Zopiclone withdraway

Posted , 27 users are following.

Very interesting to read the discussions on this forum. And especially helpful for me since I am on day one of stopping zopiclone and feeling a bit wobbly after just one night of no sleep (well, actually about two hours in fact), nightmares, sleep paralysis episode and sweating. I've been on Zopiclone since 2001, having been given it as a last resort after several years of chronic insomnia. I started with 3.75 and have increased roughly every four years. Now I've been taking 11mg, supplementing the 3.75 dose still prescribed for me with internet orders every few months. Somehow I couldn't admit to my GP's that I was doing that. I'm now retired and living a stress free life, so all the presenting circumstances for insomnia A&E way in the past. When I moved to a new life in a peaceful island environment at th end of 2012 I decided to come clean with my doctor about using internet 7.5 doses. But I've continued to take the 11 mg dosage until now. I haven't slept naturally for at least 14 years so I'm very scared of stopping. But the effects of the drug have got worse and now I want to stop. For a long time, my brain has felt foggy, I have a horrible hangover for half the day, really fatigues, forgetful and speech stammer. I've been reading up since last week and this is the most informative and supportive forum I've found. I looked at the CITA site and the adivice seemed to be not to go cold turkey but to do a crossover to an equivalent dose of diazepam first and then reduce from there.

I met with my GP yesterday and he is supportive and has given me 2 mg pills of diazepam to make the tapering easier. He's also going to monitor me and see me once a week to check progress.

i feel really scared about this, for all the same reasons I've read here. Zopiclone has given me the security of going to bed and knowing I will lose consciousness. That's been huge and I've traded that off against the feeling of being dulled, impaired and drugged in my daily life. I've done lots of amazi things over these last 13 years, lots of achievements, but all against a background of feeling crap. 

Last night was my first night without Zopiclone.  I took 9 mg Diazepam at bed time (probably too late I think) and set up relaxation cd I've been using, a radio, a corner of my spare room to curl up in with my book instead of lying in bed sleepless. I was awake until around 3.30, when I think I slipped into a two hour dose. But had mini hallucination about the radio playing ( it wasn't) and me ripping the batteries out (I didn't) I also had a nightmare, which I've never had before, and some sleep paralysis on waking from it. My temperature went up and down too, with some sweating.

i  will go on with this but would so appreciate any support or ideas. Many of you know too well how savage the effects are of acute insomnia and I know I'm in for a rough ride. I've bought some Phenergan but didn't take it yet. I'm also sending off for 5 HTP. 

So that is night one over. Any words of encouragement welcome. I'm not at all sure I can do this, with a supply of Zopiclone still in my bedside drawer. But being sleepless and not on the drug feels better than sleeping badly with it.

I'll keep you posted....


6 likes, 85 replies

85 Replies

  • Posted

    You took the words right out of my mouth I am on day 2 of reduction because of the lack of avilibity and after 15 years I feel omg wake up and smell the coffee I can see dust and my windows are saying clean me , I have on the medical side been to the loo lots and have visual problems . I have no substitute as I do not want to tell my doc  at one point I was taking 6 7.5 but I read on here any more than 2 is a waste , I am worried about tomorrow I'm 58 and do not drink I have thought about trying a we dram
  • Posted

    Well, good luck with it. One day at a time, is what I'm telling myself. Along with trying to remember that I've felt horrible most days when taking it.. I've been pretty flat and knackered today and a bit tearful. Will post progress here.
  • Posted

    Hi Jaygee.  I have also been taking Zopiclone for many many years until my gp decided no more and put me on Mitarzapine (an anti-depressent), I didnt fell i needed them but thought they might help me sleep. (they dont). I also tried Phenergan and Melatonin tabs. I have to say that after a month of trying different combinations of tablets i have had enough of sleep deprivation and feeling like a zombie, going to sleep wjen others are just beginning to wake up so i have now resorted to buying them of the internet. My gp has been very unhelpful and i feel very let down. She refused to give me anything else when i went back to see her because i didnt like the side effects of the Mirts. Instead she has referred me to a sleep clinic. Still waiting to hear from them three weeks now. Like yourself, i am retired but also a chronic insomniac. I have tried to go without Zopiclone but i cant and dont want to any more,. I took my first paid for one last night (a bit nervous as you dont know what you are getting , do you), but slept very well and feel so much better for it, Apparently they have become a class c drug now so probably thats why docs are reluctant to give them out so freely.  Hope you do well. Keep in touch.
    • Posted

