What Are Z-Drugs And Are They Addictive?

Everyone has trouble sleeping now and again. It may happen due to stress or other trauma you have encountered. Or it may because of nerves about something exciting coming up or nervous about a test the next. We all have had trouble sleeping. But sometimes it can affect your everyday life if it continues more than a day or two and we get desperate. This is where sleep medication can help.

What Are Z-Drugs And Are They Addictive?

What Are Z-Drugs Exactly?

The most commonly prescribed sleep aids are benzodiazepines but there is usually a high addiction risk with those and therefore are not recommended for those easily addicted to substances. So there was then a need for an alternative sleep aid that helps with insomnia. These are known as Z-Drugs or nonbenzodiazepines but they work very similarly to traditional benzos and also carry a risk of addiction or dependence.

According to the US National Library of Medicine (NCBI), The rate of diagnosed insomnia in the UK and North America is estimated at 5–15 %, with up to 40 % of the population experiencing symptoms of daytime sleepiness. Some studies quote that up to a third of elderly North Americans are prescribed either a Z-drug or benzodiazepine for sleep disturbance, an alarming statistic given the risks associated with hypnotics in the elderly.

Most Z-drugs are prescribed to treat insomnia. Z-drugs are also known as z-sedatives or hypnotics because they cause you to feel extremely calm to induce sleep. These drugs come in a variety of formulations and can only be used with a doctor’s prescription.

The following medications are most often prescribed:

  • Zolpidem: The brand name for this medication is Ambien or Ambien XR. Sleep medications like this should generally only be used for one to two nights. They should not be used for longer than a week or two. The Journal of Toxicology explains that zolpidem can be just as effective as benzodiazepines in treating sleep disorders. For most people, the dose is 10 mg before going to sleep, but a dose of 5 mg is recommended for the elderly.
  • Eszopiclone: This drug is sold as Lunesta in the United States. If you have a prescription for this medication, you must only take it when you know you are about to go to sleep and can remain at rest for seven to eight hours. Sleeping issues should improve within a week to 10 days of receiving this prescription. Talk to your doctor if your sleep problems do not improve after taking the medication as directed.
  • Zaleplon: The brand name for this medication is Sonata. It is prescribed in the short term for patients who have insomnia, as it promotes relaxation in the brain. The medication will not deepen your sleep or cause you to wake up fewer times.

Treatment for an Addiction to Z-Drugs

Although originally marketed as safe alternatives to the habit-forming benzodiazepines, growing numbers of Z-drugs clinical concerns relating to their potential of abuse, dependence, and withdrawal have been reported over time.

Just like benzos, z-drugs are addictive and therefore can cause harmful withdrawal symptoms. And just like benzos, Z-drugs are effective, but they are known to be habit-forming. The FDA has a boxed warning on all Z-drugs regarding their abuse potential.

Similar effects to benzos can happen while on z-drugs such as users are known to prepare meals, drive, have sex, or take part in other activities while they are asleep. They have no recollection of the activity later. This can lead to very serious accidents and injuries, including death.

Additional side effects include the following:

  • Drowsiness that lasts after you wake up
  • Reduced appetite
  • Dizziness
  • Memory loss
  • Pain in the eyes

Get the Help You Need for Sleeping Pill Addiction

Similar tapering method to detox, like if on benzos, are also recommended if you are coming off of z-drugs. At Garden State Treatment Center we can help you safely free yourself from addiction. Clients receive both individual and group therapy sessions at Garden State Treatment Center. We’ll go into more detail on the program pages, but these therapies each have the multi-faceted goals of resolving traumatic events, peer support, and long term relapse prevention.

The most important thing you can expect from your Garden State Treatment Center Treatment experience is that you will emerge from it transformed, stable, and ready to begin a lifetime of recovery.


  • What are Z-Drugs?