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What Is Halcion?
Halcion is the primary brand name for Triazolam, a medication primarily used to treat insomnia and anxiety. Like other Benzodiazepines, or Benzos, the medication has a high potential for abuse and addiction and can be dangerous, even when taken as prescribed. This is due to how Benzos work in general, by activating the neurotransmitter GABA, which in turn reduces brain activity, relaxes muscles, and induces sleepiness. In the case of Halcion, those effects, in addition to it being a hypnotic, are what make it an effective treatment for insomnia.
It is typically only taken for 10 days, at most, but a doctor may prescribe it for a longer term. In which case, it is very important to only take it as prescribed as even following directions for 10 days can result in the formation of a dependency. A Halcion dependence is defined by the appearance of withdrawal symptoms when use is stopped or reduced suddenly.
The strength of Triazolam, along with its potential amnesic side effects, has actually caused it to be banned from the United Kingdom since 1991. The company that was producing Halcion at the time, UpJohn, tried to reopen UK distribution over the years but was closed down each time by the European Union. Now, the drug is produced by Pfizer, but they have made no documented attempts to distribute outside of the United States.
Once the most popular medication for insomnia, an average of 1.2 million prescriptions were filled per year at one point. Now Ambien and Lunesta have dominated the market, but Halcion is still present and dealt illicitly on the streets, usually as a “Benzo.”
The Effects of Halcion
When it works as intended, Halcion can help people fall asleep faster, stay asleep longer, and stop them from waking up at night. This works due to its effects as a sedative-hypnotic and CNS depressant. Halcion, like other Benzodiazepines, slows respiratory and heart rates. Its hypnotic effects will also slow brain activity and allow users to reach a deeper level of sleep. When awake, this can affect the body in other ways, like:
- Muscle weakness
- Unplanned sleep
- Slurred speech
- Loss of coordination
One of the most common and disconcerting side effects of Halcion is that it often causes a person to act while they believe they are asleep. The next morning, the user often awakens with absolutely no memory of what they did the night before. Common examples include:
- Preparing and eating a meal
- Engaging in sexual activities
- Making phone calls
- Rearranging furniture
- Cleaning the house
- Violent activity
These are the most common symptoms and a doctor will often warn of them upon prescribing Halcion. If they persist, or increase in severity, then the prescribing doctor should be informed. It is possible for other symptoms to appear, in which case anyone experiencing these should contact their doctor immediately.
Because of the way Halcion interacts with the brain and CNS, it is highly addictive, quickly rewiring the brain to become dependent on its effects to function normally – especially if used improperly or without a doctor’s counsel.
It only takes four tablets to trigger an overdose on Halcion. An overdose can lead to:
- Impaired coordination
- Slurred speech
- Passing out
- Respiratory depression
- Respiratory failure
People who have taken Halcion, even as intended, have reported massive gaps in their memory. In a 1992 New York Times article, Dr. Joseph Mendels, a Halcion researcher, stated after taking it one night, that “the next thing [he] knew it was early afternoon the following day…[he] found [himself] at the train station in Washington. [He] apparently got up, shaved and got dressed and went to [a] meeting. But [had] no knowledge of doing any of those things.”
Though providing regular, restful sleep was its main intent, dentists have also prescribed Halcion before an operation to calm the patient down and dull their pain. It provides a euphoric, alcohol-like buzz and dulls the responses of their nervous system, the same reason that can lead some people to look for it recreationally.
Addiction to Halcion
Due to Halcion’s potency, addiction can build rapidly. It often begins with a person being prescribed the medication, then building a tolerance to it. This is often the first sign of a dependency on Halcion, or Benzodiazepines in general. Soon, the only way for them to feel the intended effects is to up their dose. Without confirming this with their doctor, they’ll run out before their scheduled time and go into withdrawal. Many won’t know that they’ve developed a dependence or addiction to Halcion until they begin to feel the symptoms of withdrawal, such as uncontrollable shaking. It is at that point the user realizes that they don’t just need the prescription to sleep but to continue to function “normally.” This makes their insomnia, and their need for the drug, worse.
Signs of Halcion addiction include:
- The user takes more Halcion or takes Halcion for longer than prescribed
- The user makes repeated unsuccessful attempts to reduce Halcion use
- The user spends a great deal of time obtaining, using, or recovering from Halcion
- The user has persistent cravings for Halcion
- The user fails to meet major personal, professional or academic responsibilities
- The user experiences social or interpersonal problems
- The user gives up previously enjoyed activities
- The user uses Halcion in dangerous situations
- The user has developed a tolerance to Halcion
- The user experiences Halcion withdrawal
Treatment for Halcion Addiction
If you or someone you know has become addicted to Halcion, then you may feel ashamed like you made a mistake or gave in to temptation. However, addiction is not something that can fall solely on your shoulders. There is always a risk when using prescription medication, especially Benzodiazepines. What you can do is recognize that your body has become addicted to the substance, but your mind is free to choose sobriety. It can be difficult, but choosing the right help will make a world of difference.
Halcion Detox and Rebound Insomnia
The first step of recovery is detox. Halcion, along with the regular intensity of detox from Benzodiazepines, can produce uncomfortable or dangerous effects that can easily trigger relapse, such as “Rebound Insomnia.” This means that the disorder the drug was treating will come back. This may make you think that you have to start taking Halcion all over again, but this time the insomnia should desist over the course of the next few days.
When looking for treatment, you should look for a clinic that provides help from medical staff. Detox from Halcion can be difficult, and even deadly, but medically-assisted detox can treat the symptoms of withdrawal to give you a greater chance of success. In the case of prescription medications like Halcion, you may even be able to be tapered off of them, rather than giving them all up at once.
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