Sonata Addiction and Abuse

One in ten Brits require sleeping aids to sleep at night. According to the NHS, 15.3 million prescriptions were written for sleeping aids in 2011. Kevin Morgan, a Professor of Gerontology, argues that sleeping aids are dangerous, possess a high risk of dependency, cause accidents and increase the cost of health services. They are also some of the hardest medications to quit.

An article in the Daily Mail states that sleep disorders have escalated, because GPs do not manage them effectively. Sleep medications are easily prescribed without a detailed assessment of the patient’s medical history and lifestyle. The ease of prescription increases the risk of dependence when patients are unwilling to give up short-term sleeping aids, like Sonata.

Cases of Z drug sleeping pill addiction are increasing. These medications affect nerve pathways associated with the regulation of wakefulness, lead to dependence and withdrawal symptoms when used for long periods.

Medical professionals suggest that the government need to do more to train doctors. Patients must be properly evaluated and assessed overnight. Treatment should be therapy (not medication) based. Cognitive Behavioural Therapy was suggested as the best treatment to help individuals with sleep disorders.

What is Sonata?

British and American residents have always had a love-hate relationship with prescription pills. They place complete trust in their prescribing doctors and believe that the medications they receive are not addictive. In 2011, a new brand of sleeping pills was prescribed over 60 million times in the US alone. Sonata is one of such sleeping pill used for treating insomnia. It is a sedative/hypnotic drug, manufactured by King Pharmaceuticals of Bristol.

It works by altering unbalanced chemicals in the brains of individuals with insomnia. When you take Sonata, you’ll feel relaxed and enjoy a good night’s rest. It has an ultrashort elimination half-life that renders it ineffective in limiting occurrences of premature awakenings. Many patients who take Sonata complain of impaired motor functions the next day, but it has fewer side effects when compared to benzodiazepines.

Sonata (a brand name for Zaleplon) is a habit-forming medication that leads to substance dependence and addiction if you take it for longer periods than prescribed. For safe use, inform your doctor if you have any mental health issues, medical conditions or history of substance use disorder.

The sedative effects of Sonata are more potent in older people who are advised not to take nonbenzodiazepine drugs. Do not take alcohol or combine Sonata with any addictive substance, as they both modulate GABA receptors and increase the risk of asphyxiation and respiratory depression.

Other names for Sonata

Chemists developed Sonata in the early 1990s as part of the drug class known as ‘Z drugs’, because they induce ‘Zzzzs’ and their spellings include the letter ‘Z’. The active ingredient in Sonata is Zaleplon. Marketers advertised Sonata as a non-addictive substance and a safer option to ‘benzos’ and barbiturates. The classification of Z Drugs as Schedule IV substances shows that they have the potential for addiction. Other names for Sonata include:

  • Starnoc
  • Zaleplon
  • Andante

What is Sonata used for?

Sonata is a short-term medication for the treatment of insomnia. According to the Food and Drug Administration, Sonata should only be used for two weeks, but many addicts have been taking it for years. The dose for adults is 10mg and 5mg for older citizens. In rare cases, smaller doses are prescribed for children, as there are no research findings on the effect of Z Drugs on developing brains.

The effects of Sonata peaks within an hour and compared to Ambien is a shorter-acting medication. According to a study published by the Clinilabs Sleep Disorders Institute, Sonata is the only medicine within the class of Z Drugs that provides relief for individuals who wake up during the night.

A study by Consumer Reports comparing Ambien and Sonata found that individuals fall asleep within 14 minutes of taking the latter and 20 minutes the former. The study also noted that the benefits of Sonata are outweighed by the risk of addiction and other side effects. Patients should try over the counter medications with less addictive properties before seeking a prescription for Z Drugs.

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Causes of Sonata Addiction

The desire for sleep is only rivalled by the human preoccupation with sex. A study by Nuffield Health revealed that most UK adults are not getting enough sleep. The average Brit sleeps 7.1 hours a night. The thought that you’re missing out on vital sleep fuels anxiety and insomnia. Other causes of Sonata addiction include:


Many individuals start out with a legal prescription for sleeping pills. You will likely grow to like the sedative effects of sleeping pills and the muscle relaxant properties that lead to euphoria when you take the drug. If you use Sonata for longer than prescribed, you will build tolerance. At this stage, the original dose is not effective and you’ll feel the need to increase each dose to induce the original effects of Sonata.

