The ongoing struggle to fall asleep or sleep through the night affects millions of Americans. Some of them are battling chronic insomnia and will seek medications to help them get a good night’s rest.
Halcion is among the medications that doctors prescribe to treat sleep disturbances for the short-term. It once was the most widely prescribed sleeping pill in the world.
Users risk becoming addicted to the sleep aid if they use it for a longer time than prescribed, and they may even find that the medication isn’t effective after the first week of use
What is Halcion?
Halcion (generic name triazolam) is a brand-name prescription medication used to treat insomnia and temporary sleep disturbances, such as jet lag. According to WebMD, the medication, which is taken orally in tablet form, can help users fall asleep faster, stay asleep longer, and reduce the number of times of waking so they can sleep better at night. It is a short-acting benzodiazepine (or benzo for short) and has a shorter half-life than other benzos. The half-life is reportedly in the range of one and a half to five and a half hours.
Halcion suppresses the nervous system and has a sedative-hypnotic as it slows brain activity to induce sleep and a deep state of rest. Users may experience feelings of euphoria and relaxation. The sedative effects start to wear off after nearly two hours. It is easy for users to develop a dependence on Halcion, which can happen in as little as two weeks.
Alternative street names for Halcion include those of other benzos, including chill pill, french fries, downers, sleeping pills, totem pole, tranks, and blues.
What are the Signs of Halcion Addiction?
If you are using Halcion and are not sure if you have developed a dependence or are addicted, or concerned for a loved one, it is important to know the signs of Halcion addiction. Here are some common telltale indications that you should seek treatment:
- Having a higher tolerance level for Halcion. Tolerance is caused by prolonged use, which results in individuals taking more to achieve the same effects of the prescribed dose.
- Becoming preoccupied with finding and using Halcion
- Feeling unable to sleep or function without Halcion
- Feeling unable to stop using it despite previous attempts
- Taking increased doses of Halcion, using more than prescribed or taking it longer than prescribed
- Taking Halcion in ways not prescribed
- Being dishonest with loved ones about Halcion use
- Using illegal methods to obtain Halcion, such as doctor shopping
- Experiencing withdrawal symptoms that follow when effects wear off and usage is either stopped or reduced
Halcion withdrawal symptoms are similar to those that occur with barbiturate and alcohol withdrawal, according to RXList.com. Among them are:
- Abdominal and muscle cramps
- Rebound insomnia (when insomnia returns and is worse than before)
- Dysphoria (a state of unease or dissatisfaction)
According to RXList.com, “The more severe symptoms [of Halcion withdrawal] are usually associated with higher dosages and longer usage, although patients at therapeutic dosages given for as few as one to two weeks can also have withdrawal symptoms and in some patients there may be withdrawal symptoms (daytime anxiety, agitation) between nightly doses.”
What is Involved in Halcion Addiction Treatment?
People in active Halcion addiction who want to end their dependence on the drug will likely need to seek professional treatment at a licensed rehab facility. This ensures they safely detox from the drug and manage uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms and help avoid a relapse. Detox is traditionally the first step to take before the start of an addiction recovery program. Halcion users are strongly advised not to quit the drug abruptly, or cold turkey. Doing so can bring more harm than good.
Professional treatment starts with a 24-hour medically monitored detox that is administered by medical care personnel who understand addiction and what is needed for a successful recovery. During this process, clients’ vitals are observed, such as their heart rate and breathing rate, and they may be given medications for nausea, insomnia, and other conditions that make withdrawal a challenging period.
Medical professionals also may schedule a gradual tapering schedule in which they are slowly and safely weaned off the addictive drug as they work toward stability. “The recommendation for tapering is particularly important in any patient with a history of seizure,” says RXList.com
After stability has been achieved during the detox process, which can last three to seven days or longer, depending on the person’s situation, the next step is to enter a residential treatment program. Enrolling in such a program gives you or your loved one the time needed to face Halcion addiction head-on and learn how to maintain full-time sobriety. There are plenty of options available to make your recovery program meet your unique needs.
Residential treatment requires at least a 30-day stay and therefore requires more commitment than an outpatient program. There is no one-size-fits-all approach to drug recovery, but research shows that treatment that lasts a minimum of 90 days, or three months, is the most effective for significantly reducing or stopping drug use.
After a residential stay at a treatment center, many people choose to continue their treatment as they return home or enter a transitional living home. Outpatient care and intensive outpatient care can help you stay accountable while you enter back into your everyday life. Regular therapy sessions, as well as dedicated counselors and peers, can go a long way in helping you ensure your long-term sobriety.
How Dangerous is Halcion?
Halcion differs from other benzodiazepines, such as Valium and Xanax, in that it induces sleep faster. For this reason, mixing Halcion with substances such as alcohol, heroin, or other opiate-based pain relievers, is highly dangerous.
Under these conditions, the risk of overdose is greater as users can stop breathing when Halcion and alcohol are used together. Some people who abuse Halcion use it along with other drugs to get a stronger high than if they used Halcion by itself. The drug may also be used to counter the effects of other substances, such as heroin.
Taking the medication for more than two weeks is usually not effective or safe, and psychological symptoms, such as depression and heightened anxiety, also could worsen. Clients who have a history of alcohol use disorder, drug abuse, or have a personality disorder are at increased risk of Halcion addiction.
Halcion, like other central nervous system depressants, can potentially cause dangerous symptoms during withdrawal. Halcion works by suppressing nervous system excitability. When you become dependent on the drug, your brain will have adapted to the drug’s presence by altering your brain chemistry. Your brain may be producing less of its own inhibitory chemicals and more excitatory ones in order to balance brain chemistry. When you stop using, the excitatory chemicals will be out of control, and you’ll experience an overexcited nervous system.
This can cause insomnia, anxiety, panic, tremors, seizures, and delirium tremens.
Delirium tremens is a condition that’s characterized by panic attacks, sleep disturbances, hypertension, chest pains, and sudden and extreme confusion. Without medical treatment, Delirium tremens can be fatal, usually because of cardiac arrest or other cardiovascular complications.
Halcion is more likely to lead to severe symptoms like seizures or delirium tremens if you’ve gone through addiction withdrawal before. A phenomenon called kindling can cause more severe withdrawal symptoms with each successive period of depressant withdrawal. Neurological changes in your brain can cause you to be more sensitive to antidepressant withdrawal in the future. If you’ve gone through withdrawal from alcohol, benzodiazepines, or other barbiturates before, you should speak to a doctor before quitting cold turkey.
Halcion Abuse Statistics
- Up to 1.2 million Americans are prescribed Halcion each year.
- In 2008, about 5.2 percent of US adults ages 18-80 used benzodiazepines like Halcion, according to one study about U.S. benzodiazepine use.
- 32 percent of Xanax users in the U.S. are male.