Halcion Addiction and Abuse
Classified as a benzodiazepine, Halcion is a drug that functions as a central nervous system depressant, slowing down the actions of the spinal cord and brain. Halcion is primarily administered for sleep disorders, but can also be used for the treatment of seizures and anxiety, or serve as a muscle relaxant.
It’s worth emphasising that this drug is only suitable for short-term use. This is because evidence indicates that tolerance and physical dependence can develop rather quickly. The immediate effects of using Halcion include sedation, relaxation and mild euphoria, as well as decreased flow of thoughts. These pleasurable effects are what lead to the abuse of the drug, which over time leads to addiction.
Once addiction to Halcion takes hold, it becomes very difficult to quit on your own, as withdrawal symptoms will occur once all traces of the drug leave your system. Said withdrawal symptoms can range from mild to painful in their intensity, depending on the extent of your addiction.
To avoid substance abuse and prevent the onset of addiction, it’s best to use Halcion only according to the prescription of your doctor. It is also crucial you don’t use the drug for longer than recommended or combine it with other substances, without first informing your doctor.
What is Halcion?
Halcion is the original brand name for Triazolam, which was patented in 1970 and has been on sale in the United States since 1982. It is a central nervous system depressant, whose use in clinical medicine is similar to that of other benzodiazepines. However, compared to other benzodiazepines, Halcion is mostly used for treating severe insomnia.
Halcion possesses hypnotic, amnesic, anticonvulsant and anxiolytic properties – it’s also a muscle relaxant. Because of its short half-life, Halcion is not recommended for patients who suffer from early or frequent awakenings. The short half-life of the drug also makes it inappropriate for long-term treatment of anxiety or seizure management.
History of Halcion addiction
A review of the long-term use of benzodiazepines such as Halcion revealed that incorrect usage (or even using it according to prescription) can result in drug tolerance, substance dependence, related adverse effects on the central nervous system and rebound insomnia. This is why it is generally recommended that Halcion be used at the lowest possible dose and for the shortest period of time possible, typically two to four weeks, but no longer than six.
Compared to using Halcion, non-pharmacological treatment options have proven to deliver better and longer-lasting improvements in sleep quality. Upon discontinuation of using Halcion, worsening insomnia (rebound insomnia) can occur, even if the drug was only used for a short period of time. This could lead a patient to abuse the drug or use it for longer than necessary to maintain the desired effects.
Quitting Halcion suddenly once addiction has developed can lead to a variety of withdrawal symptoms, which can range between mildly unpleasant and quite severe. Examples of severe Halcion withdrawal symptoms include vomiting, stomach and muscle cramps, tremors, sweating – and, in rare cases, convulsions.
Causes and risk factors of Halcion addiction and abuse
Because Halcion is generally prescribed for the treatment of insomnia and anxiety disorders, those who use the drug might later abuse it to heighten its effects and subsequently become addicted.
People who have co-occurring disorders usually abuse anxiety drugs by self-medicating or combining them with other substances. Examples of such co-occurring disorders include post-traumatic stress disorder, anxiety, massive depressive disorder or sleeping disorders.
Professionals with stressful jobs also have a high likelihood of abusing Halcion, as they often suffer from work-related anxiety, sleeplessness or physical stress. In truth, anyone who has been prescribed Halcion is at risk of abusing it and becoming addicted, which is why the drug is only used to treat extreme cases or where an alternative form of treatment is deemed inadequate. Other risk factors that can result in Halcion addiction include:
- Patients with medical problems such as muscle pain or alcohol withdrawal are likely to abuse sedatives like Halcion to control their condition.
- Mental illness such as anxiety and panic disorders can cause an individual to use Halcion for longer than necessary, which will lead to an increased tolerance to the drug over time and eventually a possible overdose.
- Polydrug use. This is the combination of Halcion with similar depressants or other substances in order to intensify its effects. Such drug abuse is dangerous, as not only can it exacerbate addiction, it can also lead to fatal consequences.
- Genetics. Research has shown that genetic makeup plays a key part in determining the development of addiction to substances like benzodiazepines. If you have a family history of abusing benzodiazepines or some other form of addiction, the risk of you developing substance dependence when using Halcion is much higher.
