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Sonata (Zaleplon) Addiction | Abuse Potential, Side Effects, & Treatment Options

Published on November 19, 2020
green pill capsule Sonata (Zaleplon) Benzodiazepines Depressant Sleeping Pills Z Drugs

Zaleplon, also known by its brand name Sonata, is a sedative-hypnotic used for the treatment of insomnia. This prescription drug is a short-term sleep-aid because it has the potential for dependency and addiction. 

Zaleplon is known as a Z-drug, which is a group of prescription drugs that work similarly to benzodiazepines to help you fall asleep. 

What Are Z-drugs?

Z-drugs, also known as non-benzodiazepines, were created in the 1980s as an insomnia treatment alternative to benzodiazepines. Although their chemical structure differs from benzodiazepines, they both bind to GABA receptors in the central nervous system (CNS) and produce similar effects. 

Other Z-drugs include:

These drugs have a short half-life, which is the time it takes the amount of the drug in your system to decrease by half. Zaleplon, in particular, has an extremely short half-life of one hour. 

Because of its short half-life, it’s not intended for people who may experience multiple nighttime awakenings or have trouble staying asleep. However, one of the benefits of Z-drugs is they do not produce the next-day drowsiness that can happen with benzodiazepines. 

When they are used as prescribed, they can improve insomnia but they are not without risk. 

Adverse Effects Of Sonata & Other Z-Drugs

The FDA requires that Z-drugs include a warning on prescription labels because of the potential risk of adverse effects. Parasomnia, or abnormal behavior while sleeping without any memory of the event, can occur with zaleplon. 

These behaviors may include:

  • sleep driving
  • sleep cooking
  • sleepwalking
  • making phone calls

If you are prescribed zaleplon and experience any of these symptoms, it’s recommended to call your doctor immediately. 

Side Effects Of Zaleplon

Zaleplon is intended to make you fall asleep and you should only take it when you are ready to go to bed. You should only take this medication if you are prepared to stay asleep for at least seven hours. Side effects that may occur with zaleplon will vary but range from mild to serious. 

Common side effects of zaleplon may include:

  • sedation
  • lightheadedness
  • dizziness

Serious side effects of zaleplon may include:

  • abnormal sleep behavior, such as getting out of bed and doing an activity you can’t recall doing
  • abnormal thoughts
  • memory loss

Drug interactions may increase the side effects of zaleplon. It is not recommended to mix zaleplon with alcohol or other central nervous system depressants. 

Zaleplon Abuse & Dependence

Zaleplon is classified as a schedule IV controlled substance because of its habit-forming potential. It’s important to take any controlled substance under a doctor’s supervision and to watch for signs of abuse and dependence. 

Z-drugs and other central nervous system depressants may produce feelings of relaxation, which increases their potential for abuse. Abuse of a drug is any non-medical use such as mixing with alcohol or taking more than the prescribed dose. 

If you use zaleplon for a long period of time, your tolerance may increase and you will need a higher dose to fall asleep. The higher your tolerance becomes, the greater chance you have of becoming dependent. Physical dependency means your body needs the drug to function and you may experience withdrawal symptoms if you suddenly stop taking it. 

Zaleplon Withdrawal

Zaleplon has withdrawal symptoms similar to benzodiazepines and it is not safe to stop taking it on your own. Your doctor may recommend a medical detox or taper your dose to help you come off the drug gradually.

Withdrawal symptoms may include:

  • abdominal and muscle cramping
  • vomiting
  • sweating
  • tremors
  • seizures

Rebound Insomnia

When you stop taking zaleplon, you may also experience rebound insomnia. This means your insomnia may be worse in the first few days after you stop taking it than before you started your treatment. 

Rebound insomnia does not last more than a few days and should go away without treatment. 

Zaleplon Addiction

If you become physically dependent on zaleplon, you increase your risk for addiction. Addiction, also known as substance abuse or substance use disorder, is a chronic disease of the brain that includes compulsive drug use despite negative consequences. 

Signs of zaleplon addiction:

  • inability to control how much you take
  • the desire to stop taking it but you still take it compulsively
  • cravings

Zaleplon may make you feel relaxed because it slows brain activity to help you fall asleep. Addiction is different from physical dependency because it is psychological as well as physical. It may cause you to take higher doses to increase the effects of zaleplon or to mask unpleasant feelings. 

Zaleplon Overdose

When you are addicted or abusing any drug, you increase your risk of overdosing. It is important to take zaleplon as prescribed, which includes not mixing it with alcohol or other drugs. 

Signs of overdose:

  • floppy muscles
  • respiratory depression
  • trouble with coordination
  • loss of consciousness

If you recognize the signs of overdose, contact a healthcare provider immediately. 

Zaleplon Addiction Treatment Options

If you wish to stop taking zaleplon but you think you may be addicted or dependent, there are many treatment options available. Inpatient treatment and therapy can help you address the physical and mental aspects of addiction while being guided by licensed professionals. 

Medical Detox

In a medical detox program, you’re surrounded by health care professionals around the clock who may provide you with medications to ease the symptoms of withdrawal. A treatment team will monitor your symptoms to make sure you recover safely. 

You may also be assessed for any underlying mental illness. 

Behavioral Therapy

When you’re recovering from addiction, it’s important to take a multi-disciplinary approach. This may include behavioral therapy after you finish detox to address any psychological effects of addiction. 

Behavioral therapy includes learning to recognize and change unhealthy thought patterns. You also learn healthy coping skills to deal with triggers and addictive behaviors.

Addiction is a treatable disease and if you think you or a loved one may be addicted, please contact an Ark Behavioral Health Addiction Specialist today.

Written by Ark Behavioral Health Editorial Team
This page does not provide medical advice.

DailyMed - Zaleplon
Food and Drug Administration - Taking Z-drugs for Insomnia? Know the Risks
Journal of Medical Toxicology - The Clinical and Forensic Toxicology of Z-drugs

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