Temazepam withdrawal & detox

This Page was last reviewed and changed on June 6th, 2022

Content Overview

Withdrawing from temazepam can be a complicated process that will require careful supervision and monitoring. In a detox clinic, staff can help to make the process less severe by administering medication to lessen the impact of withdrawal as well as to prevent the worst symptoms from occurring. The use of pharmacological and psychological interventions can make the process easier and safer.

Temazepam is a medication that is often prescribed for the treatment of short-term insomnia. It belongs to the benzodiazepine family of drugs and is classed as intermediate-acting, meaning that it can take between six and twenty-four hours for the drug to take effect.

Although it is known that shorter-acting benzodiazepines are more harmful and more likely to cause addiction, temazepam is, nevertheless, a highly addictive drug. It should not be taken for longer than four weeks.

Temazepam Withdrawal Symptoms

Due to its sedative effects, there is a high potential for abuse with temazepam, and many individuals end up using it for purposes other than to treat a legitimate medical condition. However, abuse of temazepam raises the risk of addiction and the subsequent need for treatment, which for most affected people begins with a detox and withdrawal.

Withdrawal from temazepam can be complicated though, which is why it should never be attempted by yourself. It is crucial that, in the first instance, you speak to your doctor if you find yourself struggling with an addiction and want to quit your medication.

It is important to be aware that while dependence on temazepam occurs more commonly in those who abuse the drug, the risk is still fairly high for those using it just as prescribed but on a regular basis.

As a physical and psychological dependence on temazepam can occur within weeks, even at therapeutic doses, the risk of addiction increases significantly, due in no small part to the severe withdrawal symptoms that tend to occur when trying to withdraw from the drug. Those who attempt to quit often suffer with symptoms that can cause them to quickly return to their medication. They are then much more likely to get caught in a cycle of abuse that is almost impossible to break free from.

The symptoms of temazepam withdrawal are similar to those of other benzodiazepines and include:

Causes of Temazepam Withdrawal

Temazepam is a powerful drug that works on certain areas of the brain to reduce the activity that causes anxiety and an inability to sleep. It is the overactivity of certain chemicals within the brain that is thought to cause such problems. Temazepam works by slowing down the brain and encouraging the production of chemicals that can promote relaxation.

The naturally occurring inhibitory chemical in the brain, known as GABA (gamma-amino-butyric acid), is responsible for calming down activity in the brain. Nevertheless, in those with problems such as anxiety and insomnia, there is a need for the production of this chemical to be enhanced. Temazepam not only encourages production of GABA, but it can also make it more potent, thus helping to make you feel more relaxed and sleepy.

Since tolerance to the effects of temazepam tend to develop quickly though, it is recommended that it be used for a short period only. Long-term use can dramatically increase the risk of dependency and consequently the occurrence of withdrawal symptoms should an attempt be made to quit.

As tolerance for temazepam develops, the drug becomes less effective. This would mean that many people will then increase the amount they take to enhance the effects, which can then increase the risk of severe withdrawal symptoms when trying to quit.

Withdrawal symptoms tend to occur because of the way in which the brain is altered by the drug. As the brain quickly moulds itself around temazepam, it struggles to cope when it is removed, which then leads to a variety of symptoms. In effect, you will need to continue taking temazepam just to feel normal. When you quit temazepam, your body will not be producing enough GABA to maintain the right balance; as there is insufficient amounts of the body’s natural calming chemical, this can trigger severe withdrawal symptoms.

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How Long Do Temazepam Withdrawal Symptoms Last?

Withdrawal symptoms vary from one person to the next, but the duration of symptoms can be as long as six weeks. As temazepam stays in the system longer than other types of drugs, the effects can be much longer lasting as well. You might find that your symptoms do not begin for a day or two but then continue for as long as the above-mentioned six weeks or so.

Although most symptoms tend to peak at around three or four weeks, some can linger on for much longer.

Managing Withdrawal Symptoms

Withdrawal symptom management is made easier in a supervised facility where experienced staff know how to ease any discomfort you may experience. You might, for example, be prescribed appropriate medication to help prevent the worst symptoms from appearing.

In some cases, a substitute drug will be prescribed in decreasing doses to help minimise the effects of the withdrawal. In an inpatient facility, medication is usually given for a period of around two weeks, but the process can take longer in an outpatient facility.

