Lunesta is a sleep drug that is in a category known as hypnotics, according to Medline Plus. These drugs are prescribed to individuals who have difficulty either falling asleep or staying asleep once they have managed to drift off. They are available only by prescription from a doctor; however, some individuals abuse these types of drugs in a variety of ways. Lunesta abuse can be intentional or unintentional, but both forms are dangerous and can result in addiction.
Unintentional Abuse of Lunesta Can Begin Innocently and End in Addiction
When we think of drug abuse, we may have a distinct and vivid image in our minds. We think of individuals who deliberately obtain drugs from a shady character on the street or in a dimly lit alley. Perhaps we have an image of the stereotypical drug dealer earning a fortune in ill-gotten gains. Lunesta abuse can occur much more subtly than that when the drugs are obtained with a legal prescription from a trusted doctor. When a physician prescribes any type of drug, he or she will give the patient specific instructions. The patient should take a certain number of pills or doses at a certain time each day or evening. If the symptoms being treated change in some way that is not expected, the individual should inform the doctor so adjustments can be made and records updated to reflect the changes. If the patient deviates from these instructions, he or she is engaging in drug abuse. When it comes to sleep aids, such as Lunesta, the patient may feel as though the medication isn’t working properly because they are still unable to fall asleep. Rather than seeking the advice of their doctor, they may simply take a second dose only a few hours after the first. After a while, they may give up on the original dose and simply increase it at bedtime, rather than suffering through sleeplessness for several hours.
Another form of Lunesta abuse can occur when individuals share prescriptions given to others. Two women, over a casual lunch, may engage in a conversation about how neither of them is sleeping well. One may innocently mention to the other that her problem has been treated successfully with Lunesta, and she offers her friend a dosage to “give it a try.” The intention certainly may be to help her friend, and her belief is that one pill certainly won’t harm anyone. What happens, however, when her friend explains that she is unable to obtain her own prescription, for whatever reason, and they begin to share the one prescription between them? In both of these scenarios, there are inherent risks. The individual who “borrows” a prescription from a friend does not have the background records and diagnosis to warrant a safe prescription which could lead to significant medical problems going undiagnosed. In both cases, the individuals who are misusing the drug are at risk for increased tolerance and addiction.
Danger of Lunesta Abuse
According to the manufacturer of Lunesta, there is no timeframe for the duration of Lunesta use. However, the experts from the National Institutes of Health’s Medline Plus state that hypnotics should only be used for a short duration, up to four weeks. The reason that these types of hypnotics should not be used over a prolonged amount of time, or indefinitely, is because the drugs are addictive in nature. In addition to the addictive properties of these types of drugs, there are other dangerous and disconcerting side effects even with normal use. For example, individuals who have taken Lunesta have reported:
- Driving their car in the middle of the night with absolutely no memory the next day
- Eating excessively while they are asleep to the detriment of their health and their food budget
- Having unprotected sex with no memory of the event
- Making phone calls to friends, family or even employers in the middle of the night and having other conversations that they cannot recall later
Difference Between Dependence and Addiction
When an individual has taken a prescription drug for a long period of time, they are at risk of becoming dependent upon the drug. If they stop taking the drug too suddenly, for instance, they may experience withdrawal symptoms. However, they may not experience the behavioral changes that occur when addiction has developed. Addiction is a chronic disease of the brain that is marked by relapse, or an inability to stop abusing drugs even when the person is fully aware that the drug abuse is causing significant social and economical problems in their life.
Both dependence and addiction can be treated successfully. While experts aren’t exactly certain why some individuals will become addicted while others may escape such a fate, they do agree that certain aspects of care are necessary in order for treatment to be effective, including:
- There is no single treatment that will work for everyone because even if individuals are addicted to the same types of substances, they will often have very different manifestations of addiction.
- When an individual is ready to receive treatment, it is most effective to have treatment readily and immediately available to reduce the chances that the individual will change their mind.
- Treatment must address all of a person’s needs, including physical, emotional, social, legal, and vocational so that the individual’s entire life can be placed onto an even keel.
- Treatment must be of a significant or adequate length of time based on the needs of the individual without a predetermined end.
- Treatment should include evidence-based therapies for behavior including individual, family or group therapy.
- Treatment plans should be flexible enough to meet the changing needs of any individual seeking treatment and should be assessed frequently for progress.
- Individuals seeking treatment may suffer from co-occurring disorders and should therefore be evaluated at the beginning of the treatment plan.
Reducing and Eliminating Stress as a Component of Lunesta Abuse Treatment
The Mayo Clinic has stated that one of the causes for insomnia is stress. We live in a hectic society much of the time, with responsibilities at school, home, and work weighing heavily on our minds. Other situations including a death in the family or recent illness or injury can also add stress leading to insomnia. According to the Huffington Post, stress is also a factor in drug addiction relapse. An individual who is facing treatment for Lunesta abuse and addiction may be concerned about whether or not they will be able to control their insomnia and deal with the stress of recovery. This is certainly a legitimate concern, and the experts at Futures of Palm Beach understand these worries. When seeking treatment for Lunesta abuse, it is possible to reduce stress levels by participating in an inpatient treatment program where you are completely immersed in the recovery process and have access to the tranquil surroundings and knowledgeable staff that can help. For example, yoga is a form of meditation that has been shown to reduce anxiety levels, according to the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine. Not only can yoga classes during treatment help with the immediate stress and anxiety of recovery, but these lessons can be carried over into one’s daily life after treatment. If you or someone you love may be suffering from a Lunesta addiction as a result of Lunesta abuse, please do not assume that everything will work itself out. Drug addiction is a serious illness that often needs professional attention to control. However, with the proper attention and the use of effective, evidence-based therapies, it is possible to overcome addiction and manage this disease for the rest of a very healthy, productive lifetime. Call us today for more information.