Sleep is the most restorative function in life. The quest to obtain a healthy dose of it eludes tens of millions every year. Sleep deprivation affects people from every walk of life, from family members and friends to work colleagues and neighbors. They simply cannot fall or stay asleep.
What results is diminished productivity, burgeoning health complications, and proneness to accident and injury. In effect, sleep deficiency, and the various disorders that provoke it is a full-scale, public health crisis.
Consequently, millions have turned to prescription sleep aids like Sonata for relief. The popular prescription falls under a class of drugs thought to be safer than CNS depressant medicines like benzodiazepines and barbiturates. Americans are paying heavily for prescription medicines to help them sleep to the tune of $1.4 billion in 2017.
Table of Contents
The people who use Sonata are also paying for it in other ways by developing dependency and addiction to them. They take prescription sleep medications for longer than necessary, at higher doses, or to recreationally experience their sedative effects. They even participate in polysubstance abuse by taking Sonata and other medicines with alcohol and painkillers.
The consequences from a lack of sleep often result in health complications such as having an increased risk for high blood pressure, diabetes, and obesity. Yet, by misusing or abusing Sonata, people put themselves at risk for coma, organ damage, and even death.
Start your new life in recovery
Start your new life in recovery
How Does Sonata Work?
Sonata is a brand name for zaleplon and is used to treat insomnia. It is a “Z-drug” that operates like benzodiazepines in that it activates the gamma-Aminobutyric acid (GABA) receptors, the naturally occurring chemicals in the central nervous system that inhibit nerve impulses. By activating GABA receptors, Sonata essentially blocks feelings of anxiety and stress and produces sedation in the user.
Sonata does differ from benzos in that it specifically targets specific GABA receptors while benzos bind with all of them.
What Are the Signs of Sonata Addiction?
Because a doctor prescribes Sonata, it has the veneer of being a “safe” drug, even though it is habit-forming and carries a high potential for abuse. A Sonata addiction is insidious in how it blooms in a user. Because people seek out the drug for a good night’s sleep, they may become dependent when they find that it works.
According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), dependence “occurs because the body naturally adapts to regular exposure to a substance.” So much so that when that substance is taken away, withdrawal symptoms begin to show.
Those symptoms can include mild signs such as sweating, unpleasant feelings, stomach, and muscle cramps. They can also present serious effects such as vomiting, sweating, shakiness, and rarely, seizures.
Someone will reuse Sonata to alleviate those symptoms and find themselves in a cycle of addiction. It becomes apparent that dependency morphs into addiction when a user abuses Sonata amid adverse consequences.
Those warning signs of addiction include:
- Displaying an increased tolerance
- Consuming larger doses of Sonata than prescribed
- Feeling unable to function without Sonata
- Being unable to quit despite multiple tries
- “Doctor shopping” to obtain more Sonata
- Taking Sonata without a prescription
- Stealing money, valuables to obtain Sonata
- Rationalizing behavior to justify use
- Neglecting family, work or school responsibilities
- Lying about substance use
Long-term health complications that come with a Sonata addiction include:
- Difficulty concentrating
- Memory problems
- Impaired coordination
- Periods of confusion
- Chronic exhaustion
- Frequent headaches
- Feelings of numbness or pins and needles
If you believe that you or a loved one is exhibiting any of these symptoms or behaviors concerning Sonata use, it is vital to consider professional addiction treatment. Identifying addictive signs and seeking treatment is the key to avoiding life-threatening circumstances.
What Is Involved in Sonata Addiction Treatment?
The risk of addiction with so-called “Z-drugs” is inherently low. Among this class of medications, Sonata falls even lower in the scope of drug abuse. Nevertheless, it can still be habit-forming and produce uncomfortable and dangerous withdrawal symptoms like those of benzodiazepines.
That’s why it is imperative to seek professional addiction treatment. When you attempt to quit on your own, you could suffer fatal symptoms like hallucinations, suicidal behavior, convulsions, and rebound anxiety and insomnia.
The first step toward a successful recovery begins with medical detoxification. In detox, a team of experienced medical professionals will administer medications to ease your withdrawal symptoms.
You will receive 24-hour care to ensure your safety and comfort. Once you are tapered off Sonata, the next step is ongoing care in a recovery treatment program.
