Halcion Addiction Rehab & Detox Treatment Options

Last updated on November 4th, 2019

An inability to achieve adequate rest at night creates huge quality of life issues for many people. Halcion is one medication prescribed to bring some relief to those struggling with sleep issues.1 However, though the substance may be helpful in the short-term, problems may arise if use continues beyond that.1

Sustained Halcion use may bring about a physiological dependence and subsequent withdrawal syndrome that, for some, may be very serious.2,3 Addiction development is a concern with Halcion and similar drugs. Those who misuse Halcion are at risk of developing a sedative use disorder. Halcion dependence is difficult to overcome, and many people require help in overcoming their addiction. With Halcion and other drugs in its class, professional intervention is especially important because of the medical risks involved with detox.3


What to Know About Halcion

Man sitting on bedside taking pills at nightHalcion, also referred to by its generic name, triazolam, is part of a class of drugs called benzodiazepines. This class includes medications such as Xanax, Ativan, and Valium.4 Halcion is a short-acting benzodiazepine whose effects peak about 2 hours after it is taken.1 The drug is indicated for use in managing insomnia.

All benzodiazepines trigger similar reactions in the body through their effects on the gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) neurotransmitter system.2 The benzodiazepine-triggered increase in GABA activity is responsible for the drug’s sedating effects, causing users to experience a sense of relaxation and/or sleepiness.2 Halcion and other benzodiazepines may be categorized as central nervous system (CNS) depressants because they inhibit normal levels of activity within the brain.2

Benzodiazepines are commonly abused, and Halcion is no exception. Due to the potential for abuse and dependence, it is classified as a Schedule IV controlled substance.1 Abuse of Halcion may entail:2

  • Consuming Halcion without a prescription.
  • Taking Halcion more often or in higher doses than your prescription dictates.
  • Mixing Halcion with other substances like alcohol or opioids to enhance the effects.
  • Using Halcion to get high.

The high caused by Halcion is subjectively similar to alcohol intoxication with some short-lived euphoria and, frequently, undesirable side effects like:5

  • Poor attention.
  • Slurred speech.
  • Reckless behavior.
  • Mood changes.
  • Impaired judgment.
  • Slowed reflexes.
  • Poor coordination.
  • Difficulty walking.
  • “Blackouts,” or temporary memory loss.

Halcion, like other benzodiazepines, may be diverted and used illicitly by those seeking it for its depressant effects. People buying and selling benzodiazepines like Halcion on the street may use slang terms to refer to them, such as:4

  • Benzos.
  • Tranks (short for tranquilizers).
  • Downers.
  • Nerve pills.

Potential Adverse Effects

The occurrence of adverse effects is possible with any medication and not uncommon with psychoactive drugs like benzodiazepines. The most common short-term side effects of Halcion include: 1

  • Drowsiness.
  • Dizziness.
  • Headaches.
  • Lightheadedness.
  • Impaired coordination.
  • Increased anxiety/nervousness.
  • Nausea.
  • Vomiting.

Someone using Halcion might also display what are known as “complex behaviors”, or actions they complete while not fully awake. Examples include:1

  • Sleep-driving.
  • Sleep-walking.
  • Cooking and eating food.
  • Making phone calls.
  • Having sex.

In the morning, the person will have no recollection of the behaviors performed. 1 Complex behaviors may be seen with normal Halcion dosing, but their likelihood increases when you take more than prescribed, combine it with alcohol, or mix it with other drugs that depress the central nervous system. 1

Sad woman laying in bed

Misuse of Halcion increases your risk of experiencing more distressing issues. In addition to the effects listed above, you might suffer from:4

Halcion is not meant for long-term use. In fact, its use is usually limited to about 7–10 days.1 The drug fact sheet states that any use of Halcion for more than 3 weeks requires a complete patient reevaluation, illustrating the high level of concern over the prolonged use of this substance.1

Should someone use Halcion over an extended period, they may become dependent on it. Dependence develops as the body adapts to the drug. Someone who develops Halcion dependence will eventually require the drug to feel well and avoid withdrawal.2 Some people with significantly severe Halcion dependence may experience the onset of certain withdrawal symptoms in between scheduled doses, as it is quite a short-acting medication. Consistent use may also lead to:1

  • Continued or worsening sleep problems. People often feel increased wakefulness during the last part of the night.
  • Increased daytime anxiety.

