Zopiclone withdrawal

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I've recently been tapered to come off zopiclone onto diazepam. Yesterday I took one today so far I have took none and the sickness is unbearable. I also feel dizzy. How long will this last? I'm at breaking point and just want some advice on how far the light at the end of the tunnel is. I have had a sickness bug for the past two days but this is different. I know this is a result of withdrawal. Before I was on 10-20 a day and managed to cut down to 6 a day. Then I have swapped some at allocated times. I feel horrendous and need advice. I am luckily off sick ATM due to my sickness bug but I would like to know roughly how long to expect this for. I have 5mg of diazepam 3 times a day and 2 5mg at night. Please someone give me some advice. Thanks

2 likes, 18 replies

18 Replies

  • Posted

    Were you honestly taking 10-20 Zops a day, or have i got that wrong?  If so, then i am not surprised you feel ill coming of them.  Were you taking them purely for insomnia.  The mind boggles at that amount.  Also, are you on the Ashton plan.  I personally think you should be in hospital after taking such huge doses and then trying to give up on your own.  I do hope you are getting good advice. Good luck.
    • Posted

      Hi Vivienne yeah I was on that amount. I'm getting help from a drugs clinic it did start with insomnia but I struggle with my nerves and remembered the calming feeling it had on me. I managed to get down to 6 I have kept the problem between myself and my boyfriend as my family put on me a lot emotionally and it would just make it harder. I want to keep my life as normal as possible. It just escalated so quickly and I was in denial I had a problem. I just want to be off these horrendous things but I'm finding it so hard. I'm trying to stick to my guns it's so difficult. 
    • Posted

      Sorry I forgot to menchion I am on the Ashton plan but it's been done in a week
    • Posted


      Could you tell me what the Ashton plan is and how I could get on it please have been reduced from 2 and half 7.5 zopiclone to 1 7.5 a day and my nerves carnt take anymore I feel like I am losing the plot not been eating and doctors dont seem to care. I would go to Hell and back to come off these dredfull drug

    • Posted

      Google the Ashton plan Sandra it's tapering you off zops onto diazepam smile it's been nearly 3 days since I last took a zop now it's hard but I'm still fighting it. Speak to your gp about it, mine have been really helpful and referred me to adaction (a proggamme in the uk to help addicts.) apparently I'm the first zopiclone addict. I hope you get the help you need x
  • Posted

    hi katie ivs just finished the ashton plan it works hang in there! i was only on 7.5mg zopiclone , your doing great u have managed to go down to 6 a aday! it isnt easy but there is light at the end of the tunnel 
    • Posted

      Thanks Julie I haven't caved in smile just keep thinking how much better off I'll be it's just this sickness is awful. Well done on coming off them sad
  • Posted


    you were taking the zopiclone for sleep only?   

    or were you also taking it during the day?

    When you say you used to be on 10 to 20 a day, you are talking about pills, right?

    you're not talking about milligrams, is that right?

    You were on 10 to 20 pills a day and you cut down to 6 pills a day.

    Were you at 6 a day when you started tapering off and going on Diazapam?

    How many milligrams is the amount of each zopiclone tablet you've been taking? 7.5mg?

    If i understand right, you are are taking 5mg of diazapine 3 times a day and 2.5mg at bed time.

    I understand you say you feel sick and you believe it's withdrawal symptoms from the zopiclone.

    At what rate did you taper down from the zopiclone?  In other words, how long ago did you start tapering off zop, and did you cut down one tablet (7.5mg?) a week, or one tablet ever few days, or part of one tablet?  or what? 

    Did you increase the diazapam as you were decreasing the zopiclone, or did have you been taking 17.5mg diazapam a day  from the beginning?

    If you are down to only taking one zopiclone yesterday and none today, or even if you take one today,  you have come a long way!   That's great that you got down so far.

    On what day do you think you started feeling sick from going off zopiclone?   You said you had a sickness bug.  What were the symptoms of that bug, and what are the different symptoms you are now having?

    Everyone is different but in general, withdrawal symptoms from benzos and Z drugs tend to be neurological--which can show up as just about anything. 

    Once you are completely off the zopiclone, depending on what dose (how many milligrams) your last one was, such as the one yesterday, and how many you had yesterday, we can calculate how long it will take to be eliminated from your system based on the elimination half life of zopiclone, which is about 5 hours. That means every 5 hours, half of what was in your blood has been eliminated, so it gets milder and milder as this process goes on, the body's reaction to not having the medication will get milder.

     If you're taking enough diazapam, that should ease and even eliminate withdrawal symptoms. As it may have been explained to you, diazapam has a very long half life so it stays in your system for a long time and even builds up, so you have the anti-anxiety and sleep effects of it while your body adjusts to not having the zopiclone.

