Restoril (temazepam) is one of several commonly prescribed benzodiazepine drugs. Like other drugs in its class, Restoril’s primary mechanism of action involves increased activity of an inhibitory neurotransmitter called gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA).1 Through its interaction with the GABA system, benzodiazepines like temazepam act as central nervous system depressants to decrease certain types of activity throughout the brain and spinal cord. As a result, Restoril is able to elicit its therapeutic effects of relaxation and sedation.
Restoril is used for the short-term treatment of insomnia. Both Restoril and generic temazepam are prescribed in oral capsule form.2 The use of benzodiazepines like Restoril as sleep enhancers is often initiated as a short-term strategy; using cognitive behavioral therapeutic measures to address chronic sleep issues may be a more suitable first line of treatment.3 That being said, some physicians may prescribe Restoril to individuals on a more long-term basis. As with other benzodiazepines, tolerance to Restoril (needing more of the drug to achieve the effects that one once experienced at lower doses) may gradually develop, at which point, some individuals may require an increased dose for therapeutic efficacy.2
Restoril, like other benzodiazepines, is classified as a Schedule IV controlled substance by the United States Drug Enforcement Administration. Restoril may 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 side effects of using the drug can include:2
- Increased drowsiness.
- Decreased levels of consciousness.
- Impaired memory.
- Mildly slurred speech.
More rarely, people can experience more serious or severe side effects (in some cases, such adverse developments may require medical attention or prompt the need for supervised discontinuation of the drug). Such effects may include:2
- Paradoxical overstimulation.
- Worsening of depression.
- Suicidal thoughts.
- Ataxia or problems with muscular coordination.
- Increased fall risk (secondary to decreased levels of consciousness, coordination deficits).
- Complex sleep behaviors (e.g., sleep-driving).
Many people who use Restoril for medicinal purposes (e.g., for short-term management of insomnia) under the supervision of a physician do not meet the criteria for a substance use disorder. However, tolerance may develop with longer-term use, which may prompt an individual to begin misusing the medication in higher-than-prescribed doses. Some physiological dependence may also develop—even with therapeutic use; however, the tenacity of such dependence, and the likelihood of a relatively severe withdrawal increases in situations of misuse or abuse.1
Conceptually, the abuse of a drug like Restoril occurs when an individual misuses it nonmedically. Abuse may progress to chronic, compulsive levels as an individual begins to experience negative ramifications as a result of such misuse, but demonstrates an inability to control such problematic use in spite of the adverse outcomes associated with it.
Diverted temazepam is one of the most commonly encountered benzos on the illicit market.1 Individuals who obtain Restoril illegally and regularly use it for its euphoric or otherwise pleasurable psychoactive effects are abusing the drug, and even individuals with prescriptions who use the drug nonmedically (e.g., by mixing it with alcohol, opioids, or stimulants to modify the effects of the respective drugs, by using more of the drug than prescribed, etc.) could be at greater risk of adverse health effects, including overdose and addiction (or substance use disorder).2,4
Some characteristic signs, symptoms, and behavioral changes used as criteria to make a diagnosis of a sedative- or hypnotic- use disorder involving Restoril include:5