What are the risks of using Zopiclone?

Zopiclone is a non-benzodiazepine drug. It is most commonly used to treat insomnia. Zopiclone is often referred to as a “Z-drug”, along with Zolpidem and Zelplon. The drug works by relaxing the person who takes it, allowing them to fall asleep faster as well as increasing the duration of sleep. This type of drug is also commonly referred to as a “hypnotic agent” due to its sleepy or drowsy effects.

What is Zopiclone?

One of the reasons people prefer to use zopiclone over other benzodiazepines is that it is not as easy to develop dependence or withdrawal symptoms. However, those risks still exist, just not as strongly. Zopiclone is usually prescribed for short periods of time, not exceeding a few weeks. This is to make sure that the individual taking it does not develop tolerance, dependence or other side effects.

Is Zopiclone effective at treating insomnia?

Zopiclone is well known for its “rapid onset of action”, which means that when you take it, you will feel the effects very quickly. The drug typically takes effect within one hour of ingestion.

While zopiclone is very effective in treating symptoms of insomnia, it is not a cure for it. If you struggle with insomnia, it is important that you find a professional to help you tackle the underlying issues that cause it. This will normally include long-term management strategies such as stress and anxiety management. These two issues are typically the primary reasons why people develop insomnia.

It is also very important that the patient carefully follows their healthcare provider’s instructions. This includes dosage and duration of treatment in order to minimise risks.

Zopiclone addiction symptoms: Dependence and withdrawal

As mentioned, Zopiclone is generally much safer than most benzodiazepines, with a lower risk of dependence. However, if an individual were to misuse Zopiclone for a long period, it would lead to serious physical and psychological dependence (zopiclone addiction). This happens when the body and mind become used to the presence of the drug and forget how to function normally without it.

What is withdrawal from Zopiclone?

If an individual then abruptly stops using the drug, it will lead to withdrawal symptoms. This is especially true if the drug has been used regularly for a long time or at high doses. The types of symptoms can vary in how intense they are.

Here is a short list of typical zopiclone withdrawal symptoms:

  • Anxiety
  • Restlessness
  • Insomnia rebound (a worsening of sleep problems)
  • Irritability
  • Tremors
  • Nausea
  • In severe cases, seizures.

How can I avoid physical and psychological dependence?

The medical professional must prescribe zopiclone only for short-term use. This means a period of three weeks at maximum. They should also recommend that you gradually reduce your dosage of the drug rather than stopping use abruptly. This is done to avoid the intensity of withdrawal symptoms. Reducing use gradually allows the body and mind to adjust slowly to the absence of zopiclone.

Psychological dependence (or zopiclone addiction) can also develop if the individual starts abusing the drug. This happens when the individual begins to rely entirely on the drug. They can even start believing that their insomnia will return if they stop or that they can’t sleep without it. Cognitive-behavioural therapy (CBT) and other strategies are the best when it comes to addressing the psychological parts of dependence. It will help develop healthier sleeping habits.

Residual risks of Zopiclone

“Residual effects” is another way of saying “aftereffects”. This is the equivalent of a drinking hangover. It refers to the effects that a user may feel, usually after waking up following the use of the drug. Zopiclone is evidently very effective for inducing sleep, but its action can extend beyond the sleep period. This will lead to many symptoms active on “the day after”, impacting the user’s daily well-being.


The most common residual effect of zopiclone use is daytime drowsiness or sleepiness. Because of the strong effects of zopiclone, it usually causes some individuals to feel very tired and lethargic the next day. It can affect their ability to perform tasks that require alertness, such as driving or operating machinery. It can also affect their general productivity at work or school.

Damaged appetite

Another common after-effect is a metallic taste in the mouth. This unpleasant taste can persist until the next day and impacts appetite and food enjoyment.

How do I reduce the residual effects?

To reduce these after-effects, professionals should recommend that the user only takes the drug when they can have a full night’s sleep (7-8 hours). They should also avoid activities that require alertness if they feel tired or sleepy the next day. If the effects are very strong, the user should consider switching to another medication.

Side effects of zopiclone addiction

Apart from the residual effects already mentioned, other side effects are dizziness, headache, confusion, and memory impairment in some cases.

There can also be gastrointestinal issues such as nausea and abdominal discomfort. However, these aren’t as common.

In the rarest of cases, zopiclone use or zopiclone addiction can cause hallucinations, agitations and behavioural changes, which require immediate medical attention.

Zopiclone use in pregnant women

Pregnant women should approach the use of zopiclone with caution. Medical guidelines generally advise against using the drug during pregnancy, especially in the first term. This is normally due to concerns about the potential for negative effects on foetal development.

The main concern around using zopiclone, or any medication during pregnancy, is that the drug may cross the placental barrier. There is a risk of malformations once the baby is born.

Additionally, the use of sedative drugs like zopiclone close to delivery might expose the newborn to risks like respiratory depression, feeding issues and withdrawal symptoms.

Healthcare professionals usually explore alternative management strategies for insomnia in pregnant women, such as CBT for insomnia and improvements in sleep hygiene.

If zopiclone is deemed necessary, it is usually prescribed at the lowest effective dose and for the shortest duration possible to mitigate potential risks.

Seeking help with UKAT

UKAT offers support to anyone struggling with zopiclone addiction. We provide a range of services which are a part of Zopiclone addiction recovery treatment. The goal is to supervise detoxification in a safe medical environment.

We also want to make sure that any withdrawal symptoms are safely managed in the right way. We understand how important it is to have a medical professional on hand so that you don’t make mistakes when trying to self-medicate yourself back into a state of physical and emotional well-being.

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