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Halcion Withdrawal Symptoms, Signs, and Detoxification

Prescription medications are extremely helpful in the management of many physical and mental health conditions, but unfortunately some medications can cause more harm than good when they aren't taken exactly as prescribed.1 Using a drug like Halcion can result in drowsiness, dizziness, and nausea, and it is associated with risks such as dependence and addiction. 2

For those who are dependent on Halcion who are looking to quit, there are professional medical detox programs. The risks of withdrawal from this drug can be significant; seizures may arise when Halcion use is suddenly discontinued.2 Attempting to detox alone is not safe.

What Is Halcion (triazolam)?

Prescription bottle of pillsHalcion is a brand name for triazolam, a prescription medication that belongs to a group of psychoactive drugs called benzodiazepines.Like other benzodiazepines, Halcion acts directly on the central nervous system by disrupting the normal activity of a brain chemical called gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA).1 The change in GABA results in effects like relaxation, calm, and sleepiness.3 Halcion, in particular, is indicated for the treatment of insomnia. 2 When used as directed, it may decrease instances of nocturnal waking and improve the overall quality of sleep.

Halcion can be very helpful in the short term, but medical professionals are advised to prescribe this drug only for a period of between 7 and 10 days. 2 Someone who has been taking Halcion for more than 2 weeks should be reevaluated by their physician, who will assess the drug’s benefits compared to the risks.2

Someone using Halcion consistently for just a few weeks may already notice the onset of:2

Someone who uses Halcion as prescribed for as little as 2 weeks may develop some degree of tolerance and dependence.2 And though tolerance and dependence may be common, somewhat expected physiological reactions to any benzodiazepine use, misuse or abuse of a drug like Halcion may hasten the development of both.

Is Halcion Addictive?

Halcion has the potential to be addictive. Signs and symptoms of a Halcion addiction may include:3

  • The use of Halcion in larger amounts and for longer periods of time than intended.
  • An inability to reduce or end use.
  • An increased amount of time spent getting, using, and recovering from Halcion.
  • Strong cravings to use the drug when none is available.
  • Problems functioning at home, work, and school.
  • Changes in the person’s social or recreational activities.
  • Continued Halcion use even though it will likely damage the individual’s mental, physical, or social health.

What Are the Withdrawal Symptoms?

Halcion temporarily disrupts normal brain chemistry, and when used consistently, the brain attempts to maintain equilibrium by adjusting the levels of GABA and other neurotransmitters it produces.4 At this point, the brain needs Halcion for stability. Without Halcion, a dependent person will soon go into acute withdrawal.

Halcion withdrawal symptoms include:2

  • Abdominal cramps.
  • Muscle spasms.
  • Sweating.
  • Tremors.
  • Vomiting.
  • Convulsions.

Halcion withdrawal symptoms are not limited to physical distress. The mental health effects of Halcion withdrawal include:5

  • More frequent and intense anxiety.
  • Depression.
  • Hallucinations.
  • Delusions.

Halcion withdrawal symptoms can range from mildly uncomfortable to very dangerous. Physically, the risk of grand mal seizures poses the greatest danger during the withdrawal process. 5 Hallucination, delusion, and depression from withdrawal may result in aggression or injury.

Discontinuation of Halcion after consistent use may also result in rebound insomnia. Rebound insomnia is lower quality and quantity of sleep following the last dose of Halcion as compared to the quality of sleep before taking Halcion.2

How Long Do Symptoms Last?

Woman sitting on couch experiencing withdrawal symptomsThe time course for the onset and persistence of withdrawal symptoms is influenced by a drug's half-life, or how long it takes to leave the body. Halcion, in particular, has a shorter half-life than many other benzodiazepines.

In people with significant Halcion dependence, withdrawal symptoms may develop shortly after the last dose,2 usually within 6-8 hours after the drug’s effect starts to fade.5 Acute withdrawal will likely last for about 5 days, with the most severe symptoms often occurring during the second day.5

Some symptoms will last beyond this acute timeline. These persisting symptoms are called post-acute withdrawal symptoms (PAWS).1 These symptoms, which include the following, can last for months after the last use before eventually reducing in intensity:6

  • Depression with agitation.
  • Anxiety and panic.
  • Obsessive-compulsive thoughts and actions.