In addition to medication, there are other ways to manage the symptoms of withdrawal. You might find that certain holistic therapies such as meditation and mindful fitness can help to relieve symptoms such as anxiety.

Contributing Factors to Temazepam Withdrawal

Certain factors can influence the severity of a temazepam withdrawal. For example:

Taking higher doses than prescribed

If you have been abusing this drug in high doses, you are much more likely to experience severe withdrawal symptoms.

Mixing with depressants

Your withdrawal symptoms will be more strongly pronounced if you mix Temazepam with alcohol, cannabis or other depressive substances.

Mental health

If you have a history of anxiety or depression, for instance, you may be more likely to experience these symptoms.

It is also very unsuitable to abuse temazepam if you have a history of convulsions or seizures, as it may worsen such states. Please talk with your doctor if you fall into this category, so they can think about an alternative medication.

Physical Withdrawal from Temazepam

The physical side effects associated with temazepam withdrawal can be quite unpleasant. When you try to quit this medication, you will likely feel unwell as your body tries to get back to normal. But because the temazepam is still lingering in your system, it can cause problems such as nausea, vomiting, and abdominal pain.

Breaking free from drugs such as temazepam can be very difficult due not only to the severity of withdrawal symptoms but the length of time that it takes for the drugs to leave the system as well.

Substance Use Disorders and Detoxification

As recovery from a substance use disorder tends to be based around the idea of complete abstinence, detox is almost always necessary where a particular drug has led to a physical dependence.

Detoxification is the process that occurs naturally when a mood-altering substance is stopped. It begins when the body ‘realises’ that the usual dose of the drug is not coming and so starts to flush out all remaining traces of toxins that have built up.

As the body fights to return some semblance of normality, you will experience a range of withdrawal symptoms, which can be mild, moderate, or severe in their intensity. Everyone’s detox experience will be different though and it tends to be influenced by factors such as age, substances being abused, length of time you were addicted, and the presence of any medical health issues.

Detoxification deals with the physical element of addiction only. It is not effective when it comes to tackling the emotional side of the illness.

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Temazepam Detox

For many mood-altering substances, the start of a detox begins with an abrupt cessation of the substance that was being abused. When it comes to temazepam though, things are a little bit different. It is not usually advisable to suddenly quit a benzodiazepine drug like temazepam as this can result in severe withdrawal symptoms. Withdrawal is usually handled gradually with a tapering of the dosage or with the use of a substitute drug. There are exceptions, however.

A rapid temazepam detoxification tend to involve an abrupt cessation of the drug with the administration of another medication that works by flushing out the benzodiazepine from the system, which has the effect of countering the effects of the withdrawal. The medication in question is known as flumazenil.

How to Detox Safely?

A temazepam detox can be fraught with danger if not handled correctly, and it is never advisable to try to detox from a benzodiazepine on your own. If you want to quit temazepam, it is important that you seek medical advice beforehand. Just as it’s dangerous to abuse a drug such as temazepam, it can be equally dangerous, if not more so, to suddenly stop taking it unsupervised.

It is common for temazepam to be reduced gradually over a period of weeks or even months. In some cases, another type of benzodiazepine that is longer-acting will be prescribed to take the place of temazepam to help minimise the effects of withdrawal. Over time, the idea is that this drug will be withdrawn completely too. So, although this type of withdrawal can take a long time, it is considered the safest method by many medical professionals, particularly if detox is to take place on an outpatient basis.

If detox takes place in a residential rehabilitation clinic, then things may be slightly different. You might be able to detox in a little more than a week with a rapid detoxification. In such a facility, you will be at virtually no risk because fully qualified staff will be on hand to monitor your progress and will be able to provide appropriate medication to reduce the severity of any withdrawal symptoms that might occur.

Withdrawal Timeline and Length of Detoxification

The timeline of withdrawal from temazepam depends on the way in which the drug is stopped. For example, if there is a gradual cessation over a period of weeks or months, there may not be any major withdrawal symptoms. Nonetheless, if the drug is ceased suddenly, the following timeline is what you can expect:

  • Between 6 and 24 hours – The first physical symptoms start between six and twenty-four hours after temazepam withdrawal.
  • Days 1 to 4 – Physical and psychological symptoms such as anxiety, nausea, fatigue begin to worsen.
  • Days 5 to 14 – Symptoms tend to reach a peak before starting to subside.
  • Weeks 3 to 4 – While most symptoms have subsided at this point, some psychological symptoms will persist.

