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Halcion Withdrawal Symptoms | Triazolam Side Effects, Treatment Help

Last Updated on February 5, 2024 by Carol Gillette

Alternative to Meds Editorial Team
Medically Reviewed by Dr Michael Loes MD

Halcion withdrawal after long-term use can be problematic. Halcion, generic triazolam, is a benzodiazepine the FDA approved for short-term use (7-10 days) at minimum dosage (.25mg or .125mg in the elderly) for the treatment of insomnia.

Halcion is a CNS suppressant with a short half-life, for fast-acting, potent sedative effects. It has been often described as a “knock-out drug.” Despite how badly one may want to stop taking it, the difficulties in Halcion withdrawal can be particularly grievous and hard to navigate on your own.

Do Your Symptoms Require Halcion?
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Alternative to Meds has been the expert on benzodiazepine withdrawal for over 17 years. We have published evidence regarding our clients’ success. Some people can stop taking benzodiazepines with few problems, especially after one-time use, or a short course of taking them. However, with continued use, many people have much more difficulty as triazolam has the liability of developing addiction and dependence. Root causes for insomnia are often overlooked before resorting to a heavy drug. And, neurotoxicity is one of the most common contributing factors in such a situation. A person may need to clean up that toxic burden before their CNS/brain chemistry can regulate and symptoms alleviate. Lab testing can help isolate other areas to resolve as well. The best approach is to understand that each person is unique, with different needs, and the importance of paying attention to these nuances during triazolam or Halcion withdrawal treatment.
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Halcion (Triazolam) Withdrawal Symptoms

A prescription for Halcion is intended for a maximum of 7-10 days or less. After the prescription is done, there may be some withdrawals even though the drug was taken exactly as prescribed.

Halcion has a high risk of addiction and dependence. Research points to the problem of neuroadaptation after chronic use of benzodiazepines.12 A person may seek a repeat prescription for the same “knock-out” effects, especially those seeking relief from chronic, debilitating insomnia.

If the drug is stopped after addiction or dependence has developed, withdrawal symptoms will emerge. Rebound insomnia can be extreme. This can make stopping the drug extremely difficult to do without support, and may require medical intervention to ensure the safety of the person and those around them.

Halcion withdrawal symptoms can include:
  • halcion high risk of addictionTremors, convulsions, seizures*
  • Rebound insomnia
  • Suicidal thoughts
  • Nausea
  • Abdominal cramping
  • Profuse sweating
  • Muscle aches, cramps
  • Drug cravings
  • Agitation
  • Fatigue
  • 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.5

What Is Halcion (Triazolam)?

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 withdrawal adverse effects. Halcion was intended to be taken for no more than 7-10 nights in a row. The FDA warns that if taken longer, 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, and other activities while under its influence that they do not remember later. These complex behaviors are clearly stated on the FDA’s label.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, is 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,” a play on the name of the original pharmaceutical manufacturer, and the drug’s 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 may 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, interrupted sleep
  • Hallucinations
  • Worsened daytime anxiety
  • Mania
  • 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
  • Amnesia
  • Calmness
  • Sleepiness
  • In the elderly population, side effects are more pronounced and include dizziness, accident-prone, loss of coordination, and lingering effects of sedation.
  • The 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 is 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, and loss of the sense of self-identification.
  • Sleep-walking, traveler’s amnesia, sleep-cooking, sleep-driving, etc., can’t be remembered the next day.
  • Hallucinations
  • Cravings for more of the drug
  • Severe allergic reactions are occasioned by the following: swollen throat, lips, tongue, throat closing, nausea, vomiting, and airway obstruction (can be fatal).
  • Tachycardia
  • Prickling feeling like pins and needles on the skin
  • Loss of coordination
  • Lightheadedness
  • Headache
  • 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.

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 strongly indicated.

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.

Halcion Withdrawal (Triazolam) FAQs

The following information is provided regarding some of the most frequently asked questions about Halcion.

Info on Halcion Withdrawal: How Does Halcion (Triazolam) Work?

It is thought that benzodiazepine drugs such as Halcion target the GABA receptors in the brain. GABA is an inhibitory neurotransmitter, a messenger that is designed for carrying the message, “slow down.” It is a naturally occurring substance, a natural chemical that the body creates mostly in the intestines and delivers to the rest of the body. GABA receptors are the places where GABA “visits” along the journey, following the maps of the various nerve pathways. A rough analogy might compare GABA messengers to a catcher’s mitt. GABA softens the impact of nerve impulses to receptors that otherwise might be too intense to handle. Just as catching a fastball would be too intense for a bare hand. GABA’s main job is regulating things like sleep and counter-acting against fear or stress.

