What Is Halcion Drug? Uses, Side Effects & Addiction

Last Updated: July 5, 2021

Authored by Olivier George, Ph.D.

Reviewed by Michael Espelin APRN

What is Halcion? Halcion drug, or Triazolam, is a drug that depresses the central nervous system. It’s used in a variety of treatments for a few different conditions. It’s a prescription medication that belongs to the drug class of benzodiazepines. Although this is a relatively commonly prescribed drug, there are risks to using it. Anyone considering the use of benzodiazepines like Halcion must do so with all the necessary information about Halcion uses, Halcion side effects, and the potential for addiction.

What Is Halcion?

Halcion drug is one of the most common benzodiazepines available in the markets today. It comes in an oral release tablet. This drug helps calm the patient’s nerves, making it easier for them to relax and eventually to sleep. It’s a drug that works very fast, taking under one hour to kick in. However, that is also why this drug isn’t used as a long-term treatment and is usually discontinued within a week or two of use.

Halcion Uses

Halcion uses are pretty simple. Benzodiazepines like Triazolam are mainly prescribed to patients suffering from sleep disorders such as insomnia. However, because of how it works, it’s also used for anxiety disorders to help calm the patient down. In addition to sleep disorders, it’s also used as a pre-anesthetic drug. Drugs like these are given to patients to calm them down before getting a regular anesthetic for surgeries and other procedures when patients need to be sedated.

Halcion Side Effects

Since Halcion drug has a pretty serious effect on the central nervous system to help patients with their sleep, it also comes with a range of potential Triazolam side effects. Not everyone suffers the same Halcion side effects as others. They can vary from being mild and manageable to being on the more severe side. That is why the patient needs to have all of the necessary information about Halcion medication and its potential Triazolam side effects before they begin using it.

The Triazolam Side Effects May Include:

  • Sleepiness/drowsiness
  • Confusion and lack of balance
  • Mental impairment
  • Slurred speech
  • Seizures
  • Double vision
  • Low blood pressure
  • Slowed breathing

Adverse reactions can occur even when the drug is taken as directed. Doctors generally don’t prescribe Triazolam for more than ten days due to its high probability of becoming addictive.

Is Halcion Addictive?

Halcion drug has a strong effect on the central nervous system. Halcion medication tends to kick in within a few minutes, which shows how strong it is. Unfortunately, that is also why it’s a highly addictive drug. If the user uses the medicine without a prescription or has been taking more than the doctor prescribed, they could get a Benzo addiction within two weeks of use.

Depressed man suffering from Halcion addiction.

While all medications in this class are addictive, Triazolam can become habit-forming, and dependencies can develop in as little as two weeks, even when used as directed. For this reason, Triazolam should never be used without a prescription and should always be taken under a doctor’s supervision.

According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, Triazolam’s effectiveness lowers as the patient becomes tolerant to the medication. Triazolam has a short half-life; it acts quickly and leaves the system soon. Halcion medication has a shorter half-life than most of the other Benzodiazepines in the market. As a result, people abusing the drug start using more of it to achieve the same results, leading to addiction.

Risk Groups and Factors

Since Triazolam is prescribed most often for insomnia and anxiety disorders, those who suffer from these disorders may most likely abuse the drug and become addicted.

Anyone who takes Triazolam is at risk of becoming addicted. This drug is only used in extreme cases for this reason, as it is highly addictive even when taken as directed and in the short term.

Other Risk Factors For Becoming Addicted Are:

  • Medical problems – Those with certain medical conditions, such as alcohol withdrawal or muscle pain, may be more likely to abuse sedative drugs to try and control their conditions.
  • Mental illness – Patients with anxiety and panic disorders may continue to take Triazolam longer than directed or in higher doses than recommended. As users become tolerant to benzodiazepine at the doctor’s recommended dose, they may need to take larger amounts to achieve the same results. It makes the risk of overdose exponentially more likely.
  • Drug use – Users of other drugs may also be more likely to abuse Triazolam. They often combine Triazolam with similar depressant drugs to intensify the effects or with stimulants to balance them. Neither is a good idea in terms of health, as both can lead to overdose very quickly.
  • Family life – Those with immediate family members who suffer from addiction, either to benzodiazepine medications, alcohol, or illegal drugs, should be especially careful. They may be more likely to become addicted themselves.

Warning Signs of Abuse

Many people conduct Triazolam use without realizing they are forming a habit. Consequently, it can result in addiction. However, if one deals with a friend or family member who may be abusing the drug, the warning signs could be more apparent.

Pay Attention to the Following Signs to Recognize Triazolam Abuse:

  • Repetitive use of Triazolam even without a prescription
  • Yellowing of the eyes and skin
  • Frequent change of doctors to get new prescriptions
  • Social withdrawal
  • Strange behavior
  • Inability to fulfill daily obligations
  • Failures at school or work
  • Using Triazolam every day to deal with stress
  • Financial difficulties
  • Cravings for Triazolam

If any of these behaviors are noticed, seek professional assistance immediately.

