Hypnotic prescription drugs have been used for decades to treat insomnia and other sleep disorders. Because insomnia and anxiety are both incredibly common disorders that Americans struggle with, drugs like Restoril are among the most common prescription nationwide. Restoril is a brand name for a substance called temazepam that’s in the benzodiazepine (benzos) class of drugs. Benzos like Restoril are intended to be used for short-term therapeutic purposes, and long-term use can have some serious adverse side effects.
Restoril has the potential to cause tolerance, dependence, and addiction when it is used regularly for a long period of time. Understanding the signs, symptoms, and treatment options for Restoril addiction is important if you have a prescription. Detecting the signs of tolerance and dependence early can help you avoid a serious substance use disorder (SUD). However, if you have developed an addiction to Restoril, there are treatment options available to help you achieve long-lasting recovery.
Learn more about Restoril addiction, how it works, and what can be done to treat it. Even though addiction is a chronic disease, it can be effectively treated with a number of therapy options.
What is Restoril?
Restoril is a hypnotic drug that’s primarily used to treat insomnia but it also has anticonvulsant, anxiolytic (anti-anxiety), and muscle relaxant properties. As a benzodiazepine, Restoril has seen common use since it first entered the prescription drug market. Though it was first patented in 1965, it didn’t go on sale in the United States until 1981.
Restoril works in a way that’s similar to other benzodiazepines and central nervous system depressants. It works by affecting your nervous system’s communication system, specifically by affecting a neurotransmitter called gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA).
Restoril binds to GABA receptors in the brain. GABA and its subsequent receptor are responsible for sedation, muscle relaxation, and anti-anxiety. Restoril increases the efficiency of those effects for a more pronounced, hypnotic response.
Restoril also has a very high oral bioavailability. This means that it can efficiently make into the bloodstream when taken as a pill. With a 96 percent bioavailability, it’s only slightly less effective to take the pill as it would be to inject it right into a vain.
Unlike other benzodiazepines, Restoril has a long half-life of eight to 20 hours. This means it can take up to 20 hours for the drug to be processed out and drop to half of its original concentration in your bloodstream. Because it lasts for so long, it has shown to help people stay asleep longer and minimize periods of waking up in the middle of the night. Most other benzos and sleep aids only help patients get to sleep rather than stay asleep.
Restoril is also commonly used in the U.S. Air Force where they are commonly referred to as “no-go pills.” They are used to promote sleep in aviators and other personnel between assignments to help prepare for upcoming missions. Restoril’s long half-life causes the Air Force to have a policy that aviators are grounded for at least 12 hours after taking the pill to avoid flying while intoxicated.
Benzodiazepines, including Restoril, are also used illegally as recreational drugs. Like alcohol, Restoril is a central nervous system depressant and has a similar effect during intoxication. You may feel euphoria, relaxation, and calmness while using or abusing Restoril. However, abuse may come with other adverse effects of sedation, fatigue, lethargy, headache, memory impairment, lower reaction time, and poor coordination.
What are the Signs of Restoril Addiction?
Restoril addiction is a serious substance use disorder and a chronic disease. Unfortunately, benzos like Restoril have a high addiction liability and if you aren’t careful with how you use the drug, you may develop a dependence or an addiction. If you have been using Restoril, it’s important to know the warning signs of a SUD. If you’re worried about a loved one who might be abusing Restoril, there are a few signs and symptoms you might be able to identify as well.
Addiction can take many forms but there are a few general signs that are fairly common, including:
- Isolation; withdrawing from normal activities
- Suffering performance in work/school
- Lying about activities or drug use
- Unexplained medical issues
- Strange sleep schedule
- Legal issues related to drug use
- Feeling the need to use to feel normal
- Increased risk taking
- Withdrawal symptoms
- Relationship issues
Tolerance and Dependence
Like most benzodiazepines, Restoril has a significant liability for tolerance and dependence. Benzos shouldn’t be taken regularly for longer than four weeks at a time. Long-term use can lead first to tolerance and then to chemical dependence. Abuse and heavy doses can have the same effects. A sign that you may be growing tolerant to Restoril is the feeling that the same dose is losing its potency. As your brain becomes used to the presence of Restoril in your system, it may start to adapt to balance your brain chemistry. It may increase the production of excitatory neurons to counteract the CNS depressant in your system. To you, it will seem like you need more of the drug to maintain the same effectiveness.
Dependence is the next step toward a substance use disorder. Chemical dependence also has to do with the neurochemical communication process. The longer you use Restoril, the more your brain will come to rely on the foreign chemical. If you suddenly stop using, the nervous system exciting measures your brain was taking to counteract the drug will be unleashed. This can cause a number of withdrawal symptoms and a rebounding of insomnia and anxiety.
