The quest for a good night’s sleep continues to elude millions of Americans every year. They have trouble falling and staying asleep, or they wake up frequently in the middle of the night. When they arise the next morning, they suffer from cognitive impairments and lost productivity. Prescription and non-prescription sleep aids seemingly provide an easy solution. Collectively, Americans spend billions on sleep aids to conquer sleep disorders.
For a good deal of them, however, prescription sleep medicines like Restoril are only a short-term fix. When taken longer than prescribed or in heavier doses, users put themselves at risk of becoming dependent and addicted to a class of drug that could ultimately kill them.
Older people, a population most vulnerable to sleep disorders, are particularly vulnerable to developing a dependence. What’s more, some people abuse Restoril, Lunesta, and Ambien for their sedative-hypnotic effects. Users even mix sleep aids with alcohol and other substances, which only heightens the risk of overdose and death.
Restoril, the brand name for temazepam, is a part of the benzodiazepine class of medicines. Like other “benzos,” its primary function is to act as a central nervous system (CNS) depressant. Benzodiazepines like Restoril have anxiolytic (anti-anxiety) and muscle relaxant effects in addition to their sedative properties.
When benzodiazepines were first synthesized in the 1950s and introduced to the market the following decade, they were hailed as a medical breakthrough. The medical establishment promoted benzos over barbiturates because the former was thought to have less abuse potential and negative side effects than the latter.
This industry-wide shift toward benzodiazepines made it one of the most prescribed class of drugs in the United States during the 1970s. Restoril was included in that wave when it was introduced in the U.S. later on in 1981.
Like other benzodiazepines, Restoril stimulates the gamma-Aminobutyric acid (GABA) in the brain. GABA is responsible for calming you down when it’s time to rest. By impacting this neurotransmitter, Restoril produces feelings of sleep and relaxation. Because anxiety and sleep disorders are commonplace among people with overactive nervous systems, benzodiazepines like Restoril are prescribed to depress the CNS.
Nevertheless, there are perils associated with Restoril use. Not only is it habit-forming, but users can become dependent on the drug even when they are taking the prescribed dosage. Restoril dependency and addiction are more likely to occur when someone takes it longer than what is prescribed or exceeds their dosage levels.
Restoril is only intended to be taken in the short-term, usually between seven to 10 days. Unlike other benzos, Restoril has an exceptionally long half-life at about eight hours. It tends to stay in the body a lot longer so that when you take more of it on a single occasion or over time, its sedative effects can compound.
Recreational users flock to Restoril for those effects, only to risk addiction and severe health complications.
If you find yourself taking larger doses of Restoril to get the same effects, then you are probably developing a tolerance. Your body has likely gotten used to the presence of the medication. Tolerance is one of the first indicators of a growing addiction.
That’s why it is important to consult your doctor about cutting back and changing medications, rather than increasing your dosage. If these steps are not taken, tolerance can quickly proceed to dependence. The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) states that dependence occurs “when the neurons adapt to the repeated drug exposure and only function normally in the presence of the drug. When the drug is withdrawn, several physiologic reactions occur.”
Therefore, these withdrawal symptoms indicate that dependence has been established. With benzodiazepines, withdrawal often comes with a cluster of symptoms that can include:
Restoril abuse looks like alcohol intoxication; users usually exhibit a loss of motor control, released inhibitions, drowsiness, lethargy, and loss of balance. When someone continues to use Restoril in the face of adverse consequences such as health, legal, or professional challenges, addiction has developed.
When someone is addicted to any substance, they will exhibit compulsive behaviors where they are fixated on obtaining and using the drug. Restoril is no different. These behavioral signs can look like:
If you or a loved one is exhibiting these signs and symptoms of addiction, then it is imperative that you seek professional addiction treatment. Attempting to quit Restoril or any other drug on your own can be hazardous to your health and well-being.
Benzodiazepines like Restoril produce dangerous withdrawal symptoms and effects. That’s why the most effective route to recovery begins with a professionally administered medical detoxification.
In detox, an experienced medical staff will provide around-the-clock care to ensure that your process is safe, comfortable, and effective. Detox typically lasts a week but can run longer depending on the severity of the addiction. You will be provided medications to wean you off Restoril and treat any uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms that arrive.
The next step after detox, on the continuum of care, is residential treatment. In residential care, you will have access to a range of therapy programs and counseling that will help you get to the root of your addiction. What’s more, you will have access to treatment that will provide strategies to help combat relapse. The therapy models provided in residential treatment include:
Your treatment will be individualized and tailored to your particular needs, especially your medical, psychological, and social requirements.
Because addiction is a disorder of the brain, it is vital that you continue your care in a supportive recovery community. Our clinicians can help connect you to outpatient and aftercare programs to help you maintain your sobriety.
Since Restoril is a benzodiazepine, it does not possess the toxicity of a barbiturate. However, life-threatening overdose is possible, especially if Restoril is abused or mixed with alcohol or other benzos. High doses of Restoril can be fatal. It can produce overdose symptoms that are similar to alcohol intoxication. Those effects include:
What’s more, Restoril has long-lasting effects that can impair a user the following morning. Users can experience a loss of motor control and drowsiness, which can lead to accidents and injury. This risk of an accident is especially present when someone decides to get behind the wheel. Older users of benzodiazepines like Restoril are at a greater risk of incurring injuries from falls and cognitive impairments.
Benzodiazepines: Uses, Side Effects, Interactions & Warnings. (n.d.). from https://www.drugs.com/article/benzodiazepines.html
Consumer Reports. (n.d.). Why Americans Can't Sleep. from https://www.consumerreports.org/sleep/why-americans-cant-sleep/
Searing, L. (2017, November 27). Drugs intended to calm people with Alzheimer's may lead to early death. from https://www.washingtonpost.com/national/health-science/drugs-intended-to-calm-people-with-alzheimers-may-lead-to-early-death/2017/11/24/b9e5b7a8-cfb0-11e7-9d3a-bcbe2af58c3a_story.html?utm_term=.8f9f153eb7f6
Temazepam: MedlinePlus Drug Information. (n.d.). from https://medlineplus.gov/druginfo/meds/a684003.html