Lunesta is the brand name of eszopiclone, a prescription medication used to treat insomnia. Like alcohol, it can cause memory problems, impaired coordination, drowsiness, dizziness, and reduced alertness, all of which may be increased when the drugs are used together.
Lunesta and alcohol each depress your central nervous system (CNS). This action becomes more intense when these drugs are misused, especially when abused together. Extreme CNS depression from an overdose can happen easily, causing respiratory depression, coma, and death.
With our fast-paced and demanding lifestyles, sleep is often viewed as an indulgence. Because of this, many people cut back on it and suffer the effects of doing so down the road. When this catches up with a person, or the stress of their hectic life, some people attempt to treat their sleep issues themselves. And with a third of US adults sleeping less than is recommended for a healthy lifestyle, the potential for this type of misuse if far reaching.
What Is Lunesta Used For?
The American Sleep Association reports that 50 to 70 million adults suffer from some form of a sleep disorder, the most common of which is insomnia. They detail that thirty percent of Americans experience short-term problems with insomnia, while ten percent struggle with it chronically.
It’s because of these sleep difficulties that sleep aids like Lunesta (generic name of eszopiclone) are prescribed. Lunesta is within a class of drugs commonly referred to as “Z drugs.” This class includes other hypnotic sleep aids Ambien and Sonata, both of which are also abused and dangerous when used with alcohol.
Lunesta tablets are round and may be either 1mg, 2mg, or 3mg, and be colored light blue, white, and dark blue, respectively. Though scientists aren’t quite sure why this drug produces its effects, they do know that it works on receptors in your brain which benzodiazepines target. This is why it produces a sedative hypnotic effect, and also why a lot of benzodiazepine abusers try Lunesta recreationally.
When used as prescribed, Lunesta can offer temporary relief from insomnia. But it does have potential for abuse and addiction when misused, which is why you should never use this drug upon your own volition. When prescribed, the highest dose of Lunesta should not exceed 3 mg, once a day. But recreational users are reported to take two, three, and five times more than this, with some going beyond even this.
Why Do People Mix Lunesta And Alcohol?
Some people make a casual decision to have a glass of wine or other drink with Lunesta to increase the odds they’ll fall asleep, thinking that if both relax them, then surely the effect is better together. Recreational users take both to increase the buzz and level of intoxication from each. Once these drugs mix, what you intend and what happens may be two very different things. Combining these drugs is hazardous and may take your life.
Can You Drink Alcohol At All While Using Lunesta?
When you hear “don’t drink alcohol with Lunesta,” it means that you should not drink alcohol with, or in the evening before, your dose. This is one hundred percent true, and to protect your health and life you should always abide by this rule. Failing to do so can aggravate the side effects of both drugs. It may even put your life in danger.
But this warning has another side for some. Even drinking earlier in the day may create adverse effects, according to DailyMed. “Additive effects occur with concomitant use of other CNS depressants (e.g., benzodiazepines, opioids, tricyclic antidepressants, alcohol), including daytime use.”
It’s worth noting that anecdotal reports suggest that some people may be very sensitive to Lunesta’s effects, even after a significant amount of time has passed since the last dosage. These individuals may suffer adverse side effects if they drink a day to two days following the dosage (even when they don’t take Lunesta the subsequent nights). Risks are reported to include intense and uncharacteristic mood shifts, anger, depression, and/or suicidal ideation.
If you’re considering consuming alcohol while taking Lunesta, even if you use it sporadically, you should speak to your primary care doctor before proceeding.
What Are The Dangers Of Mixing Lunesta And Alcohol?
Car Accidents: Some individuals sleep drive on Lunesta. If they’re also using alcohol their motor skills and reaction time will be even more impaired, increasing the odds of an accident, and injury or death to themselves and/or others.
Decreased Concentration: Your concentration can plummet under the influence of both drugs. This can be dangerous if you’re engaged in an activity which requires focus, such as driving or operating heavy machinery (neither of which you should be doing on either drug, let alone one, but some people do due to impaired judgement).
Falls And Injuries: Lunesta creates sensations of drowsiness and dizziness, as does alcohol. When combined, these effects become more evident, which increases the odds of falls and injuries.
Impaired Memory: Both drugs cause memory problems. When taken together, this could become so severe that a person blacks out, having no recollection of the events which occurred.
Increased Risk Of Abuse And Addiction: DailyMed cautions that individuals who have a history of substance abuse or mental illness have a higher likelihood of Lunesta abuse and dependence. With this said, people who abuse alcohol or suffer from an alcohol addiction may have a harder time moderating their Lunesta intake, which could lead to abuse and addiction.
Mood Changes: Alcohol exacerbates and changes the way your react to many of the mood shifts linked to Lunesta. These include aggression, confusion, depression, hallucinations, and paranoia. Some of these could trigger more substance abuse as a person tries to self-medicate, or even lead to violence. This could subsequently increase the risk of other adverse health effects, including addiction, overdose, and death.
Overdose: As CNS depressants, both Lunesta and alcohol slow down your blood pressure, breathing, heart, and temperature rates. If you double up and abuse both, these effects are experienced more heavily, in a why which could lead to overdose, coma, and death. If a person falls asleep from the Lunesta before this occurs, they’re in even greater danger as they won’t realize it’s happening in time to get help.
Suicide Risk: Some people experience suicidal ideation (thoughts of suicide) when taking Lunesta. Should these people take alcohol (or even people who haven’t had these thoughts) this ideation may progress to the extreme.
Unsafe Sex: Alcohol, alone, can impair a person’s judgement, leading them to make unsound sexual choices. When Lunesta’s thrown in the mix, this is even more likely. Further, should a person pass out while taking both, they could experience sexual assault or rape.
How Do People Abuse Lunesta?
Any time you take a drug other than prescribed or use someone else’s prescription, you’re abusing the medication. Self-medicating insomnia is still considered drug abuse. This holds true even if you have a prescription for Lunesta, but chooses to take more of the drug than was prescribed. Without the guidance of a physician, you’re putting yourself at risk of developing health problems and addiction.
If a person is using Lunesta recreationally, they may take more of the drug than would typically be prescribed and/or change the form of administration (chewing it or crushing and snorting it). Some recreational abusers seek a pleasurable feeling from the drug and equate the buzz of Lunesta to benzos. Used this way, these individuals hope to feel a head buzz, very relaxed, or calm.
Get Treatment For Lunesta or Alcohol Abuse Today
No one should mix Lunesta and alcohol under any circumstance. If someone you know is purposefully mixing the two drugs together, they may need professional help. Contact one of our treatment specialists today for more information. All calls are 100 percent confidential.
For More Information Related to “The Dangers Of Mixing Lunesta With Alcohol” Be Sure To Check Out These Additional Resources From AlcoholTreatment.net:
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention — Sleep and Sleep Disorders
MedlinePlus — Eszopiclone
US National Library of Medicine — Eszopiclone (Lunesta): a new nonbenzodiazepine hypnotic agent