Sleep disorders and anxiety are common sources of sleeplessness and mental health problems in the United States. In fact, the two disorders are among the most common ailments Americans face, which is why doctors and researchers have been trying to remedy them with psychoactive medications for decades. Restoril is a fairly recent addition to the long line of anti-anxiety sleep aids used in the U.S. Restoril is primarily used for its hypnotic effects, but it also has anxiolytic (anti-anxiety), anticonvulsant, and muscle relaxant effects.
However, the drug also has its fair share of adverse side effects, including a risk for developing physical dependence and addiction. Because Restoril can cause addiction after several weeks of consistent use, it’s often prescribed as a short-term therapeutic medication.
Restoril addiction is a serious disease that can lead to several long-lasting consequences if it is left untreated. However, addiction often comes with warning signs that let you know that you need to seek help. The faster you seek treatment when you recognize a potential substance use disorder, the more likely you are to avoid some of the most serious problems like risks to your long-term health.
Recognizing the signs of Restoril addiction can help you or a loved one with a developing substance use disorder get the help you need sooner rather than later. Learn more about Restoril addiction and how it can be treated.
What Is Restoril?
Restoril is in a class of drugs called benzodiazepines (benzo) that are used for a wide variety of effects that suppress the central nervous system. Benzos are in a broader category called central nervous system (CNS) depressants that help to keep overexcitability in the nervous system in check.
Benzos were first synthesized in the 1950s and were later marketed in the 1960s when they quickly grew in popularity. Their widespread use became controversial when prescription anti-anxiety pills were heavily marketed to women, especially mothers, who were otherwise healthy. Instead of being marketed as a therapeutic medication for a diagnosed mental health problem, benzos, barbiturates, and other drugs were marketed as a remedy for the stresses of motherhood.
By the 1970s, benzodiazepines were the most commonly prescribed drug in the world. In 1981, Restoril was introduced to the market as a remedy for sleep disorders like insomnia. Restoril also has a longer half-life and duration of action than other benzos, making it useful in helping people who frequently wake up in the middle of the night.
Restoril works in the brain and body in a way that’s similar to most CNS depressants. It primarily affects a naturally occurring chemical called gamma-Aminobutyric acid (GABA). This chemical is designed to attach to the GABA receptor and manage excitability in the nervous system. When you encounter exciting, startling, or angering events, your nervous system becomes highly active. One of GABA’s primary responsibilities is to help you calm down when it’s time to rest. In some cases, people with sleep and anxiety disorders have overactive nervous systems, and medications like Restoril can help correct this in the brain.
However, Restoril has a high dependence liability, which means if it’s misused or used too long, it can cause chemical dependence and addiction. Benzodiazepines can start to cause physical dependence after four weeks of consistent use. Doctors often prescribe benzos for short-term use or with a staggered regiment to help avoid tolerance. If you are prescribed benzos for longer than four weeks, ask about the risk of dependence.
What Are the Signs of Restoril Addiction?
Restoril addiction is a serious disease, but if you know the signs and symptoms, you may be able to seek help before it leads you to lasting consequences. Addiction, in general, has some common warning signs but your specific experience will depend on several factors, including:
- How long you’ve been taking Restoril
- The dose you are used to
- If you mix Restoril with other substances
- If you are older than age 65
If you’ve been using Restoril, and you are worried you might be developing a substance use disorder, one of the first signs you might notice is a growing tolerance. If you’ve been taking the rug for several weeks, and you notice that it isn’t as effective as it used to be, it could be because your body is getting used to it. The brain is fairly adaptable when it comes to psychoactive substances.
When it comes to certain drugs, like benzos, your brain can start to counteract the foreign chemicals with its own excitatory chemicals to balance brain chemistry. This phenomenon is what tolerance refers to. If you become tolerant, talk to your doctor about what you should do next, never increase the dosage without speaking to a medical professional.
If you do take more of the drug to counteract tolerance, you may be increasing your risk of developing the next sign of addiction, chemical dependence. Dependence is closely related to addiction, but they aren’t synonymous. Chemical dependence refers to your body’s reliance on the drug to maintain functional brain chemistry. It may stop producing its own nervous system depressing chemicals, and start counting on Restoril to get the job done.
If you stop using the drug, you may start to feel withdrawal symptoms, which can include anxiety, insomnia, paranoia, depression, tremors, irritability, seizures, and a dangerous condition called delirium tremens, or DTs.
If you are worried about a loved one who is using Restoril, behavioral signs of addiction that you might notice as a substance use disorder worsens, include:
- Intoxication that’s similar to alcohol
- Strange sleep patterns
- Lying about drug use
- Hiding drugs
- Loss of inhibitions/ risky behavior
- Loss of motor skills
- Slurred speech
- Memory problems
- lethargy/ apathy
One of the most significant signs of addiction is not quitting even after using has caused significant consequences. For instance, if you get a DUI while under the influence of Restoril and you continue to use, denying that there’s a problem, it could point to addiction.
What Is Involved in Restoril Addiction Treatment?
Though addiction is a chronic disease, it’s one that’s treatable with quality care and services. Restoril, as a CNS depressant, is unique among addictive drugs that require treatment. Like other depressants, including alcohol, it can cause dangerous symptoms during withdrawal.
Because withdrawal can cause seizures and delirium, treatment often starts with medical detoxification. Detox involves 24 hours of medically managed services for about a week. As your body adjusts to normal brain chemistry without Restoril, medical professionals will be there to help make sure you are safe and as comfortable as possible.
After detox, clinicians will help connect you to continued addiction treatment, based on your specific needs. If you have ongoing medical or psychological concerns that need 24 hours of care, you may be placed in an inpatient or residential program after detox. If you have less urgent needs, you may enter intensive outpatient or outpatient services.
How Dangerous Is Restoril?
Benzodiazepines like Restoril are less toxic in high doses than barbiturates, which were notorious for their overdose potential. However, if you take extremely high amounts of Restoril, it can cause you to experience a dangerous overdose. The risk is even higher if the drug is mixed with opioids, alcohol, or other dependents. In fact, 30 percent of opioid overdoses also involve benzodiazepines. During an overdose, the drug may suppress your nervous system to the point of slowing down or stopping your breathing.
Benzodiazepines like Restoril also can be dangerous during withdrawal. If you develop a dependency on Restoril and then quit abruptly, you could experience symptoms like seizures and delirium tremens. Seizures can cause accidents and injuries that can be serious when you are by yourself. Delirium tremens can be fatal in a significant number of cases but can be avoided or successfully treated with medical attention.
Restoril Abuse Statistics
- As of 2018, 30% of opioid overdoses also involve benzodiazepines.
- Nearly 9,000 overdose deaths involve benzos.
- More than 5% of Americans filled benzo prescriptions in 2015.