Halcion Effects, Risks, Addiction, & Treatment

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.
Evidence Based
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What is Halcion?

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 has hypnotic properties and is typically only used for people who struggle to fall asleep, 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. 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 have taken Halcion to go to sleep while traveling, such as during an airplane flight. In some of these cases, insufficient time was allowed for the sleep period prior to awakening and before beginning activity.

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 when used short-term (7 to 10 days) and under a doctor’s supervision, but long-term use creates problems. Halcion is addictive and physical dependence is possible.

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Side Effects of Halcion

Halcion can trigger many different side effects. Some anticipated and occurring as part of the drug’s primary effect. Side effects include:

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

Rarer side effects 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.

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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. It is also abusive to combine Halcion with alcohol or any other drug.

Halcion abuse symptoms include:

  • Drowsiness
  • Unsteady walking and coordination impairment
  • Slurred speech
  • Concentration and memory problems
  • Confusion
  • Dizziness
  • Slow breathing
Graphic human body showing symptoms.

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
  • 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, at best, unpleasant, and can be dangerous. Someone who experiences withdrawal from Halcion or any other benzodiazepine 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 should 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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“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: June 29, 2020
Addiction Group Staff
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Medically Reviewed: March 5, 2020
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Annamarie Coy

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