      Thanks for that Vivien. I do feel a bit doubtful about the diazepam substitution but most accounts I read were saying definitely not to go cold turkey. Anyhow, the diazepam certainly didn;t work last night so I don't see myself getting addicted! I was referred to a sleep clinic back in 2000, but they wired me up and said I actually did get some sleep. Which was hard to believe as I continuously had all the worst insomniac symptoms - shaky, tremors, crawling sensation in my abdomen, stumbling etc.  I think Zops have only just become a Class C drug on 5th June and the company I've used for a while wrote an email to say they couldn' t supply them any more. Which spurred me  a bit to come off them. I don't feel certain at all about staying off them, I have a free, quiet couple of weeks just now and want to give it a chance, but depends how long it takes. I do feel much better for knowing my GP supports me. I still have a prescription for 3.75 anyhow, but that amount wouldn't work at all with me now. I certainly understand you wanting to get them online. Think we all have to wait for the right time and I don't know if this is mine, but we'll see. Yes, I'll be reporting back here often!
    • Posted

      Hi Vivien, my GP has also been very unhelpful and after more than two weeks has still not referred me to anyone else (as he says treating me is not something he wants to do). All he did the last time I saw him was to give me a repeat prescription for more zops! I'm not sure where you're buying them but my  original supplier on the internet (UP) told me they could no longer sell them legally in the UK. I don't really want to take the things but am scared of coming off them - maybe this is unfounded as I don't sleep well as it is, I usually wake up about 3-4am and toss and turn until I get up at 7am... however with no support from my GP I'm not sure what to do.


    • Posted

      Hi Keith. I totally understand what you are going through. I feel i have been left to muddle through with this problem and as i said previously, have bought of the internet.  I am surprised your gp still gives you Zops, mine wont give me anything else. I have now changed surgeries and will register with a new gp but i think the days of prescribing them are over.  I usually find that one 7.5mg tablet is enough to get me to sleep. Thats all i need.  If you really want to come of them, try Phenergan over the counter tabs maybe. I wonder if all internet suppliers will be pulling the plug on selling the Zops. There are quite a few if you look. 
    • Posted

      Where do you buy them from now? I can't seem to get any from united pharmacy anymore sad 
    • Posted

      Hi Keith. Hows it going. Did you manage to come of them.  I have changed doctors and found a lovely trainee gp who had no problem prescribing me Zops.  But unfortunately she has now left, i have put in for a repeat but am waiting nervously to see if i get it on Friday.  Just my luck. 
    • Posted

      Hi Vivien, not yet - have been away for 2 weeks then going away for another week tomorrow so have not started on the crossover. Awaiting my repeast prescription too today!
    • Posted

      you're GP cant do that. If you've been on them for so long they can't just take them off you. You have more rights than you know were you're doctors are concerned. I would speak to the practice manager. Also ask for another doctor. one who has some sort of empathy.

      I'm so sorry that you are being put through this

  • Posted

    Hi Jaygee. Another convert, good!

    I am amazed that people are currently finding doctors who are taking the Zopiclone problem seriously. That may be because the legal status of Zopiclone has recently been altered to a class C drug in the UK. KIds were actually selling them to drop for a buzz at 50p each!

    One night without Zopiclone is a giant step. As I always say, these withdrawals (voices bells whistles etc etc) that you are experiencing are coming from the Zopiclone itself and will only last three days top whack so you are a third of the way there and you should also find the second night easier than the first which I suppose is why it is called tapering.

    I also used a heavy dose (10mg) of Diazepam for the first couple of nights without Zopiclone and it certainly helped but you have to be careful as Diazepam is addictive in its own right. I wouldn't use it for more than the three days just until the Zopiclone is out of your system.

    I tried using Phenergan when I had a couple of bad nights. It does leave me very groggy the next day.but also gives me a good nights sleep the night after as well so I get two nights sleep with one Phenergan (if that makes sense) (35mg).

    Put the Zopiclone down the toilet. You won't be worrying whether or not to take it during the night if it's not there!

    Let us know how you get on.



    • Posted

      hello dave, i am coming of zopiclone. u have done so well any advise on coming off these would be of great help ..hope to hear from you. going to get some phenergan today, does it help x
  • Posted

    You did it!!!   You got through a night without it.   Onward!   It has a pretty short elimination time and all of it will be out of your body in a week or two, forever.  Diazapam on the other hand will stay in your body a really long time, i guess that's why it's supposed to help people get off shorter acting sleeping pills, it's thought to go smoother and that makes sense..  

