What is Restoril? Uses, Abuse, Addiction, and Withdrawal

Last Updated: August 19, 2021

Authored by Roger Weiss, MD

Reviewed by Michael Espelin APRN

Restoril belongs to the family of benzodiazepines (also known as benzos) which include Xanax, Ativan, Valium, and Phenazepam. Furthermore, Temazepam has similar chemistry and effects to these listed medications and is commonly prescribed to help treat insomnia and anxiety.
As is commonly seen with benzodiazepines, there is a potential for abuse and addiction. Restoril is no stranger to this, and there is a lot of health information about cases of related abuse, addiction-related emergency room admissions, and overdose deaths.
On that note, this text provides information about the factors that can lead to abuse, dependence, and the effects of abuse of Temazepam on health, while answering the questions raised about how to deal with these situations.

What is Restoril? Generic Name, Function and Drug Form

Restoril is a popular brand name for temazepam, produced by the Mallinckrodt Pharmaceutical Group. The drug helps to inhibit brain activity by increasing a brain neurotransmitter called gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA).

As a result, Temazepam eliminates the feeling of anxiety and helps to induce the effect of sleep or feeling relaxed, making the drug useful to treat insomnia.

Presently, the capsules come with strengths of 7.5 mg, 15 mg, and 30 mg.

What is Restoril Medical Use?

Doctors typically prescribe Restoril as an anti-anxiety medication, but also for use by people with problems finding sleep – such as insomnia. Due to sedative-hypnotic and central nervous system depression effects, some people use the drug even when there is no clinical need to.

What is Restoril Drug Classification and Schedule?

The temazepam drug class is called benzodiazepines, and under national drug laws, the temazepam schedule is “Schedule IV controlled substance”. This puts the temazepam schedule firmly in the “low potential for abuse” and “low risk of dependence” category.

However, there are still laws guiding the use and possession of temazepam’s schedule of drugs, and anyone found in violation of such laws can face jail time and/or a significant fine.

Risks Of Using Restoril

When used appropriately, Temazepam does treat insomnia and occasionally helps to manage the effects of anxiety. However, as suggested previously, people who go against the prescribed temazepam uses are taking a health risk of developing dependence, addiction, and suffering overdose.

Risk of Tolerance

When one uses Restoril, there is a chance of developing high tolerance within three days of consumption. As a result, it prompts the feeling to use more to achieve the desired effect.

When the results begin to show in the form of Temazepam addiction, one can expect the withdrawal syndrome to be a painful process when trying to stop use of the medication and get back to normal health.

This makes it doubly important that temazepam is only taken according to prescription, and only by the person, it was prescribed to – by a qualified doctor.

Allergic Reactions

Additionally, there are use cases wherein people dosing on Temazepam develop allergic reactions to it. This can cause anaphylaxis, a fatal syndrome where the throat shuts down, and the person will experience difficulty in breathing.

Among the health symptoms to watch out for when dealing with allergic reactions to this medication are swelling of the face, lips, eyes, throat, and tongue. Some people also complain of hoarseness, rash, and hives after a dose. If this occurs, stop and seek immediate medical assistance.

Effect on Pregnant Women And Fetuses 

Doctors also do not prescribe Temazepam use for pregnant women because it does pose a health risk to mother and child and could result in birth defects to the fetus.

Restoril is not also advised for use on individuals with the following conditions:

  • History of drug or alcohol abuse
  • Liver or kidney disease
  • Glaucoma
  • Sleep apnea
  • Depression
  • Mental illness
  • Breathing problems
  • Seizures
  • Suicidal thoughts
  • Decreased lung function or chronic lung disease
  • Worsening of debilitating chronic lung disease (called COPD)
  • Memory loss
  • Documented hypersensitivity
  • Narrow-angle glaucoma

What Drugs To Avoid When Using Restoril?

Apart from the information about disease interactions listed in the previous section, one must also be alert to avoid Restoril being used concurrently with some medications and substances

Temazepam and Alcohol

Off-label temazepam uses for the pleasurable effects of “euphoria” draw Restoril and alcohol comparisons due to the similar feelings of extreme relaxation experienced with both. However, the chances of dependence and addiction will only increase when Restoril and alcohol are used together.

Restoril’s mechanism of action involves the slowing down of a person’s rate of breathing, metabolism, and heartbeat. This makes it potentially dangerous to use the drug in combination with stimulants that do the opposite. Any combination like that could worsen the patient’s condition (e.g depression) and lead to bodily harm or overdose.

Among the drugs that a person taking Restoril must avoid:

Restoril Addiction

Addiction typically sets in when Temazepam is used for other purposes outside the medically intended ones. Non-medical or recreational use is considered abuse and can be legally prosecuted. However, there are many instances of the drug being used in this way anyway, and here’s why.

The relaxing and euphoric “high” that comes with using the drug is a key trait that makes an attractive proposition for recreational temazepam use. It is an issue that is commonly seen with benzodiazepines, and the leading cause of abuse and addiction to this class of drugs. According to information from the CDC, 30.6% of all pharmaceutical overdoses are linked to Benzodiazepines like Restoril.

In the initial stages of taking smaller doses, there is a much lower risk of dependence and eventual addiction. However, the pleasurable effects do make it difficult to resist, leading to a reusing habit that builds up a tolerance for the drug in a person’s body.

