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Is It Safe to Combine Zopiclone and Alcohol?

By Lee Johnson
Updated: Mar 03, 2024
References

Combining zopiclone and alcohol can have a potentially life-threatening or permanently damaging reaction if combined in sufficient quantities. Zopiclone decreases patients’ tolerance to alcohol and thereby increases toxicity. The combination can also increase the central nervous system-depressing qualities of zopiclone. Studies have confirmed that combining zopiclone with alcohol can result in reduced psychomotor and cognitive function.

All medical information states that combining zopiclone and alcohol isn’t advised. The most likely result of this combination is an increased sedative effect, meaning that the patient will fall asleep more quickly. Both drugs have inherent toxicity and require work by the liver and kidneys to break them down. The combination of the two substances works to increase the level of toxicity, and therefore increases the risk of lasting damage. Taking zopiclone reduces a patient's tolerance to alcohol and can increase the risk of adverse reactions such as vomiting and dizziness.

Zopiclone is a hypnotic sedative medication, which is used for patients suffering from insomnia. It works by depressing the central nervous system, thus causing a relaxed state which leads to sleep. The aim of the medicine is to help patients get to sleep more quickly and stay asleep for longer. Alcohol taken in sufficient qualities also has a sedative effect, which is why combining zopiclone and alcohol is contraindicated. Although alcohol has other effects as well, both drugs basically have the same effect on the nervous system, so combining them multiplies their potency.

Studies have confirmed the risks of combining zopiclone and alcohol. Patients’ psychomotor performance and cognitive function suffer from the combination. Psychomotor performance is the ability to perform simple motor tasks, such as the patient touching his or her own nose after outstretching an arm or walking in a straight line. Cognitive function is the ability to think clearly and make informed and rational decisions. This combination of effects means that driving while on zopiclone and alcohol is exceptionally dangerous.

Possible side effects of zopiclone include dizziness and light-headedness. These are common side effects experienced by just less than one in ten patients, along with other reactions such as nausea and headache. The most commonly reported side effect is a metallic or bitter taste in the mouth, which usually fades away after a few hours. Vision problems, memory loss, and general fatigue have also been associated with the drug. More serious side effects such as mood changes can also occur in some patients.

The Health Board is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
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Discussion Comments
By anon943084 — On Mar 31, 2014

Don't do it. I took a 7.5mg pill on the plane yesterday after a small can of beer and a tiny shot of red wine. I drifted off but woke up shortly afterwards with the most intense nausea and difficulty breathing alongside aching difficult in moving. I seriously felt as if I was dying.

The air stewardess looked particularly concerned at my condition and was repeatedly bringing me cold tissues to put on my face. The instructions say don't mix with alcohol -- it's best to stick to that advice.

By umbra21 — On Jan 11, 2013

@Fa5t3r - In this case I wouldn't be so worried about overdosing (although the potential for liver damage is real and scary) but I can imagine people thinking that since they have a lot of trouble sleeping, a little bit of alcohol in order to make it more effective wouldn't do any harm.

The problem is that you need to be able to wake up in an emergency. If your house starts burning down, or something else happens that requires an alert mind, you won't be able to respond to it quickly. This is particularly scary if something has children or other people in their care.

By Fa5t3r — On Jan 11, 2013

It is so easy to harm yourself when taking prescription medication in ways that it's not supposed to be used. I think in a lot of cases, people just don't realize that they can't drink alcohol with something, or they forget that they are taking it.

I think also that people can take it too much for granted. I know of people who have died because they overdosed by accident and I really wish that everyone would take prescription medicine more seriously. It can be the difference between life and death.

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