Halcion (Triazolam) Effects, Abuse & Addiction

Halcion is a benzodiazepine with hypnotic properties. It is also a sedative, a muscle relaxant, and an anticonvulsant. Halcion is used recreationally, and anyone who misuses this medication is at risk for possible side-effects, addiction, or dependency.
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What is Halcion (Triazolam)?

Halcion is the brand name for the generic drug triazolam. It’s a member of the class of drugs known as benzodiazepines, a type of sleep disorder drug.

Halcion, like all benzodiazepines, binds to the brain’s GABA receptors and increases the effects of the neurotransmitters that calm overactivity in the brain. Brain activity slows, which helps a person fall asleep and experience fewer symptoms of anxiety.

Halcion can be a very beneficial drug for short-term use (7 to 10 days) and under a doctor’s supervision. It should be stored at room temperature and away from moisture and light. Long-term use of Halcion can create problems because it is addictive and physical dependence is possible.

What Is Halcion Used For?

Halcion has hypnotic properties and is typically only used for people who struggle to fall asleep (insomnia), but who do not have problems with awakening during the night or too early in the morning. It is also a sedative, a muscle relaxant, and an anticonvulsant.


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Doctors sometimes prescribe it to patients undergoing an MRI, non-surgical dental procedures, or for short airline flights because it tends to put someone to sleep for only an hour or two.

Cases of ‘traveler's amnesia’ have been reported by individuals who take Halcion to fall asleep while traveling, such as during an airplane flight. Traveler's amnesia results in a quick, temporary loss of memory. This condition can also occur after taking other short-acting hypnotics, such as alprazolam and zolpidem.

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Halcion Side Effects

Halcion can trigger mild to serious side effects:

  • Drowsiness
  • Dizziness
  • Coordination problems
  • Lightheadedness
  • Feelings of euphoria
  • Changes in heart rate
  • Confusion
  • Memory impairment
  • Depression
  • Visual disturbances

Rarer adverse effects of Halcion include:

  • Dry mouth
  • Constipation
  • Insomnia
  • Allergies
  • Weakness

Halcion is short-acting but does sometimes result in mild to moderate impairment the day after it’s taken. You should also avoid drinking grapefruit juice while taking this medication because it can worsen the side effects of Halcion.

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Risks of Halcion

Halcion, like all benzodiazepines, have the potential for abuse and can be addicting. Dependency is possible too, especially if the medication is taken longer than the suggested days.

Abuse occurs when someone takes larger doses or for longer than prescribed or uses the drug without a prescription.

In addition to abuse risks, Halcion can cause allergic reactions in some people. For example, if you are allergic to Xanax (alprazolam), Ativan (lorazepam), Valium (diazepam), Tranxene (clorazepate), or Klonopin (clonazepam), you may be allergic to Halcion as well.

Halcion abuse symptoms include:

  • Drowsiness
  • Unsteady walking and coordination impairment
  • Slurred speech
  • Concentration and memory loss
  • Sleep problems
  • Behavior changes
  • Confusion
  • Dizziness
  • Light-headedness
  • Breathing problems
  • Muscle cramps

Drug Interactions

Combing benzodiazepines, such as Halcion, with opioids, is extremely dangerous. Doing so can worsen the respiratory depression risks of opioids, which can lead to overdose and death.

Avoid drinking alcohol while taking Halcion or any other benzodiazepine. Risks of mixing Halcion and alcohol include oversedation and death. The same risks come with mixing triazolam and other central nervous system depressants, including street drugs.

Halcion should also never be mixed with the following medications and substances:

  • Itraconazole
  • HIV inhibitors
  • Antihistamines
  • Anticonvulsants
  • Ethanol
  • Ketoconazole
  • Nefazodone
  • Fluconazole
  • Isoniazid
  • Rifampicin
  • Cimetidine
  • Clarithromycin
  • Erythromycin
  • Telithromycin
  • Ritonavir
  • Lopinavir
  • Nelfinavir
  • Indinavir
  • Isoniazid
  • Saquinavir
  • Grapefruit juice
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Halcion Addiction Symptoms

Addiction occurs when misuse of Halcion alters the effects of neurotransmitters in the brain. All benzodiazepines calm brain activity, slow the body’s central nervous system (CNS) down, and trigger intense feelings of pleasure.

Ongoing use results in a chronic brain disease that causes serious mental and physical health complications and makes it more difficult to stop using the drug.

Halcion addiction symptoms include:

  • Using the drug even when there are negative consequences and side effects
  • Trying unsuccessfully to stop drug use
  • Shopping for multiple doctors to provide prescriptions
  • Stealing or forging prescriptions
  • Experiencing mood change or extreme mood swings
  • Making risky decisions or using poor judgment
  • Becoming secretive or withdrawing from friends and family
  • Disregarding responsibilities
  • Declining school or work performance
  • Making the drug a priority over everything else

Halcion addiction can lead to:

  • Memory problems
  • Anxiety and depression
  • Suicidal thoughts
  • Extreme sleepiness
  • Cognitive impairment
  • Declines in overall mental and physical health
  • Mood swings
  • Sexual dysfunction
  • Physical dependence

These symptoms can occur for as long as six months after a person stops using Halcion.

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Treatment for Halcion Abuse

In some cases, people who are abusing Halcion are also abusing or addicted to other substances. Alcohol and opioid addiction are common examples. There might also be co-occurring mental health issues, such as depression, anxiety, or bipolar disorder. Effective treatment will be comprehensive and address all of these issues.

Benzodiazepines, such as Halcion, can also trigger a physical dependence, which means a person can experience withdrawal symptoms when they stop using the drug. Benzo withdrawal symptoms are unpleasant and can be dangerous. Triazolam withdrawal symptoms should be medically supervised.

Long-term treatment should combine inpatient treatment followed by outpatient treatment. Outpatient treatment might be enough for people who have been misusing or are addicted to Halcion for just a short time.

Both inpatient and outpatient programs include counseling and support groups. Prescription medications intended to treat both physical and mental symptoms associated with Halcion addiction might also be appropriate.

Every person is different and treatment should be tailored to the specific person’s circumstances. The goal of treatment is to help people with Halcion addictions withdrawal safely and with as few complications as possible.

In many cases, treatment involves cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and the addicted person works to identify triggers for their use of Halcion and other drugs. Patients then learn coping skills that help them deal with circumstances that would have prompted their use of Halcion in the past. They also learn what to do if relapse occurs.

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Resources

“Triazolam: MedlinePlus Drug Information.” Medlineplus.Gov, https://medlineplus.gov/druginfo/meds/a684004.html

Brett, Jonathan, and Bridin Murnion. “Management of Benzodiazepine Misuse and Dependence.” Australian Prescriber, vol. 38, no. 5, 1 Oct. 2015, pp. 152–155, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4657308/

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Updated on: August 5, 2020
Author
Addiction Group Staff
About
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Medically Reviewed: March 5, 2020
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Annamarie Coy,
BA, CADACII/ICADC, ICPR, MATS
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