- Environmental factors. APA also points out that individuals who live in an environment that gives them greater access to benzodiazepines – or those who are frequently surrounded by people with an addiction – are more likely to engage in similar behaviours.
Halcion drug interactions
Certain substances can lead to unwanted or possibly fatal side effects when consumed alongside Halcion. The following drugs can increase the toxicity or depressive effects of Halcion, so it’s important you truthfully inform your doctor of any medication you are using when being prescribed Halcion:
- Narcotic (opioid) medication
- Antifungal medicine
- Heart medication such as Nicardipine or Quinidine
- Antiviral medicine to treat HIV/AIDS or Hepatitis C
Halcion should also never be taken with alcohol or cocaine.
What is Halcion addiction?
Case studies have shown that the use of benzodiazepines like Halcion can lead to the development of physical dependence and addiction. This can occur regardless of whether you’re using Halcion according to prescription or not (or if you use it short-term or otherwise). Physical dependence and addiction are often preceded by an increase in your tolerance to a drug. This will be followed by withdrawal symptoms in the event you suddenly try to quit.
Halcion withdrawal symptoms are very similar to those experienced during the alcohol withdrawal process. Because Halcion comes with a very short half-life, you may experience withdrawal symptoms rather quickly once you’ve developed an addiction.
How Halcion addiction begins
Halcion addiction can be caused by using the drug in higher doses or more frequently than recommended by your doctor. Also, combining the drug with alcohol, opioids and other stimulants greatly increases the risk of developing an addiction.
The first indication of addiction is usually an increase in tolerance level to the drug. This leads to a need for higher ongoing doses of Halcion to achieve the desired effect.
Even if Halcion is used according to prescription, there is still a very high possibility of developing an addiction. This is why it’s generally advised that it only be used for the shortest time period possible in order to avoid any complications.
Why is Halcion so addictive?
If you are addicted to Halcion, there’s a high chance you’ll engage in anti-social behaviour to acquire more drugs to feed your habit. This is because the withdrawal symptoms that occur once an addict fails to take a fresh dose of Halcion can be quite severe and motivate further drug-seeking behaviour to alleviate the symptoms.
The drug is particularly addictive due to its active component of benzodiazepine and how it modifies the chemical structure of your brain after extended abuse. The longer you abuse Halcion, the more severe addiction usually is and the harder it is to quit. The best way to avoid addiction is to use the drug only (and always) according to the instructions of your doctor.
How Halcion affects the mind and body
Halcion is used in clinical medicine as an anticonvulsant, muscle relaxant and sedative. The drug is mostly prescribed for short-term use to individuals with insomnia, or severe anxiety that leads to serious distress.
Halcion functions by affecting your body’s release of gamma-amino butyric acid (GABA). GABA is a brain neurotransmitter that can influence your internal system by causing a sedated or tranquilised effect, as well as inhibiting transmission of nerve signals. By increasing the effects of GABA on the brain, Halcion will reduce nerve signal transmissions and hyperactivity within the central nervous system. This helps put users of the drug at ease by causing a sedating effect and pleasurable sensations.
Signs, symptoms and effects of Halcion abuse and addiction
Signs and symptoms of abusing Halcion can include the manifestation of two or more of the following:
- Repeatedly using Halcion in higher amounts and for longer periods of time than intended
- Intense and frequent cravings for Halcion
- Unsuccessful efforts to quit Halcion or reduce doses
- Spending an increasing amount of time using Halcion, getting over its effects or trying to acquire more of the drug
- Continuing Halcion abuse in spite of having problems at work, school or with personal relationships
- Giving up important activities as a result of using Halcion
- Inability to maintain important obligations as a result of Halcion usage
- Developing risky behaviour due to Halcion usage (for instance, mixing with alcohol, or using it whilst driving)
- Needing more Halcion to achieve the desired effects
- Developing withdrawal symptoms when not using Halcion
Short-term effects of Halcion on the body
Halcion is a central nervous system (CNS) depressant that slows down brain activity. Short-term effects of the drug can include:
- Anxiety relief
- Feelings of well-being
These effects can be induced fairly quickly and could potentially lead to abuse, as people rely on the drug for quick relief. Other abusers use Halcion to achieve a sedating ‘high’.
