Restoril is a prescription medication most commonly used for the short-term treatment of insomnia and anxiety. It can help people who have trouble falling asleep and staying asleep by targeting GABA neurotransmitter receptors in the brain.
GABA, which stands for gamma-Aminobutyric acid, is responsible for moderating the signals being sent between nerve cells. By enhancing GABA activity, Restoril helps to reduce brain activity, leading to a reduction of anxiety and better sleep.
Restoril, generically known as temazepam, was first approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for the treatment of anxiety in 1981. It has since become one of the most widely prescribed anti-anxiety medications in the country despite the high risk of abuse associated with its use. It belongs to the benzodiazepine class of drugs and is a central nervous system depressant. It can be highly effective at suppressing excessive brain activity that causes anxiety, but when misused, it can also suppress other vital bodily functions, such as breathing.
Due to the risk of abuse, it is not recommended to take Restoril for more than two weeks. Symptoms of anxiety and insomnia that are not resolved within those two weeks may be caused by a larger issue that cannot be effectively addressed by Restoril. Prolonged use of the drug puts you at risk for psychological and physical dependence, which can lead to addiction.
How Do You Become Addicted to Restoril?
Benzodiazepine addiction, such as addiction to Restoril, occurs with repeated and consistent use of the drug during an extended period. Over time, your body adjusts to Restoril constantly being in its system and makes the appropriate adjustments. Those adjustments, however, make it very difficult for you to function without the drug present. For physical and psychological reasons, you become consumed with obtaining and using the drug, no matter the costs.
People who struggle with addiction often face serious personal and professional consequences because of their drug use. Even in the face of legal, relationship, or work trouble, people with a drug addiction can’t control their substance use.
Following extended drug use, addiction, which is a disease of the brain, takes hold. It can be extremely difficult to break free from the physical and emotional bonds of drug addiction, but it is not impossible.
Short-Term Side Effects
Many known side effects can be experienced as a result of regular use of Restoril. Most of them are not prolonged and are not likely to have serious effects on your health. Nonetheless, it is important to be aware of what they are so that you can address them appropriately.
Side Effects Include:
- Short-term memory loss
- Dizziness and falling
- Daytime drowsiness
- Partaking in activities while asleep, such as walking, driving, eating, calling people, and having sex, and having no recollection of doing so
- Reduction of the effectiveness of the drug
- Muscle weakness
- Decreased balance and coordination
- Blurred vision
- Dry mouth and sense of being thirsty
While most of the above side effects will resolve on their own or can be addressed with the slight adjustment to your medication dosage, they should not be ignored. They can indicate the development of more serious problems that will become increasingly harder to treat the longer you wait.
Long-Term Side Effects
If you take Restoril responsibly and as your doctor has prescribed it, you are unlikely to develop more serious and long-term side effects. People with a history of substance abuse or who take the medication for too long are at a greater risk for developing tolerance, dependence, and addiction.
If you attempt to suddenly stop taking Restoril after you have been using it daily for more than a few weeks, you are likely to experience unpleasant withdrawal symptoms.
Tolerance may develop in anyone who uses Restoril for more than just a few days. In this short time, your body already starts to adjust to the medicine in your system. As a result, your body becomes less sensitive to it and requires higher doses of the drug to achieve the same desired effects. Tolerance is not the same thing as dependence or addiction, but it does indicate a step in that direction. Dependence on a drug comes after tolerance but before addiction. Dependence can be both physical and psychological. It is best identified by the occurrence of withdrawal symptoms when you attempt to quit using the drug.
Dependence is likely to occur in people who use a given drug daily for an extended period.
Symptoms Associated With Restoril Withdrawal Are:
- Mood swings
- Flushing of the skin
- Abdominal cramps
- Tremors and shakiness
The final and most serious long-term side effect of Restoril use is addiction. Addiction occurs after the continual and repeated use of the drug. If you experience cravings for Restoril and can’t control your use, you may have developed an addiction that requires professional addiction treatment.
Spotting an Overdose
Overdose is a serious side effect associated with the misuse of benzodiazepines like Restoril. In the event of an overdose, emergency medical attention must be sought right away.
The overdose caused by benzodiazepines can suppress aspects of the central nervous system, such as breathing, to the point that the victim stops breathing altogether. In addition to impaired breathing, the following symptoms of a Restoril overdose require immediate medical care:
- Fast or pounding heartbeat
- Slurred speech
- Unusual thoughts and behavior
- Agitation and aggression
- Suicidal ideation
- Pale skin
- Fever and chills
- Unusual muscle weakness
- Body aches
- Dark urine
- Nausea and stomach pain
- Swelling of the lips, tongue, throat, or face
If you are in the presence of someone experiencing a Restoril overdose, call 911 immediately or get them to an emergency room as soon as possible. While you wait for emergency medical help, focus on keeping the victim’s breathing as regular as possible.