However, Halcion and other benzodiazepine drugs mimic natural GABA and take over this function, temporarily creating a powerful sedating (slowing) effect. Since the body is built to adapt to changing conditions in a valiant effort to stay alive, drugs can cause other changes to rapidly occur in a domino-like fashion, causing chaotic chain reactions, unpredictable consequences, and certainly presenting formidable challenges to the innate intelligence of the body in its attempt to adapt and maintain homeostatic balance.

More research needs to be done on supporting healthy neurochemistry and recognizing the factors that can harm or disrupt it, leading to better solutions to problems that drugs cannot adequately resolve.

What’s the Difference between Halcion and Xanax?

There are similarities and there are differences between the two benzodiazepine drugs Halcion and Xanax.

The drugs are both prescribed for short-term use due to their shared high risk for addiction. They both are fast-acting in their effect. They both can cause memory problems, and both have been used and documented in date-rape cases.

However, Xanax is primarily prescribed for reducing anxiety, and Halcion is primarily prescribed for insomnia.

Can You Overdose on Halcion?

Yes. Overdose and death by overdose are a risk with Halcion and other drugs in their class. With immediate emergency medical intervention, sometimes a Halcion overdose can be successfully treated and the person will live. Others are not so fortunate.

One of the problems with benzodiazepine drugs is that the effects on the CNS are significantly augmented when used concomitantly with alcohol, opiates, and some other medications including antihistamines that may be considered inert because they are purchased over the counter. Such combinations can be fatal.

Signs of Halcion Overdose:
  • Profound sedation
  • Unconsciousness
  • Slowed respiration
  • Shallow breathing
  • Clamminess of the skin
  • Dilated pupils
  • Weak or rapid pulse
  • Confusion
  • Loss of coordination
  • Slurred speech
  • Comatose condition

How Addictive is Halcion?

Halcion is considered to have high risk for dependence and addiction due in part to its fast and also short-lived effects. The euphoric effect may become something that sets up a desire to re-experience that, though the dose typically would have to be increased to achieve that aim.

Also for induction of sleep, the “knock-out” effect could be within minutes, but over the course of a few days, the wakeful interludes become more and more frequent and of longer duration as the symptoms of insomnia return. This may lead a person to take more of the drug than was prescribed in a desperate attempt to get to sleep.

These characteristics make Halcion users prone to addiction. Halcion is an especially poor choice for someone with a history of addictive behavior, or who is unable to abstain from alcohol while taking Halcion.

The most common uses of drugs like Halcion (triazolam) are short-term, for the drug is fast-acting. Halcion produces a calming and mild euphoria caused by depression of the CNS. Halcion is “short-acting.” This means if a person takes it at night, in the morning the sedative effects will have worn off. This can rebound into anxiety. Especially relevant to people who already had daytime anxiety, this makes a rollercoastering effect and the tendency may be for the prescribing practitioner to inter-dose the patient during the day with possibly another benzodiazepine. This may result in new or amplified daytime anxiety, and the patient may quickly find themselves in the difficult position of taking medication 3 to 4 times each day, yet their symptoms continue to be problematic, as a repeating unresolved loop.

Is Halcion a Controlled Substance?

Yes. Halcion is a Schedule IV controlled substance, as it has a high risk of dependence or addiction.

Such substances should always be kept out of the reach of children, or those who may not realize it has such potent characteristics.

As a C-IV substance, it is prohibited to give or sell Halcion to another without a prescription.

How Long Does Halcion Stay in Your System?

Halcion has a half-life of between 1.5 and 5 hours with peak plasma levels at two hours. The drug is quickly metabolized over some hours, with some variations due to body weight, age, genetics, and other factors. The drug typically clears before the next night-time dose. The half-life of a drug is an indicator of when withdrawal symptoms may emerge.7

Treatment for Halcion (Triazolam) Abuse and Addiction?

halcion sleep deprivationThe consequences of sleep deprivation are well known. Insomnia can present a huge challenge to the 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 Alternative to Meds Center.

