Halcion is the most widely used form of the drug triazolam, a powerful, fast-acting benzodiazepine that is sometimes prescribed for people with severe or chronic insomnia. Because of its addictive nature, triazolam should only be used in moderation for a few days, to avoid the risk of dependency. Anyone showing signs of Halcion addiction should seek evaluation and treatment immediately, since severe medical complications, possibly even a fatal overdose, may result from long-term abuse of this medication.
What Is Halcion Addiction?
Halcion is the brand name for the drug triazolam, a fast-acting prescription sedative from the benzodiazepine class. Like other benzodiazepines, Halcion is a central nervous system depressant, but it has gained a reputation as the most potent drug in its class, producing profound feelings of drowsiness and relaxation that should soon result in sleep.
Because of its strength, Halcion has value as a remedy for severe insomnia and is often prescribed for short-term use (10 days or less) when other cures have failed. But the drug is highly addictive, even more so than some other drugs in the benzodiazepine class, and any type of abuse or overuse of Halcion can quickly lead to physical and psychological dependency.
Benzodiazepine addiction is a dangerous condition, and if left untreated it can wreak havoc in a person’s life. It could even lead to a fatal overdose, and that is another reason why Halcion dependency should be addressed in treatment as soon as its symptoms are evident.
Facts and Statistics
At one time, Halcion and other triazolam-based products were the most widely prescribed sleep medications in the United States. Now, the drug is reserved primarily for those who have insomnia or other sleep-related issues and is usually given as a drug of last resort.
But severe insomnia affects about 10 percent of the adult population, which explains why there are still 1.2 million triazolam prescriptions written every year despite the drug’s advanced addictive qualities. Approximately 500,000 people aged 12 and over will suffer from a sedative use disorder in the United States each year, and Halcion is well-represented in these numbers.
If it is consumed to excess, tolerance for any medication will grow, meaning that users must take more of it to achieve the same effects. This pattern of escalating consumption is what leads to addiction, and it is also what leads to overdose. In 2016, nearly 2,000 people died from the direct effects of a benzodiazepine overdose, and about 9,000 more passed away after mixing benzodiazepines with opioid painkillers or heroin, a hazardous practice started by those who use opioids recreationally.
Symptoms and Diagnosis of Halcion Addiction
Most people who take Halcion will consume it an hour or two before going to bed. But if they begin taking Halcion earlier and in heavier amounts, that is a sign of growing tolerance and a clear indicator of addiction.
Halcion dependency can develop in as little as two weeks, which is why users should proceed with extreme caution. The signs and symptoms of Halcion abuse and addiction may include:
- Excessive drowsiness, often during the daytime
- Mental confusion and memory problems
- Frequent dizziness or lightheadedness
- Blurred vision
- Slurred speech
- Low blood pressure and heart rate
- Poor equilibrium
- Physical weakness and a lack of endurance
- Breathing problems
- Overdosing on Halcion, either alone or in combination with other drugs
In their desperation to secure more supplies of the drug, people addicted to Halcion may visit multiple doctors seeking prescriptions for triazolam products, make illegal purchases on the black market, or even steal the drug (or the money to buy it) from friends and family. Often this behavior is entirely out of character, which reveals the intensity of a Halcion addiction.
Diagnosing Halcion Addiction
For Halcion addiction to be diagnosed, two or more of the following symptoms must be reported to physicians or addiction specialists during an evaluation:
- Growing tolerance for the drug, marked by escalating consumption
- Strong Halcion cravings
- Withdrawal symptoms that accompany attempts to reduce dosage size or quit using the drug
- All attempts to stop taking Halcion have failed
- The drug is routinely consumed more frequently or in larger dosages than planned
- Securing more supplies of Halcion, using it, and recovering from its effects have become a daily occupation
- Loss or interest in hobbies or other enjoyable pursuits, directly linked to drug abuse
- Family, home, and work responsibilities are neglected as a consequence of Halcion abuse
- Abuse of Halcion is implicated in the development of serious physical or mental health problems
- Interpersonal conflicts are traceable to Halcion abuse, which continues despite these conflicts
- Halcion use leads to reckless or dangerous behavior, such as driving while intoxicated or getting involved in public altercations
If six or more of these symptoms are reported, it means a severe drug dependency has developed and that seeking help is essential.
Benzodiazepines can cause a fatal overdose when used alone. But when used in combination with other substances that slow central nervous system activity, specifically with alcohol or opioids, severe respiratory depression can occur, and that is what kills most people who overdose after taking benzodiazepine medications.
When someone has overdosed on Halcion, or a mixture of drugs that includes this medication, they will become incoherent and unresponsive in short order. They will likely struggle to remain conscious, as their heart rate plummets and their breathing becomes increasingly shallow.