    Both of these drugs act on the same neuroreceptors, so the diazapam should  substitute for the zopiclone, i mean, it should meet the same need you have for the zopiclone and thus, avoid the withdrawal symptoms, or greatly ease them---diazapam treats the same neuroreceptors and more.  It's a stronger longer acting drug than zopiclone. If you're taking enough of that, you should not have much experience of withdrawal from zopiclone because you're taking a medication that does pretty much the same thing, hypnotic, anxiolytic, anti-seizure, muscle relaxer.  Diazapam does all of those. i think zopiclone is only hypnotic (that's what wikipedia said, though think i once read somewhere else that zopiclone acts on other neuroreceptors like benzos. i haven't been able to find that info again, so it may not be accurate.)

    The good thing about withdrawal from zopiclone, even without diazapam, is that it's relatively short, because of the short half life.  We are still left with the original symptoms we have that led to taking hynotic meds in the first place, so those will still be causing their discomfort (such as insomnia), but withdrawal from the zopiclone will be over in a time frame that we can calculate, and will get milder over what should be a short time. 

    I would need more info about what dose you were taking. For example, were you still taking 6 a day yesterday, or how many if not 6?  Another question i'm wondering is, zopiclone is usually prescribed for sleep.  Were you taking it for sleep?  That's why i was wondering if you were taking it during the day.  Diazapam is prescribed fr anxiety, as well as for sleep, and is taken during the day.

    In my experience, i was on both zolpidem and zopiclone, a high dose of zolpidem but not a very high dose of zolpidem, 7.5 mg at bedtime for sleep.  I also took about 17mg zolpidem at bedtime for sleep too, and took another 10mg zolpidem for sleep abut abut 4 hours when i would wake up.  I didn't take any during the day. 

    I used the zolpidem to get myself off the zopiclone.  i cut down the 7.5mg zop pill by quarters, i cut one quarter, and if i had trouble sleeping, i increased the zolpidem. After my body adapted to the 1/4 cut, i would lower the zolpidem dose back to what it was before, 17.5 bedtime and 10 during the night.  i waited about 4 weeks before i got the courage to cut another quarter of zop, and did the same as above again.  i waited only 2 weeks to cut the 3rd 1/4 off and was then down to 1/4 of 7.5mg a night, plus the zolpidem. I took 1/4 zop a night, and then stopped and i was off it (last February).  The half life elimination takes a couple of days for zop to be out of your system, but because i had the zolpidem, i didn't experience withdrawals cutting the last 1/4, and since i only took it for sleep, the onlly withdrawal symptom i had was temporarily increased insomnia.

    So then, i was on about 28mg of zolpidem a night and that was workign for me for sleep, but i wanted to get off them. i went to a doctor and he wanted to put me on the diazapam cross over.  He prescribed 10mg diazapam and said to just stop the zolpidem all at once (which i'd been taking for 20 years, beginning at a lower dose and increasing over time). i did what he said and i found the diazapam to be much stronger than the zolpidem i was taking.  10mg diazapam caused me to sleep all night, without any more zolpidem at all. But i hated it because i was badly hung over all day, into the night, every day, i didn't get used to it.  i felt worse than if  i had no sleep.   The idea was that i was supposed to taper off the diazapam. i started tapering, 9mg (he prescribed 2mg tablets along with the 5mg, to adjust the taper), i reacted to cutting down, trouble sleeping. Then i got to 8mg, but by then, i was back to using the zolpidem to get to sleep. The diazapam didn't knock me out, the more i cut down the dose. So i'm back up to my original dose of zolpidem, about 15mg at bedtime and 10mg after about 5 hours, and i have cut the diazapam down to 5mg, tapering gradually over a long period of time.  I am not noticeably hungover at that dose, but i still want to get it out of my system and just get back to being on the just the zolpidem which gave me no hangover at all.  The only reason i'm delaying  getting off the diazapam, and the zolpidem, is unexpectedly i had major abdominal surgery in September and i'm still recovering from that, and sleep is a time of deep healing, i need that.  

    The last thing i want to say is, in my case, i got a tolerance for the diazapam within the first 2 weeks, when i started cutting down, it no longer put me to sleep at night. That's why i reached for the zolpidem.  The diazapam definitely keeps me asleep longer thatn the zolpidem which is extremely short acting, 3 hour half life, and that's why i'm continuing to take the diazapam for now, until i recover from the surgery. 

    If you are taking diazapam for sleep, and i don't know that you are, in my case, when i got to less than a single 10mg dose of diazapam, it didn't put me to sleep anymore. if i could get to sleep using zolpidem,the diazapam would keep me asleep for a while, but it would not have a good effect for sleep initiation.  i'm very sure that 2.5mg diazapam would not get me to sleep.  i don't know how it's working for you.

