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Is Temazepam A Controlled Substance?

Dr. Ted Bender, Ph.D., LCDC

Medically reviewed by

Dr. Ted Bender, Ph.D., LCDC

April 12, 2019

Temazepam is a Schedule IV controlled substance with the potential for abuse, dependence, and addiction. An individual who possesses this drug without a prescription risks criminal consequences.

Temazepam, brand name Restoril, is a prescription sleep medication that has a potential for abuse and physical dependence. The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) classifies temazepam as a Schedule IV controlled substance.

What Is A Controlled Substance?

A controlled substance is a drug that may be abused and can lead to physical dependence or addiction.

The Controlled Substances Act of 1970 was put in place to monitor illicit drug use, trafficking, and manufacturing, as well as to regulate the use of helpful medications that some people abuse.

There are five levels of drug scheduling, from illegal substances to behind-the-counter medications. They are:

  • Schedule I: illegal drugs that have no medical use, are very addictive, and are frequently abused (heroin, ecstasy)
  • Schedule II: prescription drugs that have a high abuse potential and a high risk of physical dependence or mental addiction (OxyContin, Adderall)
  • Schedule III: prescription drugs with a moderate abuse potential and risk of dependence or addiction (Tylenol with codeine)
  • Schedule IV: prescription drugs with low abuse potential and low risk of dependence or addiction (Restoril, Xanax)
  • Schedule V: drugs with very low potential for abuse and addiction that contain small amounts of narcotics (cough medicine with codeine)

Though many prescription drugs are also controlled substances, not all of them are. Antibiotics, for example, require a doctor’s approval but are not regulated by the Controlled Substances Act.

The purpose of drug scheduling is to determine which substances elicit criminal charges when used outside of prescription guidelines.

Why Is Temazepam A Controlled Substance?

Though temazepam (Restoril) falls into the Schedule IV category of “low abuse potential,” it is still recognized as a dangerous substance. Generally, doctors only prescribe temazepam for seven to 10 days as a temporary solution to insomnia.

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As with many benzodiazepines, the body quickly develops a tolerance to Restoril which can lead to physical dependence with continued use. Physical dependence often goes hand-in-hand with addiction. If the body needs Restoril to sleep or function normally, the mind may begin to crave it as well.

Temazepam can also be dangerous when mixed with central nervous system depressants such as alcohol, opioids, and other benzodiazepines. Combining these substances can cause severe respiratory depression, coma, and even death.

Consequences For Using Temazepam (Restoril) Without A Prescription

If a person has temazepam (Restoril) in their possession without a prescription, they will be subject to criminal charges. The severity of these charges depends on state law and whether the person has previous offenses.

Illegal possession of temazepam may lead to:

  • probation
  • a few years in prison
  • hundreds to thousands of dollars in fines
  • diversion classes (drug abuse education)
  • court-ordered drug rehab
  • a suspended driver’s license

The charges for selling or intending to sell temazepam, or any Schedule IV substance, are even greater. A first offense may result in five years in prison and hundreds of thousands of dollars in fines.

If a person buys temazepam on the street or online without a prescription, they risk receiving a counterfeit or inconsistent product. Because these sources are not regulated, the drug may be cut with other substances that make it weaker or stronger, raising the risk of adverse reactions and overdose.

How To Safely Dispose Of A Controlled Substance Like Temazepam

Because temazepam is a controlled substance, a person should not keep it around their house if they are no longer taking it. This presents the opportunity for someone to come across it and abuse it.

Selling it or giving it to someone else who has their own prescription is not advisable either. A person’s doctor is the only one who should provide them with access to temazepam.

Some medical facilities have safe disposal sites, and the DEA frequently hosts prescription drug take-back events around the country.

If these are not available, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recommends mixing unused Restoril capsules with cat litter, dirt, or some other unappetizing substance, sealing them in a bag, and throwing them away.

Prescription Drug Monitoring For Temazepam (Restoril)

Prescription drug monitoring programs (PDMPs) are used by most states to keep track of controlled substances. When a doctor prescribes temazepam (Restoril) and when a pharmacist fills the prescription, they enter it into a statewide database.

This information can be accessed by other healthcare providers and pharmacists to prevent people from obtaining multiple prescriptions (“doctor shopping”). It can also alert doctors to screen their patients for substance abuse and addiction.

Treatment For Temazepam (Restoril) Addiction

If someone is using temazepam (Restoril) outside of prescription guidelines, they may be addicted to it or at risk of developing an addiction. An inpatient rehab program can help them address issues that cause or result from Restoril abuse so they can break free from it.

Treatment for Restoril addiction typically begins with medically supervised detox, which monitors a person through the withdrawal process. Benzodiazepine withdrawal can be life-threatening and is dangerous to attempt alone.

Following detox, inpatient addiction treatment may consist of behavioral therapies, counseling, recreation, and other sober activities that promote overall health and healing.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention - Prescription Drug Monitoring Programs (PDMPs)

Congressional Research Service - Maximum Fines and Terms of Imprisonment for Violation of the Federal Controlled Substances Act and Related Laws

U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration - Drug Scheduling

U.S. Food and Drug Administration - Disposal of Unused Medicines: What You Should Know

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