This Page was last reviewed and changed on May 7th 2022
Prescription medication is developed for treating conditions such as severe insomnia; it is difficult to associate temazepam with anything other than being safe. However, as part of the benzodiazepine family of drugs, temazepam should only be taken for a short period of time due to the risk of addiction.
Most people are unaware of what constitutes temazepam abuse and are shocked to realise that their use has progressed to a potentially crippling addiction. Temazepam is part of the benzodiazepine family of drugs and is commonly prescribed to treat short-term insomnia. It is typically prescribed for those having trouble falling asleep or staying asleep throughout the night.
If you have been prescribed temazepam to treat a medical condition, you may have developed a dependence on it and are consequently finding it hard to quit. The aim of this article is to offer you information about this medication and how it can affect your mind and body. It will also help you to take the next steps towards breaking free and getting your life back on the right track.
What is Temazepam?
Although it can be effective at reducing the number of times one wakes up during the night, it is an addictive drug and should therefore only ever be taken for a period of no longer than four weeks.
Taking temazepam for longer than this can lead to increased tolerance and a subsequent physical dependence, which could then develop into an addiction that will then affect almost every aspect of your life.
How Does Temazepam Work?
Temazepam works by stimulating specific areas of the brain, notably, the GABA receptor. GABA –gamma-aminobutyric acid – is a neurotransmitter released by the brain to help inhibit certain activities. It is basically the brain’s natural calming chemical.
It is thought that over-activity within the brain can contribute to issues such as anxiety and insomnia, so medications such as temazepam work by stimulating the production of GABA. This has the effect of reducing activity in the brain, therefore helping to improve sleep and reduce symptoms of anxiety.
Temazepam Abuse Causes
Temazepam is a drug that has a high potential for abuse. If you are taking it to help with sleep problems or anxiety, you can develop a tolerance to it quite quickly. This means that you might be tempted to increase the amount of temazepam you are taking to get the same effects as you did in the beginning.
Most people do not fully realize the dangers of increasing their dose of medications such as temazepam, while fewer still are aware that doing so is classed as prescription drug abuse.
Other contributing factors include:
abuse of temazepam for recreational purposes is quite common.
Then there are those who take prescription medication in a bid to escape a painful reality.
Some are predisposed to addictive behaviour because of a family history of addiction.
While there is no single cause of temazepam abuse, there are certain factors (such as those mentioned above – and more) that would make it more likely for you to be affected. Nevertheless, environmental issues can also play a role; by this we mean things such as peer pressure, quality of life, and relationships with others.
A dependence on temazepam is something that can occur when the drug is taken for longer than four weeks. Even when it is not abused and is taken exactly as prescribed, a physical and psychological dependence can occur.
The brain and body quickly adapt to the presence of temazepam and it is possible to develop a tolerance in a matter of days. Nonetheless, increasing the dose to achieve the desired effects could leave you with a physical and psychological dependence. This effectively means that when you try to stop taking the drug, you will experience physical and mental symptoms related to withdrawal of the drug. You might experience a fervent desire to take temazepam and may even feel as though you are unable to function without it.
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Short-Term Effects of Temazepam
Temazepam is a sedative-type drug used, as mentioned above, to treat a range of sleeping problems and the effects of various anxiety disorders. Below we list some of the short-term effects of this drug:
Euphoria or sense of wellbeing
Long-Term Effects of Temazepam
We stated above that temazepam is only ever recommended for short-term use only, but there are individuals chronically abusing this drug. In so doing, they are risking their health. Short-term use can help to relieve insomnia, but over a longer period, temazepam can actually have the opposite effect, with some users developing rebound insomnia.
Others will find it almost impossible to sleep without their medication.
There is also the risk of memory problems and poor cognitive functioning with long-term use of temazepam, while depression, problems with sensory perception, psychosis, and suicidal tendencies can also develop.
Today, temazepam abuse is a major cause for concern throughout the UK. Despite being recommended for short-term use only though, many who continue to take it for much longer periods, leading to dependence and eventually an inability to break free. Medications include:
While it is unsafe to suddenly stop taking medications such as temazepam because of the risk of severe withdrawal symptoms, there is still a need for the drug to be stopped to allow those affected by dependence and addiction to regain control of their lives.
