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Sonata Addiction, Abuse and Treatment

The popular sleeping pill has a wide array of negative side effects, up to and including death by respiratory depression or suicide.

Understanding Sonata

ZaleplonA nonbenzodiazepine hypnotic prescribed to treat insomnia, Sonata is the brand name for zaleplon. It sits among the popular prescription “Z-drugs” Lunesta and Ambien as a prominent sleep aid in America.

Sonata acts on the brain’s neurotransmitters, slowing mental processes to help patients enjoy healthy, restful sleep. Users take Sonata orally as a time-release capsule. Slang terms for Sonata include downers, tranks and sleepeasy.

Sonata Abuse and Effects

Sonata is one of the fastest-acting sleeping pills available, with a terminal half-life of an hour. As such, Sonata is a prime target for accidental and recreational abuse, as people might overuse the drug as an immediate sleep aid. Like Lunesta and Ambien, Sonata is federally regulated as a Schedule IV controlled substance. Any pattern of Sonata use deviating from a physician’s recommendation qualifies as abuse.

Those abusing Sonata will experience a mild, euphoric rush punctuated with bouts of hallucinations and “blackouts,” or intermittent memory loss.

Those abusing Sonata may break the capsules open and snort their contents, intensifying the drug’s “buzz” and hallucinatory properties. Sonata’s unique sedative effect on the brain can also trigger unnerving behaviors in users —  sleep-walking, sleep-eating and driving and even having sex while asleep — all without recollection of performing them. Forcing oneself awake after ingesting Sonata significantly raises the risk of unconscious behavior. Side effects of Sonata abuse might include:

Mental confusion


Nausea and vomiting




Numbness or tingling




Impaired coordination








Sonata is not as potent as some of its Z-drug counterparts, but the danger of abuse persists. Overdosing on Sonata alone is relatively uncommon, but co-abusing the prescription drug alongside other CNS depressants like alcohol — which happens frequently — can depress respiratory function to the point of failure and death.

Attempted suicides are the most common emergency room admission associated with Sonata use.

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Signs of a Sonata Addiction

Signs of a Sonata addiction can be hard for friends and family to spot. It can be difficult to tell the difference between addictive and prescriptive use of the drug. However, changes in behavior such as doctor shopping — acquiring multiple prescriptions for the drug — and using Sonata for any unprescribed purpose should be considered troubling.

One telltale sign of Sonata addiction is a built tolerance to the drug’s effects and subsequent withdrawals when quitting use. Sufferers might experience “rebound insomnia” (or a resurgent, intensified case of insomnia), a notorious withdrawal symptom and sign of chemical dependency. With long enough use someone may not be able to fall asleep without taking Sonata. Learn the criteria professionals use to diagnose addiction now.

Sonata Addiction Treatment

Sonata packs less of a punch than Ambien or Lunesta regarding addictive potential, but over a long enough period of use, an addiction can develop.

Once the mind and body become dependent on Sonata, excruciating withdrawal symptoms can follow quitting use.

Sonata’s impact on brain chemistry essentially renders addiction sufferers incapable of functioning without it. Abruptly stopping Sonata use can induce convulsions, hallucinations and even seizures.

Sonata Abuse Statistics


Americans filled approximately 60 million prescriptions for sleeping pills in 2011.

44%higher risk

People taking sleeping pills have about a 44 percent higher risk of developing infections such as sinusitis, upper respiratory tract infections, herpes and more.


Approximately one in 500 children in the United States are on sleeping pills.

Suicidal ideation can manifest and lead to tragedy, as well. Physician-proctored detoxification helps diminish severe withdrawals and allows for behavioral observation. Treatment centers across the country focus on helping Sonata addiction sufferers recover mentally and physically, as well as decreasing the odds of relapse.

Take Back Your Health

Prescription sleeping pill addiction plagues millions of Americans, but hope for recovery is out there. Community support groups and inpatient and outpatient treatment programs can equip sufferers with the resources needed to overcome this debilitating struggle. Overcome your Sonata addiction today.

Sources & Author Last Edited: January 21, 2016

  1. The New York Times. (2012). New Worries About Sleeping Pills. Retrieved on March 9, 2014, from:
About the Writer, AddictionCenter

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