These symptoms will only worsen as time passes, especially if Halcion has been mixed with opioids or alcohol. When someone has overdosed on a powerful drug like Halcion emergency intervention is required, and any delay in seeking treatment could prove deadly.
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Halcion Addiction Causes and Risk Factors
Perhaps the biggest risk factor for Halcion addiction, and benzodiazepine dependency in general, is self-medicating behavior. People who try to treat sleeping problems or struggles with anxiety by self-administering drugs like Halcion are playing with fire, since they won’t know how to manage dosages correctly. Medical supervision is essential when prescription medications are involved, and without that guidance terrible mistakes are likely to occur.
In general, people who’ve had previous troubles with substance abuse are also vulnerable to Halcion addiction. It is important that individuals who’ve been treated for drug or alcohol dependency in the past be honest and straightforward when consulting with physicians about other health problems, so these medical professionals can take this into account when deciding what medications to prescribe—or not prescribe, as the case may be.
It is also important for patients to disclose their family history of substance abuse, since this too can be a predictor of future difficulties with addictive medications.
The addictive nature of medications like Halcion is unquestioned, and even people with legitimate medical issues who seem at low risk for drug use disorders may become dependent if they violate the terms of their initial prescription.
Withdrawal and Detox
Halcion dependency must be broken carefully and progressively to guarantee safety. Consequently, anyone who has been diagnosed with an addiction to this medication should begin their recovery in medically-supervised detox, where their health can be monitored and their withdrawal symptoms managed on a 24-hour basis by trained specialists and other healthcare professionals.
Most high-quality addiction treatment centers now offer medical detox services, and programs will generally last from one-to-two weeks as the patient makes the gradual transition to sobriety.
Halcion can cause powerful withdrawal symptoms when use is halted, including:
- Agitation and anxiety
- Panic attacks
- Mental confusion and memory problems
- Sudden mood swings
- Vertigo or lightheadedness
- Headaches and muscular pain
- Heavy sweating
- Shaking or tremors
- Sleep disturbances
- Hallucinations or delirium
The last two symptoms are possible consequences if benzodiazepine use is halted abruptly, but they can be avoided if the patient remains under medical care while gradually reducing the amount of Halcion they’re taking. This is the recommended method for overcoming the symptoms of Halcion withdrawal, which has the potential to cause relapse if not managed smartly and safely.
Many people with Halcion addiction are also dependent on other drugs, and co-occurring opioid addiction is especially common. People who consume both types of prescription drugs simultaneously may be self-medicating for pain, anxiety, or insomnia, but research suggests that the majority of those who combine benzodiazepines with opioids are recreational users searching for enhanced euphoric effects.
In any event, people who develop substance abuse disorders often end up mixing multiple drugs, and benzodiazepine dependency is often accompanied by addictions to other intoxicants, including alcohol and those of the illicit variety.
Since Halcion is prescribed for insomnia, it is not surprising to discover that most of the mental health conditions comorbid with Halcion addiction produce sleeplessness as a side effect. Major depression, for example, is frequently associated with sleeping problems, as are the anxiety disorders that often plague people addicted to central nervous system suppressants.
In fact, some types of benzodiazepines are prescribed for anxiety problems, and there is even one—alprazolam, sold primarily under the brand name Xanax—that is sometimes recommended as a remedy for co-occurring anxiety and depression.
Those who choose to self-medicate for anxiety and/or depression might try Halcion because of its reputation for potency, thinking it will help them even more than Xanax. But triazolam is not suitable for these conditions, and using it for this purpose can quickly lead to addiction.
Treatment and Prognosis for Halcion Addiction
Halcion dependency should be viewed as a medical emergency, and anyone who has been diagnosed with this condition should enter a drug and alcohol treatment program immediately. Inpatient and outpatient options will both be available, along with dual diagnosis plans for those with a co-occurring mental health disorder, making treatment suitable for everyone regardless of their personal situation or life responsibilities.
Medically-supervised detox will be the first stop on the road to recovery, and once withdrawal symptoms are stabilized the patient will be ready to begin therapy. Patients in rehab for Halcion addiction will meet with therapists during individual sessions but will also have opportunities to participate in group therapy and family therapy programs as they work through their problems and develop strategies to resist the temptation to self-medicate in the future.
As a supplement to traditional psychotherapy, many treatment plans include special classes that focus on relapse prevention and healthier living. Holistic healing practices can be highly beneficial as well, and most treatment facilities offer instruction in meditation, yoga, biofeedback, art and music therapy, equine therapy, and other mind-body healing methods with a proven track record of success.
Benzodiazepine addictions are notoriously difficult to overcome because of the strong cravings and withdrawal symptoms they create. Nevertheless, with detox and treatment those who are addicted to Halcion can break the powerful hold the drug has gained over their lives, and with continued diligence in aftercare therapy and beyond they can resist the temptation to begin using Halcion again when challenges or difficulties are encountered.