Classified as a benzodiazepine, Restoril is a brand-name prescription sleep aid. Used only for short-term insomnia treatment, the generic name of Restoril is temazepam. A relatively fast-acting benzodiazepine, Restoril increases the effects of GABA. GABA can calm overactivity in the brain, helping induce sleep. Benzodiazepines can also treat symptoms of panic, anxiety and seizure disorders. While benzodiazepines do have therapeutic value for some people, they should be used carefully. These drugs can cause addiction and dependence. To reduce this risk, most physicians will prescribe them for no more than a few weeks.
With a benzodiazepine overdose, a person has taken so much of a drug that their body can’t process or eliminate it quickly enough. While it is possible to overdose only on benzos, it’s rare. The more likely instance of a benzodiazepine overdose occurs when this drug class is combined with something else. For example, people may overdose when they combine Restoril with alcohol, opioids or tricyclic antidepressants. It was estimated that benzos were involved in more than 30% of all prescription drug overdose deaths in the U.S. in 2013. Benzos remain one of the most commonly prescribed drug classes, despite their common involvement in accidental and purposeful overdoses.
There are some ways people who use the drug can prevent a benzodiazepine overdose. First, before a patient is prescribed one of these drugs, they should speak with their doctor about any substances they take. This can include other prescriptions, over-the-counter medications and substances like alcohol. A patient should also talk with their doctor about their full medical history. Certain health conditions increase the chances of an overdose. Someone with a history of substance misuse may not be a good candidate to take a benzodiazepine like Restoril. If someone is prescribed Restoril or another benzodiazepine, they should take it exactly as prescribed. Restoril shouldn’t be used recreationally or without a prescription.
An overdose involving Restoril or another benzodiazepine usually starts to create symptoms within about four hours. If the overdose involves only a benzodiazepine, symptoms may include mild central nervous system impairment. This could include seeming intoxicated, impaired balance and coordination, short-term memory loss and slurred speech. Some people who overdose on benzodiazepines may also experience anxiety, delirium, aggression, hallucinations and other changes in mood. In severe overdose cases, symptoms can include coma, hypothermia, hypotension, bradycardia and cardiac arrest. While these symptoms are possible with only Restoril, what happens most often is that a person would fall asleep if they took a high dose of Restoril before they could actually overdose.
The more severe symptoms of a Restoril overdose occur when other substances are used as well, and especially if those substances are also central nervous system depressants. One of the biggest risks is mixing Restoril and opioid pain relievers. Both depress the central nervous system and respiration; so when they’re combined, they can do so at a toxic or deadly level. Certain people are at even higher risk of overdoses when they mix Restoril and other substances than the average population. This includes older adults and people who aren’t opioid-tolerant. People with chronic health conditions or impaired hepatic function may be at a higher risk of overdose as well. Someone who has overdosed on a combination of Restoril and opioids may have symptoms such as nodding off or losing consciousness, vomiting, slowed breathing or heart rate, or have a bluish tint to their lips or fingernails. Other potential Restoril overdose symptoms can include impaired thinking and judgment, concentration problems, tremors, weakness and seizures.
If someone believes an overdose has occurred, the only thing to do is seek emergency help as soon as possible. There are some benzodiazepine antidotes available, and there are antidotes for opioid overdoses as well. Getting help right away is extremely important because complications from an overdose can include brain and muscle damage, coma, aspiration or death. One benzodiazepine antidote option is called Flumazenil. Along with antidotes, other benzo overdose treatments can include supportive care to maintain fluids and help increase things like blood pressure and heart rate.
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