What Is Halcion (Triazolam) Withdrawal?

Withdrawal from Halcion may cause a variety of symptoms, including nausea and vomiting. People addicted to Halcion experience withdrawal symptoms when they stop taking the drug or rapidly reduce their dose.

Halcion withdrawal occurs due to changes in brain chemistry caused by the drug. Like other benzodiazepines, Halcion binds with receptors in the brain that normally bind with the neurotransmitter GABA. Eventually, the brain stops producing its own GABA. Once a user stops taking Halcion, the brain becomes unbalanced because there is no longer any GABA present or being produced. The brain has to work to readjust natural chemicals that regulate nausea and mood without the drug.

It can take as few as 2 weeks to develop a tolerance to Halcion. Once a tolerance develops, the brain relies on Halcion to keep it feeling normal. Halcion users have to start increasing their doses to get the euphoric effects that smaller doses no longer provide.

Because withdrawal can be dangerous, users shouldn’t try to detox on their own or quit “cold turkey.” Because of Halcion’s potency and fast-acting effects, withdrawal symptoms are often intense. However, the overall intensity of Halcion withdrawal is influenced by a number of factors, including:

  • The length of time Halcion has been used.
  • The amount of Halcion the user took.
  • How frequently the user took Halcion.
  • Whether Halcion was used with other drugs.
  • The user’s mental health and medical history.

Symptoms Of Withdrawal

As a potent benzo, Halcion slows down brain function. The brain compensates by ramping up activity. Without Halcion, the addicted brain becomes hyperactive, causing mental and physical withdrawal symptoms.

Common withdrawal symptoms include:

  • Sweating
  • Increased heart rate
  • Fever
  • Muscle cramps
  • Uncontrollable shaking
  • Insomnia

Rebound Insomnia

Halcion is mostly prescribed for short-term relief of insomnia. People who have built up a tolerance to Halcion often experience a resurgence of insomnia — known as rebound insomnia — when they stop taking it. This is one of the most common withdrawal symptoms. Rebound insomnia usually only lasts for two or three days after the last Halcion dose.

Dr. Bruce H. Dobkin explained why Halcion users experience rebound insomnia in a feature for the New York Times.

Initial problems with Halcion may occur because the drug hangs around for only about five hours. When the receptors [in the brain] are uncovered the next morning, some people experience the opposite of sedation – excess energy and a pounding heart.

- Dr. Bruce H. Dobkin, New York Times, 1989.

Duration Of Withdrawal

Halcion’s potency and rapid absorption means withdrawal starts within hours. The good news is that withdrawal from Halcion doesn’t last as long as that from long-acting benzos. Former Halcion users have reported that their withdrawal symptoms last anywhere from five days to two weeks.

The frequency and the length of time taking Halcion contribute to the duration of withdrawal. People who take higher doses (more than 0.5 mg per day) for a longer period of time take longer to detox from Halcion. Some users may experience withdrawal after using the drug for as little as two weeks.

People who used long-acting benzos in addition to Halcion will experience a longer withdrawal duration because it takes longer for those drugs to leave the body.

Other factors that influence the duration of Halcion withdrawal include:

  • How long the individual used Halcion.
  • The average dose they regularly took.
  • How often they took the medication.
  • Polydrug use.
  • The individual’s mental health and medical history.

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Halcion Withdrawal Timeline

First 2-4 hrs. Withdrawal symptoms begin a few hours after the last dose. Anxiety and rebound insomnia are often the first symptoms.
Days 1-2 The user’s withdrawal symptoms typically peak in 24 to 48 hours after the last dose of Halcion. Anxiety and insomnia may worsen, and users may start experiencing nausea, muscle cramps and shakiness.
Days 3-4 After a few days, symptoms feel less intense, and the user usually starts sleeping better. A heavy Halcion user’s withdrawal symptoms may still be strong.
Days 5+ Most withdrawal symptoms wind down after day five. Some people experience mild symptoms for another week.

Halcion Detox

People addicted to benzodiazepines like Halcion are in critical need of medically-supervised detox because of the life-threatening consequences of withdrawal. Medical detox helps Halcion users rid their body of the drug and reduces the severity of withdrawal symptoms.

A medical detox is also beneficial because a physician is on hand if complications arise during detox.

Depending on the severity of the user’s Halcion addiction, doctors may treat them with a less potent benzodiazepine. Some people detoxing from Halcion switch to a long-acting benzodiazepine like Klonopin or Valium. Long-acting benzos stay in the body longer, so users need less frequent doses. Over time, the user’s dose is tapered down until they no longer need medication to prevent withdrawal symptoms.

Treatment For Halcion Addiction

Inpatient and outpatient treatment facilities can help Halcion users conquer their addiction in an environment that ensures safety and improves success. These facilities can help Halcion users through the detox process and with ongoing sobriety.

Following detoxification with a residential and/or outpatient treatment program may be vital for achieving full and lasting recovery.

- Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, 2011.

In addition to detox, addiction treatment centers offer counseling, support groups and environments for successful recovery. If symptoms of withdrawal from Halcion have been preventing you from getting sober, rehab can help. Contact a treatment provider to find a Halcion treatment center that offers medical detox.