There are two types of recovery treatment programs—residential and outpatient treatment. In residential treatment, you will stay at a facility and receive therapy and counseling. In outpatient treatment, you can continue with your daily life while participating in a recovery program.
Ready to get help?Let's get started nowLet our treatment experts call you today.
The goal of both programs is to help you get to the root of your Sonata addiction while equipping you with strategies to maintain your sobriety.
Residential treatment is highly recommended in cases where Sonata is being used with another substance like alcohol or drugs, which is referred to as polysubstance abuse. Residential treatment typically lasts 30 to 90 days, but during your stay, you can access the following treatment modalities:
- Behavioral therapy
- Group and family therapy
- Life skills training
If it is determined that outpatient treatment is your best course toward recovery, you can take advantage of any one of three programs depending on how many hours a week you spend in therapy. Those include:
- Partial hospitalization programs – 20 or more hours per week
- Intensive outpatient programs – Nine or more hours per week
- Outpatient programs – fewer than nine hours per week
The main thing is that our team will tailor a program to your specific needs while helping you chart out your aftercare and recovery once you have completed your treatment program.
Sonata Withdrawal Symptoms
Sonata is a nonbenzodiazepine sleep aid, and it’s said to be safer than it’s benzodiazepine cousins. However, it may still cause chemical dependence and withdrawal symptoms.
If your brain adjusts to the presence of Sonata in your system and starts to rely on it, you may feel a chemical imbalance when you try to quit. If you stop using it suddenly, your symptoms might be more severe than if you talk to your doctor about tapering off.
Symptoms can include:
- Muscle weakness
If you were used to very high doses of the drug and you stop using it suddenly, you might experience severe symptoms like hallucinations, delirium, and seizures. Central nervous system depressants can be fatal during withdrawal, but it’s more common in more powerful drugs like barbiturates, alcohol, and benzodiazepines. However, if you start to feel withdrawal symptoms when you cut back or miss a dose, speak to your doctor.
If you’ve become dependent on Sonata, your doctor can help you safely wean off the drug or switch medications. If you or someone you know starts to experience severe symptoms like catatonia, extreme confusion, or seizure, it’s important to seek medical attention as soon as possible.
How Dangerous Is Sonata?
Due to its extremely short half-life, Sonata does not stay in your body as long as other sleep medications. Therefore, it does not impair a user the next day as much other drugs. However, that attribute can cause someone to take Sonata in high doses, which ultimately leads to overdose.
When an overdose is not immediately treated, it can lead to organ damage, coma, or even death due to suffocation. If you witness someone overdosing on Sonata or any other substance, immediately call 911 to avoid severe long-term side effects.
Common overdose symptoms include:
- Muscle weakness
- Slowed breathing
- An inability to remain awake
People who have succumbed to the hypnotic properties of Sonata have participated in activities they could not remember the next morning, such as:
- Driving a car (“sleep-driving”)
- Making and eating food
- Talking on the phone
- Having sex
The hypnotic effects are more pronounced when a user takes Sonata with alcohol or other drugs. Seniors are especially vulnerable to falls and bone fractures while under the influence of Sonata.
Mixing Sonata and Alcohol
Sonata isn’t as dangerous as some other sleep aid options like the barbiturates that were once used through the 20th century and the benzodiazepines that are still used today. Prescription sleep-aids, like Sonata, aren’t as likely to cause an accidental fatal overdose as those other alternatives. It is possible for a high dose to lead to respiratory depression or other complications, especially when the drug is being abused.
However, Sonata can become significantly more dangerous when the drug is mixed with other substances, especially alcohol. Alcohol is in the same broad drug category as most prescription sleep aids, including Sonata. As a central nervous system depressant, alcohol works to slow down excitability in your nervous system.
When you drink alcohol, it’s absorbed into your bloodstream through your metabolism, and then it’s filtered by your liver. Your liver can only handle so much at a time. If you drink more than two drinks within a single hour, you will exceed your liver’s ability to filter out alcohol. The excess will reach your brain and start to affect your central nervous system.
Once alcohol reaches the brain, it can start to have several effects on your nervous system and body in several ways. Alcohol causes euphoria, excitement, confusion, loss of motor control, drowsiness, and a lack of coordination. Like prescription sleep-aids, high doses of alcohol can cause a loss of consciousness, coma, and death.