The complex, compulsive behaviors of addiction may also develop in people who consistently misuse this medication. Addiction is the intense need to keep using Halcion no matter what unwelcome outcomes are possible.2 Once addicted, a person may:

  • Spend excess money on the drug and experience resulting financial hardship.
  • Forge prescriptions or steal the drug, risking legal repercussions.
  • Get into a wreck while driving under the influence.
  • Experience changing moods and anxiety.
  • Suffer the severe health consequences of overdose, including death.

Overdose

Someone overdosing on Halcion may appear extremely sedated and confused. They may become severely uncoordinated—with a stumbling gait and slurred speech.1 Unaddressed, a Halcion overdose can lead to: 1

  • Coma.
  • Difficulty breathing.
  • Seizures.

Halcion addiction is dangerous. Compulsive misuse of the drug can easily lead to overdose because a toxic dose (2 mg) is only 4x that of the therapeutic dose (0.5 mg), meaning it could only take 4 tablets to overdose. 1 The risk of overdose and the severity are greatly increased when Halcion is combined with alcohol or other substances that slow breathing.1

If you think you or someone you know may be overdosing on Halcion, it is essential to contact emergency services as quickly as possible. Fast action, including the administration of an overdose reversal drug called flumazenil, can minimize the harm caused by Halcion.1

How Do I Know if I’m Addicted?

If you find yourself feeling sedated constantly, forgetting important events, and experiencing unexplained emotional changes, you might need help.

Addiction often begins with imperceptible changes before slowly growing into an all-encompassing disorder. Some signs of a Halcion addiction—sometimes called a sedative use disorder—include:6

  • Spending a lot of time getting, using, and recovering from Halcion.
  • Prioritizing Halcion use over engaging in healthy social activities.
  • Craving more and more Halcion.
  • Making multiple attempts to cut back or end use without success.
  • Failing to meet responsibilities and expectations at home, work, and school.
  • Experiencing new conflicts with relationships or a drastic change in your social group.
  • Seeking out and using Halcion despite negative repercussions.

If you find yourself feeling sedated constantly, forgetting important events, and experiencing unexplained emotional changes, you might need help.

Can I Detox on My Own?

The act of ridding your body of a toxin is called detoxification (detox). Detox may seem like a straightforward process in that it requires someone to merely stop taking the abused substance. In the case of Halcion and other benzodiazepines, however, this may be easier said than done.

Though people may be tempted to avoid professional treatment and attempt to detox themselves at home, this could create a very dangerous scenario when it comes to Halcion. The withdrawal syndrome associated with this drug can be quite severe and, in some cases, deadly. 1 You might experience:6

Man struggling with insomnia
  • Insomnia.
  • Sweating.
  • Quickened pulse.
  • Shaky hands.
  • Nausea and vomiting.
  • Dysphoric mood.
  • Sped-up or jerky movements.
  • Hallucinations.

Grand mal seizures represent the most dangerous Halcion withdrawal symptom. About 30% of people that attempt at-home detox will experience a seizure during their withdrawal.6 It is impossible to know if you’ll be among this 30%, making attempts at detoxing alone at home unreasonably risky.

Medical Detox

You don’t have to confront the discomfort and potential danger of Halcion withdrawal alone. Medical detox programs can provide the supervision and care you need during the tenuous acute withdrawal period.3 Once you decide to quit Halcion, don’t hesitate to get into a program, because symptoms can begin just hours after the last time you used.6

Professional detox services may be available in a number of settings, ranging from inpatient hospitals to doctor’s offices. 3 The care you receive will be tailored to your individual condition and take into account factors like: 3

  • The amount and frequency of Halcion dosing.
  • Other substance use.
  • Previous detox experiences.
  • Medical and mental health complications.

