Zopiclone Addiction - Signs, Symptoms, Effects & Treatment (2023)

Written by: Zopiclone Addiction - Signs, Symptoms, Effects & Treatment (1) Dale Conlon

Medically Reviewed by: Zopiclone Addiction - Signs, Symptoms, Effects & Treatment (2) Dr Mateen Durrani – MBBS, DPM, MSc, BCPsych

Last Updated: November 30th, 2022

Insomnia affects millions of people in the UK and one of the most commonly prescribed medications for the condition is zopiclone. Commonly sold under the brand names Zimonvane, Imovane and Dopareel, zopiclone can be an effective, short-term solution for insomnia but also carries a serious risk of abuse and zopiclone addiction.

Like many forms of prescription drug addiction, you may not even realise that you are addicted to zopiclone until it is too late and the drug has completely taken over your life. Whileit can be difficult to overcome, with the right treatment and support, it is possible to break the grip of addiction and get your life back on track.

Zopiclone Addiction - Signs, Symptoms, Effects & Treatment (3)

What is zopiclone?

Zopiclone is a hypnotic sedative commonly prescribed for people with sleep issues such as insomnia. It belongs to the family of non-benzodiazepine sleeping pills which were in part developed because of the addictive nature of benzodiazepines. Despite this intention, however, there are many cases of people developing sleeping pills addiction to non-benzos such as zopiclone.

Zopiclone comes in pill form and is a Class-C substance in the UK that is only available on prescription. Yet, it is often taken recreationally with users seeking a zopiclone high which involves feelings of euphoria and tranquillity. Those who abuse zopiclone may get the drug from friends or family members, by doctor shopping (visiting multiple doctors to get multiple prescriptions) or even purchasing it illegally online or on the black market.

(Video) 5 Signs You're Addicted To Sleeping Pills | Health

Why is zopiclone addictive?

You can become addicted to zopiclone both as a result of taking the drug on prescription, and when you take it for recreational use. The drug works by increasing GABA activity in the brain which causes a sense of relaxation and tranquillity.

However, part of the reason that zopiclone is addictive is that your body can quickly become tolerant to the effects of zopiclone, meaning that larger doses are needed to get the desired effect. This tolerance can lead to physical dependence on the medication where you need it just to feel okay and to avoid unpleasant zopiclone withdrawal symptoms which arise when you stop taking it.

When you are addicted to zopiclone, you will continue to take it despite the negative consequences and will experience strong cravings for the drug. This can make it very difficult to live a normal, everyday life as you become totally preoccupied with getting and taking the medication.

Who is most at risk of zopiclone addiction?

While the potential for zopiclone addiction is present for anyone who takes the drug, some of the risk factors that can increase your chances of becoming addicted to zopiclone include:

  • A family history of addiction
  • Taking zopiclone in high doses or for longer than prescribed by your doctor
  • Using zopiclone to cope with stress, anxiety or depression
  • A history of trauma for which you use zopiclone to cope
  • A history of substance abuse
  • Easy access to zopiclone

What are the negative health effects of zopiclone addiction?

There are a number of short-term and long-term effects of zopiclone addiction.

Zopiclone side effects short-term use:

  • Headaches
  • Dizziness
  • Drowsiness
  • Cognitive impairment
  • Increased risk of accidents due to dangerous behaviour

Zopiclone Addiction - Signs, Symptoms, Effects & Treatment (4)

Zopiclone side effects long-term use:

  • Impaired memory
  • Depression and anxiety
  • Liver damage
  • Chest pains and heart palpitations
  • Nightmares
  • Amnesia
  • Abdominal pains
  • Constipation
  • Flu-like symptoms
  • Slowed breathing
  • Fatal overdose

Other serious potential side effects of long-term use include an increased risk of suicide due to depression or psychotic episodes and “rebound insomnia”, which is when you become tolerant to zopiclone and it stops being effective.

It is because of these side effects that the medication is only prescribed for four weeks at a time with the smallest dose possible.

How does zopiclone addiction affect the rest of your life?