If you are struggling with a temazepam addiction and want to get better, you might be advised to consider a temazepam substitute drug.
Benzodiazepines are split according to how quickly they take effect in the body and how long the effects last. Some versions start to work quite quickly, and then leave the system quicker too. This means that they have a short half-life; in other words, they are short acting. Due to the way that short-acting drugs leave the body so quickly, there is not enough time for the body to adjust to working without the drug, which is what causes such severe withdrawal symptoms. Longer-acting benzodiazepines are less likely to cause major withdrawal symptoms, so it is for this reason that they are often prescribed as substitute drugs to help with the withdrawal of shorter-acting versions.
Due to the risk of severe withdrawal symptoms associated with cessation of temazepam, your doctor might suggest that you take a longer-acting benzodiazepine while trying to withdraw from the medication. Therefore, as you reduce your dose of temazepam, you will begin taking a substitute benzodiazepine until you have completely weaned yourself off. This will help to reduce the severity of withdrawal symptoms and might even prevent some of the symptoms from occurring.
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The Dangers of Temazepam
Temazepam continues to be prescribed as a medication to relieve the symptoms of short-term sleeping problems, despite the dangers associated with it. Furthermore, temazepam is still commonly used for non-medical purposes by those looking to create a feeling of relaxation and wellbeing or those who want to escape a painful reality.
Nonetheless, as we alluded to a couple of times in the above passages, what most people taking temazepam do not realise is that a tolerance to it develops rapidly. Irrespective of whether you are taking temazepam for medical reasons or non-medical ones, you might quickly start to believe that the drug is no longer having the impact you want it to have. This is because your brain and body have adjusted to it and have changed how they respond to the drug. The solution, for most people, is to increase the dosage or take the drug in a manner that is different from how it was intended to be used.
Examples of this include those crushing up their pills and snorting the resulting powder, and others mixing the powder with a liquid and then injecting the solution. But doing either is highly dangerous and could lead to a dangerous overdose, particularly if other substances are also being abused at the same time.
Temazepam is a depressant drug so mixing it with other depressants such as opiates or alcohol can result in a serious overdose that can lead to a fatal slowdown of breathing or heart rate.
The Cost of Temazepam Addiction
Temazepam addiction is a severe problem that can affect your life in many ways. The most immediate impact this addiction has is on health. Both mental and physical health problems can be caused by temazepam addiction, and the above-mentioned risk of overdose will always be present.
Nevertheless, this illness will cost you in other ways too. As with all addictions, temazepam addiction will have an impact on all areas of your life and not just your health. As you develop a need for this drug, it will crowd out everything else in your life. You will more than likely lose interest in spending time with those you love, and you will have little interest or time for activities or hobbies that you used to find pleasure in.
Your quality of life will be impaired by the addiction while your relationships with the people you love will also suffer as a result. You may not realise that your behaviour has changed due to your substance abuse, but those who know you best will be well aware of the changes. However, they may not know the cause of your behaviour, at least in the early days, which can cause tension.
As the addiction worsens and these individuals become aware of your addiction, they will probably fail to understand why you continue to abuse temazepam when it is causing so much harm to your life and the lives of everyone else. It can be hard to understand the pull that addiction has unless you are affected personally.
While a temazepam addiction will have a major cost to your life and the lives of those around you, it is worth mentioning here the cost to society as well. Temazepam addiction can lead to poor health, and premature death in many cases. This has an obvious impact on the National Health Service, which is already under immense pressure. In addition to the cost of treating health problems associated with temazepam addiction, there is a cost involved in the treating of the addiction.
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Temazepam Brand & Street Names
Below are some of the brand and street names for temazepam:
Management of Temazepam Misuse and Dependence
Temazepam dependence often occurs without the user being aware of what is happening. Despite the dangers of temazepam and the potential for abuse, many of those who take it to help relieve sleep problems will be unaware of the harm that can be caused and so will continue to take it for longer than prescribed.
