Help Required - Coming off Zopiclone

Posted , 5 users are following.


I have been taking 7.5MG Zopiclone for approx 10 years. I have trouble sleeping due to my brain being so active. I run a business and have many pressures to deal with, as well as a very active mind, especially at night when I'm trying to go to sleep! I have tried many things in the past to deal with the problem, from counter sleeping tablets (which make me not function the next day), through to natural remedies such as having a bath, excercising etc before bed. Nothing seems to relax me to the point that I can sleep and so my doctor prescribed me with zop years ago, which I feel really did help, and was the only thing that would relax me to the point I could sleep, and feel ok the next day. Now 10 years on, my new doctor is very concerned I have been on them for so long and has instantly cut my dosage to 3.5MG per night. 

The problem I face is that even the 7.5MG dont work anymore, and I feel my mood is being effected, and having read up about the side effects, I just want to get off them. I understand they are a drug and not natural to your body. I feel in a catch 22 situation as without them i dont think i will sleep, but long term they are no good for your body, and the dosage isnt working like it used to. So, I decided to go cold turkey 5 nights ago (since i had the week off from work). I havent had many hours sleep each night and i do feel really fuzzy, and as expected VERY tired and lethargic.

I am not sure what to do about the cold turkey situation....

Personally i want to just stop taking them, but I am concerned that i will not function properly the next day as I am already experiencing. It is fine at the moment because im just at home, but if i was at work, i would not be very productive at all! I am also feeling quite ill, but its more a cough and cold, which could be due to the cold weather?

I think a lot of the time its mind over matter, but im aware this is an addictive drug and that science might play a part in this, and if so, there might be proven best effective ways from coming off zop. Ive read about people being prescribed other drugs, but im not sure thats for me. I just want to stop altogether. but is it dangerous to stop cold turkey? 

And whats the point in weening off them to 3mg per night when the 7.5mg isn't having much effect? 

Im so tired, im a little confused which is probably one side effect, most likely due to lack of sleep. But i just don't know what to do, or the best way to go about it.

Any help would be much appreciated.

Thank you.


0 likes, 23 replies

23 Replies

  • Posted

    I've also been taking 7.5mg for most of the past 10 years. You need sleep. If you can't sleep without medication, I don't really see there's an option.

    I don't really see what the (higher ranks of) the medical profession has about sleeping pills. If you're depressed, they prescribe an antidepressant – if you're an insomniac why not a sleeping pill?

    All that said, you might want ot check out Belsomra – but it's still not available in the UK as far as I know.

    Also don't think Zopiclone is anything of the bad drug some make it out to be. Few, I believe, suffer problems stopping it when they don't need it any longer, and if you do need it the risks from taking it may be less than the risks from not doing.

    • Posted

      Cheers Robert. I agree. So are you still taking zops? have you tried coming off before, and if so how did that go? 
    • Posted

      I'm still taking them. I've managed to go without them (quite comfortbaly) for a few days, even a few weeks, a few times in the past few years. Then some stressing matter comes along and I've gone back on them again. However, I've never felt any withdrawal problems, nothing at all really that I could pin to having taken Zopiclone. I've experineced more withdrawal going without coffee (and I don't drink tea) than I have stopping Zopiclone.
    • Posted

      Thats interesting! I wonder what are the long term effects of taking this drug? I have been taking them for 10 years like you, and that is considered long term, so at the back of my mind i wonder if ive already created problems for my health or body, or if not, if im about to if i continue taking them. I find the subject very confusing because everyone is different, people have different opinions and doctors say different things too!

      The other problem is the fact I am becoming immune to the drug, so if I decided t stay on it, I would need to conisder a higher dose in order to get the sleep i hope for.

      Only 5 days in now, cold turkey, and i have bags under my eyes and i feel very tired and unsocialble. 

    • Posted

      This is the problem with it, and a legitimate one for its licence recommending use limited to 28 days. Fortunately, I'm still getting 5 hours a night from it, sometimes more, though nothing like the almost guaranteed 7 hours I got when I first took it. (My stress situation is also probably less now.)

      There seem to be reports of an increased risk of cancer taking Zopiclone (possibly from lowered immune protection). The factor is said to be five times more likely, but strangely I've not seen what the sample size was. A risk 0f 5 in 100,000 may still be acceptable, even if 1 in 100,000 is better, of course. And they don't say what their sample included or excluded – depressives, those with other medical conditions, for example.

      Measurements show that Zopiclone is very well cleared from the body (even if you can mentally tell one night that you took a Zopiclone the previous night), much better than the benzodiazepines. And the problems with some of the antidepressants that might be substituted for your sleeping aid, or used to aid it, seem me to be vast in comparison. The weight gain from Mirtazapine, the heart weakening effects of dothiepin/dosulepin that you are thought to be stuck with for life, just to mention two.