What Do I Do After Detox?

No matter the duration and process of detox, you will require additional professional addiction treatment to address the driving forces behind your Halcion abuse.7 Detox addresses only the physiological dependence and does not enable you to learn new ways of thinking and coping in order to live in recovery.

Outpatient and residential programs are two options for you after you make it through the withdrawal period.7 Outpatient care may be an appropriate level of treatment for people with less severe addictions and more stable home environments. Outpatient treatments allow you to visit the treatment center during the day for a set amount of time and return home, which permits you to maintain employment and other responsibilities. 7 Outpatient treatment can involve individual, group, and family sessions and varies from many hours of treatment each week to only one hour each month.

Inpatient/residential options are better suited for those with more severe addictions who need the continuous support that these programs provide. Inpatient/residential treatments are highly structured and require you to live at the center for the duration of your treatment. 7 These can last for just a few days up to a year depending on your needs and the program type.

For those suffering from a mental health disorder while also struggling with addiction, there are programs that incorporate mental health treatment. Dual diagnosis programs make sure to address both conditions because, left unmanaged, co-occurring issues can hinder the course of recovery. 7

Managing Insomnia Without Halcion

Those in recovery from addiction to Halcion may find it difficult to sleep due to rebound insomnia, anxiety, or other factors. 1 Rather than resorting to another potentially addictive substance, it might be helpful to explore alternatives. Of course, any treatment for insomnia should be undertaken only under the guidance of your doctor.

Woman calmly sleeping in bedYou can first try scheduling a complete physical and mental health evaluation to identify all possible causes of your poor sleep. In the meantime, you can try to better your sleep through sleep hygiene. This refers to a group of behavioral changes that help to boost your ability to fall asleep and stay asleep.

Getting a Good Night’s Sleep Naturally

Good sleep habits include:8

  • Staying consistent. By going to bed and waking up at the same time each day, you train your body when to expect sleep.
  • Creating a peaceful environment. Your bedroom should be calm, cool, dark, comfortable, and very relaxing. Work to adjust your sleeping space if it does not fit these criteria.
  • Limiting distractions. Computers, TVs, and phones are distractions that will disrupt your ability to sleep. Avoid them for a period before you plan to go to bed.
  • Adjusting what you put in your body. Caffeine, alcohol, and large meals will disrupt your ability to get lasting, restful sleep. It is best to minimize these before bed.
  • Increasing your output. Boosting your amount of exercise will help you to burn off excess energy and prepare your body for sleep. Experiment with different exercises at different times of day.

Some complementary and integrative health practices may be helpful for treating insomnia as well. They include:9

  • Relaxation techniques.
  • Mindfulness-based stress reduction/ meditation.
  • Yoga.
  • Hypnotherapy.
  • Massage therapy.
  • Aromatherapy.

Your doctor may also work with you to develop new strategies for improving your sleep, including recommending certain herbs like chamomile.

If you or someone you care about is experiencing issues linked to Halcion, take steps to get help quickly. Addiction and dependence are precarious conditions, but they can be treated effectively with professional addiction services.


References

  1. DailyMed: U.S. National Library of Medicine. (2017). Halcion.
  2. National Institute on Drug Abuse for Teens. (2016). Prescription Depressants.
  3. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. (2015). Detoxification and Substance Abuse Treatment.
  4. Drug Enforcement Administration. (2013). Benzodiazepines.
  5. Weaver, M. F. (2015). Prescription Sedative Misuse and AbuseThe Yale Journal of Biology and Medicine88(3), 247–256.
  6. American Psychiatric Association. (2013). Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders (5th ed.). Arlington, VA: American Psychiatric Publishing.
  7. National Institute on Drug Abuse. (2012). Principles of Drug Addiction Treatment: A Research-Based Guide.
  8. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2016). Tips for Better Sleep.
  9. National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health. (2016). Sleep Disorders: In Depth.
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