Temazepam is a depressant, which means it reduces the activity of certain parts of the brain. It is also classified as a sleep aid, which means it makes you sleepy, and has been available by prescription to combat the effects of sleep disorders such as insomnia for several decades.
The drug was first developed in the 1960s and by the 1980s it had become one of the leading treatments for sleep disorders. It has proven to be particularly effective in patients suffering from insomnia. It is a synthetic substance, legally manufactured by pharmaceutical companies.
Temazepam belongs to a class of depressants called benzodiazepines, which are mainly used to promote sleep or relieve anxiety. Other known benzodiazepines include diazepam, alprazolam and oxazepam.
Benzodiazepines slow down and “relax” parts of the brain. Usually taken orally, they are absorbed into the body and affect the chemical balance of the brain. Their main effect and the reason they produce their soothing and calming properties is that they increase the potency of a specific neurotransmitter naturally present in the brain, gamma-aminobutyric acid, commonly referred to by its acronym, GABA.
There are many different neurotransmitters in the body, each with a different function or message to transmit between cells. The role of GABA, as an inhibitory neurotransmitter, is to prevent the transmission of messages from one brain cell to another, thereby calming brain activity. This process usually occurs naturally and is essential for maintaining sleep patterns and daily functioning. When an imbalance occurs, problems with sleep or anxiety can occur.
Benzodiazepines such as Temazepam may be prescribed by a physician to treat these symptoms. Because these drugs increase the effects of GABA tenfold, they have a calming effect on the brain, allowing for relaxation, reducing anxiety and in the case of sleeping pills, promoting sleep.
Temazepam is prescribed less today than it was in the past because of its high potential for abuse. It is usually prescribed only as a short-term treatment for insomnia, between 2 and 4 weeks, because tolerance to the drug can quickly develop. Chemical dependence often develops with prolonged use. The withdrawal symptoms experienced by people who are dependent on temazepam when they stop taking it can be particularly severe and long-lasting.
Temazepam is also used recreationally by people who obtain it by forging prescriptions or buying it on the black market, on the street and from unlicensed online pharmacies. It is often combined with other drugs, such as alcohol and heroin.
In the United Kingdom, temazepam is usually referred to simply as temazepam and is not sold under a specific brand name. In the U.S., the most common brand name is Restoril, although the drug is known under different brand names around the world, such as Normison, Norkotral, Temaze and Nortem.
These legal drug supplies can also be obtained through fraud and deception, or diverted from medical centers and distribution centers. They can then be sold and taken orally in tablet or capsule form, or even injected after extracting the liquid from them. Street names for temazepam include: Rugby Balls, Jellies, Knockouts, Tams, Tems, Mazzies, Beans, Eggs, Norries, No-go’s, Green Devils, Vitamin T and King Kong Pills.
Illegally obtained temazepam is often taken with other drugs such as heroin and its use may be secondary to these addictions, but a specific addiction to temazepam may develop over time.
Temazepam is primarily used as a prescription drug to help patients with insomnia and short-term sleep problems sleep. The main effect of this medication is to reduce brain activity, resulting in a calmer state of mind and quickly leading to sleep. It is also intended to help people sleep longer at night.
However, people who are prescribed this medication should be cautious, especially the elderly, as it is associated with an increased risk of falls and accidents. For example, if a person takes temazepam before going to bed, they may begin to feel the sedative effects of the drug before they get to their bed, which can make them feel wobbly and sleepy.
Temazepam is generally only recommended for short-term medical use (2-4 weeks), as beyond that time, the body can develop a tolerance to the drug, gradually making it less effective. Prolonged use can also lead to very strong physical dependence. Withdrawal effects in chemically dependent individuals can be severe.
Prolonged use can also lead to a variety of unpleasant side effects, such as depression and mood disorders, disruption of natural sleep patterns, anxiety and memory loss.
When combined with other drugs such as alcohol, these and other side effects can be compounded, with a higher risk of overdose. When street users combine it with heroin, the risks of both drugs increase.
Illicit use poses a significant risk because many users take the gel inside the capsules and heat it up into a liquid to inject with heroin. However, once in the bloodstream, the gel can resolidify, potentially clogging veins and causing serious consequences and death.
Temazepam is legally produced by pharmaceutical companies around the world and can be obtained by prescription under a wide variety of brand names, as well as generically. It is the same drug, regardless of the brand.
Temazepam is a controlled substance in many countries and can only be prescribed by a physician or qualified health care professional. In the United Kingdom, for example, it is a Class C drug, which means that it is illegal to possess temazepam without a valid prescription, or to supply it without the required license. Possession and supply carry long prison sentences and heavy fines.
In the United States, it is a Schedule IV controlled drug, available only by prescription. These and other international restrictions have been put in place to combat the growing number of people abusing temazepam and other benzodiazepines.
Despite these restrictions, however, legally manufactured temazepam regularly ends up on the street. Addicts may sometimes forge prescriptions and try to obtain as much as possible from different pharmacies. In addition to this, stolen or illegally diverted supplies of the drug are sold recreationally by dealers. Temazepam can also be illicitly trafficked from one country to another.
Temazepam is frequently offered on the Internet, through online pharmacies, which is also illegal. It is very risky to buy this drug online, or offline, as the buyer has no way of knowing what they have been given. A survey conducted by the Royal Pharmaceutical Society in 2008 revealed that 50% of all drugs sold illegally on the Internet are fake.
FACTS AND STATISTICS
- Temazepam is a hypnotic depressant primarily used to treat sleep disorders, including insomnia.
- It is part of a family of similar depressants called benzodiazepines, which work by stimulating the neurotransmitter GABA in the brain, which slows brain activity.
- Benzodiazepines are primarily used to treat sleep disorders and anxiety.
