Every night, millions of Americans dealing with insomnia and other sleep disorders struggle to get a good night’s rest. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), about 4 percent of all adults over age 18 in the U.S. use prescription sleep medication.
Unlike most benzodiazepines, which are generally used for treating the symptoms of anxiety, Halcion, the brand name of the benzo triazolam, is prescribed explicitly as a temporary treatment for the symptoms of insomnia.
Halcion may not be as widely known as benzos like Klonopin, Ativan or Xanax, but it is just as dangerous, maybe even more so, as it is stronger and faster-acting with a high potential for abuse and addiction.
Because of this, Halcion is only prescribed for about seven to 10 days of use. If someone misuses Halcion and takes it for longer than that, they will quickly develop a tolerance to its effects and start needing more of it and can end up addicted to Halcion in just a couple weeks.
How Does Halcion Work?
Because Halcion is mainly meant for treating sleep disorders, its effects are felt significantly faster than most other benzodiazepines because it has a much shorter half-life. Like other benzos, Halcion works by slowing down activity in the central nervous system, a process usually controlled by a neurotransmitter called gamma-Aminobutyric acid (GABA).
GABA is a chemical created by the brain that helps calm you down by inhibiting nerve impulses that cause feelings of stress, anxiety, and fear to keep them from reaching the brain. Halcion mimics the naturally produced GABA to bind with what are known as GABA receptors, activating them into overproduction to flood the brain and nervous system with GABA and create strong feelings of sedation.
The difference between benzos like Xanax and Halcion is that on top of affecting GABA levels, Halcion also specifically targets neuroreceptors that control brain function and activity, which is what makes it take effect so fast.
What are the Signs of Halcion Addiction?
When someone is abusing prescription medication like Halcion, it can often be more difficult than people might think to recognize this abuse for what it is and be able to stop a growing problem before it fully develops into addiction. Halcion, in particular, can be dangerous because of the lack of awareness of the dangers of misusing it.
While it’s often only in hindsight that the signs of Halcion addiction form what seems like an apparent pattern of behavior, there are many side effects commonly associated with regular Halcion abuse. Noticeable side effects include:
- Chronic drowsiness
- Stomach cramps
- Impaired coordination
- Extremely dilated pupils
- Slurred speech
- Frequent bouts of nausea and vomiting
When someone’s Halcion abuse escalates into addiction, they lose their ability to control how much and how often they use, instead compulsively and obsessively abusing Halcion. As using Halcion becomes the most important thing in someone’s life and the driving force behind their decisions and actions, they will begin exhibiting behaviors commonly associated with substance use disorders.
Signs of Halcion Addiction Include:
- Taking Halcion longer, more often or in larger doses than prescribed
- Forging prescriptions or “doctor shopping” for multiple prescriptions
- Taking Halcion without a prescription
- Increasing tolerance to Halcion’s effects
- Experiencing cravings and withdrawal symptoms when not using Halcion
- Missing money or valuables to pay for Halcion
- Becoming socially withdrawn and isolated
- A significant decline in work or school performance
- Lying about or hiding Halcion use
- Feeling unable to function or be “normal” without Halcion
- Being unable to quit using Halcion after multiple attempts to stop
If you are experiencing these symptoms yourself or have seen them in the behavior of someone you care about, you should seek out professional addiction treatment services as soon as you can. The longer you wait to take action, the higher the risk of overdose.
What is Involved in Halcion Treatment?
Generally, medical detox is the first step in treating addiction. The goal of detox is to achieve sobriety and get someone mentally and physically stabilized by ridding their system of all traces of drugs or alcohol.
For Halcion addiction treatment, detox should never be attempted without the careful supervision of an experienced medical detox team. The withdrawal symptoms associated with not only Halcion but also benzodiazepines, in general, are unpredictable, dangerous, and in some cases, may even be deadly.
During Halcion withdrawal, there is also the chance that someone may experience benzodiazepine withdrawal syndrome, which intensifies common symptoms such as insomnia and anxiety into total sleeplessness for days at a time and panic attacks. It also manifests less common symptoms, including grand mal seizures, suicidal behavior, and even total psychosis.
A medical detox professional has been trained to handle these potential complications and can provide medication to ease the worst symptoms of Halcion withdrawal and get through the detox process safely and with the least amount of discomfort possible.
Once done with detox, the next phase of Halcion addiction treatment is moving on to inpatient or outpatient treatment in an addiction rehabilitation program. Inpatient treatment involves living onsite at a treatment center and allows for clients to focus fully on their recovery without having to worry about external triggers or temptations. Outpatient treatment allows clients to live at home and structure sessions and appointments at a treatment center around their daily lives.
No matter which type of treatment a person chooses, they will work with doctors and therapists to better understand the issues behind their addictive behaviors, learn the skills and coping tools needed to manage their Halcion addiction effectively, and avoid relapse.
Each person’s addiction treatment plan will vary based on their individual needs, but will usually include at least some common treatment elements, such as cognitive behavioral therapy, addiction education, and relapse prevention planning, as well as more holistic therapies like practicing mindfulness and stress management.
How Dangerous is Halcion?
As previously mentioned, unlike other benzos, which have broader use in treating both anxiety and insomnia, Halcion is mainly meant to treat sleep-based disorders and rapidly induce sleep. This means that Halcion users are more likely to experience some dangerous and unnerving sleep-related side effects than someone using Xanax or Klonopin.
These Side Effects Include Not Only Sleepwalking but Also Other Unconscious Activities, Including:
- Holding seemingly normal conversations
- Cooking and eating food
- Leaving the house
- Having sex
- Driving a car
Typically, the user will wake up with no memory of what they may have done while asleep, which can be particularly dangerous and upsetting if they are pulled over while sleep-driving.
Using Halcion for longer than intended can also lead to a rebound effect, which is when the user has grown so tolerant to the effects of Halcion that their initial insomnia symptoms will come back, usually much stronger than they were before.
The Signs of a Halcion Overdose Include:
- Blurred vision
- Slurred speech
- Dangerously slow breathing
- Drifting in and out of consciousness
- Impaired coordination
If someone is experiencing a Halcion overdose, it can easily prove fatal without immediate emergency medical attention. Even then, there is the possibility of permanent damage to the brain and organs due to lack of oxygen.
Halcion Abuse Statistics
- More than 1 million prescriptions for Halcion are written annually in the U.S.
Nearly 11,000 overdose deaths in 2016 involved benzodiazepines, including Halcion, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA).