Halcion Symptoms and Warning Signs

An addiction to Halcion can form in as little as two weeks. Being able to recognize the symptoms and signs of this addiction is an important first step for getting a loved one into treatment.

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Signs of Halcion Abuse


Many people abuse Halcion without realizing they can get addicted. Often, these people only take Halcion to help them fall asleep.

If someone forms an addiction to Halcion, they will eventually need it to function normally.

Halcion abuse can quickly lead to a physical dependence that quickly escalates to an addiction as the user increases their daily doses.

Signs of Halcion abuse in your loved one include:

  • Drowsiness
  • Dilated pupils
  • Slow breathing
  • Slurred speech
  • “Doctor shopping” to acquire more of the drug
  • Lack of coordination
  • Vomiting
  • Isolation
  • Legal issues
  • No longer participating in former activities

The Dangers of Halcion

Many prescription users describe bizarre side effects while taking Halcion. Some users report having engaged in activities like driving a car, making food and having sexual intercourse without actually being conscious during the behavior. Afterward, the users have no recollection of what they did.

Dr. Joseph Mendels, a Halcion researcher at Philadelphia Medical Institute, took the drug once to help him sleep the day before a big meeting. Everyone’s experience on Halcion will be different, but it had a particularly strong effect on him. He explained to the New York Times what taking Halcion was like for him.

“I apparently got up, shaved and got dressed and went to the meeting. But I have no knowledge of doing any of those things.”

- Dr. Joseph Mendel on his experience taking Halcion, New York Times, 1991.

These unconscious behaviors — which can cause confusion and emotional trauma—are just some of Halcion’s side effects.

Other symptoms of Halcion abuse may include:

  • Sweating
  • Anxiety
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Impaired coordination
  • Slurred speech
  • Dizziness
  • Memory Problems
  • Stomach cramps
  • Insomnia
  • Hallucinations
  • Seizures
  • Suicidal thought
  • Taking more Halcion than prescribed
  • Taking Halcion more often than prescribed
  • Using Halcion without a prescription
  • Combining Halcion with other substances

Halcion slows down the central nervous system, which causes reduced brain activity and potentially respiratory depression. Abusing Halcion in large doses can lead to overdose. A Halcion overdose can lead to a coma and stop a user’s breathing.

Countries including Great Britain and Germany have taken Halcion off the market for fear of its dangerous side effects.

In 1991, the British Ministry of Health said that “Triazolam is associated with a much higher frequency of psychiatric side effects, particularly loss of memory and depression.”

In the United States, the advocacy group Public Citizen petitioned the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in 1991 and 1992 to take Halcion off the market. While the FDA didn’t do that, they did reduce acceptable dosages in an effort to protect consumers.

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Recognizing a Halcion Addiction

Since Halcion is rarely prescribed for longer than ten days’ use, the first signal of a problem may be taking it for longer than that. Halcion users who continue to abuse the drug will eventually depend on it to stave off withdrawal symptoms and to feel balanced or “normal.”

A tolerance to Halcion use can build rapidly with continued abuse.

Someone addicted to Halcion may show certain behaviors, such as:

  • Prioritizing Halcion use over other responsibilities
  • Frequently seeming confused or detached from reality
  • Refusing to go anywhere without their pills
  • Going to great lengths to get more Halcion

Addiction professionals use these and other criteria in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders to diagnose a Halcion addiction.

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Intervention and Next Steps

If you suspect your loved one has a problem with Halcion, it’s important to say something to them. If you’re worried about how they might respond, you may need to stage an intervention. Staging an intervention helps addicted people realize the extent of their problem and can provide the clarity for them to get treatment.

People addicted to Halcion may not be fully cognizant during their intervention if they’ve recently taken the drug. They may be drowsy and have a hard time staying focused. Staging the intervention at a time of day where the addicted person is less likely to be intoxicated helps avoid these potential problems.

It’s never easy to confront a loved one about their addiction, but there are a few things to keep in mind that can help. It’s important to frame your concerns in a constructive, compassionate way. Before the intervention, meet with other loved ones to outline (and be ready to enforce) consequences if the addicted person doesn’t agree to get treatment.

Withdrawal and Treatment

Breaking an addiction to Halcion is difficult because of the drug’s intense withdrawal symptoms. Withdrawal from Halcion can be deadly, so its users should not quit cold turkey.

When an addicted person stops taking Halcion, they can experience panic attacks, headaches, nausea and seizures. These symptoms often cause Halcion users to relapse.

Many people recovering from Halcion addiction also experience rebound insomnia. If someone used Halcion to help them sleep, their insomnia can come back in full force when they stop taking the drug. Rebound insomnia typically lasts for a few days.

Treating a Halcion addiction usually requires a tapering down approach. Treatment specialists often give Halcion users a less potent benzodiazepine to stave off withdrawal. Then the user’s dose is slowly reduced over a period of weeks or months depending on the severity of their addiction.

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