Zopiclone – also known by the brand names Imovane, Zimovane, and Dopareel among others – is a non-benzodiazepine sedative and hypnotic used in the treatment of insomnia. Zopiclone – typically found in tablet form – has, alongside its medical use, become notorious as a recreational drug – one of the so-called “Z drugs” group of prescription sedatives – thanks to its pleasurable tranquilising “high”. However, it also has a broad range of unpleasant and potentially dangerous side-effects, such as drowsiness and an impairment to motor skills which have contributed to a great many fatal accidents worldwide. Moreover, it is strongly addictive, with some users developing dependence to zopiclone within only a few weeks of use. In the UK zopiclone is a class C controlled drug, supposedly available only through subscription – although there is a substantial black market for the drug with many thousands of tablets procured each month via the dark web.
Zopiclone users take the drug for the dreamlike, slightly euphoric effects it produces, which can last for several hours and which have after-effects which can be felt for at least a day after consumption. As a hypnotic, zopiclone can hasten sleep by at least 15 minutes, although most people abusing the drug do not simply take it as a sleep aid, and will consume zopiclone at any time of day.
Side effects of zopiclone include headaches, dizziness and drowsiness. Many users report sleepwalking or performing other tasks whilst asleep, including driving and other activities which are extremely dangerous whilst intoxicated. A significant proportion of users are statistically likely to suffer broken bones and other injuries from falling whilst under the influence of zopiclone, white it has been a factor in several criminal cases where a person has been charged with a crime committed whilst intoxicated on zopiclone and professedly unaware of their actions.
When taken to excess, zopiclone can cause overdose, which can be fatal; the number of deaths in which zopiclone is a factor is increasing year-on-year, with an unknown proportion of these resulting from an intentional action (ie, suicide) on the part of the deceased.
In small quantities zopiclone use may be difficult to detect; from relatively small doses upwards, however, a degree of intoxication tends to manifest, which becomes more obvious as dosages increase. Users are likely to display uncoordinated movements and slurred speech, along with a degree of cognitive impairment, and inability to focus, and drowsiness which may lapse into sleep at inappropriate junctures.
Over the long term, zopiclone abuse can result in symptoms including chest pain; heart palpitations; nightmares; amnesia; abdominal pain; constipation; sinusitis; sore throat; dry mouth; lethargy; back pain; flu-like symptoms; dizziness; and depression – which can result both from the direct effects of the drug upon brain chemistry, and from the impact of addiction upon the addict’s life prospects, self-esteem, and general outlook.
Zopiclone addiction can seriously inhibit a person’s ability to function at the levels necessary to maintain steady employment – addicts are likely to miss days of work on a regular basis, to be frequently late, and to make basic errors in computation and/or display a clumsiness incompatible with manual work. This can have catastrophic impacts upon an addict’s financial well-being, which can be exacerbated by the cost of procuring the drug on the black market. As with any addiction, it can also be cataclysmic for personal relationships, including with partners or spouses and with children and other family members – which can have a deleterious effect upon the addict’s well-being, which can in turn feed into the spiral of substance abuse and addiction.
Zopiclone addiction can create a degree of physical dependence on the part of the user which can result in the manifestation of serious withdrawal symptoms if and when the addict ceases taking the drugs. The precise nature and severity of the symptoms will vary considerably from one user to another depending on various factors including the dosages consumed; the frequency of consumption; the length of the addiction; and the physiology of the addict, among others.
The withdrawal symptoms associated with nonbenzodiazepines can resemble those caused by benzodiazepines themselves, which can be extremely dangerous (alongside alcohol they are the only drug the withdrawal from which itself can kill). As a result withdrawal is a perilous process and should never be attempted without the assistance of a medical professional: various “at home detox” kits are available on the internet but doctors strongly advise against this method, for the aforementioned reason.
Many zopiclone addicts benefit from residential rehabilitation (“rehab”), in part because the first phase of rehab is invariably a medically assisted detox, with doctors on hand to ensure the safety of the addict and to minimise where possible the worse effects of withdrawal symptoms.
As noted above withdrawal can vary significantly from one user to another due to the factors mentioned. As a result, a “one size fits all” timeline for withdrawal is effectively impossible. Nevertheless, as a rough guide, if you are addicted to zopiclone, you may expect to experience withdrawal symptoms in something like the following manner:
After two weeks your symptoms should have disappeared. If they persist – in particular depression – you may be suffering from post-acute withdrawal syndrome (PAWS) which may last months or even years and will probably require therapy to counter its effects.
Over the last few decades, as sleeping pill addiction has become an increasingly prominent problem, a great many different approaches to treatment have been developed. Some of these are not endorsed by the medical profession – indeed, as noted above, some options exist which can be extremely dangerous for the addict – while others may not be appropriate for every user. It is vital that you consult your GP if you are suffering from a sleeping pill addiction before embarking on any course of treatment.
In general, there is a consensus that rehab is the most effective approach to addiction treatment and the one most likely to result in permanent recovery. The combination of medically assisted detox and on-site therapy in a secluded relaxed environment represents a holistic approach to treatment which no other option can replicate. A number of support groups including Narcotics Anonymous (NA) have been established worldwide providing help for recovering addicts, and attendance at such groups should form part of your long-term recovery plan; however, support groups such as NA do not themselves comprise treatment for your addiction, but are more a supplement to your recovery.
Some of the advantages to rehab include:
We specialise in providing tailored alcohol and drug addiction treatment to the client with dedicated family support. Addiction rarely affects just the individual, and we appreciate that this can be a stressful time for all those concerned. If you have any questions regarding our detox & rehab clinics, treatment needs, locations and cost – we can answer them!
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