to give these struggling people: Lunesta. Like most sleep aids, it is a potentially habit-forming drug.[i]
Power in a Pill
Unlike other sleep medications, which are typically members of the benzodiazepine family, Lunesta is classified as a sedative-hypnotic. In essence, each pill is designed to slow down activity of the central nervous system (CNS), allowing breathing rates to slow and tangled thoughts to unravel. These benefits sound ideal, but the drug does come with some significant concerns. For example, the drug’s own marketing scheme recognizes that researchers do not know entirely how the drug works.[ii] They’ve done studies that demonstrate that the drug can help people to sleep, but they’re not really sure of the chain reactions within the brain that lead to the relaxed state that produces sleep. These researchers suggest, however, that Lunesta works on GABA receptors inside the brain.
GABA is a chemical made by the cells of the brain, and it plays a role in feelings of happiness and calm. Tweaking this system might allow anxious thoughts to fade, but it might also have a secondary effect. Benzodiazepine medications, for example, amend the GABA system in the brain, and this amendment can result in a feeling of euphoria. It’s possible that the same kinds of changes could happen with Lunesta although no studies have confirmed that fact.
Some people with intense insomnia may experience relief with the help of Lunesta. For example, in a study in the journal Sleep, researchers report that the drug produced a significant improvement in a number of characteristics associated with sleep, including the time it took for people to fall asleep and the total amount of time people slept. People sometimes just feel better on this drug.[iii]
There may be people, however, who move from using the drug appropriately to abusing it. They may engage in the following destructive behaviors:
- Take high doses of the drug
- Take doses during the day
- Crush and snort doses, to make them work faster
- Plan their day around the abuse of Lunesta
The line between reasonable use and dangerous abuse might be different for each person who uses Lunesta, but it’s clear that the drug has the ability to make life quite difficult for some people with addictive tendencies.
Nasty Side Effects
In addition to triggering an addiction in some people, Lunesta has also been associated with a variety of very terrible side effects. In an article about the issue, Web MD lists the following possible side effects:
- Unpleasant tastes
- Daytime sleepiness
- Dry mouth
The drug has also been associated with episodes in which people do things while asleep, including driving.They may get into car crashes, spend money or otherwise do something dangerous while their minds are asleep, and they may have no memory of the episodes the next day.
It’s important to note that these side effects are present in people who take the drug at the proper doses under the supervision of a doctor. People who are addicted might take double, triple or even quadruple doses of Lunesta in order to feed their addictions, and their incidence of difficult side effects might be higher as a result. Taking the drugs while awake might also produce very difficult side effects, including hallucinations, according to Sunovion Pharmaceuticals.[v] The drug just isn’t designed to function in the minds of people who are awake and aware, and those who do take the drug while in this state may hear sounds others can’t detect, or they may have visual disturbances or unusual tactile sensations. For people who have underlying mental illnesses that cause psychosis, these symptoms could be deeply troubling.
How to Help
People taking Lunesta in dangerous ways need the help of a treatment program. In fact, they should visit a treatment center before they do anything at all about their addictions. Quitting drugs like this abruptly, in a cold-turkey fashion, isn’t a good idea as these drugs can cause persistent brain changes that lead to medical difficulties during withdrawal. In treatment, medical professionals can provide therapies to soothe that distress.
At The Canyon, we’d like to help you if you’re abusing Lunesta. We can offer you intensive therapy programs that can allow you to understand your craving for drugs, and we can introduce you to techniques that can allow you to sleep without the use of drugs. Our campus is lush and restful, and it might be the perfect place for you as you heal. Please call us today at our toll-free, 24 hour helpline for a private and free consultation. Our caring admissions coordinators can answer all your questions and get you started on a healthier life now.