If you’re one of the millions of people who struggle to fall asleep each night, you might have heard of a prescription sleep aid named Zimovane. Although the prospect of sleep may not be daunting to some, many others deal with common problems like insomnia and other sleep disorders.
It’s nothing new, and for centuries chemists have looked for ways to help people get what we all need to live—sleep. Feeling groggy the next day is more than a minor annoyance; it can also be inherently dangerous. For those trying to wake up on their drive to work or school, the chances of getting into a fatal accident rise significantly.
Although benzodiazepines were the drug coming from a doctor’s pen pad to overcome sleepless nights, they were quick to realize the harm they caused. In some cases, benzodiazepines are useful drugs for someone with severe insomnia, anxiety, or seizures, but these miracle drugs can quickly become a nightmare. Benzodiazepines are extremely addictive and dangerous, which is why drugs like Zimovane were synthesized as a less addictive alternative.
Zimovane belongs to a class of drugs known as Z-drugs, which are central nervous system (CNS) depressants. Although the chemical structure of these drugs closely resembles that of a benzodiazepine, this sedative-hypnotic drug affects gamma-Aminobutyric acid (GABA) differently. These drugs are GABAergic, meaning they bind to specific receptors in our nervous system, which is the main difference between Z-drugs and benzos. Zimovane acts on specific receptors, while benzos interact with them all.
Despite their best intentions, chemists still fell short when it came to synthesizing a drug that isn’t addictive. While they’re far less addictive than benzos and even barbiturates, another drug used to treat sleep disorders in the past, Zimovane can still cause tolerance, chemical dependency, and ultimately, addiction. Like their counterparts, they can also cause life-threatening symptoms during withdrawal.
What Are Zimovane and Z-Drugs?
As we touched on above, Zimovane belongs to a newer class of medications known as Z-drugs, which produce mild benzo-like effects. The one area where it differs is Zimovane’s purpose is to treat insomnia and other sleep disorders.
Zimovane, also known by its brand name zopiclone, was brought to the public in the 1980s and viewed as a major improvement over benzodiazepines. One of the reasons people living with insomnia sought out this drug is because it doesn’t cause next-day sedation. However, it can still produce benzodiazepine-like withdrawal symptoms, which are uncomfortable and potentially dangerous.
Other Z-drugs like Sonata were designed solely for the purpose of helping someone fall asleep, not to treat anxiety or other issues caused by an overactive nervous system.
Zimovane Side Effects
Unfortunately, like all medications, Zimovane may produce some unpleasant side effects. It may not affect you at all, or it can affect you a lot. Each person reports different symptoms, but the most common side effects you can expect from using Zimovane will include the following:
- Body aches and pain
- Dry mouth
- Daytime drowsiness
- Loss of coordination
- Decreased sexual desire
- Breast enlargement in males
- Unpleasant taste in the mouth
- Painful menstrual cycles in women
Other more severe side effects that Zimovane can produce include:
- Feeling that your throat is swollen shut
- Swelling in your feet, throat, lower legs, ankles, eyes, lips, or face
If you experience any of these severe side effects we’ve listed above, make sure to reach out to your primary care physician immediately and stop using the drug. Without the proper guidance, you could develop life-threatening symptoms. If you feel the symptoms warrant more than a call to your doctor, call 911 or have a friend or family member rush you to the emergency room. Seeking immediate medical care will mitigate any potential long-term damage.
A person dealing with severe insomnia may be given special permission by their physician to use Zimovane for longer than two weeks. In most cases, doctors will not prescribe the drug for more than two weeks because of the potential for addiction, but if you’re someone who’s been using it for an extended period and want to stop, please speak with your doctor first. They could tell you to continue using until you can seek professional help to avoid severe withdrawal symptoms. Below, we’ll discuss what these symptoms are and how long they last.
What Are Zimovane Withdrawal Symptoms?
Suppressing excitability in the central nervous system is the responsibility of Zimovane. An overactive nervous system is one reason we can’t achieve sleep, so once ingested, the drug targets these receptors and whisks you away into dreamland. When written this way, it sounds as harmless as alcohol in commercials. However, that’s not the case at all.
As you continue using what seems like a miracle drug, your body is working to combat the foreign substance in your system. Over time, our bodies adapt to the presence of Zimovane and won’t be able to produce GABA without the help of the drug.
Whether you slow down or stop Zimovane use abruptly, your brain chemistry will scramble to find normalcy, leading the nervous system to overreact. Overactive nerves can lead to a host of other problems like crippling anxiety, rebound insomnia, or restlessness. While these may sound bad, that’s not even the most severe. You’re also at risk of developing delusions, heart palpitations, or seizures.
Many people believe that through willpower alone, they can stop using Zimovane without tapering. While many make it through unscathed, quitting cold turkey will cause you to experience much more intense side effects than someone who sought out professional addiction treatment or slowed down gradually over a few weeks. If it’s not your first time dealing with depressant withdrawal, your symptoms could be worse due to something known as kindling.
Kindling is the result of altered brain chemistry caused by drug use, leading to more severe bouts of withdrawal symptoms each time you stop. Abusing Zimovane with alcohol is one of the most common combinations. If you’re using the sleep aid recreationally, you can almost be certain you’ll have, in some cases, debilitating physical and psychological withdrawals. If you abuse opioids or alcohol in conjunction with Zimovane, you must seek professional addiction treatment. If you’re ready to stop, it’s not worth the severe symptoms or risking your life.
Other common withdrawal symptoms you should be aware of include:
- Severe anxiety
- Constant fatigue not fixed by sleep
- Mood swings
- Body ache
- Tachycardia (sped-up heart rate of more than 100 beats per minute)
- Changes in heart rate
- Changes in blood pressure
- Extreme confusion
- Heart arrhythmia
What Are the Stages of Zimovane Withdrawal Timeline?
It’s impossible to give an approximate timeline because no two people are the same. Different Zimovane use histories, drug use histories, ages, home environments, and other factors will dictate how long withdrawal symptoms will persist. However, we can provide a generalized timeline to give you an idea of what to expect.
- 24 hours after your last dose: Depending on how heavily you used Zimovane, symptoms can appear anywhere from eight to 12 hours after the last dose. The initial symptoms will lead to sleeplessness, anxiety, and restlessness.
- Three days: The first three days will be the hardest physically as you will encounter the peak of your symptoms before subsiding. Symptoms can be severe enough and cause heart palpitations or seizures, meaning you must be under the care of addiction experts. Physicians will provide you with medications to mitigate potential dangers and reduce symptoms.
- One week: Once you get out of the window of dangerous physical symptoms and transition to some normalcy, you’ll begin dealing with psychological symptoms that persist for days, weeks, or months. For this reason, you’ll be even more tempted to relapse to fall asleep or reduce some of your anxiety. Being in a professional addiction treatment center will keep you from relapsing.
- One month: Reaching this stage won’t be easy, and the road to recovery will be filled with challenges. You may still deal with anxiety, drug cravings, insomnia, or restlessness for quite a while.
Should I Detox for Zimovane Addiction?
Yes. Any drug that can lead to dangerous or even life-threatening withdrawal symptoms isn’t something you should risk. Maybe your friend or family member stopped without incident and took higher doses more often, but that means nothing. We are all different and go through withdrawal in our own unique way. For that reason, you should always make the right choice and seek professional help.