Alcohol is also similar to other depressants in the way it works in the brain. Alcohol enhances the effects of GABA, just like Sonata. Alcohol can also weaken an excitatory chemical called glutamine, which leads to further nervous system depression.
Alcohol can affect both the high and low-order centers of the brain. High-order centers control things like decision making, alertness, and memory, and they are more sensitive to alcohol’s effects. Low-order centers control reward and automatic functions like your blood pressure, heart rate, and breathing. Lower brain functions are less sensitive to alcohol, but they can be affected by high doses.
Since alcohol and Sonata are similar, why are they so dangerous to mix? Mixing drugs that have similar effects isn’t going to cause a dangerous chemical reaction, but it will cause a phenomenon called potentiation. Potentiation is when two (or more) drugs interact to make each other more powerful. When alcohol is mixed with other depressants, it can make both substances have more powerful effects than they would typically have separately.
For instance, if you take Sonata and then have a few glasses of wine before bed, you may notice that the wine hits you harder than usual. That’s because the other depressant in your system is making it as though you’ve had more than just a few drinks.
In some cases, mixing isn’t an accident. Prescription depressants and alcohol are sometimes mixed intentionally to facilitate a quicker high. Smaller doses of both drugs can cause more intense results with they are mixed.
However, potentiation can also lead to dangerous overdose symptoms with much smaller doses than when the drugs are taken separately. Mixing Sonata with alcohol, benzodiazepines, barbiturates, and opioids can lead to coma, slowed or stopped breathing, and death.
Sonata Abuse Statistics
- According to the U.S.Centers for Disease Control (CDC), about four percent of adults in the United States — or 8.6 million — reported taking prescription sleeping aids.
- According to this study, 31% of respondents used Z-drugs and benzodiazepines to get high.
- An estimated 50 to 70 million Americans have a sleep disorder.
- In this New York Times article, a doctor estimates that between 8% and 35% of people older than age 65 around the world take sleeping pills, including Sonata.
Start Your Journey to Recovery Today
You do not have to fight your Sonata addiction on your own. At Serenity at Summit, we offer a range of treatment options and resources to help you achieve sobriety and live a fulfilling, hope-filled life.
Brooks, M. (2013, August 29). CDC Report Looks at Prescription Sleep Aid Use in the US. from https://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/810185
Colten, H. R. (1970, January 01). Extent and Health Consequences of Chronic Sleep Loss and Sleep Disorders. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK19961/
LaRosa, J. (2018, April 25). Top 6 Things to Know About the $28 Billion Sleep Market. from https://blog.marketresearch.com/top-6-things-to-know-about-the-28-billion-sleep-market
Heid, M. (2018, October 09). Here's Why You Shouldn't Take a Sleeping Pill Every Night. Retrieved from http://time.com/5414015/sleeping-pill-health-risks/
Plante, D. T., Jensen, J. E., & Winkelman, J. W. (2012, June 01). The role of GABA in primary insomnia. from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3353037/
National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. (n.d.). What Is a Standard Drink? from https://pubs.niaaa.nih.gov/publications/practitioner/pocketguide/pocket_guide2.htm
Span, P. (2014, July 02). Weaning Older Patients Off Sleeping Pills. Retrieved from https://newoldage.blogs.nytimes.com/2014/07/02/weaning-older-patients-off-of-sleeping-pills/
U.S. National Library of Medicine. (2019, January 10). Delirium tremens: MedlinePlus Medical Encyclopedia. from https://medlineplus.gov/ency/article/000766.htm
The University of Chicago Medical Center. (1997, September 24). Researchers discover probable molecular site of alcohol and anesthetic actions. from https://www.uchicagomedicine.org/forefront/news/1997/september/researchers-discover-probable-molecular-site-of-alcohol-and-anesthetic-actions
Z drugs keep sleep-aid market awake. (2011, February 15). Retrieved from http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2011/02/15/AR2011021500016.html
Kapil, V., Green, J. L., Le Lait, C., Wood, D.M., and Dargan, P.I. Misuse of Benzodiazepines and Z-Drugs in the UK. (2018, January 02). from https://www.cambridge.org/core/journals/the-british-journal-of-psychiatry/article/misuse-of-benzodiazepines-and-zdrugs-in-the-uk/82D4C6507C3DC2444CF0192959F4D43E