After a while, you’ll move to the stage of substance dependence, during which you’ll experience withdrawal symptoms when you attempt to quit. This drives you back to abusing Sonata and you’ll stay trapped in the vicious cycle of addiction.

Family members who abuse drugs

The development of addiction is linked to genetics. If you have a parent or sibling who abuses Sonata or other addictive substances, you’re at greater risk of abusing drugs. Growing up in a family where drug use was tolerated makes you believe that substance abuse is an acceptable behaviour.

Environments where substance abuse is common

If you grow up in an environment where drug abuse is normal or you’ve watched your friends self-medicate for anxiety, stress and insomnia with sleeping aids, this exacerbates your susceptibility to addiction.

Untreated mental health issues

Addiction specialists always advise patients to disclose any psychological issues to the prescribing doctors, because mental health disorders could accelerate the addiction timeline.  Sleeping pills make you feel intoxicated, similar to the effects of alcohol in the body. This increases your risk of using Sonata to self-medicate.

How addictive is Sonata?

The effectiveness of Sonata as a sleeping aid is linked to its interaction with GABA neurochemicals, responsible for several brain functions. When you take Sonata, it doesn’t affect essential functions, but only applies its tranquillising effect to GABA receptors that control sleep. As a selective GABA prescription pill, there is less risk of addiction compared to benzodiazepines and other sleeping aids.

However, Sonata is a habit-forming drug and frequent abuse results in impaired functions of essential GABA neurotransmitters. When used as prescribed, Sonata is very safe, as the adverse effects only manifest following abuse.

Methods of Sonata Usage

When prescribed by a doctor, Sonata is taken orally in tablet form. Recreational drug users crush the pill and snort, inject or smoke it to increase the potency of the ‘high’.

Sonata Abuse: Signs and Symptoms

An individual who is abusing Sonata might act strangely and exhibit unusual behaviour, confusion, anxiety and sleepwalking. You might engage in activities such as having sex whilst unconscious, driving or eating whilst sleeping. These activities are dangerous (especially driving) because they require concentration. Signs of abuse include:

  • Self-medication
  • Nausea
  • Body shakes when you miss a dose
  • Increasing the dosage when you’ve built tolerance for Sonata
  • Inability to sleep without taking a sleeping aid
  • ‘Doctor shopping’ to source more prescriptions
  • Defending drug use and hiding drugs from loved ones
  • Spending more time indoors in favour of drug use
  • Nose sores from snorting Sonata
  • Violent behaviour when you can’t acquire more drugs

Symptoms of sonata abuse include:

  • Headache
  • Fatigue
  • Body Shakes
  • Stomach pain
  • Redness of the eyes
  • Inability to maintain balance
  • Change in appetite
  • Dizziness

Health Risks from Sonata Addiction

Sonata is one the most recognised sleeping aids on the drug market. Studies have shown that most individuals dealing with insomnia self-medicate their problem without receiving a proper assessment at hospital. There are online forums where individuals can buy Sonata without a prescription. Most people aren’t aware of the addictive properties associated with long-term usage and soon find that they are unable to function without Sonata.

Sleeping pill addiction affects a person’s quality of life and carries many health risks, some of which include:

Withdrawal symptoms: Long-term Sonata abuse is characterised by withdrawal symptoms when you attempt to quit. Symptoms include vomiting, nausea, muscle cramps, stomach pain, tremors and seizures.

Tolerance: Increased tolerance means that you’re taking higher doses of Sonata. This in turn increases the risk of overdose.

Mental health issues: Abusing Z Drugs leads to mental health issues, such as suicidal ideation and depression after the ‘come down’.

Poor coordination: The effects of Sonata might linger in to the next day, increasing the risk of accidents because of poor motor functions.