    You really said it when you said "Being sleepless and not on the drug feels better than sleeping badly with it."   There you go.  Try to make the awake time enjoyable. At least that's what i do.  That is not the normal sleep hygiene recommendation, you're supposed to get up and go into another room and do whatever, something quiet, and i'm sure that works well for many people. In my case, if i can't get back to sleep, i usually will read a book in bed, something i want to read. i try not to read on the computer because of sleep hygiene recommendations, but sometimes i do. i want to be in bed because i want to be comfy. I believe i have a better chance of getting back to sleep if i 'm in bed and comfortable than if i'm in a chair in another room. That's just me. Anyway, sometimes it's hours til i get back to sleep, only once did i not sleep at all, but that was my choice, there was a reason for it (a health condition).  

    You said you got two hours sleep. I think that's great. Your body is used to depending on zopiclone, yet it was able to get to sleep without it and it gave you some rest.  It's a matter of adapting to sleeping without it.  That doesn't come so quickly, not for me when i've gone through that, but gradually over time it gets better, so it's a matter of having patience. i know it's hard.

    Between the mid 70s and 1993, I was on diazapam for sleep for about 20 years, 10mg. Then, the last year, the amount went up a little and right at the end, the amount went up a lot because i became tolerant of it, it went up to 30mg, briefly.  So i just stopped taking it because it wasn't doing anythign and in those days, early 90s, i didn't have internet and didn't know how to find more meds than my monthly prescription, so i just stopped, there didn't seem to be any choice.  

    Every night, i slept a little. i was surprised because i had expected to not sleep for days. and i accepted that. Then when i did sleep a little, i was so pleased and surprised. The first day wasn't bad. The second day, i actually felt good, very energetic--but as the night wore on, energetic changed to anxious and tense, it was a withdrawing from the diazapam. i think that was the night i slept the least but it was about 45 minutes, and again, i was just happy to sleep at all because i didn't think i was capable of it.  The third day was tense and had various symptoms including sweating and other weird things, irritable, i didn't like it. i asked my pharmacist about how long it would take to get through the withdrawing  and he said the average was about two weeks. I felt better after that because i was reassured that it would come to an eventual end. i was on a two week vacation from work and went off the diazapam on the first day.  Either the third day or fourth, i was feeling anxious and twitchy and tired of feeling that way, and i was sweating, i was drinking a Chinese herb tea, chrysantemum tea. and then, the sweating stopped and i felt better, and after that, i just felt better and better, up and down but milder and milder and it was going away.

    With sleep, I did not do that great on getting off of diazapam.  at first i didn't mind not sleeping much. but  when i went back to work after my vacation, i struggled with it, some days i only slept a little for three days in a row, and it was hard because of work . My doctor then prescribed Ambien (zolpidem). i was so glad to be off sleeping meds that i only took the ambien occasionally, probably two or three times a month, but then over the years i took it more and more, and am still taking it now.  

    I also was taking zopiclone beginning toward the end of 2012, together with Ambien. i was taking 7.5mg zop, plus the Ambien whicih was gradually going up because of tolerance.  I retired from my job in January 2013.  This year, in January and February, i tapered off the Zopiclone 1/4 pill at a time. I was still taking the Ambien for sleep so it was not at all hard to taper off the Zopiclone and in retrospect, i probably could've just stopped it cold turkey and the Ambien would've gotten me through. By that time, i was up to 27mg Ambien, in two doses because it was so short acting for me, i'd take it twice during the night, bedtime and then 5 hours later.  i would wake up after 2 to 4 hours and then wait until it had been 5 hours so as not to completely destroy the ability of it to get me to sleep, and then take another dose.  

    Although i wasn't getting a lot of sleep during that time, it was enough.  Most days i felt fine. So i think i adapted to less sleep by then.

     I was ecstatic when i got off the zopiclone because when i started taking it, things got worse, i got new and troubling symptoms, like an altered state of consciousnes when i woke up in the morning, sometimes, not every day, more like once or twice every two weeks. i hated it. Fortunatley it wore off pretty quickly, only happening when i first woke up. i felt more groggy on the zopiclone.

    After i got off the zopiclone i was going to taper off the Ambien but at that point in time, i felt i needed help because it would mean not sleeping and i was too hesitant, procrastinating. I went to an addiction medicine doctor and he just switched me off of 27mg Ambien onto 10mg of diazapam. I hated to do that, i thought i would never take diazapam again, and it had been 20 years.  but he said it would be easier to taper off and that it usually only takes a couple of weeks.