Woman covering with blanket sitting on the couch at home.

Patients should only take benzodiazepines like Triazolam according to the prescription information provided by the doctor in charge of treatment. Patients who take a higher dose than recommended and abuse the drug are more likely to experience severe Triazolam side effects and can potentially overdose on the medication or damage their health in the long run. Patients mixing the drug with alcohol or other drugs are at an even higher risk of overdose than others.

Halcion Overdose

Patients must make sure only to take Halcion as prescribed. Taking higher doses, mixing it with alcohol, or taking the medication at a higher frequency than their prescription information specifies them at risk for overdose.

In addition to that, they should also keep track of all the symptoms and Halcion side effects they’re experiencing and if their intensity increases. If it does, the information should be relayed to the doctor or physician in charge immediately to have the patient taper off the medication safely.

How Long Does Triazolam Stay in Your System?

Since Benzodiazepines like Triazolam come with a risk of addiction, the medication starts working within the first 15-30 minutes of the patient taking it, so it acts fast. That also leads to it having a relatively short half-life, under 5.5 hours.

Triazolam starts to leave the patient’s system fairly quickly. It can be detected by standard drug tests, as they usually test for benzodiazepines.

The Detection Times Are as Follows:

  • Blood: 24 hours
  • Urine: 10 days
  • Saliva: 2.5 days
  • Hair: 90 days

However, this may vary according to the patient’s body composition.

Halcion Withdrawal

Since Halcion has such a heavy impact on the patient’s central nervous system, it’s supposed only to be used as a short-term treatment. Even then, there’s a chance that the patient will experience some withdrawal symptoms. The common withdrawal lasts around 1-2 days. If the patient starts abusing the drug, they’re more likely to experience severe withdrawal symptoms.

Depressed young woman during Halcion withdrawal holding a pill.

The withdrawal timeline depends on how long the patient had been taking or abusing the drug. Their tolerance will have a significant contribution to how their body processes the withdrawal. Generally, the longer they were taking the medication, the longer the withdrawal timeline would be.

Common Signs of Halcion Withdrawal Are as Follows:

  • Restlessness
  • Confusion
  • Anxiety
  • Mood swings and depression
  • Suicidal thoughts or behaviors
  • Loss of motor skills and hand-eye coordination
  • Feeling of possible fainting
  • Headaches
  • Fever
  • Nausea
  • Sweating and muscle cramps
  • Itching
  • Chest pains
  • Tachycardia (high heart rate)
  • Trouble falling asleep
  • Slurred speech
  • Visual impairments (like blurry vision)
  • Seizures

Halcion can negatively affect memory and learning. In addition, certain doctors believe that benzos are linked to the onset of Alzheimer’s disease and dementia.

Treatment For Halcion Addiction

Unlike some other drugs in which the detoxification process is uncomfortable but not always dangerous, getting off Halcion is a delicate process. Users may suffer from severe health complications, and some even die during the withdrawal stages.

Individuals addicted to Halcion can choose from various treatment options. One can choose from outpatient and inpatient care centers. Furthermore, one can find a luxury rehab where experts provide a more personal treatment. Behavioral therapy, holistic approaches, and aftercare are crucial for the successful treatment of Halcion addiction.

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Page Sources

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  6. Huang, W., Moody, D. E., Andrenyak, D. M., & Rollins, D. E. (1993). Immunoassay detection of nordiazepam, triazolam, lorazepam, and alprazolam in blood. Journal of analytical toxicology, 17(6), 365-369. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/7903726/
  7. Beverly Merz, Harvard Health Publishing, Benzodiazepine use may raise risk of Alzheimer’s disease https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/benzodiazepine-use-may-raise-risk-alzheimers-disease-201409107397
  8. Schneider, L. S., Syapin, P. J., & Pawluczyk, S. (1987). Seizures following triazolam withdrawal despite benzodiazepine treatment. The Journal of clinical psychiatry. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/2889721/

Published on: October 2nd, 2015

Updated on: July 5th, 2021

About Author

Olivier George, Ph.D.

Olivier George is a medical writer and head manager of the rehab center in California. He spends a lot of time in collecting and analyzing the traditional approaches for substance abuse treatment and assessing their efficiency.

Medically Reviewed by

Michael Espelin APRN

8 years of nursing experience in wide variety of behavioral and addition settings that include adult inpatient and outpatient mental health services with substance use disorders, and geriatric long-term care and hospice care.  He has a particular interest in psychopharmacology, nutritional psychiatry, and alternative treatment options involving particular vitamins, dietary supplements, and administering auricular acupuncture.