Long-term effects of using Halcion
Halcion and other benzodiazepines shouldn’t be used long-term as this can lead to physical dependence. Aside from physical dependence, other long-term effects of chronic abuse of Halcion can include:
- Increased tolerance
- Loss of sex-drive
- Social phobia
- Polydrug abuse (abusing multiple drugs simultaneously)
- Increasing anxiety
- Suicidal ideation
Physical signs and symptoms of Halcion abuse and addiction
If you have already developed a physical dependence on Halcion, you will likely begin to manifest the following side effects and symptoms of abuse:
- Poor coordination
- Excessive sweating
- Issues with balance
- Lethargy and drowsiness
- Nausea or vomiting
- Slurred speech
- Visual problems
- Slowed or shallow breathing
Psychological signs and symptoms of Halcion abuse and addiction
Psychological signs of abuse and addiction can include:
- Reduced inhibitions
- Poor judgment
- Mood swings
- Issues with memory
- Dementia-like symptoms
Depending on the severity of your addiction, you may also experience a symptom known as Delirium Tremens (DT). This is often characterized by a sudden change in your mental state that leaves you disoriented and confused. DT can also be accompanied by extreme anxiety, tremors, hallucinations and decreased attention span.
Signs of Halcion withdrawal and overdose
Halcion withdrawal symptoms can occur when you stop using it suddenly after prolonged use. You should only use Halcion at the lowest effective dose and for the shortest possible period of time. Long-term use of Halcion increases the risk of developing a physical dependency to the drug, and this can occur even within a short timeframe.
Halcion’s short half-life means its withdrawal symptoms could be more severe than those of benzodiazepines with a longer half-life. Symptoms of Halcion withdrawal are can include:
- Weight loss
- Panic attacks
Severe withdrawal symptoms can include psychosis, auditory hallucinations, and cognitive disorders. A medically assisted detox is often the best way to overcome such symptoms.
A Halcion overdose can be lethal, depending on the circumstances. Generally, emergency treatment at a hospital greatly minimizes the potential fatality of an overdose. Symptoms of a Halcion overdose might include the following:
- Respiratory depression
- Impaired motor function
- Slurred speech
If you are experiencing any of the above (or see a loved one displaying any such symptoms), please seek prompt medical attention.
Dangerous effects of Halcion abuse and addiction
While Halcion has several benefits, it must be used with care, as incorrect usage can lead to dangerous side effects. Serious health issues can arise whether or not the drug is abused, which is why it isn’t prescribed unless absolutely necessary.
Physical, emotional and social effects of Halcion abuse and addiction
Appropriate use of Halcion can still lead to the manifestation of physical and psychological side effects. However, misusing the drug only increases the risks of the associated harmful effects taking hold. These can include:
Physical symptoms such as drowsiness, poor coordination, upper stomach pain, staggered walk, rigid muscles, fatigue, chest pain, depressed breathing, accelerated heart rate, blurred vision, dizziness, headache, itching, slurred speech, problems with urination, jaundice, numbness and a tingling sensation. Females may experience changes to their menstruation cycle.
Psychological symptoms can include depression, memory problems, anxiety, confusion, hallucinations, nervousness and an increase (or decrease) in libido.
Abuse of Halcion can also result in mental and behavioural disorders, which can manifest via the following symptoms:
- Increased excitement
Aside from the health dangers, substance abuse also negatively impacts your social relationships and leaves you vulnerable in a number of ways.
Long-term Halcion abuse can severely impact social aspects of your life in the following manner:
- Impaired work or school performance
- Child neglect
- Drug-seeking behaviour
- Engaging in criminal activities to finance drug use
- Excessive absences
- Job loss
- Legal problems
- Loss of finances
- Loss of friends
- Loss of self-confidence
- Physical injuries due to accidents
- Suspension or expulsion from school
Staying off Halcion
Quitting Halcion is one thing, but staying off the drug long-term is an entirely different journey. In order to achieve long-lasting abstinence, you can take advantage of the following support:
Individual counselling: During individual counselling, you’ll receive one-on-one treatment from an addiction specialist, who will talk to you about your condition and help identify the root cause of your substance abuse. You’ll also be taught about how to avoid the stressors and triggers that typically led you to abuse Halcion, as well as healthy ways to cope in the outside world without having to abuse drugs.
