Chronic insomnia, which is trouble falling and staying asleep, affects 10 percent of Americans, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports.
Insufficient sleep and unhealthy sleep patterns can disrupt everyday life, making it harder to concentrate and complete daily tasks. In addition, it may reduce overall quality of life. The CDC estimates that between 50 and 70 million Americans battle a sleep or wakefulness disorder.
Temazepam, which is sold under the brand name Restoril, is a benzodiazepine medication primarily prescribed to treat short-term insomnia. Benzodiazepine drugs stimulate the neuron gamma-aminobutyric acid, or GABA, which helps to suppress over-activity of excitatory neurons in the brain and along the central nervous system that may cause anxiety and make it difficult to sleep. The CDC published that 9 million, or 4 percent, of American adults aged 20 and older had used a prescription sleep aid in the month prior to the administration of a national health and nutrition survey.
Benzodiazepines, or benzos, are meant to be taken for short periods of time, as users may become addicted to them. Restoril is designed to help restore disrupted sleep patterns temporarily and is generally prescribed for a week or two.
Taking Restoril for longer may lead to users developing a tolerance to the drug, and dosage may have to then be increased in order for it to continue to be effective. Benzodiazepines like Restoril interfere with the chemical messengers and pathways in the brain. Over time, the brain may rely on the drug’s interaction, creating a physical and psychological dependence. Benzodiazepines also have a high potential for abuse and addiction.
Any use of a prescription medication outside of its prescribed intention is considered prescription drug abuse. In 2013, the National Survey for Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) reported that 251,000 Americans over the age of 11 used a prescription sedative drug, such as Restoril, for nonmedical purposes in the month prior to the survey.
In addition to activating the GABA neurons and receptors in the brain, benzodiazepine abuse also creates a surge of the neurotransmitter dopamine, one of the “pleasure cells” in the brain. Abusers of benzodiazepines may feel a rush of euphoria or a “high” and feel happy, relaxed, and calm while under the influence of the drug.
Artificially increasing dopamine levels on a regular basis through drug abuse can lead to addiction. Signs of a Restoril or temazepam addiction include:
- Exaggerating symptoms in order to receive a prescription
- Seeking a prescription from multiple doctors or “doctor shopping”
- Altering the drug, such as crushing the tablets to then snort or inject the residue
- Taking more than the intended dosage at a time
- Continuing to take the drug for longer than needed or prescribed
- Tolerance to the drug, meaning that users must take more each time to continue to experience results
- Withdrawal symptoms when the drug is removed, such as depression, anxiety, mood swings, daytime drowsiness, disruption of sleep patterns, anxiety, shakes, nervousness, nausea and/or vomiting, or abdominal cramps
- Drug cravings
- Continuing to use the drug despite negative social, or physical consequences
- Inability to fulfill personal, social, educational, or professional obligations regularly or consistently
- Obsession with the drug – spending most of the time determining how to get it, using it, and recovering from the effects of the drug
- Using more of the drug at a time than intended
- Expressing a desire to stop using but an inability to do so
Temazepam may have many side effects to be aware of, including short-term memory loss or amnesia when taking it. This includes having no recollection of engaging in activities, such as driving, having sex, eating, or sleepwalking, when on the drug.
Taking too much temazepam at a time can raise the levels in the body to toxic levels, which may cause an overdose. Someone experiencing an overdose is likely to be confused and have diminished reflexes, shallow breathing. and slowed blood pressure. A Restoril overdose may cause a loss of consciousness, coma, or even death and is a medical emergency. Seek immediate medical attention if you suspect an overdose. Drug overdose is the leading cause of injury death in the United States, according to the CDC, and over half of drug overdose fatalities in 2011 involved prescription drugs. More than 500,000 emergency department visits (EDs) were related to insomnia or anti-anxiety medications such as benzodiazepines.
Mixing a benzodiazepine medication with other drugs or alcohol can be particularly dangerous as well. The Drug Abuse Warning Network (DAWN) report of 2011 found that 25 percent of all ED visits related to the nonmedical use of pharmaceuticals also involved alcohol. Mixing alcohol with a benzodiazepine is particularly hazardous since both are central nervous system depressants. When taken together, they can reduce respiration and other vital bodily functions to dangerously low levels that may even be life-threatening.
Treating the Underlying Cause
An addiction to a drugs or alcohol may be the result of a co-occurring mental health disorder, as an effort to self-medicate symptoms. Sleep disorders are a form of mental illness that may commonly co-occur with substance abuse and addiction. For example, a study published in the journal Psychiatry on several substance abusers in a recovery program in Cleveland, Ohio, uncovered that 46 percent of patients reported abusing substances to manage issues sleeping. Sleep disorders may actually be exacerbated by substance abuse, however.
Other disorders may also be the root of a sleep disorder, as the New York State Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services (OASAS) reports that as many as 85 percent of patients battling depression also suffer from insomnia. Taking a medication such as Restoril may be effective for short-term relief of insomnia symptoms; however, taking it for too long may not only lead to addiction but may also serve as a type of band aid for a deeper issue that should be uncovered and treated with a combination of methods. Medical professionals may perform a detailed evaluation early on in a treatment program to help discover the cause of insomnia or any other mental illness symptoms that may be present.
Patients who are addicted to Restoril should not stop taking it suddenly, as the withdrawal symptoms may be very uncomfortable and potentially even dangerous. Instead, a medical professional may set up a tapering schedule during detox in an effort to slowly lower the dosage in a safe and controlled manner over time. Sometimes, a longer-acting benzodiazepine like diazepam, or Valium, may be substituted to help manage withdrawal symptoms and drug cravings.
A thorough evaluation and drug screening should be done as well in order to ensure that if there are other drugs or alcohol present, special steps can be taken during detox to maintain the safety of the patient. Detox is often the first step in a drug rehab program, and a successful recovery model will usually follow up with psychotherapy and counseling sessions.
The level of treatment will depend on the level of dependency to the drug, any underlying medical or mental health conditions, and the presence of poly-drug abuse. Therapies such as cognitive behavioral therapy can be very effective in determining the underlying cause of stress or triggers that may be related to addictive behaviors and mental illness symptoms, including trouble sleeping. Learning new ways to self-soothe can also be helpful in restoring healthy sleep patterns without medication. Meditation, yoga, and mindfulness techniques are beneficial during recovery from addiction as well as working to combat insomnia.
Admissions counselors are standing by to help answer any questions about the comprehensive health services, addiction care, and mental illness treatment programs offered at Orlando Recovery Center. All calls are confidential.
The Recovery Village aims to improve the quality of life for people struggling with a substance use or mental health disorder with fact-based content about the nature of behavioral health conditions, treatment options and their related outcomes. We publish material that is researched, cited, edited and reviewed by licensed medical professionals. The information we provide is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. It should not be used in place of the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare provider.