Lunesta, the brand name for eszopiclone, is a prescription sedative used to treat insomnia. Comparable to drugs such as Ambien (zolpidem) and Sonata (zaleplon), Lunesta is a fast-acting drug capable of helping people fall asleep quickly and stay asleep.
However, Lunesta can also have some concerning side effects, such as sleep-walking and lasting drowsiness. Drinking alcohol while taking Lunesta can increase the risk for these effects, as well as several other potential dangers that in severe cases can be lethal.
Although some people who drink alcohol while taking Lunesta may be unaware of the dangers, mixing the two substances is also a sign of drug abuse and addiction. If you or someone you know is struggling with an addiction to alcohol and Lunesta, addiction treatment may be needed.
What Are The Side Effects Of Drinking While Taking Lunesta?
Lunesta and alcohol belong to a category of substances known as central nervous system (CNS) depressants. This means that they both slow, or depress, functions in the body that are controlled by the central nervous system. This includes cognitive functions such as concentration, as well as physical reflexes and movement.
When taken together, the individual effects of these drugs can become even more intense. In the case of alcohol and Lunesta, this can be dangerous, leading to extreme sedation and other potentially life-threatening symptoms.
The most common side effects that can occur from mixing alcohol and Lunesta include:
- decreased coordination
- slowed or difficulty breathing
- lack of control over reflexes or movements
- memory problems
- bizarre behavior
- suicidal thoughts
- loss of consciousness
The likelihood of experiencing these side effects can depend on the dose of Lunesta taken and the amount of alcohol consumed. Other factors such as older age, having a history of substance abuse, and other medical conditions may increase the chance of negative side effects.
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Why Would Someone Mix Lunesta And Alcohol?
In some cases, people who are taking Lunesta may be unaware of the side effects of drinking alcohol while taking the drug. Others may mix the two if they feel that Lunesta alone isn’t strong enough to help them fall asleep.
Combining sleeping pills with alcohol can also be a sign of drug abuse. This is more common among people who struggle with addiction, as mixing the two can make their combined effects stronger than taking one or the other alone.
In addition to its primary effect of drowsiness, high doses of Lunesta may cause euphoria and hallucinations. Mixing it with alcohol may increase the chance of experiencing these symptoms and make them more intense.
Dangers Of Mixing Lunesta And Alcohol
Sleeping pills like Lunesta are listed by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) as drugs that can have harmful interactions with alcohol. Due to this, the FDA advises against drinking alcohol while taking Lunesta.
The most immediate danger of mixing alcohol with Lunesta is the high risk for overdose. This can lead to serious health complications without treatment, including death.
Other dangers of mixing Lunesta with alcohol include:
- engaging in risky behaviors while only half-awake
- increased suicide risk
- drug abuse and addiction
One of the side effects that can occur when taking Lunesta is memory impairment or amnesia. This is most common among people who either do not go to bed after taking the drug or take a dose of 2 milligrams (mg) or higher.
Mixing alcohol with Lunesta can worsen or increase the chance of memory problems. People who mix alcohol with Lunesta may experience blackouts or be unable to recall events that occurred after consuming taking the two substances.
In 2014, the FDA issued a drug safety statement reporting that people who take Lunesta dosages of 2 mg or more may be at risk for engaging in activities while only half-awake.
The most common sleepwalking activities reported by those taking Lunesta include:
- ‘sleep-driving’ (driving while not fully awake)
- holding conversations
- making phone calls
- having sex
- eating food
- unsafe use of the kitchen stove
The FDA reported just earlier this year that this effect has led to serious injuries among people who take the drug. The federal agency is therefore now requiring that a warning about this risk be listed on prescription labels for Lunesta and other drugs for insomnia.
The most common consequences that have occurred as a result of this side effect include burns, falls, vehicle collisions, near-drowning, and suicide attempts.
Drinking while taking Lunesta may increase the chance of engaging in these sleep-walking behaviors and cause dangerously impaired judgment capable of leading to injury.
Increased Risk For Overdose
Lunesta overdose can occur after taking excessive doses of Lunesta but is rarely life-threatening on its own. Alcohol, however, can not only increase the risk for Lunesta overdose but also make it more likely to result in deadly consequences.
Mixing alcohol and Lunesta can have serious consequences on breathing, heart function, and lead to unconsciousness or coma. If you suspect that someone you know has overdosed on Lunesta after drinking alcohol, call 9-1-1 or seek emergency medical assistance right away.
Lunesta has the potential to worsen depression in people with a history of depression or suicidal thoughts. Alcohol abuse can also lead to mood problems like depression as a result of alcohol’s effects on the brain or the strain of struggling with addiction.
Mixing the two can worsen their mood-altering effects and increase the risk of suicide.
Polysubstance Abuse And Addiction
Drinking alcohol while abusing Lunesta is a sign of polysubstance abuse, which is a term defined as abusing one or more substances at the same time.
Millions of people across the United States are estimated to have a serious drug or alcohol problem in any given year, and this includes medications that have been prescribed by a doctor.
Mixing prescription sleeping pills with alcohol can have a significant impact on a person’s life, affecting relationships, ability to work, and general wellbeing. Drug abuse tends to become worse over time and may lead to physical dependence and addiction.
Polysubstance abuse affects people of all ages and can have devastating consequences. The most effective way to overcome an addiction to Lunesta and alcohol is to seek professional treatment.
Treatment For Polysubstance Abuse
Abusing alcohol and sleeping pills is not a simple problem, and requires more than a simple solution. Chronic abuse of these substances can often lead to dependence, making it difficult for someone to stop using them all at once.
The first step for treating dependence on Lunesta and alcohol is to undergo detox. Alcohol and drug detox can be an uncomfortable process and sometimes dangerous. The safest and most effective option for avoiding relapse and health risks is to enter a medical detox program.
Our treatment programs at Vertava Health provide a wide array of inpatient and outpatient treatment services that can be effective for people struggling with drug and alcohol problems. This includes medically supervised detox services and behavioral treatment such as individual counseling and group therapy.
If you or someone you know is struggling with polysubstance abuse, don’t wait to reach out for help. Contact us today to learn more about Vertava Health’ treatment programs for overcoming Lunesta and alcohol abuse.