Halcion is the brand name for the benzodiazepine triazolam. As a medication, Halcion is used as a sedative to treat serious insomnia for a short period of time. The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) lists triazolam as a Schedule IV substance, along with several other benzodiazepine medications, due to its potential for abuse or addiction and its useful medical purpose. Typically, insomnia treatment with any benzodiazepine should not last more than 7-10 days. If sleep disturbance continues after that, there may be an underlying condition that requires a different treatment.
This medication has a half-life of 1.5-5.5 hours. Halcion is a sedative, and it is not specifically designed to force the person taking it to fall asleep. Instead, Halcion relaxes the brain and body, so it is easier for the individual to fall asleep. Unfortunately, this mental and physical state can be addictive for some people.
Like other benzodiazepines, Halcion can cause serious side effects or become dangerous when combined with other substances. Intoxication from benzodiazepines may not be as noticeable to an outsider, as effects like slurred speech or coordination do not change as dramatically as with other intoxicating substances, like alcohol. In particular, other substances that depress the central nervous system, such as alcohol or opioid medications, can be very serious.
Side Effects and Overdose Symptoms When Mixing Halcion with Other Substances
When CNS depressants are mixed, such as Halcion and alcohol, they enhance each other’s effects. This can cause serious side effects and lead to overdose more easily. Just taking large doses of Halcion can lead to dangerous side effects, including:
- Dizziness or lightheadedness
- Loss of coordination or balance
- Nausea or vomiting
- Nervousness, anxiety, and paranoia
- Skin tingling
Mixing Halcion and other substances can make these side effects worse, more intense, or even cause an overdose. Overdose symptoms include:
- Extreme drowsiness or inability to wake up
- Confusion or disorientation
- Inability to stand or walk due to loss of coordination
- Slurred speech
- Labored breathing
Substances Commonly Mixed with Halcion
Like many prescription medications, Halcion interacts with a variety of other substances, especially other prescription drugs. People who take Halcion as directed are warned by their doctors to be careful mixing this substance with antidepressants, cold and flu medications, vitamins, and supplements. People who have become addicted to, or abuse, Halcion are at a greater risk of mixing this substance with other intoxicating substances, specifically to get high. Some of the most dangerous and commonly used substances that are taken with Halcion include:
- Alcohol: People who struggle with benzodiazepine abuse may drink alcohol in combination with this substance, because alcohol allows more Halcion to reach the brain. Combining these two substances can lead to drowsiness, sleepiness, and depression. Since alcohol allows more Halcion to enter the brain, this can also lead to overdose if the individual takes a large dose of the benzodiazepine.
- Opioid painkillers: An investigative report from CBS News in 2013 found that 30 percent of people using prescription opioid painkillers for long-term health reasons also filled prescriptions for benzodiazepines like Halcion. While this could make it possible for people to accidentally mix medications, it also indicates the potential addictive properties of both opioids and Halcion. Both drugs are CNS depressants, and opioids will enhance the effects of Halcion.
- Other benzodiazepines: One of the most common combinations consists of Halcion and Xanax. Both are commonly prescribed benzodiazepines – Xanax is used to treat anxiety – so it is possible to mix them by accident. However, people who struggle with benzodiazepine abuse may also try to combine these two to enhance the effects of each substance, particularly if the person has become tolerant to either medication. Both substances can build up in the bloodstream and cause drowsiness, confusion, nausea, vomiting, coma, or slowed or stopped breathing.
- Heroin: The DEA notes that heroin and Halcion are commonly abused together. Heroin, like prescription opioid painkillers, can slow breathing, or make the individual unable to wake up. Halcion enhances these effects to a dangerous level and could quickly lead to an overdose.
- Cocaine: Cocaine and benzodiazepines in combination can lead to an increased sensitivity to the sedative effects of benzodiazepines. Cocaine is an intense, illegal stimulant that can cause paranoia and hypertension. Although emergency rooms might administer benzodiazepines like Valium to a person who is overdosing on cocaine, when used recreationally, this combination can cause hypotension. This condition can cause dizziness, nausea, or fainting, which can cause injury if the person falls. Cocaine alone can lead to dehydration, which can also cause blood pressure to drop, and Halcion might enhance that risk.
Getting Help for Polydrug Abuse
People who abuse benzodiazepines like Halcion are more likely to struggle with polydrug abuse, or the concurrent abuse of two or more drugs for recreational or intoxicating purposes. According to the DEA, about 50 percent of people who enter a drug rehabilitation program for either opioid drug or cocaine abuse also abuse benzodiazepines concurrently.
Polydrug use can occur both to enhance the effects of intoxication from one or more substances, and to change the effects of drugs. For example, a person may take Halcion to go to sleep after abusing cocaine. Because a drug’s effects typically wear off before the substance has fully left the system, drug interactions are still likely to occur, which can lead to serious side effects, including overdose.
Mixing intoxicating substances is always dangerous, whether done accidentally or on purpose. People who struggle with abuse of addictive substances like Halcion, alcohol, opioids, cocaine, and more need to seek help as soon as possible from a professional drug rehabilitation program.