Quazepam (oral route)

Quazepam is a drug used to treat the symptoms of insomnia in the short term.

Overview

Quazepam, sometimes known as Doral, is a benzodiazepine drug that affects unbalanced chemicals in the brains of people with anxiety to calm them down. It is used as a treatment option for patients with symptoms of insomnia, such as trouble falling asleep or staying asleep. This medication allows them to fall asleep more easily and stay asleep for longer periods of time before awakening.

Typically, this drug is administered to patients as a short-term treatment for insomnia - seven to ten days is the standard length of time. Occasionally, doctors will prescribe it for part of treatment of anxiety disorders.

Conditions Treated

  • Insomnia/chronic trouble sleeping
  • Anxiety disorders

Type of Medication

  • Oral sedative/hypnotic

Side effects

Side effects (or adverse effects) are not common occurrences when taking any medication, but they do happen sometimes. Whether the effects are mild or severe, common or rare, you should always discuss them with your doctor if you believe you are experiencing them.

For quazepam, adverse effects occur in about 10% of the patients taking it. Generally, the effects are mild, and the list of less serious side effects includes:

  • Anxiety
  • Drowsiness
  • Dizziness
  • Dry mouth
  • Fatigue
  • Headache
  • Heartburn or Indigestion
  • Increased irritability

Sometimes, but only rarely, this drug can cause temporary memory loss for the person taking it. For this reason, you should avoid taking it if you do not have a seven or eight hour block of time in which to sleep immediately afterwards.

This medication was initially designed for temporary relief from insomnia, so the same dosage might not work as well over an extended period of time. If the dosage you are currently taking stops working well, talk to your doctor about adjusting it.

While this medication helps many people with insomnia, issues with addiction have been known to occur. You are at greater risk of this happening if you have previously had substance abuse problems (i.e. overuse of or addiction to drugs or alcohol). In cases of addiction, extended periods of use, or use in high doses, withdrawal reactions have been known to occur if you decide to suddenly stop using it. In this situation, your doctor will try to wean you off the medication by gradually reducing the dosage. Discuss the best plan with your doctor and follow the directions as talked about. If you start to feel withdrawal symptoms, report them to your doctor right away.

Symptoms of withdrawal from this medication include:

  • Stomach or muscle cramps
  • Vomiting
  • Sweating
  • Shakiness
  • Seizures
  • Unusually depressed or anxious moods

In rare cases, quazepam can cause severe allergic reactions. Seek medical attention immediately if you experience any of the following symptoms after taking this drug:

  • Anaphylactic shock
  • Hives
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Swelling in your face, lips, tongue, or throat

Dosage

Dosages for quazepam, like for any drug, will vary according to different factors, such as the medical condition it is being prescribed for, the patient's age, other medical conditions they have and other medications they are taking for these conditions. While the manufacturer has a set of general recommendations for usage of the medication, you should follow the instructions given by your doctor for taking any medication. The manufacturer knows what conditions the drug was created to treat, but your doctor is the one who knows you and your health condition.

For most adults, the recommended dosage is 15 mg, taken orally once daily about thirty minutes before going to bed. If necessary, your doctor will adjust your dosage. It can be taken either with food or on an empty stomach, but should only be taken once a day.

For older adults, the manufacturer recommends an initial dose of 7.5 mg taken orally, but doses can be increased to as much as 15 mg if needed and as recommended by your doctor. Like with most adults, it should be taken about thirty minutes before going to bed, and can be taken either with food or on an empty stomach. It should only be taken once a day.

Quazepam is not intended or recommended for prolonged use. It is also not recommended for use by anyone under the age of eighteen, as its safety and efficacy have not been established with this age group. If it is to be administered to a child, then your doctor will need to determine the usage and dosage of the medication.

If you miss the time for your normal dose, take it as soon as possible afterwards if you have the recommended amount of time to sleep. Otherwise, skip the missed dose and take the next dose at the normal time. Do not double dose this medication.

With as much room for variation in dosages as there is, be sure to take this medication only as directed by your doctor. Do not take more of it than you have been directed to take, do not take it more often than you have been directed to take it, and stop taking it when your doctor directs you to do so in the way you are instructed.

Quazepam should provide a decrease in or relief from insomnia symptoms within seven to ten days of starting the medication. If you experience no relief or a worsening of symptoms in that time frame, talk to your doctor, as there may be other options for treatment.

Interactions

Sleep is an important part of your body's restoration process. The intended effect of quazepam, and other medications like it, is to help your body get the rest it needs to do its work. However, what this medication does inside of your body often changes once it interacts with any other prescribed medications, over the counter drugs and supplements you might be taking. Some drugs can also interact with substances you consume or other medical conditions you may have. For this reason, it is important to have a frank discussion with your doctor about all of your medical conditions and what prescriptions and supplements you might be using before you start taking Quazepam.

Drug interactions

There is an extremely long list of drugs that have the potential to interact with quazepam. If you are concerned about any medications you are taking that could be on that list, talk to your doctor or pharmacist before starting treatment.

A short list of medications and supplements includes:

  • Cimetidine
  • Clozapine
  • Disulfiram
  • Eeucalyptus
  • Fentanyl
  • Kava
  • Nefazodone
  • Sodium oxybate
  • Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) antidepressants, like fluoxetine or fluvoxamine

If you are taking other medications that are known to cause drowsiness or breathing issues, let your doctor or pharmacist know, as there can be more dangerous interactions with these medications. This includes medical marijuana, medications prescribed for sleep or anxiety problems, muscle relaxants, antihistamines and opioid pain and cough relievers. A list of these types of medications includes:

  • medical marijuana
  • medications for sleep or anxiety issues, like alprazolam, diazepam, lorazepam, and zolpidem
  • muscles relaxants, like carisoprodol and cyclobenzaprine
  • antihistamines, like cetirizine and diphenhydramine
  • opioid pain relievers, like codeine and hydrocodone (usually found in prescription pain and cough relief medications)

Some of these drugs, like diphenhydramine, can also be found in over the counter allergy and cough and cold medications, so consult with your pharmacist about how to use them safely if the need arises while you are taking quazepam.