It is common for both a physical and psychological dependence to occur with extended temazepam use, and even when it is not abused, there is a risk for dependence. Managing this, therefore, takes a great deal of care because of the risk of withdrawal symptoms should the medication be stopped abruptly.
These symptoms of temazepam withdrawal can include:
If you have been taking the drug to help with sleep problems, you might notice a return of these when you stop taking the medication. This is known as rebound insomnia and can actually be worse than the original problem.
Symptoms associated with temazepam withdrawal can occur within twenty-four hours of the medication being stopped. Moreover, because they can be so severe, most doctors recommend that this process is managed with gradual withdrawal rather than a sudden cessation. A tapering schedule may be preferable to help reduce the occurrence of certain symptoms and to prevent discomfort associated with those that do occur.
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Temazepam and Other Substances
Those who use temazepam to get high often mix it with other substances such as alcohol or opiate drugs. Nonetheless, mixing a benzodiazepine drug such as temazepam with other depressant substances can increase the effects of both drugs and lead to serious side effects. The risk of overdose is also much higher.
Here are some of the consequences of mixing Temazepam with other substances:
Reduced mental function, dizziness, weakness, confusion, difficulty breathing, loss of motor function, and dangerously low blood pressure.
Slowed respiration, loss of motor function, loss of consciousness, reduced heart rate, sedation, and coma. If the two substances are taken in high enough doses, they can kill you.
As previously mentioned, temazepam overdose is a very real possibility when the drug is taken in high doses or when it is mixed with other depressant substances. If temazepam is mixed with alcohol, for example, it can be particularly dangerous, and an overdose in such circumstances can lead to, and often does, fatal consequences.
Symptoms of an overdose can include:
low blood pressure
blackouts or convulsions
If you do notice any of these signs in yourself or a loved one, it is important to seek help at once. Early intervention is the key to full recovery.
As stated a few times in this article, the risk for temazepam overdose increases when the drug is used in a way that it was not intended or when it is mixed with other substances. According to the Journal of Internal Medicine, nearly fifty per cent of benzodiazepine overdoses are caused by mixing it with another substance.
Co-Occurring Disorders of Temazepam Abuse
Sleep problems are common among those with mental health disorders. Conditions such as anxiety and depression can often result in an inability to fall asleep or to stay asleep. Failure to get enough sleep is harmful to both mental and physical health so it is because of this that many doctors prescribe medications such as temazepam. They do so to give relief for a short period of time.
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Unfortunately, temazepam can be problematic for those who already have mental health problems. This is a medication that, as you have probably gathered, has a high potential for abuse. Those who do end up misusing it are at a substantial risk of developing a range of side effects, including nervousness, depression, and anxiety.
antisocial personality disorder.
In a nutshell, taking temazepam can cause existing mental health disorders to worsen. There is also an elevated risk of suicidal tendencies with temazepam use.
Temazepam Abuse Treatment Self-Care at Home
Breaking free from temazepam can be a struggle. If you have a severe dependence, it is likely that you will be advised to complete a detox programme to help you quit safely. However, if you have been using this medication for a short period then you might be able to withdraw at home.
Before even considering doing this though, it is important to discuss it with a medical professional. Discontinuing temazepam suddenly is never advisable because of the risk of serious complications as the drug leaves your body. For most, a gradual reduction will be necessary.
The best way to withdraw from the medication at home is slowly and steadily. It is likely that your doctor will advise an appropriate reduction in dose every one to two weeks. The idea is that gradual reduction of symptoms will help to minimise the risk of withdrawal symptoms.
Your doctor might also recommend that you swap temazepam for another longer-acting benzodiazepine such as diazepam. If so, he or she will explain how to increase your dose of one medication while reducing the other.
If you want to attempt a self-care withdrawal at home, be sure to employ the following measures:
When to Seek Medical Care
If you believe that you may have accidentally taken too much temazepam, or if you have mixed it with alcohol or another sedative drug such as codeine to treat a cough, it is important to seek medical care. This is particularly so if you notice the symptoms of an overdose such as lightheadedness, extreme sleepiness, difficulty breathing, or unusual dizziness.
