Halcion Addiction

Halcion

Halcion Addiction

HalcionIn January 8, 1992, President George Bush caused an international incident by vomiting and fainting during a state dinner in Japan. The embarrassing event was played over and over on televisions and websites throughout the world.

A few weeks later, the incident became the source of even more controversy when the President’s doctor revealed that President Bush had taken Halcion, a sleeping pill, the night before. People who had experience with the drug’s ability to produce states of paranoia, forgetfulness and anxiety were concerned that the President of the United States was using such a mind-altering drug.A few weeks later the White House announced that the President would no longer take Halcion.

It was not the first time Halcion was at the center of controversy. Four months earlier, a Utah woman received a settlement of $21 million from the drug’s manufacturer, Upjohn, after claiming she became so disoriented after taking it that she shot and killed her mother. A year later a man who shot his wife to death in Pontiac, Michigan, was acquitted for the same reason. Lawyers doing research for these cases uncovered data hidden by Upjohn that Halcion was associated with paranoia, suicidal thoughts, and other bizarre mental states. In one study of 1567 patients, data on 188 subjects had simply “disappeared; and in other research from 1972, 28 who took Halcion developed paranoia, but Upjohn reported only seven.

What is the truth about Halcion? Why is it banned in some countries? Why is it safe to use only for ten days? Many of these questions still remain, even as Pfizer Inc. is now still selling the drug, which is among the most commonly abused prescription drugs in the United States.

What Is Halcion?

Halcion is the trademarked name of a drug containing triazolam, a short-acting benzodiazepine. These drugs are most commonly prescribed to treat anxiety, insomnia, and seizure disorders. The chemical name for triazolam is 8-chloro-6-(o-chlorophenyl)-1-methyl-4H-s-triazolo-[4,3-α] [1,4] benzodiazepine.

Halcion is considered short-acting because it mostly leaves the body within 90 minutes to six hours. Like all benzodiazepines, Halcion slows down the central nervous system. It acts on the limbic system of the body, which plays a role in the genesis of emotion and sleep. Benzodiazepines enhance the effect of a neurotransmitter called gamma-aminobutyric acid-A (GABA-A), which causes sedation and sleepiness.

The United States government classifies Halcion (triazolam) as a Schedule IV Controlled Substance, which means it has potential for addiction but can be used legally for medical purposes. It is a highly regulated drug, and if you are caught possessing, buying or selling it without prescription, you could face fines and/or jail time. Halcion is on the list of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency’s commonly abused prescription drugs. Drug officers describe a “robust demand” for drugs like Halcion, which are available through street dealers, illegally on the Internet or through pharmacies in foreign countries.

What Are the Medical Uses Of Halcion?

Halcion is prescribed for the short-term treatment of insomnia and has the advantage of not causing daytime drowsiness when compared to other sleeping pills.However, doctors who specialize in treating sleep disorders seldom prescribe Halcion because it is addictive and can only be used for seven to ten days. The drug is most frequently used by people who want to sleep while they’re traveling or who are suffering from insomnia because of temporary stress. If a person stays on Halcion for two or three weeks, the United States Food and Drug Administration recommended that his or her doctor completely re-evaluate the patient before prescribing again, and that the drug should never be used for more than one month.

Even though Halcion is only prescribed for seven to ten days, it often does not work for most patients the first two nights they take it. If you take Halcion for more than ten days, studies indicate that you will probably wake up more easily in the last one-third of the night, and experience anxiety and nervousness in the day. Halcion is considered a drug that helps you fall asleep, but not one that helps you stay asleep. One study of Halcion found that it added an average of 32 more minutes of sleep per night, and reduced the time it took to fall asleep by only 12 minutes.

When Halcion first came out in 1983, it was considered the best sleeping pill available. By 1990, over seven million prescriptions were being written for it every year. However, newer research is indicating that sleeping pills do little in the long run to solve the problem of insomnia. About 40% of Americans in 2004 told researchers that they have problems with sleeping, and between 10% and 15% have chronic insomnia. Among 15% to 30% of those with chronic insomnia, doctors can find no physical or psychiatric cause. Despite research that sleeping pills are ineffective, they are very popular in the USA and add up to $3.5 billion in annual sales.

Halcion comes in tablets and sublingual tablets. The usual dose is 0.125mg to 0.25mg taken without food before bedtime.The dosage and time-related effects of Halcion are the same for both men and women.

What Are The Side Effects Of Halcion?

