Halcion is a benzodiazepine drug used to treat anxiety, insomnia, and some symptoms of alcohol withdrawal. It makes users feel relaxed and euphoric, which means it is very effective in treating anxiety and sleep disorders. Because it has a sedative effect, Halcion can help users fall and stay asleep soundly. Pharmacy Times points to the name of the drug for an explanation of its appeal: the Greek myth halcyon is synonymous with a dreamy state of calm.
Use of Halcion
Typically prescribed to treat insomnia, Halcion is intended for short-term use. By targeting neuroreceptors in the brain, the drug slows brain activity to promote sleep. The longer Halcion drug is used, however, the less effective it feels. That’s why the drug is so dangerous; the dosage a person took last week likely won’t be as effective this week. This leads many people to experiment with their dosage and slide from safe use into addiction.
Also known as triazolam, Halcion is a hypnotic drug. Dentists have used it as an anesthetizing agent. Typically prescribed in pill form, most people start off taking 0.25 milligrams at bedtime. Because of its addictive nature, doctors rarely prescribe Halcion for more than a month. Unlike other benzodiazepines like Valium or Xanax, Halcion has an incredibly short half-life. This means the drug is fast-acting, but also leaves the body relatively quickly. It is absorbed quickly by the body, and it is eight times more effective than similar drugs like diazepam.
Even when used as prescribed, Halcion can be habit-forming. Addiction to Halcion can develop in as little as two weeks. Abuse of benzodiazepines like Halcion can damage a person’s mental and physical health, and negatively impact their quality of life and relationships.
A comprehensive rehabilitation program can help a person safely withdraw from Halcion and achieve lasting recovery. Detoxing from Halcion without medical supervision can be extremely dangerous as the drug can cause life-threatening withdrawal systems.
Effects on the Mind and Body
Halcion can have troubling effects on the mind and body. The European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction reports benzodiazepines work by binding tightly to gamma-aminobutyric acid, or GABA, receptors in the brain. This induces intense sedation and hypnosis in the user, but it can also trigger disturbing side effects like memory loss. Because benzodiazepines have a way of disabling the brain to encourage sleep and relaxation, serious cognitive dysfunction can result. A person’s short-term memory can be impacted by Halcion use, making them confused and delirious.
Symptoms of Halcion addiction are not limited to bizarre sleep behavior. Other physical side effects include:
- Nausea and vomiting
- Stomach cramps
Anyone who has ever sleepwalked can attest to how disturbing it can be to act unconsciously. Now imagine driving a car, making dinner, or attending a meeting and having no memory of doing so. Some users experience this strange side effect while taking Halcion, resulting in confusion and emotional distress.
When combined with other drugs or alcohol, Halcion’s effects can become even more dangerous. Users of benzodiazepines frequently use alcohol and other sedatives to calm their anxiety. According to the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence, central nervous system depressants like Valium or Xanax can cause seizures when taken with Halcion.
In addition to the physical symptoms of Halcion use, a person’s behavior can change dramatically when taking the drug. Users report feeling agitated, paranoid, and depressed. Some Halcion users even experience suicidal thoughts.
Long-term use of Halcion has been linked to permanent brain damage. Of course, what is considered long-term is relative, but given how addictive Halcion is, use of the drug for more than two weeks can be considered long-term use. A 2014 study published in the British Medical Journal suggests that use of higher doses of benzodiazepines for just three months can increase the risks of developing Alzheimer’s by 32 percent.
Damage can be done in a matter of days though. According to the Sleep Medical Review Journal, users quickly build up a tolerance to their standard dosage of Halcion. They often find they cannot function normally without the drug. Frustrated by their inability to sleep and overwhelmed by anxiety and negative side effects, some users of Halcion experiment with their dosage. This is a slippery slope – one that often leads to addiction.