What Factors Affect Withdrawal?

Though all benzodiazepines have similar withdrawal symptoms, their intensity, presentation, and duration will vary based on numerous factors like:1

What Is the Safest Way to Detox?

The symptoms of Halcion withdrawal may be severe, but they can be managed well in a professional detox setting where a team of medical professionals employ a set of treatments to help ensure the safety and comfort of the individual.7 Detox can take place in a variety of inpatient and outpatient settings based on the person's needs, risks, and goals:7

  • Inpatient options will be ideal for people with severe patterns of abuse—those who have been taking large amounts of the drug more frequently than indicated, those with significant physical dependence, and those who have experienced previous difficult or complicated withdrawals.
  • Outpatient options will be more appropriate for people who have fewer risk factors for experiencing serious withdrawal and who have been using the medication as prescribed.7 This option should only be utilized after a thorough evaluation and endorsement from a physician or other addiction treatment professional.

No matter the setting, Halcion detoxification must be done under the close supervision of a medical professional. Safe and controlled options for detox from Halcion include:2,7

  • Stopping all Halcion use while administering other medications to reduce the severity of withdrawal symptoms as they present. This option is usually reserved for situations where the current dose is very low or treatment time is limited.
  • Staying on the drug and tapering the Halcion dose slowly over time. During a taper, the dose is gradually lowered in small increments to avoid serious withdrawal symptoms until eventually no more Halcion is given.
  • Switching to another medication and tapering its dose. The substituted medication can be a benzodiazepine or another CNS depressant that produces similar effects but has a longer half-life, such as diazepam or chlordiazepoxide. The doctor can then conduct a controlled taper of the substituted drug until no medication is used at all.

With a tapering schedule, the individual will usually stay on each dose for between 4 and 7 days before the next reduction, so this type of detox can take some time.1

Are There Any Home Remedies for Getting Clean Safely?

Seeking any sort of natural or home remedy treatment is not recommended for Halcion withdrawal. While many people may want to detox at home, it is safest to seek professional assistance. 7 Unsupervised withdrawal for chronic or high-dose users can be quite risky. Side effects of detoxing from Halcion may include serious physical and psychological issues, and it is best that a patient is under the care of someone equipped to handle them.

Do I Need Rehab?

doctor consoles female patient withdrawaling from drugDependence that resulted from using Halcion as directed may be fully managed with a detox-only approach, but chronic, compulsive Halcion users may require a more thorough course of treatment, such as detox followed by a period of rehabilitation.1

Detox alone is not enough to establish a foundation for recovery from addiction.1 The psychological aspects of Halcion abuse must be addressed through further therapy and counseling. An essential part of the detox is linking the client to additional services—the detox provider can recommend residential treatment or inpatient rehabilitation after the detox process.7

Recovery efforts don't end when rehab ends.

Some rehab programs even incorporate medical detox, so, in these cases, the transition to the therapeutic part of the treatment will be extremely smooth and won't involve moving facilities.

Like detox, rehab can occur in either an inpatient or outpatient environment:

  • Residential/inpatient rehab is indicated for patients with severe addictions, who have many environmental stressors, and/or who have existing physical and psychological illnesses.1 Inpatient rehabs offer around-the-clock support and structure from trained staff with many therapeutic activities available.1
  • Outpatient addiction treatment may be attended after a period of residential treatment or immediately following detox. Where residential treatment options require the individual to live at the rehab center, outpatient services allow the person to attend treatment for part of the day before returning to their home, work, or school. Outpatient treatment programs are ideal for someone thriving in sobriety or someone with a great deal of support at home.1

Recovery efforts don't end when rehab ends. A continued focus on sobriety can be maintained through attending support groups, keeping up with therapy, and potentially moving to a sober living home.

How Can I Get Sleep without Halcion?

If you suffer from continued insomnia or experience rebound insomnia following discontinuation of Halcion, you may be frustrated, but there is hope. By practicing what is known as good sleep hygiene, you can develop healthy habits and routines that make restful sleep possible.

Sleep hygiene does not mean you have to make drastic changes to your lifestyle. It only requires you to make a series of small changes that produce large effects.

