Halcion is a prescription medication that was first patented in 1970, and it was first sold in the United States in 1982. It was approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for use in low doses. Halcion is primarily used to treat sleep disorders, a wide-reaching problem in the United States.
Before the 1960s, barbiturates were the go-to medication that was used to treat sleep disorders. Barbiturates are depressants that slow down the nervous system and promote sleep. However, these medications came with some serious side effects like dependence, addiction, dangerous withdrawal, and potentially fatal overdoses. Barbiturates were known to cause overdose deaths when high doses were taken. They were even implicated in the deaths of several high-profile people, including Judy Garland, Jimi Hendrix, and Marilyn Monroe.
A class of drugs called benzodiazepines like Halcion were first synthesized in the 1950s and became the most prescribed drug in the world by the 1970s. Their popularity grew as they came to be known as safer alternatives to barbiturates. However, even though they aren’t as toxic during an overdose, benzos may come with some of the same side effects as barbiturates including dependence, addiction, and potentially dangerous withdrawal symptoms.
Learn more about Halcion addiction and how you can go through withdrawal safely.
How Does Halcion Work?
Halcion is a prescription drug brand name for a chemical called triazolam. It’s commonly used to treat severe insomnia and as a general sedative. It also has anxiety relief, anticonvulsant, and amnesic properties, but it’s rarely used for these specific purposes.
Halcion is in a category of drugs called benzodiazepines that have a wide range of uses in medical practices. It’s also in a broader category of psychoactive substances called central nervous system (CNS) depressants, which work by suppressing excitability in the brain and body. Barbiturates and alcohol are also in this category and work in similar ways.
Benzodiazepines are GABAergic chemicals, which means they work by interacting with a naturally occurring chemical in the brain called gamma-Aminobutyric acid, or GABA for short. The chemical is responsible for binding to GABA receptors in the brain and activating them. These receptors are designed to regulate excitability, and they are often activated when it’s time for you to calm down or relax. For people with anxiety or sleep disorders, this process may be disrupted by some psychological or biological issue.
When it’s time for you to rest or sleep, your nervous system remains excited and active, preventing you from getting any real rest. Benzodiazepines like Halcion work by binding to the same GABA receptors at a different binding site and increasing the effectiveness of the GABA neurotransmitter. Benzos are effects at this function, leading to deep relaxation and anxiety relief. However, the drug can also cause unpleasant side effects like dizziness, extreme sleepiness, loss of coordination, tachycardia, depression, memory impairment, and confusion.
Benzodiazepines like Halcion may be used recreationally to achieve alcohol-like intoxication, causing euphoria and a release of inhibitions. However, abusing Halcion can also lead to the impairment of motor skills, slurred speech, and a loss of coordination. Abusing Halcion can also lead to chemical dependence and addiction.
Benzos often come with a high risk for addiction and dependence, especially when the drugs are taken beyond what is directed by a prescription. Benzos are especially dangerous when mixed with other depressants or opioids, which can lead to respiratory depression and oxygen deprivation.
If you develop a chemical dependence to Halcion, you will experience withdrawal symptoms if you cut back or quit. These symptoms can be dangerous and potentially life-threatening.
What Are the Halcion Withdrawal Symptoms?
Halcion can cause a wide range of symptoms during withdrawal ranging from mild mood swings to life-threatening seizures. The severity of the withdrawal symptoms you experience will depend on several factors, including the length of time you used Halcion, whether or not you mixed it with other drugs or alcohol, and how quickly you stop using.
Generally, people who become used to a high dose of a benzo and quit abruptly will experience more severe withdrawal symptoms.
Symptoms will start mildly and then escalate over time after your last dose. Halcion withdrawal symptoms can include:
- Mood wings
- Muscle pain
- Fast heart rate
- Abdominal cramps
- Muscle spasms
The most medically dangerous symptoms of Halcion withdrawal are seizures, and a condition called delirium tremens. Seizures can come on quickly and involve violent convulsions similar to those of epilepsy. Seizures can lead to serious injury, and they can be especially dangerous if you go through them alone.
Delirium tremens (DTs) is a condition that can occur when someone is going through alcohol or benzo withdrawal. Delirium tremens involves sudden and extreme confusion, seizures, panic, memory loss, catatonia, and coma. Without medical attention, the condition can be fatal. In severe cases of benzo withdrawal, it’s important to seek medical attention as quickly as possible. Quitting abruptly can be dangerous and weaning on your own can be difficult. With help from medical professionals, you can gradually and safely wean off the drug.
What Are the Stages of the Halcion Withdrawal Timeline?
The timeline on which you experience Halcion withdrawal symptoms will depend on several specific factors. The amount you were used to taking, the size of your last dose, and the existence of other addictive drugs in your system, can all affect your withdrawal timeline.
Generally, people who are dependent on a large dose will experience more intense symptoms earlier than people who were dependent on small doses. However, Halcion withdrawal will most likely follow this general timeline:
- 10 to 48 hours. Halcion has a short half-life, so the drugs will start to dissipate after five hours, and you will most likely start to feel your first symptoms within about 12 hours. Symptoms may start out mild and then gradually increase. Anxiety and insomnia are familiar earmarks of benzo withdrawal.
- 4 to 10 days. Your withdrawal symptoms will most likely peak around four or five days with tremors, headaches, panic, depression, insomnia, and general feelings of discomfort. After their peak, symptoms will start to fade.
- 2 to 4 weeks. Most symptoms will disappear after a few weeks, but in some cases, cravings, anxiety, and depression can linger without treatment. Addiction treatment can help you learn to cope with cravings and address psychological symptoms.
How Is Halcion Withdrawal Treated?
To address a chemical dependence on Halcion safely, it’s important to seek the help of medically trained professionals in a hospital detox setting or medical detoxification program.
Medical detox involves 24-hour medical care and monitoring from board-approved professionals. In a detox program, you may be treated with medications to help ease your symptoms or to help wean you off of the drug. The goal of a detox program is to maintain your safety at all time and to alleviate your uncomfortable symptoms as much as possible.
After medical detox, you may go through an addiction treatment program to help address underlying issues like drug cravings, mental health problems, or co-occurring medical issues. You will also learn how to cope with stress and cravings without using.