Restoril (temazepam) is a benzodiazepine, a class of drugs that function as central nervous system depressants. Like other drugs in its class, Restoril’s primary function is increasing the release of the neurotransmitter gamma–aminobutyric acid (GABA). GABA is the main inhibitory neurotransmitter in the brain, meaning that when it is released, it serves to slow down functioning of the neurons and other cells in the brain and spinal cord. As a result, anyone who uses Restoril will experience a feeling of relaxation, sedation, and a reduction in stress and anxiety.
Restoril is primarily prescribed as a sleep enhancer and typically available in capsule or pill form at doses between 7.5 mg and 30 mg. The use of benzodiazepines like Restoril as sleep enhancers should only be initiated as a short-term strategy; using behavioral methods of sleep enhancement are more effective in the long run. That being said, physicians often prescribe Restoril to individuals on an ongoing basis. As with all benzodiazepines, tolerance to Restoril (needing more of the drug to achieve the effects that one once experienced at lower doses) develops rather rapidly, and most individuals find that higher doses of the drug are needed over time.
Restoril, like other benzodiazepines, is classified as a Schedule IV controlled substance by the United States Drug Enforcement Administration. This means that Restoril can only be legally obtained with a prescription from a physician and should only be used according to its prescribed instructions.
In addition to the aforementioned effects of Restoril, some of the more common side effects of using the drug can include:
- Daytime sleepiness
- Hangover-like effects
- Daytime fatigue
- Mildly slurred speech
In some cases, people can experience more severe side effects that may require medical attention or discontinuation of the drug, such as:
- Suicidal thoughts
In general, people who use Restoril and other benzodiazepines strictly for medicinal purposes (e.g., to initiate sleep or maintain sleep) and under the supervision of a physician are not considered to have substance use disorders even if they develop physical dependence on the drug.
The abuse of a drug occurs when an individual uses it for nonmedicinal reasons and experiences negative ramifications as a result of use, but demonstrates issues with control by still using the drug in spite of the negative ramifications produced. Individuals who obtain Restoril illegally and regularly use it for psychoactive effects are abusing the drug, and even individuals with prescriptions who use the drug outside its prescribed uses (e.g., mixed with alcohol to enhance its psychoactive effects, use more of the drug than prescribed, etc.) are displaying signs of a substance use disorder.
An individual who demonstrates two or more of these signs may be experiencing a substance use disorder related to Restoril abuse. Some other signs that may appear but are not diagnostic include weight gain, excessive sleeping, isolation from others, new friends who are substance abusers, and significant mood swings.
Getting a loved one to commit to treatment for a substance use disorder can often be quite tasking. Many times, these individuals are so focused on their own subjective needs that they cannot see the effects of their substance use and are unable to see the whole picture. Approaching them in a confrontational manner and accusing them, or trying to force them into treatment, is often counterproductive. Moreover, approaching someone who is actively under the influence of drugs or alcohol and trying to convince them that they have a problem is not going to be effective, as substances significantly reduce the individual’s ability to process information and evaluate situations (even though the majority of individuals with substance use disorders believe that their substance use makes them think more clearly).
Instead, one of the best times to approach an individual is after they have used their drug of choice and are sober but experiencing hangover-like effects. Typically, individuals are somewhat more reflective at these times. Never approach an individual in a confrontational manner but instead express concern, outline facts you have noticed about their substance use, and how their substance use affects you personally and makes you feel. An individual cannot argue with facts and cannot argue with your feelings, so this approach can offer validity for your concerns. Some loved ones may wish to consider organizing a formal intervention with the help of a professional interventionist.
Any person who has abused Restoril will need to become involved in a formal substance use disorder treatment program. Because there is high potential that individuals who abuse Restoril will develop some level of physical dependence on the drug, the first step involves getting the person into a professional withdrawal management program that is supervised by an addiction medicine physician, a psychiatrist, or some other physician trained in medical detox.
Medical detox allows the person to negotiate the withdrawal syndrome in a manner that will reduce the uncomfortable physical and psychological effects of withdrawal. Physicians can use a tapering strategy, administer longer-acting benzodiazepines and taper down the dosage of them, or administer other drugs that can reduce severe and negative withdrawal effects that can occur from benzodiazepines. It is important to know that benzodiazepine withdrawal can be potentially fatal due to the potential development of seizures, and any person withdrawing from benzodiazepines should only do so under the supervision of a physician.
Simply getting off benzodiazepines and getting past the withdrawal process is not sufficient for complete recovery. Instead, any person with a substance use disorder should be involved in a program that includes:
- Formal therapy or counseling for a substance use disorder: This requires that an individual is treated by a licensed therapist who is trained in substance abuse treatment and addiction recovery techniques. Therapy can be performed in group sessions or individual sessions. Often, a combination of group and individual therapy is employed.
- Family therapy: Some individuals may need to get relatives involved in the treatment process, and family therapy for substance use disorders is an excellent way to do this. Family members can also attend support groups such as Al-Anon.
- Participation in social support groups: This includes 12-Step meetings (e.g., Narcotics Anonymous), which can be extremely useful and an excellent adjunctive treatment to formal substance use disorder treatment. These groups can also be used as part of a long-term aftercare treatment program.
- Treatment for co-occurring disorders, if needed: It is extremely important to identify any co-occurring disorders and have these treated concurrently with the substance use disorder. Attempting to treat one disorder and ignoring the effects of others will not be successful. In addition, because individuals who abuse benzodiazepines often abuse other drugs, treatment for any co-occurring substance use should also be initiated along with treatment for Restoril abuse.