Zopiclone addiction can seriously inhibit your ability to function at the levels necessary to maintain steady employment as you are more likely to miss work on a regular basis, to be frequently late and to make basic errors in your day-to-day work duties. This can have a huge impact on your financial well-being which can be exacerbated by the cost of procuring the drug on the black market.

It can also have serious ramifications for personal relationships, including with partners, children and other family members. These issues can cause further mental and emotional distress which only fuels the addiction further.

(Video) A Weird Side Effect Of Zopiclone (Imovane) | Pharmacist Explains

Am I addicted to zopiclone?

Before we explain what zopiclone addiction treatment entails, it is important to know whether you are actually addicted to zopiclone and would benefit from treatment. To recognise the signs of zopiclone addiction, ask yourself the following questions:

  • Do I continue taking zopiclone even though it has negative consequences on my life?
  • Have I taken larger doses of zopiclone than were prescribed or taken the drug for longer than I was supposed to?
  • Do I experience strong cravings or zopiclone withdrawal symptoms when I haven’t taken the drug?
  • Have I tried to quit zopiclone but been unsuccessful?
  • Do I use zopiclone to cope with difficult emotions, stress or anxiety?
  • Have I procured zopiclone illegally?

If you answered yes to any of the above questions, it is likely that you are addicted to zopiclone and require professional help.

What does zopiclone addiction treatment involve?

Effective zopiclone addiction treatment follows a three-stage process: detox, rehab and aftercare. Each stage is very important in addressing the complex, multi-faceted nature of zopiclone addiction and giving you the best possible chance of permanent recovery.

Zopiclone detox

Zopiclone detox is when you stop taking the drug and allow your body to heal and rid itself of any traces of the drug. While the length and severity of zopiclone withdrawal symptoms vary from person to person depending on factors such as how long you have been taking zopiclone and in what quantities, it can be very unpleasant and potentially even fatal.

This is why Primrose Lodge provides inpatient zopiclone detox where our team of medical professionals will give you a full assessment upon admission so that we are able to provide you with a tailored detox plan throughout your stay.

Zopiclone withdrawal timeline

As noted above withdrawal can vary significantly from one user to another but a typical zopiclone withdrawal timeline will look something like this:

1-2 days: A day or so after the last dose of zopiclone you will start feeling anxiety, irritability and occasional muscle spasms. Your mood is likely to be low, and you may start feeling nauseous.

2-5 days: During the main phase of withdrawal you may feel intense nausea and indigestion; extreme restlessness; wildly oscillating moods; insomnia; pronounced sweating; hallucinations; and constant intense cravings for zopiclone.

5-14 days: Withdrawal symptoms will start to fade in intensity after around five days of detoxing from zopiclone; the above symptoms may still occur, though less frequently. Your sleep is likely to remain disrupted; a pronounced lethargy and depression may set in.

After two weeks your zopiclone withdrawal symptoms should have disappeared. If they persist, particularly if they are serious ones like depression, you may be suffering from post-acute withdrawal syndrome (PAWS) which will require ongoing medical support.

(Video) ZOPICLONE (IMOVANE): Review, Uses, Side Effects, Mechanism of Action

Zopiclone rehab

Alongside detox, effective recovery also requires zopiclone rehab during which time you will learn to recognise and understand the underlying causes of your zopiclone addiction and learn the skills you need to overcome it. At Primrose Lodge, we provide inpatient zopiclone rehab where you stay in our centre as a resident for the duration of your treatment. This will allow you to connect with our staff and the other clients in recovery, distance yourself from external distractions and focus on yourself and your recovery.

During your rehabilitation, you will benefit from a variety of evidence-based therapies which are designed to help you work through your underlying issues or prevent relapse. Our zopiclone rehab programme includes:

  • One-to-one counselling
  • Group therapy
  • Cognitive behavioural therapy
  • Family therapy
  • Art and music therapy
  • Yoga
  • Meditation

Zopiclone Addiction - Signs, Symptoms, Effects & Treatment (5)


Once you have completed zopiclone detox and rehab, it is important to have a structured plan in place for your continued recovery after you leave Primrose Lodge. To help with the transition, we provide one year’s free weekly group therapy sessions which will give you:

  • A continued source of support during zopiclone recovery
  • The opportunity to meet and learn from others on the same journey
  • A chance to process and discuss any issues that arise in your post-treatment life

Through this ongoing connection and support, you will never again be left alone to try and cope with your zopiclone addiction.