    Long ago, for close to 20 years, i took diazapam for sleep, before the Z drugs were invented. i just took 10mg a night.  Then toward the end, i developed a tolerance for it, this was in 1993, and i was taking more and more during the night and througout the night. i was up to 30 to 35mg a night for the last week, and it was not having any effect. So i thought, what's the point, and i just stopped taking it cold turkey, i had never heard of tapering, there was no internet for me at that time.  

    My experience of the withdrawals from that long diazapam habit cold turkey was that the second day wasn't bad but that night, i started getting really tense and started having some neuro symptoms like muscles twitching a little, now and then, and i only slept about 45 minutes. i didn't expect to sleep at all so i was glad to get anything, it gave me hope.  

    The third day was hard, i felt very "pressured,"  irritable, i was off work on a two week vacation, but i had 9 year old daughter, single parent, so i had to take care of things, appointments, shopping, and i was irritable, but i could function. Not comfortable but it wasn't horrible. That night, i slept maybe a couple of hours, the 4th day was the same, irritable and tense, muscle twitching, hallucinations, which i knew were hallucinations, not that i believed they were real, like seeing a bug on my arm, and then realizing it wasn't really there). i was sweating and feeling hot and then i was cold, alternating, but this was not horrible.  The day before when (3rd day) i was at the pharmacy i asked the pharmacist how long withdrawals takes from diazapam and he said average is about 2 weeks. So, in a way, that was a relief for me, because by the 3rd day, i was getting into a mental state of "OK, how much longer is this going to go on?  is this ever going to end?" i was over it, i wanted it to stop, thinking of yet another day like that, and then another, was getting to be a worry for me.  

    But after the pharmacist said 2 weeks, i thought, maybe it will be less than that, that's the average, and i felt better about it because there would be an end to it.  

    On that 4th day, when i was having the sweating and the chills, along with the tension and twitching and seeing things that weren't there,i was resigned to it and i felt tired, not sleeping much too. I was drinking Chinese herbs, i had a Chinese doctor then, and i was drinking chrysanthemum tea.  And in the evening, i was going to deal with making some dinner, i had bought my daughter lots of TV dinners during this ordeal, and i was buying ready made stuff, but i noticed i felt better, after the last sweat, on that 4th day   And after that, it was much better, i still didn't sleep great but those symptoms of being really tense and irritable and hot and cold and twitching muscles and seeing things that weren't there and heart arrhythmias, they rapidly went away over the next couple of days.

    so in sum, my withdrawal from a long diazapam habit cold turkey did not last very long--i don't think of 4 days as very long. I still had symptoms after that, but so much better and improving that my mind was uplifted and i knew i was getting through it and it would be over, sooner than two weeks.  And it was.

    But i was still left with the insomnia that i started taking the diazapam for in the first place. That's how i ended up on zolpidem in the early 90s and eventually added zopiclone in late 2012.  

    Now, because of following medical advice i'm back on diazapam, but i'm not worried about getting off it.  It's only 5mg now and i can use the zolpidem to get me through increased insomnia from tapering off the rest of the way on the diazapam.  More puzzling is how i'm going to get off the zolpidem.  But i will cut it down in the next year, i feel sure of that.  Get it down to about 10mg 2 times a night, maybe less. 


    • Posted

      Hi jaw I now take 35mg of diazepam a day 10mg at night to sleep. I would take them throughout the day aswell I suffer with my nerves and remembered how they made me feel at night relaxed, happy. I tapered how many I take down myself then the doctor swapped me to diazepam in one week. I haven't took any since 4pm weds (my last half) but I still feel sick. It's a different kind of sickness to the one I've been getting from my bug, it's in the pit of my stomach and horrendous.

      Sounds like you've had a hard battle I hope my tolerance to diazepam doesn't build up like that, how long did it take you to build that up? 

      Thanks smile

  • Posted

    Hi Katie, 

    I sympathize with you. I took zoplicone for 14 years and 4 years into it I started abusing it. This past year got really bad and at one point I was taking 16 7.5 tablets per day. I finally got sick of it all and joined Narcotics Anonymous and eventually went into the hospital to get off the stuff. The withdrawal was terrible. I had dhiarea for a week, severe sweating and anxiety which was partially treated with clonazapam,  which I am still on. I would suggest that you get additional support, whether that means a detox clinic, support group like NA or meet with a drug and alcohol addiction counsellor. 

    • Posted

      I can't imagine 14 years of addiction, I've managed to get by! Day 5 of it without! The withdrawals are getting less smile they're swapping me to 4mg 3 times a day then 8mg of diazepam this week. It feels too quick for me? You've done so well Ruth smile
    • Posted

      Thanks Katie! I came off zoplicone several times during that 14 years and the withdrawal was always nasty. I usually got nightmares. I think it a hard drug to come off of regardless of time or dose. Good for you for going ahead with the reduction. Withdrawal gets better as time passes. I always caution people against going on this "non-addictive" drug. I feel lucky to have my life back. Keep your chin up, you can do this! 

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