You should also seek medical care if you are struggling to break free from temazepam and your use of it is beginning to have a negative impact on your life.
Overcoming a temazepam addiction is challenging and complicated, so it is often the case that professional help will be needed to get better.
Temazepam Addiction and Possible Treatments
To get your life back under control, you are going to need to quit temazepam and learn how to live without it going forward. This will typically mean completing a detox and then following on with therapy.
Treatment may include several different behavioural therapies that are designed to help you learn how to live a substance-free life. It is important that you find out the cause of your illness so that it can be dealt with to prevent a return to addictive behaviour in the future.
Treatment plans are usually designed for the individual in question and are created to be the most effective approach to recovery. This means that each person will be following a different plan.
Most treatment plans though consist of a combination of psychotherapeutic treatments and holistic alternatives. You are likely to have both individual counselling and group therapy sessions in conjunction with holistic treatments such as music therapy, art therapy, or yoga. A comprehensive treatment programme is considered the most effective way of helping you to achieve permanent sobriety.
Treatments may include:
cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT)
group support and counselling
relapse prevention strategies.
Before you even consider a programme of rehabilitation for a temazepam addiction, you will need to get clean and sober. This will take place with a detox. While some people are advised to gradually reduce their dose of temazepam overtime to prevent the worst withdrawal symptoms from occurring, others will go through what is known as a rapid detoxification programme.
If you want to withdraw from temazepam completely before getting started on a rehabilitation programme, you may be prescribed a drug known as flumazenil. While primarily used as a treatment for benzodiazepine overdose, it is also used during a rapid detox programme because of the way it blocks the effects of benzos and gives relief for withdrawal symptoms. Flumazenil can also force the temazepam out of your body to help with rapid withdrawal.
A rapid detoxification programme means that you could be completely free from temazepam within eight days. If you are withdrawing gradually, the process will obviously take much longer.
What About Withdrawal
When it comes to temazepam withdrawal, it is best to detox in a supervised facility where experienced staff can manage any emergency situations effectively. Withdrawal symptoms will be different for each affected person and will usually depend on a few factors, such as the severity of the addiction and whether there are any underlying medical issues.
The risk of withdrawal symptoms is also higher in those taking larger doses of temazepam for a longer period. Symptoms could include, but are not limited to:
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Do You Need to Go onto Rehab?
Many people think that quitting a mood-altering substance such as temazepam is enough to ensure a full recovery. The reality though is that without addressing the issues that caused the addiction in the first place, you could very well find yourself right back where you started again.
Overcoming any type of addiction requires more than just a detox. You must tackle both the physical addiction and the psychological one. So while a detox is designed to break the cycle of abuse and address the physical side of your illness, it does nothing to address the emotional or psychological element of addiction.
For that you will need to engage in a rehabilitation programme that includes various therapies such as individual counselling, group therapy, and 12-step therapy.
Temazepam Addiction Statistics
Although there are more than thirty types of medication classed as part of the benzodiazepine family of drugs, temazepam is the most widely abused in the UK.
In 1999, temazepam was involved in a third of all drug-related deaths in Scotland.
In 2010, benzodiazepines were cited as the cause of death in 307 cases in England and Wales. This was an increase of more than 73% since 2006.
Police in England reported 609 seizures of illegal temazepam in 2008/2009, which at that time was the highest since records had begun.
According to a Guardian report back in 2012, one in ten people in Britain were using a sleeping pill such as temazepam to help them sleep.
In 2011, 15.3 million prescriptions were issued on the NHS for sleep medication. In England alone, 2.8 million of those were for temazepam.
A recent investigation by the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) found that over a three-year period, almost 160 million prescription tablets had been smuggled out of the protected supply chain.
In just 12-15 months, sales of these pills on websites set up by the gangs had netted them £55 million. In one day alone, 15,000 packs of z-drug Zopiclone had been sold. Although not a benzodiazepine, Zopiclone works in a comparable way to temazepam and is used to treat insomnia.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is temazepam addictive?