Tips for preventing zopiclone addiction relapse

In addition to participating fully in your aftercare programme, here are three top tips to help you stay zopiclone-free after leaving rehab:

#1 Avoid high-risk situations

Remind yourself of the potential risks associated with zopiclone use and take steps to avoid them. This could mean avoiding places that you associate with using or people who are still using.

#2 Stay connected

Maintain contact with your support network whether this is friends, family or people you met in rehab. This will help to remind you that you’re not alone in your zopiclone recovery journey and will give you people to lean on during difficult moments.

#3 Practise self-care

Focus on getting enough sleep, eating healthily and practising mindfulness and calming activities such as yoga, meditation or walking if you find yourself getting cravings for zopiclone. You can also try out new healthy hobbies which will prevent boredom and give you the opportunity to meet new people.

How to take the first step

Zopiclone abuse and addiction are incredibly dangerous so it is important you reach out for help as soon as possible. Get in touch with Primrose Lodge today and we can help you begin your journey to recovery.

(Video) Sarah’s story | Zopiclone dependency and withdrawal

Frequently asked questions

Is zopiclone dangerous?

Yes, zopiclone is an incredibly powerful sedative and misusing it can be incredibly dangerous. It can cause physical and psychological dependence and pose potentially fatal health risks. If you have been prescribed zopiclone, only take it as directed by your doctor. If you experience any adverse effects or feel like you are becoming addicted, seek help immediately.

Can you die from zopiclone withdrawal?

Along with alcohol and benzodiazepines, non-benzos like zopiclone are some of the most dangerous drugs when it comes to withdrawal. While rare, zopiclone withdrawal can be potentially fatal which is why you should only ever attempt to quit under medical supervision.

What are the alternatives to zopiclone?

There are a number of potential alternatives to zopiclone including Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, lifestyle changes and herbal remedies. The NHS has even started prescribing an app with one study conducted by NICE (the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence) finding that it could be more effective than sleeping pills like zopiclone for managing and overcoming insomnia.

(Video) Can you be addicted to Z drugs such as Zopiclone?


What happens when you come off zopiclone? ›

The withdrawal symptoms described included anxiety, sleeping difficulties, tremor and diarrhoea. Physical dependence can occur with zopiclone, although much less frequently than with benzodiazepines.

What are the symptoms of too much zopiclone? ›

Serious side effects
  • get a poor memory (amnesia)
  • see or hear things that are not real (hallucinations)
  • fall over, especially if you're over 65 years of age.
  • think things that are not true (delusions)
  • feel low or sad (have depression)

How long does it take for zopiclone to become addictive? ›

It can hasten sleep onset by 15 minutes and induces a euphoric dream-like state. However, it is strongly addictive, with some users developing dependence to zopiclone within only a few weeks of use.

How long do withdrawal symptoms last coming off zopiclone? ›

After around five days of detoxing, the withdrawal symptoms of Zopiclone will begin to dissipate in intensity. Some symptoms may still occur, such as depression, lethargy, or disrupted sleep. Most Zopiclone withdrawal symptoms tend to fade away entirely after two weeks.

What is the long-term damage of zopiclone? ›

Fatal overdose

Other serious potential side effects of long-term use include an increased risk of suicide due to depression or psychotic episodes and “rebound insomnia”, which is when you become tolerant to zopiclone and it stops being effective.

Can zopiclone be stopped suddenly? ›

Acute withdrawal can result in physiological and psychological effects, and a dose reduction strategy that aims to slowly wean patients off benzodiazepines and zopiclone is best practice. A gradual taper has been shown to improve the rate of successful discontinuation and avoid effects of withdrawal.

