Halcion is a brand-name, prescription drug. The generic name is triazolam, and it’s part of the benzodiazepine drug class. Halcion is generally used for the treatment of insomnia. The properties of Halcion are similar to other benzodiazepines, but it is only used as a way to treat severe insomnia in most cases. Halcion has hypnotic properties and also other properties such as a sedative, anticonvulsant and muscle relaxant. Triazolam is a benzo with a short half-life, so it’s not good for patients who have problems with waking up in the night or waking up too early. It’s better for patients who struggle with falling asleep.
Triazolam may be used not only for acute insomnia but also circadian rhythm sleep disorders, which can include jet lag. Triazolam is very useful for rhythm disorders because of how quickly it starts working and its short half-life. Typically, taking Halcion would put someone to sleep for no more than one to two hours. It would be common for Halcion to be prescribed for patients going on short flights or prior to a procedure like an MRI or non-surgical dental work.
Some of the relatively common side effects of Halcion include drowsiness, dizziness, coordination problems and feeling lightheaded. Also possible is a sense of euphoria, changes in heart rate, confusion and memory impairment, depression and visual disturbances. Rare side effects can include dry mouth, constipation, insomnia, allergies and weakness. Even though it’s short-acting, Halcion can also cause some impairment the next day after it’s taken, often called a hangover effect.
All benzodiazepines, including Halcion, do have the potential for misuse. Prescription drug abuse can indicate someone is taking the drug more often than they should or taking larger doses than they’re prescribed. Other signs of Halcion abuse can include taking it recreationally or without a prescription or combining it with something like alcohol to increase the effects. Halcion is intended as a short-term treatment option. Most doctors will prescribe it for no more than ten days. Using it for longer than what’s prescribed is considered misuse as well. All benzodiazepines are meant as short-term medications because of the potential for misuse, addiction and dependence. Physical signs of Halcion abuse can include:
- Unsteady walking and coordination impairment
- Slurred speech
- Concentration and memory problems
- Slow breathing
Halcion addiction is different from misuse. Someone can recreationally misuse prescription medications without necessarily being addicted. Addiction is a chronic brain disease with definitive symptoms. The longer someone uses or misuses Halcion, the more likely they are to develop an addiction. All benzodiazepines have an addiction potential because they alter the effects of a neurotransmitter called GABA in the brain. In doing so, benzos like Halcion calm brain activity and slow the central nervous system. At the same time, some people may experience pleasurable feelings or euphoria from the use of benzos. This is what triggers a cycle of addiction that ultimately changes and rewires the brain. Signs of Halcion addiction can include:
- Taking Halcion even when there are negative consequences and side effects
- Trying unsuccessfully to stop using Halcion
- Doctor shopping for multiple prescriptions
- Stealing or forging prescriptions
- Changes in mood or extreme mood swings
- Risky decision-making or poor judgment
- Become secretive or withdrawing from friends, family and responsibilities
- Declining school or work performance
- Making drugs a priority over everything else
Over time when someone is addicted to a benzodiazepine like Halcion, it can cause serious mental and physical health complications. For example, people may experience longer-term memory problems or the risk of an overdose. Psychological symptoms can appear or become worse such as anxiety or depression. Cognitive impairment can be a long-term effect of benzodiazepine misuse. Also possible is physical dependence. Physical dependence doesn’t have to occur with addiction, but it can. Dependence means that if a person tries to stop using a medication suddenly, they will go through withdrawal.
Whenever a person is prescribed a habit-forming medication like Halcion, there are some things to keep in mind. First, patients should let their physician know if they or anyone in their family has a history of substance misuse or addiction. It’s also imperative to take habit-forming medications exactly as prescribed. Following prescription advice is one of the best ways to avoid addiction and dependence.
If you’re struggling with drug misuse or addiction, or your loved one is, know that recovery is possible and treatment is accessible. Contact The Recovery Village to learn more about medical detox, and individualized inpatient and outpatient programs.
The Recovery Village aims to improve the quality of life for people struggling with substance use or mental health disorder with fact-based content about the nature of behavioral health conditions, treatment options and their related outcomes. We publish material that is researched, cited, edited and reviewed by licensed medical professionals. The information we provide is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. It should not be used in place of the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare providers.