Halcion (triazolam) is a drug manufactured by Pfizer which has been on the market since FDA approval in 1982. The drug has a high potential for dependency and abuse, because of its quick onset and euphoric, relaxing effects. It should only be taken for very short-term use to avoid the problems of addiction, dependence, and withdrawals which can become a formidable consequence once tolerance to the drug has developed. Halcion should not be taken for more than 7 to ten nights in a row. The FDA warns that if taken for 2 weeks, the user will experience rebound insomnia worse than before the drug was started. If taken for more than 10 days, the user will experience increased daytime anxiety. (1)
Like other hypnotics used as sleeping aids, some people experience sleep walking, sleep driving, talking on the phone, going out sleep-shopping, having sex , other activities while under its influence that they do not remember later. These complex behaviors require that discontinuation should be “strongly considered”, according to FDA findings. (1)
The following information on side effects, withdrawal symptoms and other topics may help understand more about this drug before deciding to start or stop taking Halcion.
Halcion, like some other sedative-hypnotics, are primarily used as a short-term treatment for insomnia.
Before beginning a person on a prescription for this class of drug, studies on sleep and stress in the field of biological psychiatry recommend a thorough evaluation of the patient to ensure that physical conditions or illness have been ruled out as causal agents, and that non-addictive substances have been recommended over prescription drugs in treating the patient’s insomnia. (4)
This commonsense approach should be heeded if you are experiencing symptoms of insomnia, and have not requested a thorough physical examination yet, or your physician has not suggested non-addictive sleeping aids prior to prescribing Halcion.
Tranquilizers such as Halcion are available as street drugs, where they can be generally referred to as “tranks”, or specifically for Halcion, “Up-Johns”, presumably for the euphoric effects.
Poly-drug users are especially at risk when combining Halcion with other CNS depressants, such as alcohol or opiates. Sometimes Halcion is used in this way to either get a more intense high or to self-medicate where there is a desire to quash unwanted mental conditions quickly (yet temporarily).
When taken as prescribed, the drug’s effectiveness wanes quickly over a week or so. This is referred to as the down-regulation effect of such tranquilizers, and the user will begin to experience their prior symptoms even more intensely than before they started taking the drug.
Such rebound effects may include:
The initial and developing side effects of Halcion include:
Other side effects besides the ones listed here may emerge. If you or a loved one has observed these or other concerning side effects, seek immediate medical assistance.
Pregnant or nursing women should not take Halcion as the drug causes harm to the baby and is excreted into breast milk.
A prescription for Halcion is generally for a maximum of 10 days or less. After the prescription is done, there may be some withdrawals even though the drug was taken exactly as prescribed.
Since Halcion has a high risk of addiction, what can sometimes happen is a person may seek another prescription or becomes prone to over-use of the drug to get the same euphoric or other desired effects.
Once the body has become dependent on the drug, withdrawal symptoms will emerge. These can be extreme, making stopping the drug extremely difficult to do without support, and require medical intervention to ensure the safety of the person and those around them.
Some withdrawal symptoms include:
If discontinuing or quitting Halcion has been difficult, or if the drug was continued past the 10-day mark, medical detox is indicated without question.
Halcion is a benzodiazepine drug, and this class of drugs is thought to act primarily on the GABA receptors in the brain. When the body becomes used to having the drug in the system, there is a profound effect and influence on the neurochemistry of the CNS. This influence is thought to be why stopping the drug is linked to such severe physical, emotional and mental discomforts and malaise, and unusual or even bizarre responses and behaviors.
Stopping any agent which has created this dependency can be not only extremely difficult because of the levels of discomfort involved but can be dangerous to yourself or to those around you to attempt this on your own. Always seek medical assistance for coming off benzodiazepines such as Halcion.
The following information is provided regarding some of the most frequently asked questions about Halcion.
The consequences of sleep deprivation are well known. Insomnia can present a huge challenge to quality of life and to health. This can result in a lowered ability to function on the job, chronic fatigue, and other factors. It may be time to consider effective ways to correct the problem. The best solutions to such problems are ones that don’t introduce further harm such as addiction or lingering unwanted side effects. But these can be overcome at the Alternative to Meds Center.
To attempt a fast cessation process for benzodiazepines is usually the least wise option, though it may occasionally work for some. It should be considered a bit of a gamble, in an already delicate context. The body is not given adequate time to adjust during rapid removal of this drug, and flanking that problem are the still extant factors causing the client’s anxiety. Rushing the process may worsen an already fragile situation. It is not advised. The most reliable solution is the slow, calculated taper. Long term success may include the extraction of excitotoxins, such as pesticides.
Excitotoxins such as organophosphates or other pesticides can adversely affect the acetylcholinesterase enzymes, resulting in overstimulated neuronal pathways. (2)
Aspartame and MSG are thought to cause synaptic over-firing. Aspartic acid (contained in aspartame) and glutamic acid (from MSG) stimulate a receptor in the brain called the NMDA receptor (n methyl d aspartate).
Over time, chronic overstimulation of the NMDA receptor becomes neurotoxic. The cumulative negative effects of pesticides and other toxins from environmental exposure need more research to provide a more complete understanding. Toxin removal needs to be included in any restorative health program. (3)
The Alternative to Meds Center provides testing and diagnostic methods to do the investigative work that was possibly never done prior to prescribing drugs for insomnia or other sleep disorders.
Our methods include a number of therapies that have been shown to improve quality of sleep, energy level, and other positive health benefits without needing to rely on prescription drugs.
However, we know that dependence to drugs may leave a person trapped on a drug that they have been able to stop taking without experiencing intolerable withdrawal symptoms. We specialize in helping a person withdraw comfortably and safely, in a medically monitored, individually tailored program.
Part of the initial steps of drug recovery is the removal of neurotoxic load, including heavy metals. Removing the body burden of neurotoxins is extremely beneficial. Typically clients report a near immediate improvement in quality of sleep, more positive mood, better appetite, and many other benefits, lessening the need to medicate such symptoms as insomnia. Please contact us at the Alternative to Meds Center for more information. We invite you to find out more about how our methods may help you or a loved one with healing after insomnia may have led to dependence to Halcion.
Dr. Michael Loes is board-certified in Internal Medicine, Pain Management and Addiction Medicine. He holds a dual license in Homeopathic and Integrative Medicine. He obtained his medical doctorate at the University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, MN, 1978. Dr. Loes performed an externship at the National Institute of Health for Psychopharmacology. Additionally, he is a well-published author including Arthritis: The Doctor’s Cure, The Aspirin Alternative, The Healing Response, and Spirit Driven Health: The Psalmist’s Guide for Recovery. He has been awarded the Minnesota Medical Foundation’s “Excellence in Research” Award.