    It didn't work out that way for me.  I didn't have any trouble switching from Ambien to Diazapam, the diazapam for me was a lot stronger than the Ambien, it put me to sleep easily at night and instead of waking up in a couple of hours and then taking a second dose later of the Ambien, i slept all night. I hadn't slept all night in years. The problem i encountered right away, though, was that all day i was badly hung over, more hung over than i'd ever been on zopiclone.  It was so strong.

    So i started tapering off of it after a week.  Going down to 9mg made a difference, it helped, i was less hung over. But i didnt' sleep as well at first, and when i wasn't able to sleep, i was confused by the idea of taking this medication and not sleeping.  Back in 1993, i just went cold turkey off the diazapam and i ddin't sleep much but i was OFF the medication, so it was a happy trade off.  

    But now, i was taking the medication AND not sleeping, the worst of both worlds. So i took a little Ambien and that got me to sleep and then i was OK, still sleeping the whole night,, still some hangover. After a couple of days, i didnt' need Ambien anymore, i could sleep on the 9mg. Then, i cut down to 8mg and i had trouble sleeping for a couple of days so i used the Ambien to get to sleep, and then i slept pretty good onthe 8mg, and it got better as the days went on.  And almost no hangover.

    But i never felt as good on the diazapam as i had felt when i was just on the Ambien, even with very little sleep. i just felt better, and that is maybe because the Ambien clears out of your system really fast, in less than a day it's all gone, the body eliminates it fast. Not so with diazapam. Not only does the body not eliminate it quickly, it will take at least days if not weeks if not longer (it varies by circumstances)--it accumulates in your body over time because you can't eliminate it as fast as you re putting it in. So i think that's why i felt better during the day when i was on the Ambien even though not sleeping so much.  

    Then, in the midst of this, on 8mg, i started getting a tolerance.  Now, i sometiems don't sleep any longer on the 8mg diazapam than i slept on the Ambien (17mg at bedtime), i can't get back to sleep, so, 5 hours later, i take a dose of Ambien. So now, i'm back on two meds again, and not sleeping any better, though some days i sleep better on the diazapam than others.  

    Then, in the middle of this going on, i found out i have a pretty serious health problem and because of that, my addiction medicine doctor and I agreed not to keep tapering the diazapam and to just keep it at 8mg. I did try 7mg for three days and that was the only time i didn't sleep at all, the first night when i didn't take any Ambien. but again, i stayed awake on purpose, because i was scared to go to sleep, because of the health problem i was just discovering.

    Anyway, i stayed on 7mg diazapam for three days, did take Ambien, and then ended up going back up to 8mg, and that's where i've been for two or three weeks, and now, i take Ambien every night. I don't really need to. Some nights i sleep for about 4 or 5 hours on the diazapam and i could just skip the Ambien and have less sleep, but now i'm freaked out by my health problem.   i am working on this (psychologically).

    The health probelm i have probably had for a long time but have just learned about is extremely low blood sugar whcih has caused some symptoms that i thought were caused by the sleeping meds, grogginess mostly, low energy. Not the common hypoglycemia symptoms that people get. The kind i have, apparently i'm so used to it that i don't get those common symptoms.

    But on 4 occasions, weeks apart, i got some very severe symptoms, including ataxia where i couldn't walk until i crawled to the kitchen and ate something, and another time, complete unsciousness where i woke upon the floor in the morning and no idea how i got there.  These things always happen in the morning, when i wake up  I got a lab test showing critically low blood sugar but i had no symptoms other than grogginess and my doctor thought it was a lab error because you're not suposed to be up walking around when it's that low, i think.  

    So, now i've seen a couple of endocrinologists and a gastroenterologist and am in the process of finding out what's causing it but the strong likelihood is that it's a small tumor on my pancreas that is secreting insulin for no reason, and the insulin lowers the blood sugar. i am supposed to keep eating all the time now the doctor said, including during the night.  

    Fortunately 90% of that kind of tumor is benign and when it's removed, it cures the hypoglycemia, so that's what i'm working toward, but it's derailed my getting off the sleep meds project.  

    I can only say i wish i could go back and get off the diazapam and just be on the Ambien, and i might be able to make that switch, using the Ambien to sleep.  My doctor doesn't believe in doing that but i just have a bad feeling about diazapam. It won't be that bad, in the end i'll get off all of them and eventually will eliminate that long lasting diazapam from my body, but if i had it to do over knowing what i do now, i would just go cold turkey off the Ambien, not go on the Diazapam and just get through it with various ways of coping.  

    The Diazapam method works well for a lot of people, and cold turkey goes very badly for a lot of people. i'm just talking about me.  I did not have a bad time with cold turkey off diazapam in 1993, a couple of days were bad and then it wore off and was fine in less than a week, except for sleep but that was gradually improving, i was sleeping without any meds most of the time, and much of the time was getting enough sleep, broken into pieces.  Now i'm retired and all the more reason to have confidence.  i imagine i will still take Ambien again occasionally but i don't plan on taking anything every night anymore, once i can get back to dealing with this.  

    From you what i hear is that you are sick and tired of how you feel, and that is a good place to be in in order to get off. You've got a doctor supporting you and working with you and respecting you, collaborating with you, and i expect you are going to get through this.  I will look forward to hearing from you on how it's going

    • Posted

      Thanks to all for the encouragement. It's going to make such a difference to hear from and talk to people who know what it's like.  I was in tears by lunch time today, so feeling fragile. It's the fear of not sleeping again and the effects of that., after so many years. The Zopiclone was such a godsend at the time. But today got better, and after a swim and choir practice I perked up. Good to know that. Not looking forward to th night now, but I'll go through it and see what happens. The morning will come. 
    • Posted

      jaygee - you sound like a real success to me, even if it may not feel like it, you are aware of the role of your fears, the fear of not sleeping, those scary thoughts and dread about how bad it's going to be are worse than the not sleeping itself for me, in a certain way--yes, some days are bad because of not sleeping the night before. What's bad is that i'm too tired to do things, and that makes me bored and that makes me depressed, to just feel stuck in my chair, that kind of thing, but the truth is, for me, only some days that i dont' sleep are like that, and other days are not like that. I have had really good days besides not sleeping. So i want to remind myself of that.  i am very stuck in that automatic fear of not sleeping and that causes me to take the medication when it would be better for me to wait and see what happens.  One thing i've found is that almost always, if i onlly sleep a little and if i feel tired all day, then that next night, i will sleep much better than usual.  it seems really important that you felt better after swimming and choir---it shows that there are things your body responds to with energy and a good mood. i have found that too.  In fact, i usually find that i feel worse sitting in my chair being tired than i feel if i get up and do something strenuous. i think my body needs to move and my blood needs to circulate and that's good for me.  Good for you for going for a swim and singing even though you felt tired.  You are making it.
    • Posted

      Yes,lying around makes you feel worse. Again, I have to remind myself that I've had days Ike that with zopiclone. I've written a list of reasons for sticking with it on my fridge. Going to need a lot of reminding! Your posts in this site have been really informative, I'm going to keep reading them daily.  
    • Posted

      2nd night no zopiclone. I took 9mg Diazepam and 2 Phenergan around 9.45 and read till 11.30 Using a Body Scan mindfulness CD I have and find that really soothing. Totally unexpectedly, I slept for six hours with no bad dreams or other symptoms. Don't know yet how today will be or what worked,but all I'm focusing on right now is letting my addled brain get Zopiclone free . Not drawing any conclusions, and there's a long way to go, since I haven't slept 'naturally' for at least 17  years. And taking Diazepam and Phenergan isn't exactly drug free! But usually, for me, taking anything instead of zopiclone has been like fighting a rabid tiger with a fly swat.  Now today I'm planning on trying to do some low key normal things instead of lying in a slump like a dead heifer! All respect for all of us trying to get drug free....
    • Posted

      Hi All.  Well, i have had a month trying to not take any Zopiclone and i must say i have felt dreadful during that time. I was willing to give it a try  as my gp wouldnt prescribe any more, but i couldnt go on any longer feeling like a zombie through lack of sleep . Everything i tried ie; Phenergan, Mitrazapine, Melatonin just didnt hack it for me, so i have now bought of the internet and what bliss to get of to sleep and not have to listen to the radio all night.  I really wish i could have given them up but not having a very sympathetic gp who refused to try other drugs has made up my mind. As  long as i can buy them, i will take them. Also i was feeling really depressed on the Mits that were supposed to help me sleep. Bonkers!! 
    • Posted

      A month is a really long time to not sleep. I had a long time like that before I came to Zopiclone and it was a living nightmare. I felt crazy, living in a fog, like being trapped in 24/7 consciousness. I think my GP being so co-operative and suggesting he sees me at the end of this week to check progress has given me a confidence boost.  And Getting some sleep with Zop seems much better than feeling depressed with a replacement drug. I still have to fight a battle with diazepam withdrawal even when my brain gets Zop free. It seems to me there's no free lunch with this - we just have to keep weighing up our options all the time as to what feels worse!

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