Short-Term Effects of Sonata

Sonata is taken orally in capsule form when prescribed by a doctor. Recreational users crush the drug into powder form to snort it, which increases the onset of the associated ‘high’. This starts within 15 minutes and you could experience the following effects:

  • Euphoria
  • Reduced inhibitions
  • Drowsiness
  • Relaxation

Adverse side effects include:

  • Hallucinations
  • Depersonalization
  • Derealisation
  • Heavy limbs
  • Poor coordination and motor functions
  • Lightheadedness
  • Abdominal pain
  • Dry mouth
  • Joint pain
  • Headache
  • Diarrhoea
  • Nausea
  • Changes in appetite

In rare cases, some individuals do not fall asleep after taking Z Drugs, which leads to the onset of psychoactive and hallucinogenic effects.

Long-Term Effects of Sonata

Insomnia: Repeated abuse damages GABA receptors and frequent interruptions in normal circadian activity. You might experience insomnia that is worse than when you initially started taking Sonata.

Muscle problems: Sonata is a sedative; hence, frequent use affects muscular functions and coordination. Symptoms include chronic muscle fatigue, cramping and loss of motor functions.

Neurological damage: Abusing Sonata alters brain cells and GABA functions. This leads to cognitive impairment that manifests in anhedonia, memory loss, sleep disorders and disorientation.

Anxiety: You become anxious if you don’t get sufficient sleep at night. This is common with Sonata abuse, due to chemical compounds in the drug that causes anxiety to escalate to chronic paranoia.

Depression: After you’ve come down from the euphoria of Sonata, you might feel depressed and experience low moods. Continuously flooding the brain with GABA chemicals affects the brain’s ability to manage GABA receptors and normal circadian rhythm. The subsequent alteration leads to depression.

Substance dependence and addiction: Sleeping aids are notorious for their potential for abuse and addiction. You might build tolerance after taking the drug for longer than a month. Subsequently, you’ll increase your regular dosage to feel the original effects. Over time, tolerance leads to dependence and addiction, especially when you abuse Sonata for its euphoric properties.

Who is at Risk of Sonata Addiction?

Sonata is primarily prescribed for insomnia and specific anxiety disorders. If you experience sleep disorders, panic disorders and anxiety, you’re more likely to self-medicate with sleep aids. War veterans and those who have experienced trauma or stress are also likely to suffer from PTSD, anxiety and stress disorders. These factors increase the risk of abuse. Other individuals at risk include:

Individuals with substance use disorder: Addicts and recreational users turn to sleeping aids for their sedative effect. If you combine Sonata with alcohol or substances with depressive compounds, it intensifies the effects of both substances. Cocaine and heroin addicts use Sonata to reduce the stimulant effect of the powerful substance.

Mental health issues: If you have any mental health issues, it’s important you disclose this information to your prescribing doctor. Most individuals who become addicted started out as legitimate users, but used Sonata to self-medicate for symptoms of mental-health issues such as depression and anxiety.

Adolescents and teenagers: At-risk teenagers are those whose parents or guardians were substance users. They grew up believing that substance abuse was an acceptable behaviour. Easy access to sedatives, poor supervision by parents and family issues can all fuel substance abuse.

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Teen Sonata Abuse and Addiction

Children and teenagers need at least eight hours of sleep for their developing minds. However, teenagers these days are not getting enough sleep. Distractions from computer games, mobile gadgets, pressure from school and late nights encroach on their precious sleeping time. Polls show that 27% of school children and 45% of teenagers don’t get sufficient sleep at night.

Currently, there are no FDA-approved medications for treating insomnia in children. Some are tempted to turn to Sonata and nonbenzodiazepines that have a lower risk of abuse. To prevent teen abuse, keep any prescription medications under lock at all times. Check any pills to make sure the numbers add up and always observe your teenagers for signs of Sonata abuse.

The Effects of Sonata Abuse on the Brain and Body

Sonata is a short-term medication that works like Xanax and other benzodiazepines, even though it’s not in the same drug classification. When you take Sonata, it slows the central nervous system (CNS) and targets GABA neurotransmitters that regulate sleep.