The most common side effects of Halcion are drowsiness, headache, nausea, dizziness, lightheadedness, a feeling of “pins and needles” in the skin, and poor coordination. One reason that Halcion was considered a breakthrough drug was that it caused very few side effects and was less likely to make you drowsy in the day, compared to older sleeping pills.

If Halcion is taken for more than two weeks, taken in large doses, or combined with substances like alcohol, its side effects can be troublesome. Some of these rare but serious side effects can be abnormal thinking and behavior, acting “drunk” with decreased inhibition, aggression, extroversion, agitation, paranoia, hallucinations, depersonalization, amnesia, and suicidal thoughts. One strange side effect can be musical hallucinations. In 1990, there were 37 reports of people fainting after taking Halcion. Since these side effects tend to occur at higher dosages, the French government only allows Halcion to be sold in 0.125mg.

What Are The Risks Of Taking Halcion?

Halcion is addictive. If you abuse it, you can develop a physical dependence on this drug, and grow tolerant to it. This means you will need to take more to achieve the same effects. You may develop drug-seeking behaviors. If you try to quit using it, you will go into a difficult withdrawal syndrome and then develop cravings long after you stopped using it.

In the medication guide that accompanies Halcion, you can read a warning that says, “You may get up out of bed, while not fully awake and do activities that you do not know you were doing. The next morning, you may not remember that you did anything during the night.” People who have taken Halcion have typically experienced sleep-eating, sleep-phoning, sleep-texting, sleep-driving, and sleep-sex and do not remember doing any of these things after they wake up. People who have taken the drug before an airplane ride have arrived at destinations not knowing where or why they are there – a phenomenon known as “Traveler’s Amnesia.”

In 1991, Great Britain banned Halcion because it is “associated with higher frequency of side effects, particularly memory loss and depression,” and accused its manufacturer of hiding data about these problems. This move prompted the manufacturer of Halcion to issue a stronger warning on an insert directed at the physicians who prescribe the drug, advising them to better monitor their patients and to prescribe Halcion for only very short periods of time. That year Halcion amounted to 8% of Upjohn’s sales or over $3 billion.

Some people are allergic to Halcion and enter a life-threatening syndrome the first time they take it. Symptoms are rash, hives, itching, difficulty breathing, hoarseness, throat closing, airway obstruction, and swelling of the eyes, face, and tongue. People with this reaction should be to be taken to a hospital emergency room for immediate treatment.

Does Halcion Show Up In Drug Urine Tests?

Benzodiazepines like Halcion will show up in workplace urine drug tests for one to six weeks after using them. Police detectives can test for Halcion in forensic urine and hair sample tests if they suspect the sleeping pill was used as a date rape drug.

What Drugs Interact With Halcion?

Halcion interacts with alcohol and many common drugs, especially ones that make you drowsy. These may include drugs for anxiety, allergies, colds, mental illness, seizures, and pain, as well as sedatives, selective serotonin uptake inhibitors (SSRIs), and muscle relaxants.

Halcion should not be taken with histamine-2 receptor blockers, calcium receptor blockers, anti-depressants, and anesthetics for surgery, even dental surgery.

Certain drugs inhibit a certain pathway of metabolism have a “profound” effect on how Halcion clears the body, according to the FDA. These include the HIV/AIDS medications ketoconazole, itraconazole, nefazodone, amprenavir, atazanavir, saquinavir, delavirdine, efavirenz, indinavir, nelfinavir, and ritonavir, and also macrolide antibiotics, cimetidine, birth control pills, and isoniazid.

Who Should Not Take Halcion?

Halcion is not prescribed to pregnant women because it can damage their babies.

Halcion is not often prescribed to the elderly because its side effects increase their chances of falling. Halcion is rarely prescribed to children. Halcion is not for people with histories of alcoholism or drug abuse, breathing or lung problems, depression, or kidney and/or liver diseases. Halcion makes sleep apnea worse.

What Is A Halcion Overdose?

Halcion overdoses can be fatal and are more likely to occur in combination with alcohol and other drugs. Symptoms are extreme drowsiness, confusion, lack of coordination, slurred speech, slow difficult breathing, seizures, falling unconscious, and coma. At an emergency medical facility, doctors may “pump the stomach” and administer intravenous fluids and Flumazenil, an antidote for benzodiazepines.

What Is Halcion Withdrawal?

If you have been using Halcion only as a sleeping pill, you will probably experience a “rebound” effect when you stop. This means your insomnia will come back, usually worse than before you used the drug, and especially if you took the drug for more than ten nights. You are also likely to experience anxiety and depression in the day time.

