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Restoril Addiction

Posted on January 29, 2013 in Prescription Drug Addiction

Restoril AddictionTemazepam is one of the benzodiazepines, which are anti-anxiety medicines discovered in the mid-1960s and promoted as less addictive and less dangerous than barbiturates. The most commonly prescribed version of temazepam is called Restoril, a trademarked product made by the Mallinckrodt Pharmaceuticals Group. As a benzodiazepine, Restoril is in the same family of drugs as Xanax, Ativan and Valium and has a similar chemistry. Benzodiazepines are extremely popular drugs — one in ten American adults takes benzodiazepines, which count for one-third of all prescriptions written in the United States.

Restoril came out in 1969 and by the late 1980s, it was the most popular sleeping pill in the United States. Twenty years later new products like Sonata, Ambien and Lunesta were introduced through intense advertising campaigns in print and on television, promoting not just these drugs but the entire sleeping pill industry, which grew by 60% between 2001 and 2006. Today more than 60 million prescriptions for sleeping pills are written every year in the U.S. Restoril is still among the top ten most prescribed medicines in the U.S. with 8.9 million prescriptions written for it in 2009. It ranks fifth in popularity among benzodiazepines, and usually in the top twenty of the most abused drugs in the U.S.

What Is Restoril?

Restoril is considered a short-acting benzodiazepine. Like all benzodiazepines, Restoril slows down brain activity by increasing a brain neurotransmitter called gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA). This takes away feelings of anxiety and increases a sense of relaxation, enabling sleep. Temazepam comes as a white crystalline powder soluble in water.

The chemical name for temazepam is 7-chloro1,3-dihydro-3-hydroxy-1-methyl-5-phenyl-2H-1,4-benzodiazepin-2-one.

Restoril comes in capsules with strengths of 7.5 mg, 15 mg, 22.5 mg, and 30 mg.

Temazepam products are classified as Schedule IV Controlled Substances, which means they have some potential for addiction but legitimate medical uses. Schedule IV Substances are regulated and tracked by the federal government, and if you are caught possessing or trafficking in them without a doctor’s prescription, you can face prison sentences and fines.

What Are The Medical Uses Of Restoril?

Restoril is prescribed for insomnia, and its advertising says, “Your sleep problems should improve in seven to ten days.” The thing is you are only allowed to take Restoril for seven to ten days, and it probably will not work for you after 14 days, according to the National Institute of Health. One study found that Restoril gets you to sleep on average ten minutes faster and allows for 32 more minutes of sleep than if you didn’t take it.

The usual starting dosage and the dosage for people over 65 years old is 7.5mg, but it can be adjusted upwards as needed. According to instructions from its manufacturer, you have to commit to spending seven to eight hours in bed after you have taken temazepam.

What Are The Risks Of Taking Restoril?

Restoril can cause drug addiction. You can build up a tolerance to it within three days, which means you keep needing to take more to get the same effects. Once you become addicted to Restoril, you have to undergo a difficult withdrawal syndrome to become free of it.

People who take any kind of sleeping pill are five times more likely to die within two years than those who do not, according to a 2012 study in the British Medical Journal. This does not mean sleeping pills cause death, but more probably indicates that people with insomnia may have serious health problems. The study found that even if you only took as few as 18 sleeping pills a year, you had an increased likelihood for developing cancer and other serious conditions.

A 2012 Harvard study of 1063 elderly adults found that those who took benzodiazepines like Restoril for insomnia increased their odds of developing dementia by 50%. This study took into account many other factors that could have caused the increased risk, including amount of wine they drank, their educational level of attainment, socio-economic status, etc.

A 1993 British study of temazepam found that this drug had the highest number of deaths per million prescriptions used in the 1980s.

Some people are allergic to benzodiazepines and develop anaphylaxis, a potentially fatal syndrome in which the throat can shut down and you have difficulty breathing. The face, throat, tongue, lips and eyes may swell, and you may have hoarseness, rashes and hives. If this happens, stop taking Restoril and seek medical help immediately.

Some people who take Restoril carry on various activities like driving, eating, having sex, and so forth while they are partially sleep. The drug carries a warning label to this effect. There have been car accidents and other incidents, such as people walking around nude outdoors, associated with Restoril and other sleeping pills. Some people react to Restoril the way they do alcohol — i.e., they become extroverted, aggressive, and so forth.

Restoril should not be taken by people with a history of drug abuse or alcoholism, liver or kidney disease, glaucoma, sleep apnea, depression, mental illness, breathing problems, or seizures. It has caused birth defects in babies whose mothers took the drug during pregnancy.

What Are The Side Effects Of Restoril?

The most frequent side effect is drowsiness. People who were taking Restoril had a 9% incidence of drowsiness compared to 5% for those taking a placebo. People taking Restoril also reported headaches, diarrhea, and flu symptoms, but these symptoms are not necessarily confirmed in double-blind studies.

Other side effects can be pale skin, restless muscle movement in eyes, tongue, jaw or neck, blurred vision, and dry mouth.

