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 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 7-10 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 to understand more about this drug before deciding to start or stop taking Halcion.
What is Halcion (Triazolam) Used For?
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.
Halcion (Triazolam) Alternative Names and Slang
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).
Halcion (Triazolam) Side Effects
When taken as prescribed, the drug’s effectiveness wanes quickly over a week or so. This is referred to as the downregulation 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:
- Worsened insomnia
- Increased periods of wakefulness at night
- More frequent occurrences of interrupted sleep
- Worsened daytime anxiety
- Sleep deprivation symptoms; fatigue, mental fog, altered perception, drowsiness, slow learning, inability to concentrate, irritability, mood swings, forgetfulness, etc.
The initial and developing side effects of Halcion include:
- Profound sedation
- Euphoric high
- In the elderly population, side effects are more pronounced and include dizziness, accident-prone, loss of coordination, lingering effects of sedation.
- Emergence of new thinking or behaviors including decreased inhibition, aggression, hallucination, impulsiveness or recklessness similar to that of a drunken state, depression, worsened depression, suicidality, etc.
- Depersonalization, characterized by feelings of detachment from self, sometimes as if outside one’s body and observing but not recognizing self, separation from one’s own feelings or thoughts as their own, loss of the sense of self-identification.
- Sleep-walking, traveler’s amnesia, sleep-cooking, sleep-driving, etc. which can’t be remembered the next day.
- Cravings for more of the drug
- Severe allergic reactions, occasioned by the following: swollen throat, lips, tongue, throat closing, nausea, vomiting, airway obstruction (can be fatal).
- Prickling feeling like pins and needles on the skin
- Loss of coordination
- Coordination disorders, ataxia
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.
Halcion Withdrawal and Pregnancy: SPECIAL CAUTION
A woman planning a pregnancy, or of child-bearing age who is taking a sleeping aid such as Halcion, would be well-advised to complete a Halcion withdrawal program before conception, as the drug may cause harm to the baby and is excreted into breast milk.
Halcion (Triazolam) Withdrawal Symptoms
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 Halcion withdrawal symptoms include:
- Tremors, convulsions, seizures*
- Suicidal thoughts
- Abdominal cramping
- Profuse sweating
- Muscle aches, cramps
- Drug cravings
- Mental fog
*Studies in the British Journal of Clinical Pharmacology show that prolonged drug-induced seizures can cause irreversible neurological damage and other life-threatening complications.
Discontinuing/Quitting Halcion (Triazolam)
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.