If you have been abusing Halcion and taking it in amounts not recommended by doctors, you may go into a severe withdrawal syndrome. The Halcion withdrawal is considered worse than that of most drugs in its class.

Within six hours of taking the last Halcion tablet, your symptoms may be uncontrollable shaking, diarrhea, muscle cramps, sweating, nausea, anxiety, depression, irritability, memory loss, and insomnia. Some people find it impossible to manage certain serious symptoms on their own, such as hallucinations, psychosis, panic attacks, and seizures. For this reason, you are better off withdrawing from Halcion in a medically supervised situation, such as at a residential treatment center for drug addiction.

Why Do People Become Addicted To Halcion?

People who are addicted to stimulants like methamphetamine often use Halcion and other similar drugs to get to sleep.

Others like the loopy carefree feeling that the drug can produce, and take it in the daytime. As they build a tolerance to Halcion, they need to keep increasing the amounts they use to achieve the soothing effect that they want.

Benjamin Stein, a speechwriter for President Richard Nixon, described this feeling as follows: “It’s as if the angel of the Lord appears in your bedroom and tells you nothing is impossible and everything you have ever worried about is happening on Mars, and that nirvana, Lethe and the warm arms of mother are all waiting for you. People who have used heroin and tell me Halcion is better for making bad thoughts simply disappear.”

Stein later described the downside of Halcion addiction: “It is the most terrifying drug I’ve ever used. It clouds judgment. It does not do its magic and disappear. It takes up residence in your head. Sleep is impossible without it. Without it I got depressed, so I took it continuously.

What Treatments Are Available For Halcion Addiction?

Some familiar with drug addictions consider benzodiazepine addictions among the most difficult. These drugs have a profound effect on the mind, mood, memory, and judgment. People addicted to Halcion cannot get to sleep without the drug, and insomnia makes their anxiety and depression only worse in the daytime.

If you are severely addicted to Halcion and/or other drugs, your best chance of successfully overcoming the problem is to enter residential treatment, where you can get help on a 24/7 basis. Going away from home removes you from your old drug environment and the everyday stresses that contribute to your problem, giving you the ideal opportunity to make a new beginning.

Most people who have problems with drugs need psychotherapy and treatment for comorbidities, which might include undiagnosed psychiatric problems such as depression and unresolved childhood trauma. Many benzodiazepine or barbiturate addicts have untreated attention deficit disorder, which has made it hard for them to be successful in school and at work. This in turn contributes to depression.

When you enter residential treatment center, the first thing that usually happens is a complete physical and psychological examination to determine if you have such undiagnosed problems and the extent of your addiction. The next step is a supervised chemical detoxification from Halcion and/or other substances. Doctors can ease your symptoms either by tapering off your drug or prescribing other medications that might be helpful. If you experience dangerous symptoms such as seizures, you will be in a safe environment and nurses and doctors will be taking care of you.

You may have to say a month or two in treatment, but these few weeks can be fun as well as life-changing. You will learn new ways to handle stress without drugs, and develop a healthy lifestyle of good nutrition and physical fitness. You will make friends with people undergoing the same radical changes in their lifestyle and share experiences and successes. The key component in your recovery is intense psychotherapy, often cognitive behavioral therapy, to help you overcome your Halcion addiction.

Once you complete your program, your psychologist and case manager will help you decide whether you should return home or start fresh somewhere else. You usually continue in psychotherapy and support meetings like Narcotics Anonymous once you leave residential treatment.

Signs You May Be Addicted To Halcion

  • Have you been using Halcion for more than ten days?
  • Are you obtaining Halcion without a doctor’s prescription?
  • Are you using Halcion along with illegal drugs or alcohol?
  • Have you built up a tolerance to Halcion — for example, do you need more than one tablet to fall asleep?
  • Are you taking Halcion in the daytime to relax or avoid getting depressed?
  • Do you worry that Halcion and other drugs are ruining your life?
  • When you stop taking Halcion, do you experience withdrawal symptoms?
  • Does your use of Halcion and/or other drugs interfere with your performance at work or school?
  • Do your family members or friends criticize you for using Halcion and/or other drugs?
  • Do you worry that you will get into trouble with the law or financial problems because of your abuse of Halcion or other drugs?
  • Are you unable to sleep without using Halcion?
  • Do you experience memory lapses that you think are due to Halcion?
  • Do you have other serious side effects such as headaches and rapid heartbeat that you know are caused by Halcion?
  • Have you tried to quit using Halcion on your own but failed?