Temazepam products like Restoril can cause mental changes such as confusion, strange behaviors, hallucinations, memory problems, feelings that you are outside your body, depression, suicidal thoughts, and difficulty concentrating.

What Drugs Interact With Restoril?

Restoril and other temazepam products are central nervous system depressants, which means they slow down the rate of respiration, metabolism, heartbeat, and so forth. They should not be taken with stimulants that do the opposite. If you take Restoril with other central nervous system depressants, such as narcotic painkillers, illegal narcotics, other benzodiazepines, barbiturates, alcohol, sedatives, other sleeping pills, tranquilizers, anti-anxiety drugs, and antidepressants, you increase the depressive effect and put yourself in danger of a fatal overdose.

Restoril interacts with dioxin, seizure medications, drugs for mental illness, anti-histamines like Benadryl, disulfiram, certain antibiotics, St. John’s Wort, and nicotine.

Restoril Overdoses

Taking too much Restoril can be fatal.

Symptoms of overdose can be confusion, absent reflexes, drowsiness, dizziness, and slow breathing. The person may lose consciousness, enter a coma and die.

At an emergency medical facility, doctors will usually induce vomiting or pump the stomach of someone overdosing on temazepam. They will administer fluids and may use presser agents. Sometimes they will give the person Flumazenil, an antagonist of benzodiazepines.

A 1995 study done in Australia and published in the British Medical Journal found that people who took temazepam were more likely to enter comas and die of overdose compared to those who took other benzodiazepines.

Most people who die from overdoses have a combination of drugs in their bodies, usually central nervous system depressants and alcohol. Heath Ledger, who won an Academy Award for his work in “The Black Knight,” died of a combination of temazepam plus two other benzodiazepines along with the narcotic painkillers, OxyContin and hydrocodone.

Restoril Addiction

If you use Restoril for only a week, take it at bedtime and within the medically recommended amount, you will not become an addict. The problem is when people abuse this drug the way they abuse alcohol — i.e., to relax and get high. Drug addicts also use benzodiazepines like temazepam to augment the effects of other drugs — for example, to relieve side effects from cocaine like anxiety and agitation, or to increase the effect of alcohol. Others abuse it because it can produce a feeling of euphoria and then complete relaxation. Once you start using Restoril recreationally, you are very likely to become addicted to it and to damage your health. Tolerance and physical dependence develops relatively quickly.

Temazepam addictions are fairly common in the United Kingdom and in other parts of the world, and may be increasing in the United States. According to the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency, illicit temazepam is increasingly entering the country through foreign channels. Since 20% of Americans take various sleeping pills, including Restoril, they are widely prescribed and widely available in home medicine cabinets. Restoril is also easily available by forging prescriptions, “doctor shopping,” or through illegal internet pharmacies. The DEA estimates that over 20 million Americans over age 12 years old have experimented illegally with benzodiazepines like Restoril.

Restoril Withdrawal Syndrome

Restoril withdrawal syndrome is similar to the ones for barbiturates and alcohol, and can be more difficult that withdrawing from heroin and other opiates. The syndrome can last up to three weeks, but how severe it is and how long it lasts depends on how deep your addiction to Restoril is. If you have been taking this drug for several months and in large amounts, your withdrawal will be harder than for someone who was not a heavy user.

You should enter a medical facility when you withdraw from Restoril because it is dangerous to attempt on your own –for example, some people have convulsions and seizures. Other symptoms are tremors, abdominal and muscle cramps, vomiting, and sweating. Mental changes such as anxiety, depression and even suicidal attempts are difficult to manage without help. These symptoms can last for weeks or more.

The instructions that come with Restoril say that if you are taking more than 15mg a day, you should not stop abruptly but taper off gradually under a doctor’s supervision.

After you stop taking Restoril, you may experience “rebound insomnia,” which means that for two or more nights you will have to endure sleeplessness during withdrawal. Some people mistake this as a reason to take more Restoril.

Restoril Addiction Treatment Programs

Restoril addictions are more common in Europe, and some of the anecdotes about it are frightening. One man prescribed temazepam for generalized anxiety disorder became addicted and injected the drug into his leg so many times that it had to be amputated. After that, he injected temazepam into his other leg. Restoril and benzodiazepines in general have wholesome images, but the truth is they can cause life-changing addictions in which your life becomes centered around obtaining and using these drugs.

The state-of-the-art treatment for Restoril addiction is entering a residential treatment center where you can live in a therapeutic situation on a 24/7 basis for several months. Living away from your drug environment is one of the best ways to start your new life over. Government studies have shown a correlation between being successful at rehabilitation and remaining in a residential treatment center for at least several months.

Once you have achieved physical withdrawal (detoxification) from Restoril, you will be attending classes on drug addiction, learning how to avoid relapses, and getting in good physical shape through sports and good nutrition. You will be living and working with other people facing similar challenges. Your family may be involved in counseling to teach them how to support you in your process. The thrust of your therapy, however, will be individual counseling, usually with a professional trained in cognitive behavioral therapy, which has been proven effective in the treatment of alcoholism and drug addiction. You may need to change your career path or alter some of your closest relationships. You should be having fun during rehab through social activities and other recreation even as you are working through your program of self-exploration and growth.