Addiction is characterized by the inability to stop despite negative consequences. If you have problems at work, relationship issues, or declining health and you are still unable to stop using Restoril, your substance use disorder may have become an addiction. Addiction occurs primarily in the reward center of the brain, also called the limbic system. Your limbic system recognizes healthy tasks that release feel-good chemicals like serotonin and dopamine. Unfortunately, it has a hard time telling the difference between activities that produce natural chemicals like eating and unnatural chemical producers like drug use.
Once a substance use disorder reaches your limbic system, your brain will recognize drug use a life-sustaining activity. You may feel compelled to use even when you want to quit and know it’s not good for you. Addiction quickly gets out of your control and requires outside help to overcome.
It’s also a chronic disease with relapse rates similar to that of other chronic diseases like diabetes, hypertension, and asthma. However, it can be treated with medical detoxification and a variety of therapies designed to help you form a relapse prevention plan. Through treatment, you can achieve a life free from active addiction.
What is Involved in Restoril Addiction Treatment?
Restoril addiction treatment is a process that you will go through with multiple levels of care, medical and physical services, and a variety of therapy options. There are four main levels of care and, as you progress in addiction treatment, you will progress through these levels in a process called the continuum of care. As you advance, your treatment will become less intensive, so that you have the structure and support when you need it as you continue to gain more independence with each step.
There are four basic levels of care in addiction treatment and each one has a few subcategories. However, if you go through a treatment program you will find yourself in one of the following levels at each step.
Medical detox is the highest level of care and involves 24/7 medically managed services. If you have medical or psychological complications that need immediate attention, they will be a top priority in detox. This level will also keep you safe and comfortable with withdrawal symptoms.
Medically monitored treatment offers less intensive medical care in recovery. Still, it offers 24/7 medical monitoring and clinical support.
Intensive Outpatient (IOP)
IOP involves more than nine hours of clinical services and addiction therapies every week while you live independently.
This is the lowest level of care in addiction treatment and involves fewer than nine hours of clinical services. This allows you to gain more independence as you ease into independent life.
How Dangerous is Restoril?
Restoril abuse isn’t as common as other benzodiazepines like Xanax and Valium. Compared to those other options, Restoril is much slower-acting. Recreational drugs tend to be fast-acting substances, usually working within 30 minutes. Because Restoril can take up to 90 minutes to begin working, it’s a less popular choice as a recreational drug. Still, the fact that it’s so long-acting can lead to dangerous situations. It’s recommended to leave at least eight hours of sleep and relaxation before attempting to go out and be active, especially if you plan on getting behind the wheel of a car.
Benzos like Restoril are especially dangerous for older adults. As we age, our ability to process benzodiazepines is inhibited and it leads to more pronounced intoxication and adverse symptoms. Guidelines for benzodiazepine prescription recommend that older adults avoid benzos, but studies show that people older than 65 are the largest demographic of people with benzo prescriptions. Plus, 31 percent of people between 65 and 80 with benzo prescriptions were given long-term prescriptions.
Restoril withdrawal symptoms are common with many types of psychoactive drugs but they are a little more concerning when it comes to benzodiazepines like Restoril. As a CNS depressant, the Restoril withdrawal symptoms you might experience after a period of drug dependence can be dangerous and even life-threatening. As your brain adapted to the use of Restoril, it may have started to increase the production of excitatory neurotransmitters. When you suddenly stop using the benzo, the efficiency of your inhibitory neurotransmitters will plummet.
This means that your brain chemistry will become unbalanced in a way that causes an overactive nervous system.
When your nervous system goes into overdrive, you may experience several uncomfortable symptoms, including:
- Chest pains
When you go from frequent use of Restoril to immediate cessation, the reaction can be even more serious. The shock from your nervous system quickly going into overdrive can cause tonic-clonic seizures, similar to the ones seen in epilepsy. Seizures aren’t typically deadly on their own but they can come on suddenly and unexpectedly, causing accidents and injury. In some cases, blood pressure and heart rate spikes can cause dangerous medical complications, especially in people with co-occurring medical disorders.
The other dangerous symptom of Restoril withdrawal is Delirium tremens (DT). This symptom is common in CNS depressant withdrawal including benzodiazepines, barbiturates, and alcohol. DT comes on suddenly and it’s characterized by confusion, catatonia, seizure, increased blood pressure, hyperventilating, and coma. DT can be fatal in around five percent of cases but the prognosis can be dramatically improved with adequate medical treatment. Medical detox is the safest way to go through Restoril withdrawal, avoiding or dealing with these serious symptoms.