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Halcion Addiction

Drugs like Halcion were made to treat the various sleep disorders affecting people in the U.S. and abroad. In the United States alone, however, more than 70 million people struggle with a debilitating sleep disorder. The most common of these disorders is insomnia. While it affects some people only occasionally, some chronic sufferers seldom get the sleep they need.

Sleep is an essential part of living, and without it, we risk falling victim to illnesses and struggle to manage our lives. It was important to bring medications like Halcion to the market for these reasons.

A lack of sleep will cause daytime sleepiness, fatigue, and trouble concentrating. Even worse, it can affect a person’s sex life by decreasing their libido. Insomnia consists of unrefreshing sleep or waking up too early and being unable to go back sleep. On top of the physical symptoms listed above, this can also lead to car accidents or getting hurt on the job. 

This is a disorder that can occur on its own or because of a psychiatric condition, but it is not something that should be taken lightly. It can also come and go, which stress can trigger and exaggerate. The widespread nature of the issue makes it important for researchers to develop medications that can help someone take back their lives.

The problem with drugs like Halcion, however, is that continued use can make the person taking it to forget how to fall asleep on their own. It’s much easier to reach over and grab a magical pill that will whisk you off into a dream state rather than having you count sheep all night. 

Benzodiazepines were meant to be a useful solution to find relief, but over time, their addictive nature was realized. Typically, they’re not prescribed for any longer than two weeks to avoid becoming dependent, but sleep disorders are not often cured in that short of time. This leads to continued use to treat this ailment.

Even someone who uses Halcion innocently while taking the drug as prescribed is at risk of becoming addicted. Benzodiazepine dependence can occur in as little as two weeks, and those taking it sometimes just have no idea how to stop taking it. 

Once you’ve found a cure-all for a condition that gave you no rest, how is it that you stop? The first step is to be aware of the signs of Halcion addiction to understand if you’re developing a substance use disorder and see what your options are.

How Does Halcion Work?

Halcion, generically known as triazolam, is a fast-acting and potent benzodiazepine that is used to treat moderate-to-severe sleep disorders. While its characteristics are similar to the more popular benzodiazepines like Xanax, it is not used to treat anxiety disorders. 

This is because of its short half-life and fast-acting ability that the powerful drug boasts. It is routinely used to induce sleep before minor medical procedures under a doctor’s supervision.

Halcion works in a fashion you’d expect from benzodiazepines in that it targets GABA receptors. GABA, which is chemically known as gamma-Aminobutyric acid, is a natural chemical produced in the brain that reduces neuron activity and blocks nerve impulses for anxiety, stress, or fear. 

What Halcion does is increase the production of GABA within the brain that will increase a sleepy feeling and calmness in the user. As mentioned earlier, it is a fast-acting drug that can net results in as little as 10 minutes.

The concern with drugs like Halcion is that when used in excess, the body will stop producing its own GABA. Instead, it will become dependent on foreign substances to continue production. Suddenly stopping benzodiazepine use can have dire consequences. 

What Are the Signs of Halcion Addiction?

To intervene in drug addiction, you must be aware of the signs. In the earlier stages, the ability to point out a substance use disorder can be tough even when you familiarize yourself with the signs. The early stages of addiction can see someone still functioning in their roles of society while fulfilling all obligations, but over time, this can slowly start shifting. 

The signs will become more evident, and the person using Halcion will begin seeing their lives revolve around obtaining the drug. It is imperative to understand the symptoms as early detection can save someone from overdose or death.

Being addicted to Halcion is similar to what you’d find with other benzodiazepines, but it is slightly different based on its fast-acting properties and strength.

Someone abusing Halcion can display signs such as:

  • Extreme and constant drowsiness
  • Impaired coordination
  • Dilated pupils
  • Anxiety
  • Insomnia
  • Stomach cramps
  • Frequent periods of nausea and vomiting
  • Hallucinations

Developing a dependence on Halcion can occur quickly, and it can be a fast track to addiction. Studies have highlighted that addiction can occur in as little as two weeks. This is why doctors are apprehensive about prescribing the drug long-term. This makes Halcion unique compared to other benzos, and eventually, it can become the sole focus in the user’s life despite the consequences.

Addiction is a chronic and progressive disease that can lead to homelessness and death. It is defined as the inability to consistently abstain from addictive substances. It also involves impaired behavior control, drug cravings, diminished recognition of significant problems with one’s behaviors and interpersonal relationships, and a dysfunctional emotional response. 

If you’ve become increasingly concerned about you or a loved one developing an addiction to Halcion, symptoms to keep a close eye on include:

  • An increased Halcion tolerance
  • “Doctor shopping”
  • Taking Halcion longer or more often, or in larger doses than prescribed
  • Hiding use of Halcion
  • Lying about the use of Halcion
  • Stealing
  • Feeling unable to function without Halcion
  • Decreased productivity at work or school
  • Unable to quit the drug despite many attempts

If you or a loved one shows any of these behaviors, it could mean addiction is forming. Speaking with an addiction specialist and seeking treatment are your best options at this point. 