This tolerance will consequently lead to attempts to increase the dosage to achieve the same desired effects, and these are the telltale signs of developing an addiction. If left uncurbed, this can be fatal.  Researched information reveals that in 2016, approximately 10,684 overdose deaths were caused by drugs belonging to the temazepam drug class – Benzodiazepines.

Restoril Addiction Treatment

Any instance that involves taking the drug in greater quantities than prescribed, or using the drug as anything other than a sleep-aid can be a sign of temazepam abuse. Abuse leads to tolerance, cravings, and dependence, all involved in the process of addiction. When one is dealing with Restoril addiction, there are specific steps to follow to try and recover in the right way.

First, quitting must not be done cold turkey and without medical supervision, because the withdrawal syndrome may have dangerous effects. On that note, abuse should be treated in a hospital or rehab facility with the presence of medical professionals and therapies.

For example, one of the most recommended forms of treatment for people with addiction is admission into a residential facility. Consequently, the patient will stay there and undergo a series of medical and therapeutic treatments 24/7 for a few months or more.

This depends on one’s level of addiction and length of usage. Here, the admitted patient will undergo detox. Moreover, they will attend private and group counseling, join activities that will teach them life to form skills to cope with the trigger factors. In addition, they will get into shape through sports and learn to live a normal life.

No doubt, the whole addiction treatment program aims to help patients fight intense cravings and avoid a relapse. Part of the treatment is the aftercare program. This is where the patient is advised to attend regular counseling, group sessions, and support from both the community and addiction treatment services after returning to his or her home.

Restoril Withdrawal Symptoms

As is the case with some other drugs of temazepam’s drug class and function, using temazepam can cause a level of dependence – even if the period of use is relatively short.

This occurs because the body and brain have adjusted to the presence of the drug in the system, and discontinuation of usage – especially a sudden one – can cause adverse reactions such as depression and other symptoms.

The absence of Restoril in the body deprives the brain of dopamine surges and the neurotransmitter GABA that the drug once supplied. Hence, it will take some adjusting for things to go back to normal.

The worst period of Restoril withdrawal symptoms in people that experience them will typically happen within the first 72 hours of stopping dosage, and some of the symptoms that withdrawal may cause in that time include:

  • Seizures
  • Convulsion
  • Body tremors
  • Abdominal problems (stomach cramps)
  • Muscle pain
  • Vomiting
  • Nausea
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Suicidal attempts
  • Rebound insomnia
  • Headaches
  • Sweating
  • Panic attacks
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Irritability
  • Insomnia
  • Drug cravings
  • Drowsiness

What is Restoril’s Withdrawal Timeline?

Temazepam is short-acting and consequently also leaves the body quickly after ingestion. The result of this fact is that withdrawal also sets in quickly in comparison to other longer-acting drugs.
Withdrawal symptoms typically begin within a few hours after one stops taking the drug, and some symptoms can persist for up to several weeks (e.g depression) However, Restoril’s withdrawal timeline may also vary according to other factors, such as the length of addiction and the amount that has been regularly abused.
Since quitting cold turkey is not recommended, one is advised to taper off the drug instead by gradually reducing the dose each time it is used. Withdrawal with this method could take several weeks. In some cases, the symptoms last for several months after quitting. This condition is known as post-acute withdrawal syndrome (PAWS) or protracted withdrawal.
Addiction is challenging, and beginning the process of withdrawal even more so. Considering this and the relative ease by which one can get addicted to Temazepam, it is strongly advised to seek the professional help of trained addiction treatment facilities rather than try to do everything by oneself. If that is done quickly, then Temazepam addiction does not have to be impossible to recover from or worse, a death sentence.


Page Sources

  1. McElnay J. C., Jones M. E., Alexander B. Temazepam (Restoril, Sandoz Pharmaceuticals). Drug intelligence & clinical pharmacy. 1982; 16(9):650-6. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/6127197.
  2. Medline Plus. Temazepam. 2019. https://medlineplus.gov/druginfo/meds/a684003.html.
  3. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration. RESTORIL (TEMAZEPAM) Label. 2016. https://www.accessdata.fda.gov/drugsatfda_docs/label/2016/018163s064lbl.pdf
  4. National Center for Biotechnology Information (2021). PubChem Compound Summary for CID 5391, Temazepam. Retrieved August 6, 2021 from https://pubchem.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/compound/Temazepam.

Published on: January 24th, 2017

Updated on: August 19th, 2021

About Author

Roger Weiss, MD

Dr. Roger Weiss is a practicing mental health specialist at the hospital. Dr. Weiss combines his clinical practice and medical writing career since 2009. Apart from these activities, Dr. Weiss also delivers lectures for youth, former addicts, and everyone interested in topics such as substance abuse and treatment.

Medically Reviewed by

Michael Espelin APRN

8 years of nursing experience in wide variety of behavioral and addition settings that include adult inpatient and outpatient mental health services with substance use disorders, and geriatric long-term care and hospice care.  He has a particular interest in psychopharmacology, nutritional psychiatry, and alternative treatment options involving particular vitamins, dietary supplements, and administering auricular acupuncture.