Why is zopiclone banned in us? ›

On April 4, 2005, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration listed zopiclone under schedule IV, due to evidence that the drug has addictive properties similar to benzodiazepines. Zopiclone, as traditionally sold worldwide, is a racemic mixture of two stereoisomers, only one of which is active.

Why is zopiclone so addictive? ›

Zopiclone, or similar drugs like Zolpidem, affect the same part of the brain as benzodiazepines and alcohol, hence cross tolerance among these drugs can occur. A person can become dependent on Zopiclone, where their body becomes so used to functioning with the drug that it needs it to feel 'normal'.

What does zopiclone do to the brain? ›

How zopiclone works. The brain naturally releases calming chemicals. One of these chemicals is called gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA.) Zopiclone works by boosting the effects of GABA and this helps to calm the brain, enabling you to get to sleep.

What can I take instead of zopiclone? ›

Benzodiazepines (such as Temazepam or Loprazolam) and the newer "Z medicines" (such as Zopiclone or Zolpidem) are the preferred drugs for insomnia. Both types of drugs work in a similar way. If one doesn't work, swapping to the other is unlikely to have a different effect.

What class of drug is zopiclone? ›

Zopiclone belongs to a class of drugs known as sedatives/hypnotics. It acts in your brain to produce a calming effect. This medication is usually limited to short-term treatment periods of 7 to 10 days or less.

Is zopiclone a benzo? ›

Zopiclone: a non-benzodiazepine hypnotic.

What happens to your body when you stop taking sleeping pills? ›

Patients will experience generalized anxiety, and sometimes go on to have full-blown panic attacks once they stop taking sleeping pills. Patients will also experience rebound insomnia. Confusion and hallucinations may occur, and depression may start to manifest about three weeks after cessation.

How is zopiclone cleared? ›

Zopiclone is partly metabolised in the liver to form an inactive N-demethylated derivative and an active N-oxide metabolite. In addition, approximately 50% of the administered dose is decarboxylated and excreted via the lungs. Less than 7% of the administered dose is renally excreted as unchanged zopiclone.

Is zopiclone hard on kidneys? ›

Kidney function: Kidney disease or reduced kidney function may cause this medication to build up in the body, causing side effects. If you have kidney problems, you may require lower doses of this medication.

Does zopiclone build up in your system? ›

If Zopiclone is taken regularly for an extended period of time, a person can build up a tolerance to it and would require higher doses to help them sleep. This is why the drug is generally recommended as only a short-term treatment option for insomnia.

Can long-term use of zopiclone cause dementia? ›

Long-term uses of BZDs may cause cognitive impairment and increase the risk for dementia in older patients. NBZD as an agonist of the GABAA receptor complex includes eszopiclone, zopiclone, zolpidem, and zaleplon, also collectively known as Z drugs.

Does zopiclone cause cognitive decline? ›

Long-term uses of BZDs may cause cognitive impairment and increase the risk for dementia in older patients. NBZD as an agonist of the GABAA receptor complex includes eszopiclone, zopiclone, zolpidem, and zaleplon, also collectively known as Z drugs.

What is the FDA warning for zopiclone? ›

Health care professionals should not prescribe eszopiclone, zaleplon, or zolpidem to patients who have a history of complex sleep behavior after taking these insomnia medicines. Patients should be advised that rare, but serious injuries and death are possible.

Is zopiclone an abused drug? ›

Zopiclone is often abused by people suffering with anxiety and depression for its calming effect on the brain. It is also frequently combined with other substances, such as alcohol and painkillers to intensify the euphoric state. This can be extremely dangerous, even fatal.

What sleeping pill is better than zopiclone? ›

Conclusions: Clonidine is significantly better than zopiclone with respect to sleep quality, analgesia, tolerability profile, and patient safety.

What is a good substitute for zopiclone? ›

Benzodiazepines (such as Temazepam or Loprazolam) and the newer "Z medicines" (such as Zopiclone or Zolpidem) are the preferred drugs for insomnia. Both types of drugs work in a similar way. If one doesn't work, swapping to the other is unlikely to have a different effect.


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