The effects of CNS depressants include blurred vision, loss of coordination, change in perception, drowsiness and difficulty maintaining balance. CNS depressants also cause slurred speech, cognition impairment, slow reflexes, breathing difficulty and temporary memory loss.

The long-term effects of CNS depressants on the brain include chronic intoxication, anaemia, anxiety and depression. You might also experience physical and psychological withdrawal symptoms when you quit sonata.

The relationship between Sonata and Other Substances

According to the FDA, there are five major interactions, 615 moderate interactions and 17 mild interactions between Sonata and other substances. Do not drink alcohol whilst taking Sonata, as you might overdose or experience adverse side effects. Avoid sleeping aids such as Xanax, Ambien, Klonopin, Barbiturates and other non-benzos that make you sleepy. This is dangerous to your mental and physical health and can be life-threatening.

Other medications to avoid include: muscle relaxants, anaesthetics, phenobarbital, antidepressants, antianxiety medications, narcotic opioids and prescription pills, anti-histamines and illicit substances such as cocaine.

Sonata Overdose explained

An overdose occurs when you take larger doses of Sonata than prescribed. Most individuals who turn up at hospitals for emergency treatment mixed Sonata with CNS depressants, such as alcohol. Symptoms of overdose include dizziness, breathing difficulty, seizures, sluggishness, low blood pressure, confusion and in extreme cases, coma.

Doctors at the hospital administer flumazenil and intravenous fluids as an antidote. In some cases, they will be required to pump your stomach to flush out the drugs from your system.

What to Do If You Need Help Quitting

When you need help quitting Sonata, call an addiction helpline and a certified drug counsellor will help to find a rehab centre that caters to your individual addiction treatment needs. Professional Sonata rehab centres provide facilities to help you detox from Sonata and fully recover from your addiction.

If you notice you’re having allergic reactions to another medical condition when you take Sonata or are experiencing breathing difficulties, hives, skin rash and chest pain, consult a medical professional for emergency care.

Sonata Withdrawal

Sonata withdrawal symptoms start to appear faster than other sleeping pill addictions, usually taking hold four hours after your last drug intake and fading on the third day. The primary symptoms during the first 48 hours are insomnia, irritability, anxiety, nausea and mood swings. Most of the physical symptoms fade after the first week, but psychological symptoms such as insomnia, depression and panic attacks continue into the second week.

During medical detox, doctors use the tapering process to gradually reduce your regular dose of Sonata until you’re completely weaned off the substance. The goal is to prevent the onset of painful withdrawal symptoms, whilst ensuring you remain comfortable during detox.

Sonata Addiction Treatment

Treatment options for Sonata addiction include:

Medical detox: After intake, detox is the next stage of treatment. The goal is to expel all traces of Sonata and addictive substances from your body and to physically stabilise you for rehab.

 Pharmacology: One of the risks of treatment is seizures and suicidal thoughts. During detox, doctors will provide medications to treat each symptom as they surface. Medications include antidepressants, anti-anxiety medications and benzodiazepines

Inpatient rehab and outpatient rehab: Inpatient treatment requires you to live in a treatment facility for the entire duration of treatment. The programme is structured and offers 24/7 support in a serene environment that improves the chances of a positive outcome. The outpatient programme is suitable for individuals who have responsibilities that prevent them from seeking treatment as inpatients.

Sonata Addiction Statistics

  • 60 million Americans were prescribed sleeping aids in 2011
  • Roughly one in 500 children require sleeping pills in the US
  • 44% of patients who have a prescription for sleeping pills have a 44% risk of developing herpes, sinusitis, upper respiratory tract infections and other infections
  • Between 2002 and 2014, the rate of use for hypnotic-sedatives like Sonata remained stable
  • There were 330,000 reports of abuse for sedatives like Sonata in 2014
  • Using Sonata can lead to allergic reactions


What is Sonata?

Also known as Zaleplon, Sonata is a hypnotic-sedative medication, prescribed for insomnia. It is classified as a non-benzodiazepine medication, similar to Ambien in its mental and physical effects. It has a lower potential for abuse when compared to other sleeping aids and a short-acting life that peaks within 30 minutes after taking the drug.

How is Sonata Used?

