Is Zopiclone a controlled drug?

Zopiclone, also known as a "Z drug", is a medicine used to treat insomnia and other sleep disorders. It belongs to the non-benzodiazepine group and is often misused by people who don't have sleeping problems. Due to its sedative properties, it helps you to relax and assist in sleeping. Zopiclone works by slowing down brain activity and tranquilisation of the central nervous system, making you sleepy (and sometimes feeling drowsy).

If you're considering taking Zopiclone or have questions about its use, please check out the patient information leaflet and consult your doctor before using it. 

What is a controlled drug?

In the UK, certain drugs that carry the risk of being misused require monitoring and control. A controlled drug can only be prescribed by doctors and dispensed by pharmacists. It can only be used for medical purposes under medical supervision and may require safe custody requirements.

According to the Office for National Statistics, 4,859 deaths related to drug poisoning were registered in 2021. Almost two-thirds of these deaths were the result of drug misuse. Due to this, the use and distribution of controlled drugs.

In 1971, the United Kingdom passed the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971. It introduced the term controlled drugs (CD), replacing it with the former expression dangerous drugs (DDA). The primary objective of the Act is to restrict the improper use of controlled drugs. A complete ban on these drugs' possession, distribution, production, import, and export is imposed unless permitted by regulations or authorised by a license granted by the Secretary of State.

Controlled drugs, if misused or not taken according to prescription, can lead to addiction and withdrawal symptoms. You can also read the guide on controlled drugs published by the Royal Pharmaceutical Society.

Is it a controlled drug?

Zopiclone is a Schedule 4, Part 1 controlled drug in the UK. It is a class C controlled drug. This means it has some legal restrictions on its use. Doctors need to ensure that all the guidelines are followed when prescribing it.

It's important to remember that Zopiclone is not recommended for long-term use because it can be addictive and cause withdrawal symptoms if you stop taking it suddenly.

Zopiclone works by slowing down the activity of your brain so you fall asleep more easily.

Has Zopiclone always been a controlled drug?

Zopiclone was introduced in 1986 and was considered an improved version of benzodiazepines. However, after further testing, it was deemed to have the same effects as the benzodiazepines. In 2005, Zopiclone was placed as a Schedule 4 drug due to similar addictive qualities and then was classified as a Schedule 4, Part 1 drug along with benzodiazepines.

Is Zopiclone addictive?

Zopiclone is not addictive if used temporarily between 2 -4 weeks. It's a short-acting sedative and non-benzodiazepine hypnotic, which means it doesn't have precisely the same effects as benzodiazepines like Valium or Xanax. It is the

According to the National Institute for Health and Excellence Care, Zopiclone can interact with other medicines, such as antidepressants, strong painkillers, and antibiotics used to treat infections.

However, it is not advisable to make Zopiclone usage a habit, as it may become challenging to withdraw from this habit later.

Side effects of Zopiclone

Below are the side effects of Zopiclone:

  • Drowsiness
  • Tiredness
  • Headache
  • Loss of appetite
  • Nausea
  • Metallic Taste in your mouth
  • Vomiting
  • Dry Mouth


Zopiclone is a sedative-hypnotic drug that your doctor can prescribe as an alternative to other medications. It's sometimes called a "Z-drug" because it has a similar structure to zolpidem. Zopiclone is a Schedule 4, Part 1 controlled drug. Prescribers have to be careful when prescribing it to restrict any misuse. Zopiclone can also be abused for recreational purposes, such as getting high on drugs like heroin or methamphetamine.