When you return home, you usually continue in an aftercare program of more individual counseling and support, and by attending 12-step meetings in your community.

Signs You May Be Addicted to Restoril

If you can answer yes to any of the questions below, it is time to consult your local mental health center or your family physician about your abuse of Restoril.

  • Have you been taking Restoril without a doctor’s prescription?
  • Have you been taking 15mg or more a day of Restoril?
  • Have you been taking Restoril for more than two weeks?
  • Have you tried to quit taking Restoril but failed?
  • Do your family and friends criticize you because of your drug use?
  • Do you know that Restoril is causing problems in your health, work and relationships and yet you continue using it?
  • Do you need to keep increasing the amounts of Restoril you take to achieve the effect you want?
  • Is it impossible for you to go more than a day or two without drugs?
  • Do you experience withdrawal symptoms when you stop using Restoril?
  • Do you feel guilty or ashamed about using Restoril?
  • Do you ever drive under the influence of Restoril?
  • Are you obtaining Restoril illegally? Do you worry the law will catch up with you?
  • Are you taking Restoril when you feel angry or upset, or as an escape from everyday life?
  • Do you use Restoril to get high with friends?

Sources:

Bellinir, Karen. Drug Abuse Sourcebook.  (Detroit: Omnigraphics, 2000), pg. 133.

Saul, Stephanie. “Record Sales of Sleeping Pills Are Causing Worries,” The New York Times, February 7, 2006.

Rabin, Robin. “New Worries About Sleeping Pills,” The New York Times, March 12, 2012.

“Benzodiazepines, Drugs of Concern,” The U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency, The U.S. Justice Department, see http://www.deadiversion.usdoj.gov/drugs_concern/benzo_1.htm

“Insomnia Medications,” Health Topics, The New York Times.

Ibid.

“Restoril,” the RX List, see  http://www.rxlist.com/restoril-drug.htm

“Controlled Substances Schedule,” The U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency, the U.S. Department of Justice, see http://www.deadiversion.usdoj.gov/schedules/index.html

1“Temazepam,” PubMed, The National Institute of Health, see

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmedhealth/PMH0000808/

“Temazepam, Oral Route,” The Mayo Clinic, see http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/drug-information/DR602757

“Saul, Stephanie. “Sleep Drugs Found Only Mildly Effective but Wildly Popular,” The New York Times, October 23, 2007.

“Temazepam,” PubMed, The National Institute of Health, see

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmedhealth/PMH0000808/

Rabin, Robin. “New Worries About Sleeping Pills,” The New York Times, March 12, 2012.

Healy, Melissa, “Sleeping pills linked to higher risk of cancer, death, study says,” The Los Angeles Times, February 28, 2012.

Smith, Rebecca. “Sleeping pills taken by millions linked to dementia: research,” The UK Telegraph, September 28, 2012, see http://www.telegraph.co.uk/health/healthnews/9571288/Sleeping-pills-taken-by-millions-linked-to-dementia-research.html

Serfaty M, Masterton G (1993). “Fatal poisonings attributed to benzodiazepines in Britain during the 1980s.” British Journal of Psychiatry 163: 386–93.

“Temazepam,” PubMed, The National Institute of Health, see

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmedhealth/PMH0000808/

Ibid.

“Restoril,” the RX List, see  http://www.rxlist.com/restoril-drug.htm

“Temazepam, Oral Route,” The Mayo Clinic, see http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/drug-information/DR602757

“Restoril,” the RX List, see  http://www.rxlist.com/restoril-drug.htm

“Temazepam,” PubMed, The National Institute of Health, see

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmedhealth/PMH0000808/

1Ibid.

“”Temazepam, Oral Route,” The Mayo Clinic, see http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/drug-information/DR602757

“Temazepam,” PubMed, The National Institute of Health, see

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmedhealth/PMH0000808/

“Restoril,” the RX List, see  http://www.rxlist.com/restoril-drug.htm

Buckley N. A.; Dawson, A. H.; Whyte, I. M.; O’Connell, D. L. (1995). “Relative toxicity of benzodiazepines in overdose”. British Medical Journal 310 (6974): 219–221.

“Medical Examiner Rules Ledger’s Death Accidental,” The New York Times, February 7, 2008.

“Benzodiazepines, Drugs of Concern,” The U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency, The U.S. Justice Department, see http://www.deadiversion.usdoj.gov/drugs_concern/benzo_1.htm

“Insomnia Medications,” Health Topics, The New York Times.

Barton, Laura. “Sleeping Pills, Britain’s Hidden Addiction,” The Guardian, August 20, 2012.

Data on Addiction Treatment Outcomes, (DATOS), see DATOS – at http://www.datos.org/adults/adults-coctrt.html.

Provided by Elements Behavioral Health
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