Doctors prescribe Sonata to individuals who have difficulty falling asleep or sleeping throughout the night. It is taken orally for a period of two weeks. Substance abusers use Sonata by smoking, injecting, chewing or snorting the pill to increase its potency and experience the associated ‘high’ effect.

What Does Sonata Look Like?

The 5mg dose of Sonata is available in a green and white capsule, with the word ‘Sonata’ on the body. The 10mg capsule is coloured green and also imprinted with the word ‘Sonata’.

Is Sonata Addictive?

Generally, sedative-hypnotic medicines do have the potential for abuse and addiction. The Schedule IV classification of Sonata means it’s a habit-forming drug, with low potential for addiction. In most cases, addiction to Sonata occurs through repeated, long-term use.

Who Abuses Sonata?

Individuals who abuse Sonata include those who have mental health issues; teenagers who have parents with substance use disorders; individuals with untreated substance use disorder; and those who have do not receive treatment for stress disorders.

How Can I Spot Sonata Addiction?

The first warning sign of addiction is developing a tolerance for Sonata. It’s difficult to tell when a person is addicted or using the drug as prescribed. A person who abuses Sonata will also experience withdrawal symptoms when they try to quit substance abuse.

Is Sonata Harmful?

As a sedative/hypnotic medication, you’ll feel euphoric and relaxed when you take Sonata. It’s a short-acting drug with effects that wear off within an hour, reinforcing the need to take more of it to feel the related ‘high’. Repeated use might lead to overdose and a visit to the hospital. It also causes you to perform involuntary activities whilst you’re sleeping and suffer poor body coordination.

What are the Side Effects of Sonata?

Sleepwalking; driving whilst unconscious; dizziness; aggression; fatigue; lack of coordination; having sex whilst under the influence of Sonata; temporary memory loss; amnesia; headaches; aggression; confusion; tingling sensation; hallucinations; vomiting and confusion.

Does Sonata Show Up on Urine Tests?

Most urine tests are designed to detect popular prescription pills and illicit substances such as cocaine, marijuana and meth. Z Drugs won’t show up on urine tests. Furthermore, the half-life of Sonata means that it leaves your body before any drug test will be conducted. Most traces are gone within two days.

What are the Risks of taking Sonata?

Abusing sleeping pills increases the risk of fatalities by 4.5 times in men and 1.7 times in women. There are underlying mental health issues that cause insomnia and should be addressed via therapy. Taking Sonata as a stop-gap measure means that mental health problems are left untreated. Subsequently, if you use Sonata beyond two weeks, it worsens insomnia and any mental health disorders.

What is a Sonata Overdose?

An overdose occurs when you take a high amount of Sonata. This might be accidental or as a result of tolerance that requires higher doses to feel the original effects. Signs of overdose include dizziness, breathing difficulty, seizures, confusion, low blood pressure, weak muscles and coma.

Who Should Not Take Sonata?

Pregnant women or breastfeeding mothers should not take Sonata. If you have a history of substance use disorder, mental health issues or some other medical conditions, don’t take Sonata. Senior citizens are also advised not to take Sonata, because of the potency of the drug in the brains of older adults.

What Drugs Interact with Sonata?

According to the FDA, there are five major interactions, 17 minor interactions and 615 moderate interactions with Sonata. Substances include alcohol, illicit narcotics, narcotic painkillers, tranquillisers, anaesthetics, anti-histamine, antidepressants, benzodiazepines, muscle relaxants and barbiturates.

What is Sonata Withdrawal?

You’ll experience withdrawal when you’re dependent on Sonata to perform normal functions. However, you won’t experience withdrawal symptoms if you take the drugs as prescribed by your doctor. Symptoms include abdominal cramps, muscle pain, nausea, vomiting, seizures, depression and body shakes.

What Treatments are Available for Sonata Addiction?

The first line of treatment for Sonata addiction is to detox at a medically supervised facility, where medical professionals supervise the detox process. The goal of detox is to remove Sonata and other harmful substances from your body. Other treatment options include inpatient rehab, outpatient programmes, 12-step programs, pharmacology, relapse prevention planning and aftercare.

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