What Is Involved in Halcion Addiction Treatment?

Addiction to any benzo can present a unique set of dangers. The process of quitting on your own is a dangerous practice known as the “cold turkey” method, and it’s something that should never be done on your own. If someone has reached the point of wanting to stop, they need to do it safely at a professional center and not risk harming themselves. 

Halcion withdrawal symptoms can range from uncomfortable feelings of anxiety and insomnia to causing seizures or a severe disorder called delirium tremens.

For this reason, addiction specialists recommend undergoing medical detoxification, the first stage in the continuum of care. In a reputable facility, the client will go through an assessment upon entry to determine if underlying problems are contributing to their addiction. 

This could mean a dual diagnosis or treating other medical problems. Through this process, the client will live on-site for three-to-seven days as they detox the foreign and addictive substances from their body. They will be supervised 24 hours a day to mitigate any risks and receive medications to ease withdrawal symptoms if needed.

Depending on various factors, the client will then be placed in the next level of care. This could be a residential treatment center. In this setting, clients live on-site anywhere from 30 to 90 days and participate in therapies that are designed to address the root of their addiction. This will also allow them to work on themselves and understand what made them start using in the first place. 

If the specialists see fit, this could mean being placed in an outpatient treatment center. The primary difference is that the client can leave the facility upon completion of therapies and return to the treatment facility for a specified period. They will be required to submit to routine drug tests as well. The therapy sessions will be the same as someone who receives them in a residential program, but this is better for someone trying to balance work and school while getting treatment.

How Dangerous is Halcion?

Halcion is a benzodiazepine prescription that can be dangerous when it’s taken in high doses and during withdrawal. As a depressant, Halcion can slow down your nervous system, which helps it to achieve its calming effects. 

However, in high doses, it can start to slow down important nervous system functions like your heart rate and your breathing. During an overdose, Halcion can cause you to lose consciousness, lose motor control, and it can slow down the autonomic nervous system functions like your heart rate. The most dangerous symptoms are respiratory depression, which can cause your breathing to slow or stop, causing hypoxia, brain damage, or death.

A Halcion overdose isn’t common which normal therapeutic use. If the drug is abused or mixed with other drugs, an overdose may be more likely. Mixing Halcion with other benzodiazepines, opioids, barbiturates, or other sleep aids can cause the effects to potentiate. That means the different drugs combine to cause a more intense reaction. When drugs combine and potentiate, they can cause an overdose even if each respective dose of the individual drug was small. 

Halcion can also be dangerous if you develop a chemical dependence on it and then quit abruptly. Chemical dependency on depressants can cause the brain to compensate with its own excitatory chemicals. When you stop using, the drug is no longer present, and your brain chemistry becomes unbalanced. This can cause your nervous system to become overexcited, and you’ll feel symptoms like insomnia, irritability, anxiety, tremors, panic, and general discomfort. In some cases, withdrawal can cause seizures, confusion, hallucinations, coma, and death. These symptoms can come on quickly and, without treatment, they can be deadly. Medical treatment can help avoid these severe symptoms.

Dangerous withdrawal symptoms are also more likely if you’ve gone through depressant withdrawal before. A phenomenon called kindling occurs when withdrawal causes changes in the brain that last for a long time. The next time you go through withdrawal, those changes lead to more intense withdrawal symptoms. 

Halcion Abuse Statistics

  • 1.2 million prescriptions for Halcion are written each year in the United States.
  • 69% of Halcion users are older than age 60.
  • More than 30% of all opioid-related overdoses involve benzodiazepines like Halcion.

Start Your Journey to Recovery Today

It’s difficult to accept having a substance use problem, but the process of entering treatment should never be. If you or someone you love is dealing with Halcion addiction, the best chance they have for a better life is to start dealing with the addiction today. The specialists at Serenity at Summit want to be here to give you that opportunity. 

Sources

American Psychiatric Association. (2017, January). What Is Addiction? Retrieved from https://www.psychiatry.org/patients-families/addiction/what-is-addiction

Sleep Disorders. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/articles/11429-common-sleep-disorders

Triazolam. (April,2019). Medline Plus. Retrieved August, 2019 from https://medlineplus.gov/druginfo/meds/a684004.html

Halcion: An Independent Assessment of Safety and Efficacy Data. (January, 1997). NCBI. Retrieved August, 2019 from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK233852/

Triazolam. (July, 2019). National Institutes of Health. Retrieved August, 2019 from https://livertox.nih.gov/Triazolam.htm

Halcion. (January, 2019). WebMD. Retrieved August, 2019 from https://www.webmd.com/drugs/2/drug-6816/halcion-oral/details

National Institute on Drug Abuse. (2016, February). 8: Medical detoxification. Retrieved from https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/teaching-packets/understanding-drug-abuse-addiction/section-iii/7-medical-detoxification

U.S. National Library of Medicine. (2019, August 10). Gamma-Aminobutyric acid. Retrieved from https://pubchem.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/compound/gamma-Aminobutyric-acid

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