To attempt a fast cessation process for benzodiazepines is usually the least wise option after long-term use. Short term use of triazolam may not encounter the same level of difficulty. However, it is the short half-life of triazolam itself that is linked to symptoms such as rebound insomnia, and many others.11 Abrupt Halcion withdrawal is, at best, a risky gamble, especially for a person in an already delicate condition such as chronic lack of sleep. Rushing the process may worsen an already fragile situation. These problems can magnify with the length of use. The most reliable solution for getting off triazolam after addiction or dependence has developed is the slow, monitored, and carefully calculated taper.

Using a crossover method to transition to a drug with a longer half-life may be something your prescriber could consider to ease the difficulties of triazolam withdrawal.10

Removal of Neurotoxins Can Help

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

Halcion Withdrawal at Alternative to Meds Center

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. halcion holistic withdrawal sedona drug rehabGetting these addressed as part of a comprehensive Halcion withdrawal program is the key to lasting relief.8

Our methods include a number of therapies that have been shown to improve the quality of sleep, energy level, and other positive health benefits without needing to rely on prescription drugs.

However, we know that dependence on 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’s burden of neurotoxins is extremely beneficial. Typically clients report a nearly immediate improvement in the quality of sleep, a more positive mood, better appetite, and many other benefits, lessening the need to medicate such symptoms as insomnia. Please contact us at 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 Halcion withdrawal, and also effectively address insomnia holistically for improved natural mental health.

1. FDA drug label Halcion [cited 2022 Aug 8]

2. Larry Keeley, [YouTube video] “7. Acetylcholinesterase and Insecticide Inhibition” [cited 2022 Aug 8]

3. “Aspartame-and-MSG-Increase-Risk-of-Serious-Illness” TheCareGroup PC [cited 2022 Aug 8]

4. Seow L., et al., “Evaluating DSM-5 Insomnia Disorder and the Treatment of Sleep Problems in a Psychiatric Population.” Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine [2018 Feb 15] [cited 2022 Aug 8]

5. Chen HY, Albertson TE, Olson KR. Treatment of drug-induced seizures. Br J Clin Pharmacol. 2016 Mar;81(3):412-9. doi: 10.1111/bcp.12720. Epub 2015 Sep 17. PMID: 26174744; PMCID: PMC4767205. [cited 2022 Aug 8]

6. Schneider LS, Syapin PJ, Pawluczyk S. Seizures following triazolam withdrawal despite benzodiazepine treatment. J Clin Psychiatry. 1987 Oct;48(10):418-9. PMID: 2889721. [cited 2022 Aug 8]

7. Roth T, Roehrs TA. A review of the safety profiles of benzodiazepine hypnotics. J Clin Psychiatry. 1991 Sep;52 Suppl:38-41. PMID: 1680124. [cited 2022 Aug 8]

8. Gillin JC, Spinweber CL, Johnson LC. Rebound insomnia: a critical review. J Clin Psychopharmacol. 1989 Jun;9(3):161-72. PMID: 2567741. [cited 2022 Aug 8]

9. Institute of Medicine (US) Committee on Halcion: An Assessment of Data Adequacy and Confidence. Halcion: An Independent Assessment of Safety and Efficacy Data. Washington (DC): National Academies Press (US); 1997. 1, Introduction. Available from: [cited 2023 Dec 8]

10. Sullivan JT, Sellers EM. Detoxification for triazolam physical dependence. J Clin Psychopharmacol. 1992 Apr;12(2):124-7. PMID: 1315343. [cited 2023 Dec 12]

11. Pelissolo A, Bisserbe JC. Dépendance aux benzodiazépines. Aspects cliniques et biologiques [Dependence on benzodiazepines. Clinical and biological aspects]. Encephale. 1994 Mar-Apr;20(2):147-57. French. PMID: 7914165. [cited 2023 Dec 12]

12. Lim B, Sproule BA, Zahra Z, Sunderji N, Kennedy SH, Rizvi SJ. Understanding the effects of chronic benzodiazepine use in depression: a focus on neuropharmacology. Int Clin Psychopharmacol. 2020 Sep;35(5):243-253. doi: 10.1097/YIC.0000000000000316. PMID: 32459725. [cited 2023 Dec 12]

Originally Published Sep 13, 2018 by Diane Ridaeus

This content has been reviewed and approved by a licensed physician.

Dr. Michael Loes, M.D.


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.

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Halcion Withdrawal Symptoms | Triazolam Side Effects, Treatment Help
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