Temazepam is a habit-forming drug that should only be used to treat short-term insomnia over a period of 2-4 weeks. Taking it for longer than this can lead to a physical dependence, which could then progress to a full-blown addiction. There is a strong potential for abuse with temazepam, and because of the increased tolerance that tends to occur quite quickly, many people are tempted to increase their dosage without advice from their doctor. This is classed as abuse and raises the risk of addiction.
How is temazepam addiction treated?
If you are addicted to temazepam, you will need to complete a detox initially to break the cycle of abuse. You may be advised to reduce your dose of medication over a number of days or weeks to reduce the severity of withdrawal symptoms. Alternatively, you may have a rapid detox where you stop taking temazepam completely and are prescribed a medication known as flumazenil to counter the effects of withdrawal.
Once you are free from the drug, you can begin a treatment programme that comprises of various therapies to help you address the underlying issues that led to the addiction in the first place.
How bad is temazepam addiction?
Temazepam addiction is a serious problem due to the risk of severe withdrawal symptoms and the increased risk of overdose. If you are addicted to this drug, you will need to get professional help to safely withdraw from it and to regain control of your life. Without treatment you are likely to face a host of health and relationship problems.
Where else can I find help?
You can speak to one of our advisors via our confidential helpline or you can make an appointment with your own doctor who will assess your situation and if necessary refer you to your local treatment service. There are also a number of charity organisations operating across the UK offering help and advice to those affected by all types of addiction.
How does temazepam addiction start?
Temazepam addiction can begin quite quickly and often in those who have been prescribed the drug to treat a genuine medical condition. Because the brain and body adjust to the presence of this medication very quickly, a physical and psychological dependence can occur in a matter of days or weeks. When this happens, you might find that you are unable to quit temazepam without experiencing various withdrawal symptoms.
You might also realise that by taking your medication, these symptoms quickly subside. This can then mean you are caught in a cycle of abuse and withdrawal that is almost impossible to get out of. If you continue to abuse temazepam, your need for it will increase and you may find that it begins to affect daily life. Nevertheless, once addicted, you will feel compelled to use it, despite the harm it is causing.
Who gets addicted to temazepam ?
The issue of addiction is one that many people make incorrect assumptions about. Many believe that you have to be a certain type of person to become addicted. For example, they believe that it is only those with no willpower or morals who will allow themselves to become addicts.
The truth is that addiction has nothing to do with choice and everything to do with a loss of control. It is an illness of the brain that can affect anyone. So, absolutely anyone who has been taking temazepam, for either medical or non-medical purposes, can develop an addiction.
What should I do about temazepam addiction?
If you believe that you or someone you love has developed an addiction to temazepam, it is important that you seek help as soon as possible. Failure to do anything because you are hoping the situation will resolve itself can result in things getting worse.
If you need someone to speak to, call us here at UKAT for advice and information about the next steps. Our service is completely confidential, and you are under no obligation to do anything other than talk.
How do I help someone who is addicted to temazepam ?
If a person you love is struggling with an addiction to temazepam, you will naturally want to do everything in your power to help. However, you probably already know that you cannot force someone to get help if he or she is unwilling to accept it.
What you can do is talk to your loved one about your concerns and offer your love and support. You might find that the person is reluctant to admit that the problem exists initially, but this is normal.
If you would like more advice on how to deal with the issue of a loved one’s addiction, you can speak to one of our advisors by calling our helpline today.
Is temazepam addictive in low doses?
While the risk for addiction is higher in larger doses of temazepam, it remains an addictive drug even in low doses and should not be taken for longer than two to four weeks.
How can I spot temazepam dependence?
If you are worried about someone you know and believe that he or she may have developed a dependence on temazepam, there may be some physical and behavioural signs you can look out for. These include slow breathing, poor coordination, a lack of personal grooming and hygiene, and shakiness. He or she might also begin exhibiting drug-seeking behaviours such as talking constantly about the drug or visiting more than one doctor for repeat prescriptions.