Zopiclone: An Acceptable Alternative to Benzodiazepines

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Zopiclone is a nonbenzodiazepine hypnotic that provides a useful alternative in an era of increasing concern over the misuse of benzodiazepines.

The drug is an effective hypnotic in patients with insomnia, and is well tolerated. The most common adverse effect is a bitter taste that seldom requires drug withdrawal. When substituted for benzodiazepines, zopiclone tends to improve the quality of sleep and be preferred by patients and physicians.

Available data suggest that the drug has a lower potential to cause withdrawal effects and dependency than the benzodiazepines. However, emerging evidence indicates that patients who have prior histories of drug abuse may become dependent on, or may misuse, zopiclone.

Thus, zopiclone should be prescribed with similar care to benzodiazepines. Patients should be selected carefully, and receive only short courses of the drug.

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