- Temazepam can allow a person to fall asleep very quickly once it is absorbed into the bloodstream, so care should be taken.
- It is illegal to possess without a prescription in most countries.
- In the United Kingdom, it is a Class C drug and in the United States it is a Schedule IV controlled substance.
- Temazepam is usually prescribed only for a short period of time because of the risks of prolonged use.
- Prolonged use can lead to tolerance, which means that a higher dose is needed to achieve the same effects.
- Temazepam is also highly addictive. Because it alters the chemical balance of the brain, it is chemically addictive. When the user stops taking it, severe withdrawal symptoms can occur.
- Recreational drug users often take temazepam to enhance the effects of other drugs, such as alcohol and heroin.
- Temazepam capsules containing gel are no longer legally available in the UK because of the risks associated with their abuse. However, capsules from other parts of the world may be illicitly trafficked on the black market.
It is dangerous to mix temazepam with other drugs, especially other depressants, such as alcohol.
- Temazepam is one of the most widely used prescription drugs in many countries.
- There are over 30 different types of benzodiazepine medications. Temazepam is the most commonly used.
- Temazepam is usually prescribed for 2-4 weeks in the UK and other countries, as prolonged use can lead to tolerance and dependence.
- The standard dose given to treat insomnia is 10 to 30 mg.
- Temazepam takes an average of 10 to 20 minutes to take effect, although this depends on the individual and their tolerance to the drug.
- The effects of one dose of temazepam should last between six and eight hours, but again, this depends on the person and how long they have been taking the drug.
- In Scotland in 1999, one third of drug-related deaths involved temazepam, usually injected with heroin.
- In England and Wales in 2010, there were 307 deaths in which benzodiazepines (the drug category to which temazepam belongs) were mentioned on the death certificate, up from 177 cases in 2006, with a significant increase each year.
- In 2008/09, police made 609 seizures of illegal temazepam in England, the largest amount ever recorded.
- Benzodiazepines were the most seized Class C drug in 2008/09, with a total of 4029 seizures, 40% more than the previous year. The total quantity seized was equivalent to 1.8 million doses.
SIGNS OF DEPENDENCE
Benzodiazepines in general, and temazepam in particular, can be highly addictive. For this reason, care should be taken when taking them for medical purposes. Particularly in people with a history of substance abuse, temazepam can be very physically (chemically) addictive when taken for more than two weeks.
The longer a person takes this drug, the more tolerance they develop and the higher the dosage they need to achieve the same effects. Because this drug alters the chemical balance of the brain, severe withdrawal effects can be experienced upon discontinuation, accompanied by an overwhelming urge to continue taking it. A person who is dependent on temazepam may feel that he or she cannot lead a normal life without it and, if prescribed, may take higher or closer doses than those recommended by the doctor.
Often, the drug may stop producing noticeable effects and use will be prolonged only to prevent the onset of serious and unpleasant side effects, which may include depression, anxiety, mood swings, headaches, spasms, nausea and drowsiness.
An addicted person may have a variety of symptoms. Sleep patterns may be disrupted and the person may appear drowsy during the day. Temazepam use may also cause amnesia, where the person undertakes a daily activity without having any memory of doing it. The person may appear distant or moody and their movements may seem slowed or shaky. Treatment for temazepam addiction should be managed by a professional because it can be severe and long-lasting.
Temazepam increases the effects of GABA, a naturally occurring neurotransmitter in the brain that “calms” brain activity. When the drug is taken over an extended period of time (usually a month or more), the body slows down its own production of GABA as it tries to rebalance itself.
This has two important consequences: first, the drug becomes less effective at sleep and relaxation, leading to tolerance and the need to take higher doses to produce the same effect. Second, when the drug is stopped, the body no longer produces enough GABA to maintain a balance, triggering potentially severe withdrawal symptoms due to the insufficient amount naturally produced by the body.
The withdrawal symptoms experienced by people who stop taking temazepam vary considerably depending on the individual, the length of time they have been taking the drug, and the strength of the dose. The most common withdrawal symptoms include abdominal cramps, mood changes, unusual aggression, temporary agoraphobia, depression, confusion, hallucinations, suicidal thoughts, sleep disturbance, restlessness, and blood pressure changes.
These risks are exacerbated by the fact that people who have been dependent on temazepam for a long time are likely to take particularly high and frequent doses, even though they may receive little or no benefit from it. Often, the addict may continue to take the drug simply to avoid the unpleasant side effects of stopping.
As with many addictive substances, the body becomes so accustomed to temazepam that it “believes” it needs it and that it is produced naturally.
7. Temazepam – Treatment
Abrupt and complete withdrawal after a prolonged period of temazepam use is not advisable and the first step should always be to consult a physician or other qualified health care professional.
Treatment of temazepam addiction usually involves a very gradual decrease in dosage to minimize dangerous or unpleasant side effects. Gently reducing the amount of the drug in the body allows the body to adjust to the changes in chemical balance, primarily by increasing GABA production to compensate.
Sometimes another benzodiazepine drug, such as diazepam, may be prescribed after an initial tapering period to replace the temazepam. This medication will then be reduced and stopped. Many health care professionals prefer to use this slow process because the withdrawal effects of abrupt discontinuation can be severely detrimental to the health and well-being of the patient and potentially life-threatening.
In cases of particularly severe addiction, the individual may choose to seek treatment at a specialized detox center, where he or she can wean himself or herself off the drug under medical supervision, get help in dealing with the reasons for the addiction, and develop coping strategies to avoid a relapse.
Because temazepam addiction is often secondary to other licit and illicit drugs such as alcohol and heroin, it may be necessary to undergo a comprehensive and lengthy course of treatment to address each addiction one by one. This may include not only clinical and medical help, but also psychological and behavioral therapies.