Temazepam (Restoril) is a prescription drug that is commonly prescribed on a short term basis to help with sleep disorders. As a member of the benzodiazepine family and a lesser well know one, some may not realise just how dangerously addictive it can be.
Abuse and prolonged use of this sedative-hypnotic can lead to dependence and addiction. Both extremely serious conditions that can be hard to recover from without the correct professional help.
What is temazepam, and what is used for?
Temazepam is a benzodiazepine medication that is available on prescription in tablet form or oral solution. It is commonly sold under the generic and trade name of Restoril in the UK and Activas in the US. Temazepam dosage comes in 5 mg and 10mg tablets, and vary between 10mg up to 40mg depending on the patient’s individual needs and their tolerance to Temazepams effects.
Temazepam licensed indications are for the short term treatment of insomnia, for conscious sedation of dental procedures, and as a premedication before operative or investigation procedures.
Prescribing guidelines in the UK indicate that this sedative-hypnotic should not be prescribed for any longer than 2 to 4 weeks. Taking temazepam for longer than the guidelines recommend can lead to tolerance and a physical addiction to the drug.
Temazepam’s pharmaceutical effects generally take effect with an hour from taking the medication; they can last for up to 8 hours. This means that effects can still be felt the following morning. As with all sedative drugs, you should not drive or operate heavy machinery if you still feel sleepy, drowsy, or lightheaded the following day.
Temazepam for anxiety is sometimes prescribed as medication, although this is now less common due to the fact this drug can be easily abused and can lead to drug dependence and drug addiction.
How temazepam works
Temazepam works by affecting the amount of GABA available in the brain and by depressing the actions of the body’s central nervous system. This provides the user with a feeling of calmness, tiredness and tranquillity, which is conducive to relaxation and sleep.
Because the drug slows down the brain and the body, it also affects coordination, decision making, reflexes, balance, memory, and can affect speech. Each person’s tolerance of this drug is individual according to their biochemistry and personal medical history.
In some people, the drug can produce feelings of euphoria, invincibility, reduced inhibitions and a false sense of wellbeing. It is these particular effects that certain individuals will seek through abuse of this prescription drug. Abusing temazepam, through taking more than is prescribed or by mixing alcohol and temazepam or other drugs, increases its sedative effects. Temazepam abuse also vastly increases the chances of dangerous side effects occurring and can, in fact, be fatal.
Common temazepam side effects
Commons side effects include:
- Decreased alertness
- Decreased or increased appetite
- Impaired balance and coordination
- Muscle weakness
- Problems with vision
- Reduced coordination
- Respiratory depression (slowed breathing rate)
- Rebound insomnia and disturbed sleep
- Short term memory loss
- Slurred or slowed speech
- Suicidal ideation
- Temazepam withdrawal(1)
Dangerous and adverse effects of temazepam
Temazepam is not suitable for everyone. In some, especially those suffering from depression or another mental health illness, it can increase thoughts of self-harm and suicidal ideation.
For any individual who is suffering from depression or thoughts of self-harm, it is not recommended as a stand-alone treatment. Prescribing of this medication in such cases should be carefully monitored and combined with therapy and/or psychiatric medication.
Temazepam can also have paradoxical psychological effects that can be dangerous. Adverse effects of temazepam include increased talkativeness, aggression, impulsiveness and inappropriate behaviour.
Adverse physiological effects include muscle weakness and organic changes to the brain – creating drug dependence and addiction.
Temazepam abuse & dependence
One of the biggest risks of taking Temazepam is an addiction, abuse and dependence.
Like all benzodiazepines, temazepam creates drug tolerance if taken for a prologued period of time (more than 2 weeks). Once tolerance to a certain dosage of temazepam has developed, whereby the brain and body have adjusted to the effects of a dose, an increase in dosage is required in order to feel the original benefits again.
There are very few exceptions where a GP or consultant psychiatrist may agree to a continued prescription or an increase in dosage. If a repeat or increased prescription is refused, and a tolerance has already developed, a patient may well be tempted to buy their own temazepam from an illicit source. Thus starts the downward spiral of temazepam abuse, dependence and addiction.
Once physical dependence has developed, missing a regular dose or reducing the dose will induce withdrawal symptoms. This is a collection of symptoms that manifest physiologically and psychologically that are a reaction to a reduction in temazepam.
Temazepam withdrawal symptoms are extremely unpleasant and uncomfortable. Where a dependency exists, a slow and carefully monitored reduction regime is recommended. This helps to minimise withdrawal symptoms and keep the patient safe from developing life-threatening withdrawal symptoms.