Before hypnotic drugs were introduced, benzodiazepines were the primary choice for treating insomnia and other sleep disorders. Benzos served their purpose and helped many of those estimated 50-70 million Americans suffering from sleep disorders annually. As time went on, it was evident that these drugs could be abused recreationally.
Benzodiazepines were created with the intention of short-term use, but people who suffered from sleep disorders sought out permanent relief. This led to a disaster when those who took the medications in excess developed tolerances, which worsened their symptoms.
A new type of drug classified as sedative hypnotics was introduced to combat this issue. These medications aimed specifically at putting the individual to sleep without the adverse side effects that benzos present. Z-drugs aimed to achieve sleep for those suffering. Sleep and rest are not just vital to human life, but they are essential in carrying on everyday tasks efficiently.
One of the more popular Z-drugs is Sonata, a sedative-hypnotic used in the treatment of insomnia. It carries a much lower risk of abuse despite having properties similar to benzos. This led individuals to believe they were safer to misuse, but this is not the case.
Even when Sonata is used as prescribed, it can carry serious side effects and the potential to cause permanent damage. When you abuse Sonata, you run the risk of causing permanent damage to vital brain functions such as your memory.
Although Sonata is technically not a benzo, it works in a similar fashion. When Sonata enters the brain, it activates what is known as gamma-Aminobutyric acid, in short, GABA receptors. This is a series of chemicals in your central nervous system that inhibits nerve impulses that cause feelings of stress, blocking them from your brain to aid in keeping you calm.
Sonata works by stimulating these GABA receptors and stimulating them into producing extra GABA that induce feelings of sedation.
The main difference here between Sonata and benzodiazepines is that they do not bind with all GABA receptors, but only the ones that promote rest.
Recognizing Sonata addiction is more challenging to spot than addiction to other drugs. The reason for this is that those who consume these drugs minimize the dangers by creating excuses for their use. For some, however, finding a medication that can finally help them get some shut-eye is the difference between a productive life and always feeling groggy. At what point, though, do we distinguish the difference between responsible use and addiction?
Because of this, it makes Sonata inherently even more dangerous. This notion allows those to abuse the drug because the dangers are hidden. It may seem like a lifesaving medication, but the reality is you may not know you are becoming dependent on Sonata.
Unfortunately, coming to these realizations may be too late, but that doesn’t always have to be the case. There are some signs that can help make you aware if you or a loved one is suffering from a Sonata addiction.
Side effects aside, there are other abnormal behaviors that can be traced back to Sonata use and substance abuse in general. As someone grows more dependent on Sonata, obtaining more of the drug becomes a priority over anything else in their lives. This, in most instances, will become what dictates all actions in their lives. This is a warning sign of a growing addiction.
If you or a loved one is suffering from any of the effects listed above, it is time to consider professional addiction treatment. It is imperative to seek out the help needed to take control back of your life, and avoid the potentially fatal side effects of long-term abuse.
As a Z-drug in relation to other sleep aids, Sonata is considered to be low in terms of addiction when compared to other drugs. With that said, it still holds the potential for withdrawal symptoms that would be expected from benzodiazepines. These are extremely uncomfortable withdrawals that hold the risk of being fatal if not treated medically.
Due to this factor, it is recommended that the first step you take in Sonata addiction treatment is to check into a medical detoxification center. Detoxification from drugs such as Sonata can be extremely dangerous with how it affects GABA. The symptoms include hallucinations, suicidal behavior, convulsions, & extreme insomnia & anxiety.
The rebound symptoms you could experience are much more intense than typical insomnia or anxiety and can leave you in a state of panic unable to sleep. The purpose of detoxing will be to help transition you into sobriety comfortably and safely. A medical team will administer medication to help alleviate the worst symptoms associated with Sonata withdrawal. At this point in the treatment process, you and the medical team will begin to determine which therapies will be most beneficial for you, and which program is best for your unique needs.
Upon successful completion of detox, you will be placed in either a residential treatment or outpatient treatment. This will be entirely dependent on the severity of the addiction, and whether or not the team feels going home will not be a threat to your sobriety. Residential treatment requires living on-site anywhere from 30 days to 90 days.
Outpatient treatment requires you to attend several therapy sessions a week and submitting drug tests frequently. These therapies will include coping mechanisms that will set you up long after treatment concludes. This will be done by implementing a wide variety of different evidence-based treatment modalities that include individual and group counseling, addiction education workshops, behavioral therapy and more.
Although Sonata was created as a safer alternative to benzos, the side-effects of Sonata even at its intended dose can be dangerous. A common side effect of Sonata is not just sleepwalking, but performing activities while completely unconscious.
People who engage in these acts while taking Sonata have zero recollection when they wake up. The concern about this particular side effect is that it occurs in individuals who have never experienced sleepwalking before. Those who abuse Sonata will have regular bouts of memory loss and blackouts.
Due to its short half-life, the effects typically only last for an hour. This, in turn, creates an increased risk of overdosing for someone who takes this drug frequently in higher doses than recommended. If an overdose is not treated immediately, it can lead to organ damage, coma, and death due to suffocation.
Center for Drug Evaluation and Research. (n.d.). Postmarket Drug Safety Information for Patients and Providers – Sleep Disorder (Sedative-Hypnotic) Drug Information. from https://www.fda.gov/Drugs/DrugSafety/PostmarketDrugSafetyInformationforPatientsandProviders/ucm101557.htm
Plante, D. T., Jensen, J. E., & Winkelman, J. W. (2012, June 01). from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3353037/
The State of SleepHealth in America. (n.d.) from https://www.sleephealth.org/sleep-health/the-state-of-sleephealth-in-america/