Support groups: This is a highly effective form of drug rehabilitation that will provide help and support through group therapy. You’ll attend sessions with people who are going through exactly the same thing and attendees can help each other stay focused and committed to abstinence. Narcotics Anonymous and other 12-step programmes are examples of such support groups.
Family therapy: Family is a very important support system for any recovering addict. In order for them to be able to help you stay clean long-term, it’s important that family (or other supportive loved ones) receive necessary training on how to effectively support you and help you stay off Halcion.
Halcion addiction: Facts and statistics
1.2 million prescriptions for Halcion are issued each year. In the United States, about 10-15% of adults suffer from chronic insomnia, with Halcion one of the most prescribed tranquilisers for treatment. In 2008, more than 60,000 treatment admissions occurred from the abuse of benzodiazepines.
Is Halcion addictive?
Yes. The addiction potential for Halcion is quite high. The drug is considered one of the most addictive forms of benzodiazepine. Because of its addictive nature, Halcion should never be used beyond the prescribed dose or frequency.
How is Halcion legally classified?
Halcion is classified as a Class C drug in the UK.
What is Halcion addiction and treatment?
Halcion addiction occurs when your body has developed substance dependence and requires regular doses of the drug to fend off withdrawal symptoms. Once addiction has developed, the best way to care for the condition is through a medically assisted detox to address the physical aspects of the addiction. Meanwhile, rehabilitation will treat the psychological aspects of addiction.
Treatment can be provided on either an outpatient or inpatient basis, depending on the severity of addiction and withdrawal symptoms.
What is Halcion abuse?
Halcion abuse is the recreational use of the drug or using it in higher doses or more frequently than prescribed to enhance its enjoyable effects. Halcion abuse can also involve combining the drug with other substances to intensify the pleasurable effects it induces.
Are there side-effects from Halcion abuse?
Yes. Side effects of abusing Halcion can include:
- Sleepiness or drowsiness
- Confusion and lack of balance
- Mental impairment
- Slurred speech
- Anger or other behavioural changes
- Changes in libido (sex drive)
- Nausea and vomiting
- Double vision
- Low blood pressure
- Slowed breathing
How long does it take to become addicted to Halcion?
Addiction to Halcion can develop within as little as two weeks, even when used according to prescription. Doctors usually do not prescribe Halcion unless there is no alternative medication, as it is a very addictive benzodiazepine.
What is the Halcion ‘high’ like?
The ‘high’ from abusing Halcion is quite similar to what is experienced during alcohol intoxication. It will include feelings of sedation, relaxation, mild euphoria and decreased flow of thoughts.
Why do people become addicted to Halcion?
People become addicted to Halcion because of its primary benzodiazepine component and the way in which it changes the chemical structure of the brain after frequent use or abuse.
What is Halcion withdrawal?
Halcion withdrawal is how your body reacts after you’ve developed an addiction to the drug and suddenly attempt to quit. Withdrawal symptoms will begin to manifest once the last dose of Halcion has left your system. Withdrawal symptoms can include:
- Cravings for Halcion
- Increased irritability
- Pain and stiffness
- Rebound insomnia
- Loss of appetite
- Irregular heartbeat
What treatments are available for Halcion addiction?
Once Halcion addiction has developed, the best way to recover is through a medically assisted detox for the physical aspects of the addiction, and rehabilitation to treat the psychological side of things.
Treatment can be provided on an outpatient basis for less severe addictions, or an inpatient facility for a harsher addiction and related withdrawal symptoms.
What are the dangers of Mixing Halcion with other substances?
Mixing Halcion with substances such as alcohol, opioids or other stimulants and depressants could lead to a fatal overdose. Mixing also leads to increased tolerance and can increase the toxicity of Halcion, thus rendering it poisonous.
Does Halcion show up in urine tests?
Yes, it does.
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