Good Sleep Hygiene

Rules for good sleep hygiene include:9

  • Add some exercise. Physical activity during the day helps to regulate your ability to sleep at night. You won’t have to run a marathon just to get some sleep. You only need to do something within your ability like going for a brisk walk. Vary the time of day and the type of activity to see which times of the day and which activities promote the best sleep.
  • Modify your diet. What are you consuming in the hours before bedtime? If your answer is caffeinated drinks, large meals, or alcohol, you may want to make some changes. Caffeine in soda, coffee, and tea will keep you awake, while large meals can also disrupt your normal sleep patterns. Alcohol might help you fall asleep, but the quality of the sleep you get is unlikely to be great.
  • Set your scene. Your bedroom must be conducive to sleep. If it is not, sleep may be elusive. Make your bedroom a comfortable escape by ensuring it is dark, cool, and quiet. Soft sheets and fragrance diffusers can improve the setting.
  • Remove the screens. Being on your phone, tablet, or laptop in bed hinders your sleep, and so does watching TV. Falling asleep with the TV on is a bad habit because of the disruptive light and sounds. Stick to only reading material like books and magazines in bed.
  • Staying consistent. None of the above changes matter if they aren't consistent. Pick changes that make sense and follow through for a period of 2 weeks. If better sleep does not come, change one aspect of your routine, and try again. The right combination exists.

Some people incorporate complementary and alternative measures into their sleep hygiene regimen like:2

  • Mindfulness meditation for stress reduction.
  • Yoga.
  • Hypnotherapy
  • Massage therapy.
  • Acupuncture.
  • Aromatherapy.

Be sure to consult with an expert about which options are best for you and your sleep goals. You may want to inquire about anxiety as well. People with preexisting anxiety conditions can suffer from rebound anxiety after withdrawal from Halcion.3 Your doctor can discuss with you nonaddictive medications or other safe approaches to managing anxiety.

Halcion Information at a Glance 2,3
Medication Name, CostsClass of Medicine
Generic Name: Triazolam
Brand Name: Halcion
Cost/Price: Varies
Function or Use: Insomnia
Class: Benzodiazepines
Duration of Action: 1.5 to 5.5 hours
Form, Intake and DosageInteractions and Complications
Drug Forms: Tablet
Administration Routes: Orally ingested
Dosage: Varies but usually between .125 mg- .5 mg
Overdose: Noted after 2 mg
Alcohol Interaction: Alcohol may increase the negative side effects of Halcion.
Prescription Medications: Please speak to a physician before mixing any medications with Halcion. Opioids may result in profound sedation, coma or death.
Contraindications: History of depression, elderly, pregnancy, history of alcohol or drug abuse
Effects and Adverse ReactionsSubstance Abuse
Short-Term: Dizziness, drowsiness, lightheadedness, nausea
Long-Term: Depression, visual disturbances, amnesia, paranoia
Risk of Substance Abuse: Moderate
Signs of Abuse: Mood changes, paranoia, aggression, odd sleeping patterns
Dependence and Addiction IssuesWithdrawal
Physical Dependence: May occur with regular use after as little as 1-2 weeks
Addiction: Risk increases with abuse
Withdrawal Syndrome Onset: Usually within 12 hours from the last dose
Withdrawal Symptoms: Insomnia, anxiety, panic, tremors, seizures
Legal Schedules and Ratings
Controlled Substances Act Rating: Schedule IV

References

  1. National Institute on Drug Abuse. (2018). Principles of Drug Addiction Treatment: A Research-Based Guide.
  2. DailyMed: U.S. National Library of Medicine. (2017). Halcion.
  3. Drug Enforcement Administration. (2013). Benzodiazepines.
  4. Medscape. (2017). Withdrawal Syndromes.
  5. American Psychiatric Association. (2013). Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders (5th ed.). Arlington, VA: American Psychiatric Publishing.
  6. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. (2010). Protracted Withdrawal.
  7. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. (2015). Detoxification and Substance Abuse Treatment.
  8. World Health Organization. (2009). Clinical Guidelines for Withdrawal Management and Treatment of Drug Dependence in Closed Setting.
  9. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2016). Tips for Better Sleep.
  10. National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health. (2016). Sleep Disorders: In Depth.