The presence and severity of symptoms tends to vary from one person to the next, and although the effects can still be lingering in some people a year after quitting temazepam, with time, all symptoms usually disappear.

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Temazepam Detox Protocol

It is important that a temazepam detox protocol is followed to ensure your safety. Before you even begin the process of quitting this drug, it is vital that you speak with the team who will be taking care of you. This group of doctors and counsellors will want to make sure that an effective plan is in place that will ensure your comfort and safety at all times.

A full assessment of your situation and the severity of your addiction will be carried out to make sure that the right type of detox is used. Your plan will include details of how and when the detox should begin and any medication that is to be used to make you more comfortable and lessen the impact of withdrawal. It may also include details of any specific methods or strategies that can be used to help you relax during the process.

It is important that you and everyone in your care team are familiar with the temazepam detox protocol so that it is managed correctly. This is the best way to ensure you are safe and secure throughout.

Medical Detox for Temazepam Use

If appropriate, a medical detox from temazepam use will be considered by your medical team. This might mean swapping temazepam for another benzodiazepine such as diazepam. The reason for this is that in substituting one drug for the other, the impact of temazepam withdrawal will be far less severe.

A medical detox might also mean an abrupt cessation of temazepam. However, to counter the effects of withdrawal, a medication that can reverse the sedative effects may be prescribed. Although we touched on this in the above paragraphs, as a reminder, this can help with rapid detoxification and can prevent many of the worst withdrawal symptoms from occurring.

Temazepam Detox Medications

Medications are commonly used during temazepam detox, and by far the most common is diazepam. While diazepam is also a benzodiazepine, it is classed as a long-acting drug, which refers to the amount of time it stays in the body. Diazepam can be described as having a long half-life. The half-life of a drug is the measure used to calculate the time that half of the drug takes to leave the body.

If you are completing a rapid detoxification, flumazenil may be administered. As mentioned above, this is a drug that is typically used to reverse the sedative effects of a benzodiazepine overdose, but many detox clinics use it to help with sudden withdrawal from temazepam. As flumazenil attaches itself to the same receptors in the brain that benzodiazepines do, it can block the effects of temazepam while also working to expel the drug from the body. This allows you to withdraw with little-to-no symptoms.

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Gradual Dose Reduction for Temazepam Withdrawal

We know that temazepam can quickly cause a physical dependence, even in those who have been taking therapeutic doses. We also know that this means quitting can have the potential to cause severe withdrawal symptoms, and therefore the process must be managed effectively.

Gradual reduction of temazepam is typically carried out over the course of eight to twelve weeks, but in those who have been taking high doses of the drug for a prolonged period, it might be necessary to stagger this over a much longer period. Some individuals need longer than a year to fully withdraw from temazepam, particularly if they have had a severe addiction.

If you have developed a dependence on temazepam while taking therapeutic doses, your doctor may advise you to reduce your dose by between 10 and 12.5 per cent every couple of weeks.

Psychological Interventions for Temazepam Withdrawal

While withdrawing from temazepam will tackle the physical side of the addiction, it is rarely enough to bring about permanent change. It is important that the psychological addiction is also treated; this can be done with various interventions.

Behaviour modification therapies are commonly used during temazepam withdrawal, including cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) and dialectical behaviour therapy (DBT). CBT is a talking and behaviour therapy designed to help you learn how your thoughts and emotions can influence your behaviour. It is also used to change the way that you act by helping you to challenge the negative thoughts that drive your actions.

DBT takes things one step further and is particularly useful in the treatment of addiction coupled with mental health issues. While based on CBT, it has the added element of teaching you how to accept yourself for who you are while learning how to change any negative behaviours that you may be displaying.

Psychological interventions are used to help improve mental health and overall wellbeing. They are used to help you develop healthy habits and attitudes so that you can avoid a return to addictive behaviour in the future.

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Pharmacological Interventions for Temazepam Withdrawal

During withdrawal from temazepam, it may be necessary for your care team to use medical interventions to help ease any discomfort you are experiencing; we discussed this in detail above. It should be noted though that any medications that are used need to be appropriate to your situation and will only be administered by a fully trained medical professional.