Food and drink interactions

Quazepam is also known to have potentially dangerous interactions with grapefruit, grapefruit juice and alcohol. If grapefruit or grapefruit juice is a part of your diet, discuss your use of the medication with your doctor.

Medical interactions

Besides the potential interactions with other drugs, food, and drink, there are several medical conditions that could have a negative interaction with quazepam. The list of these conditions includes:

  • Acute alcohol intoxication/drug dependence
  • Depression
  • Obesity
  • Paradoxical reactions like excitability, irritability, agitation, and aggression
  • Renal or liver disease
  • Respiratory depression
  • Seizures
  • Sleep disorders

Note that these lists of interactions are not exhaustive. You should always talk to your doctor or pharmacist if you are concerned about the possibility a medical condition you have or the medications you are taking interfering with the intended effects of quazepam.

Warnings

Do not drive, use machinery, or anything else that might be considered hazardous until you know what effect this medicine will have on you. It may cause you to be drowsy, dizzy, or less alert than you normally are.

Do not use quazepam if you have a chronic breathing disorder or if you have sleep apnea.

Also, do not drink alcohol while taking this medication or for several days after you stop taking it, as the drug can increase its effects on your system and make you feel more dizzy, drowsy or tired than with just one or the other.

Stop taking this medication and seek medical attention immediately if you experience a severe allergic reaction after taking it.

Temporary memory loss is a side effect that can occur while taking quazepam. People have been known to go into a state where they perform normal daily activities like driving, eating, walking and having conversations with others, but later have no recollection of what they did. It most often happens after not sleeping for long enough, so do not take this medication if you are not able to set aside a seven or eight-hour block of time to rest. Tell your doctor right away if you have any of these reactions.

Be cautious about taking this medication if you are pregnant or planning to become pregnant, as there are potential long term adverse effects on the developing fetus. This includes a syndrome resulting in hypothermia, hypotonia, respiratory depression and feeding difficulties in infants whose mothers took the medication just before or during childbirth, and withdrawal symptoms in newborns if their mother took it late in their pregnancy.

Also use caution when taking this medication while breastfeeding, as it is excreted into human milk and can accumulate in your infant's system. If possible, discuss the potential for taking an alternative medication to alleviate your symptoms during this time period.

If you do not already consume grapefruit or grapefruit juice as a part of your diet, do not start using it while you are on quazepam without discussing it with your doctor first. Use of these products can interact with the medication to create side effects that are potentially dangerous for you.

Sometimes quazepam can cause changes in your behavior that are similar to someone who is behaving abnormally after consuming several drinks of alcohol, so talk to your doctor if you start having unusual or strange thoughts, or if you notice yourself starting to behave strangely while you are on this medicine. Possible, and sometimes more severe, changes you might notice include confusion, hallucinations, worsening of depression (if you are already suffering with it), suicidal thoughts and being unusually excited, nervous or irritable.

Unless instructed by your doctor, do not suddenly stop taking this medication. If you have been taking it for an extended period of time, symptoms of withdrawal are likely to occur if you abruptly stop taking it. Your doctor may want to set a plan in place to gradually reduce your dosage in order to prevent these symptoms from occurring.

Storage

Store the medicine away from sources of heat, like a stove or oven in the kitchen. This medicine also should not be kept cold. Do not store it in your refrigerator or freezer. Quazepam should be kept in a tightly-sealed container and stored in a place that remains at room temperature.

Also, keep it away from possible sources of moisture, like a sink or shower in the bathroom. Do not leave the medication sitting in a place that is in the path of direct sunlight, like a window sill or countertops underneath a window in a kitchen or bathroom.

Always keep this and other medications locked away and out of the reach of children.

Disposal of medication

Do not hold onto doses of quazepam that are past their use date. You might think it is a good idea to hold onto excess medication once you finish treatment, but the opposite is true. The best plan is to dispose of the medication once your course of treatment is complete or your doctor has had you stop taking it. Because quazepam is a Class IV drug, you should consult with your doctor on how to dispose of the medication you do not use when you are finished with treatment.

Summary

Quazepam is one of a number of medications prescribed to help relieve symptoms of insomnia and give your body the rest it needs to continue working properly. While it can be greatly beneficial in that process, there are risks associated with taking it that can only be ascertained by a doctor if their patient is willing to have honest conversations. These conversations need to include the patient's medical history, current medical condition and as much as the patient knows about their family's medical history.

It is in the best interest of any patient to disclose their medical history, as well as their concerns, to their doctor. In the case of quazepam, this medication has a long list of possible drug interactions that could make it more dangerous to be taken. This is in addition to its interactions with food, drinks and other medical conditions. The impact of these interactions can be lessened or completely eliminated if a doctor knows the potential is there for the medicine to not work as effectively as it was designed to.

When taken correctly, quazepam effectively combats insomnia by calming imbalanced chemicals in the brain that can make people anxious and less able to fall or stay asleep. With more and better sleep, people with insomnia have a greatly improved quality of life, because they are better able to complete the necessary daily functions to survive, as well as take on more of the activities they love to be a part of.

 

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Last Reviewed:
February 01, 2018
Last Updated:
January 27, 2018