Once medical responders arrive, benzodiazepine antagonists can be administered to counteract the effects of the overdose. Flumazenil is a drug that has been approved by the FDA for use in the case of benzodiazepine overdose. It counteracts the sedative effects of benzodiazepines and can completely or partially reverse them. Following emergency administration of flumazenil, doctors will focus on treating individual symptoms of the overdose and helping the person regain stability and comfort.
How to Recognize an Addiction to Restoril
The American Society of Addiction Medicine (ASAM) describes addiction as a chronic brain disease affecting the healthy functioning of the reward, motivation, and memory systems. When these systems do not function properly because of drug use, a person will experience difficulty in many areas of life. Individuals will see the effects on their biological, psychological, social, and spiritual well-being.
Someone with a substance use disorder cannot stop using drugs and experiences intense drug cravings if they attempt to do so. Additionally, people who grapple with substance abuse fail to recognize or intentionally diminish the significance of the consequences that their drug use is causing.
Even though Restoril is a prescription drug, it is relatively easy to obtain. Doctors in the U.S. have a history of overprescribing such medications, though recent behaviors in prescribing practices have demonstrated a reduction in the prescribing of prescription medications. For someone intent on obtaining as much Restoril as they can, however, the amount a single doctor will prescribe is not a limiting factor.
People who abuse prescription drugs are known to seek out prescriptions from multiple doctors at one time, a practice known as doctor shopping. Doctors may willingly prescribe patients benzodiazepines like Restoril, unaware they have received additional prescriptions for the same drugs. Benzodiazepines are also commonly abused recreational drugs and relatively easy to obtain off the streets.
Many behavioral, psychological, and physical warning signs of drug addiction include:
- Difficulty with personal relationships
- Suspicious behavior
- Legal trouble
- Neglect of responsibilities
- Financial problems
- Increase in risky behaviors
- No longer participating in hobbies and activities
- Using drugs to avoid withdrawal symptoms
- Life revolving around drug use
- Changes in mood, including fear, anxiety, and paranoia
- Lack of motivation
- Irritability and sudden angry outbursts
- Unexplained changes in personality
- Changes in appetite and sleep patterns
- Deterioration of physical appearance
- Neglect of personal hygiene
- Sudden changes in weight
- Impaired physical and cognitive functioning
Someone who has developed an addiction to Restoril, or any drug for that matter, will probably not exhibit every one of the above symptoms, but they will usually display a combination of them. Physical, psychological, and behavioral changes following the use of a given substance that cannot be explained by any other significant life events are very strong indicators for a substance use disorder.
How to Address Addiction
While it is highly challenging to recognize and admit the presence of drug addiction in yourself or a loved one, the good news is that recovery from the addiction is possible. The appropriate treatment to seek depends on the level of addiction that is present. Treatment options range from occasional outpatient visits at hospitals, doctors’ offices, or clinics to inpatient treatment in residential rehab facilities.
According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), effective addiction treatment is multifaceted. No matter what the treatment setting is, comprehensive addiction treatment typically includes medically assisted detoxification, medication management, behavioral counseling, evaluation and treatment of any co-occurring mental health issues, and the establishment of a long-term relapse prevention plan. When all of these areas are properly addressed, treatment programs can help individuals stop using drugs, remain drug-free following treatment, and reenter their communities as productive members of society.
Alternatives to Restoril
Because of the high risk of developing an addiction to Restoril if you have an extended history of using it or a history of substance abuse, finding alternative sleep aids and methods to reduce anxiety may be the best decision. Simple changes to your daily habits may be enough to calm anxieties and help you sleep better at night. Examples of such changes include:
- Reduce or eliminate your caffeine consumption.
- Avoid taking naps during the day.
- Exercise regularly.
- Eat a well-balanced diet.
- Create an environment that supports sleep, such as a quiet and darkroom.
- Practice mindfulness and meditation.
- Reduce unnecessary stressors in your life.
In addition to the above lifestyle changes, many natural supplements claim to reduce anxiety and support quality sleep. Natural sleep aids that are clinically effective for promoting good sleep include:
- Valerian root
- Ginkgo biloba
The above supplements are intended to be used in combination with healthy daily living and sleep habits. On their own, they are unlikely to produce significant changes to your sleep patterns. Used in conjunction with other lifestyle changes, however, you may see significant improvement in your quality of sleep.
If you are taking any medications, it is important to consult with your doctor before starting any new supplements. Some natural supplements can interact with medications and cause unintended side effects.
Identifying Side Effects of Use Early
By equipping yourself with the knowledge of the potential side effects of Restoril use, you can prepare to address dangerous symptoms as they arise and prevent them from progressing to something more serious. Prescription medications, even when used under doctor supervision, come with many risks that can lead to addiction if ignored. The good news is that steps can be taken to ensure the safe use of these medications.