Signs of Addiction
People taking Halcion to help them sleep can become dependent on the drug. Soon, they need it to function normally. Halcion is so addictive that doctors rarely prescribe it for longer than 10 days of use. If your loved one has been take Halcion for more than 10 days, it could signal a growing problem. Keep an eye on their behavior if you believe a dependency problem could be arising. Other behavioral indicators of Halcion dependency include:
- Going out of their way to get more Halcion
- Seeming detached or out of touch with reality
- Refusing to go anywhere without Halcion
- Making drug use their first priority
Changes in a person’s health can also indicate they have a growing dependency on Halcion. Halcion addicts are frequently drowsy and breathe much slower than the average person. Their pupils can become dilated and their speech slurred. A lack of coordination can also signal Halcion addiction. Vomiting, too, can be a physical indicator of a problem with benzodiazepines, an analysis in the British Journal of Clinical Pharmacology found.
Treatment for Halcion Addiction
Halcion addiction can be challenging to overcome, but it is frequently treated in rehabilitation centers. Quitting Halcion requires the person to overcome both their physical and psychological addiction to the drug.
Medical detox is required for Halcion users. They should never quit the drug cold turkey. Doctors will often prescribe other benzodiazepines like Valium for a person detoxing from Halcion. According to the Trends in Psychiatry and Psychotherapy journal, long-acting benzodiazepines help to decrease fluctuations in drug concentration in a person’s bloodstream. This helps with withdrawal symptoms. Ultimately, a physician will oversee a tapering down of all benzodiazepine use until the drugs leave the system entirely. This can sometimes take weeks.
Following medical detox, residential or outpatient treatment is critical for a person struggling with Halcion addiction. Treatment centers can provide Cognitive Behavioral Therapy to treat anxiety and address underlying issues related to substance abuse, while 12-Step-based programs can help a person adjust to daily life without the drug. Learning what triggers anxiety and how to cope without turning to addictive substances like Halcion is a key part of the healing process.
Complementary therapies, like art therapy, equine-assisted therapy, and adventure therapy, may also be used to treat Halcion addiction. With hard work and time, clients can return home armed with an arsenal of strategies to combat insomnia and anxiety without turning to benzodiazepines.
A Safe Withdrawal Process
Halcion is a very potent, fast-acting drug, so withdrawal symptoms can be life-threatening in some instances. Without proper care for the person withdrawing, the symptoms can trigger a relapse. Withdrawal symptoms can involve suicidal thoughts, muscle spasms, catatonic episodes and hallucinations. According to the European Journal of Pharmacology, other symptoms include:
- Increased heart rate
Because Halcion has such a short half-life, it leaves the systems fairly quickly. Withdrawal can start within hours of the last dose. Of course, the frequency and length of time taking the drug greatly impacts a person’s withdrawal experience. People taking more than 0.5 mg daily can take a longer time to detox from Halcion, but some can go through the entire withdrawal process in as little as two weeks. Those taking Halcion alongside other benzodiazepines like Valium can expect a longer withdrawal period, since it takes more time for those drugs to leave the system.
When withdrawal symptoms begin, medical attention is needed as quickly as possible. Because the symptoms can be lethal, withdrawal without doctor supervision is incredibly dangerous. Of course, if the person withdrawing from Halcion is dependent on other drugs or alcohol, their physician needs to know. Without medical attention, however, Halcion users risk seizures when withdrawing from the drug.
Medical attention cannot wait until withdrawal has passed. Supervision is critical for a successful withdrawal from Halcion. In medical detox, clients are monitored around the clock, ensuring their safety and comfort. If a client is switched onto a longer-acting benzodiazepine, the total withdrawal process can take much longer – weeks or even months. In these instances, the client may begin the initial detox process in an inpatient setting and then transfer to outpatient care as their benzodiazepine dosage is slowly lowered over time.
Factors to Consider When Seeking Treatment
It is never easy to prioritize one’s health when there are family, career, and financial responsibilities to think about. When money is tight and treatment centers are far from home, it can be challenging to convince a person dependent on Halcion to get help. Unfortunately, however, benzodiazepine addiction doesn’t just go away on its own. The round-the-clock treatment and monitoring offered by rehabilitation centers can foster lasting sobriety. Confronting a Halcion dependency head on is the best strategy.
In many instances, certain mental health disorders co-occur alongside a substance use disorder. In these cases, both disorders must be treated simultaneously to ensure a complete recovery on all fronts.
Families who see Halcion abuse developing in a loved one should take action sooner rather than later. By approaching the Halcion user with facts and solutions – not accusations or threats – loved ones can help the person begin down the road to recovery.