If you are experiencing severe symptoms, such as anxiety or depression, as you try to quit temazepam, it may be appropriate to prescribe beta-blockers or antidepressants to reduce the symptoms and to help relax you.

Possible Complications from Temazepam Withdrawal

When withdrawing from temazepam, there is always the risk that serious symptoms could occur. While severe complications such as seizures tend to occur more commonly in long term users of the drug or those who have stopped taking temazepam abruptly, the risk is still present even in those who are withdrawing gradually or who were only taking low doses for a relatively short period.

A rapid discontinuation of temazepam must be managed effectively otherwise it can lead to the severe symptoms developing. Some of these could be:

  • convulsions
  • mania
  • catatonia
  • delirium tremens
  • psychosis
  • suicidal tendencies
  • aggression and violence
  • coma

Temazepam Addiction Treatment and Rehab

Once you have withdrawn from temazepam, it is important to continue treatment with a programme of rehabilitation. It may be preferable for you to combine a detox and rehabilitation programme where you can complete a rapid detoxification under the careful supervision of fully trained and experienced medical staff before tackling the emotional and psychological issues that led you to this point in the first place.

Treatment for temazepam addiction will focus on helping you to learn how to change unhealthy habits with a range of psychotherapeutic treatments and behavioural therapies. Holistic therapies such as arts and crafts, music therapy, yoga, and meditation may also be used to help improve your overall mental and physical wellbeing.

Frequently Asked Questions

How will I know if I’m experiencing temazepam withdrawal?

If you have developed a dependence on temazepam and you try to quit or cut down on your use, then you are likely to experience withdrawal symptoms. If you start to feel unwell after cutting back or stopping your medication, it is likely that you are beginning the process of withdrawal. Look out for the earliest symptoms such as fatigue, anxiety, headaches, nausea, and sweating. If you experience these symptoms after quitting temazepam then it is a good idea to speak to your doctor.

Can temazepam withdrawal kill you?

If the symptoms of temazepam withdrawal become severe, they could have fatal consequences. It is therefore important that the process is effectively managed to reduce the severity of symptoms and to ensure your safety at all times.
The risk of severe symptoms is higher in those who have been using temazepam chronically for a long period of time, although severe symptoms can also occur in those who were taking the recommended dose of the drug for a short time only.

Can temazepam withdrawal cause seizures?

Seizures are one of the more severe symptoms that can occur when temazepam is withdrawn. Because of the effect that temazepam has on the production of GABA, the brain’s natural calming chemical, a sudden withdrawal can lead to a dramatic imbalance of chemicals within the brain, which could cause seizures.

Does temazepam withdrawal cause depression?

There are many psychological symptoms associated with temazepam withdrawal, depression being one of them. In fact, the psychological symptoms such as depression can continue for many months after the drug is withdrawn.

What does temazepam withdrawal feel like?

Temazepam withdrawal can be quite uncomfortable, depending on how the detox is managed. Although benzodiazepines are not as intoxicating as substances such as alcohol, withdrawal can last for much longer, making you feel unwell for many weeks.
Nevertheless, if the detox is effectively managed, it may be possible to reduce the severity of withdrawal symptoms or to prevent them from occurring at all.

What will help temazepam withdrawal?

Certain medications can help to lessen the severity of a temazepam withdrawal. Substituting your medication for a longer-acting benzodiazepine such as diazepam might help to prevent certain withdrawal symptoms from occurring.
There may also be medication or nutritional supplements that will help to ease the symptoms that you experience, such as anxiety or aches and pains.

How to ease temazepam withdrawal?

Temazepam withdrawal can be eased with a gradual reduction of your dose rather than an abrupt cessation of the drug.

How to minimise temazepam withdrawal?

Substituting temazepam for another benzodiazepine can help to minimise the effects of withdrawal. By increasing the dose of one drug and decreasing the dose of the other, the severity of symptoms may be lessened.

Is temazepam withdrawal dangerous?

Because of the risk of serious complications, temazepam withdrawal is considered to be dangerous and so requires careful supervision. If you are withdrawing gradually at home, you will need to be alert to the early warning signs and contact your doctor if you think you may be experiencing severe symptoms.

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