    • Posted

      Hmmm I do wonder what I should do. I really do not know. The fact is i have real trouble sleeping. And if I dont take them I dont get the sleep i require and therefore the next day I am very unproductive. I wish this was not the case.

      One method I have not tried is canabis. I do not smoke and would class myself as fit and well. A lot of negative thoughts are attached to canabis, but Ive also heard a lot of very interesting views about it which suggests its not that bad afterall. Plus it makes you smile! Oh I dont know.

    • Posted

      Hi Robert... I have never heard of belsomra.  Are you in the u.k. 

      It seems british gps just don't know what to do about us insomniacs. They have been instructed to cut down on the prescribing of zops, but it seems there is not a suitable alternative except antidepressants. 

    • Posted

      Hi Vivien

      Yes, I'm in the UK.

      I've been following the development of orexin antagonists for years; first almorexant and then/now suvorexant (Belsomra). Belsomra, available since February in the US, is still at phase III testing in the UK. One must assume that those responsible for these things in the UK must themselves sleep like logs. Our very cosy establishment!

      Since they work on a different neural receptor to the others, the Z-drugs and benzodiazepines, maybe there's some hope they can be more readily prescribed. However, the side effects of them for some people make them look at least as dangerous as the Z-drugs, with regard to drowsiness or falling asleep the next day (narcolepsy) for example, so I suspect caution will again be the byword. They may also not be as effective, even not very effective at all for some people.

      The military have been very interested in orexin agonists and antagonists since taking an agonist can keep you going without sleep effectively for a few days. I also believe though that now they use the Z-drugs for nights before mission critical operations. Eszopiclone, a sort of derivative or extract or part of Zopiclone, has been available for long-term use for years now in the States.

    • Posted

      Hi Robert.

      thanks for all the above information.  Very interesting.

      i wonder if there will ever be a good alternative to zopiclone.

      years ago there was Mogadon which zopiclone replaced.

      we will have to wait and see.

    • Posted

      I had some (not very much) Mogadon in the early 70's. It's just another benzodiazepine of course, nitrazepam, of which I had some more in the late 80's. It works on that same receptor, the benzodizepine receptor, part of the GABAA receptor, as all the other benzodiazepines and Z-drugs. (Barbiturates work on a different part of the GABAA receptor.)

      The problem is, I believe, this receptor is the main on/off receptor in the human brain. It may be that we just need, can only ever hope for, ever "cleaner" drugs that work on it.

      The orexin receptor is an entirely different receptor – but are orexin antagonist effective and are they safe?

    • Posted

      I have this exact same fear, the whole damage to the body thing, I'm 8 years in but double your dose for a few years so eqv to about 12 years at 7.5mg
  • Posted

    Hi Ben.   I too have been taking zops for many many years.  Two years ago my gp decided it was time to come of them and put me on 3.75mg, like you. I am a long term insomniac and have been taking sleeping tabs since the sixties.  I have been quite happy taking one 7.5mg a night until then.  The doc put me on mirtazapine when I still couldn't sleep.  They had horrible side effects, so in the end I changed surgeries and got a more sympathetic gp.  I managed to resume getting them again, that was about a year ago now.  Yesterday I put in a repeat prescription and it was withheld.  I have to see gp probably on Monday to try and sort it out.

    this drug is now a classified c drug and there has been a lot of abuse of them by addicts, buying and selling them etc.  the medical profession has been advised to prescribe with caution, I believe.

  • Posted

    Ben.  If you are really struggling, you can contact CITA. 

    Council for information on tranquillisers and antidepressants.

    they are. They are very helpful and can advise on the best way to come of them, if that's what you want.  I can give you the phone no if you like.

    It's getting more and more difficult to obtain these tabs legally.  I can't afford to use the Internet, they are terribly expensive.  But on the other hand, I don't want to go without them as I too cannot sleep unless I take one. I have tried in the past, but felt so ill mentally and physically. Maybe I am just weak.

    • Posted

      Thank you very much for your messages, they are very helpful. My girlfriend hates me taking them, as do close fzmily members, but they just see the negative side, and dont understand that its harder not taking them and not getting sleep. Its so frustrating. My gf goes to sleep so easily, and I lay there for hours sometimes getting to sleep at 3-4am, only to have to be up in a few hours time for work. Its horrible, especilly as I run a business and am trying to lead my team by example (difficult when so tired). Its really interesting to hear you have been taking sleeping tabs since the 60s. You must know more than many what they do etc. So do yo u find that now, years later that a 7.5MG tab sends you to sleep? Do you have any side effects using them too? I don't for one second think that you are weak. I can stop taking them. No one forces a tablet down my throat. But whats the point stopping taking them if you cant sleep?
  • Posted

    Exactly the same, run a business, over active mind, 8 years on the drug..

    Same issues! I still take them, 7.5mg sometimes 15mg

    My doctors are ok for me to be on them still

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