Sources:

Wines, Michael. “Bush Collapses at State Dinner With the Japanese,” The New York Times, January 9, 1992.

Kolata, Gina. “Maker of Sleeping Pill Hid Data On Side Effects, Researchers Say,” The New York Times, January 20, 1992.

Altman, Lawrence. “Bush Is to Avoid Using Controversial Sleeping Pill,” The New York Times, February 6, 1992.

Utah Woman, Upjohn, Settle Halcion suit out of court, The Deseret News, August 10, 1991.

“Man Found Innocent Who Blamed Murder on Halcion,” The Orlando-Sentinel News, October 22, 1993.

Ibid.

Gorman, C. “The Dark Side of Halcion,” Time, 10/14/1991, Vol. 138 Issue 15, p65, 2/3p, 1 Graph

“Benzodiazepines,” Drugs.com, see http://www.drugs.com/drug-class/benzodiazepines.html

Pollack, Andrew. “Putting a Price on a Good Night’s Sleep,” The New York Times, January 13, 2004.

“Commonly Abused Prescription Drugs,” The National Institute of Health, see http://www.drugabuse.gov/drugs-abuse/commonly-abused-drugs/commonly-abused-prescription-drugs-chart

Myerson, Allen. “Pill-Popping Deals by Prescription,” The New  York Times, March 2, 1997.

Ibid.

“Prescription Sleeping Pills: What’s Right for You?” Mayo Clinic staff, see http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/sleeping-pills/SL00010

“Halcion,” Drugs.com, Official US Food And Drug Administration Information, see http://www.drugs.com/pro/halcion.html

“Triazolam,” The United States National Library of Medicine, the National Institutes of Health, PubMed, see http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmedhealth/PMH0000809/

“Wiser use of sleeping pills. Consumer Reports On Health” [serial online]. January 2005;17(1):7.Available from: Academic Search Complete, Ipswich, MA. Accessed December 8, 2012.

Saul, Stephanie. “Sleep Drugs Found Only Mildly Effective, but Wildly Popular,” The New York Times, October 23, 2007.

Gorman, C. “The Dark Side of Halcion,” Time, 10/14/1991, Vol. 138 Issue 15, p65, 2/3p, 1 Graph

Pollack, Andrew. “Putting a Price on a Good Night’s Sleep,” The New York Times, January 13, 2004.

Ibid.

“Triazolam (Oral Route),” Mayo Clinic Staff, see http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/drug-information/DR602771

“Study: No differential effects of triazolam in men and women.” DATA: The Brown University Digest Of Addiction Theory & Application [serial online]. September 2007;26(9):3-4. Available from: Academic Search Complete, Ipswich, MA. Accessed December 8, 2012.

“Halcion Medication Guide,” see http://drugs-about.com/pdf/halcion/halcion-medication-guide.pdf

“Wiser use of sleeping pills. Consumer Reports On Health” [serial online]. January 2005;17(1):7.Available from: Academic Search Complete, Ipswich, MA. Accessed December 8, 2012.

Gorman, C. “The Dark Side of Halcion,” Time, 10/14/1991, Vol. 138 Issue 15, p65, 2/3p, 1 Graph

“Halcion,” Drugs.com, Official US Food And Drug Administration Information, see http://www.drugs.com/pro/halcion.html

Greenfield, DP. “What about Halcion?” N J Med. 199Dec;88(12):889-90.

Kolata, Gina. “Maker of Sleeping Pill Hid Data On Side Effects, Researchers Say,” The New York Times, January 20, 1992.

“France Curbs Dose Of Halcion,” The New York Times, December 31, 1991.

“Halcion Medication Guide,” see http://drugs-about.com/pdf/halcion/halcion-medication-guide.pdf

Saul, Stephanie. “Sleep Drugs Found Only Mildly Effective, but Wildly Popular,” The New York Times, October 23, 3007.

Gorman, C. “The Dark Side of Halcion,” Time, 10/14/1991, Vol. 138 Issue 15, p65, 2/3p, 1 Graph

“Halcion Label Adds Warnings,” The New York Times, November 19, 1991

“Triazolam,” The United States National Library of Medicine, the National Institutes of Health, Medline, see http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/druginfo/meds/a684004.html

Johansen S, Dahl-Sørensen R. A drug rape case involving triazolam detected in hair and urine. International Journal Of Legal Medicine [serial online]. July 2012;126(4):637-643.

“Triazolam,” The United States National Library of Medicine, the National Institutes of Health, Medline, see http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/druginfo/meds/a684004.html

“Halcion,” Drugs.com, Official US Food And Drug Administration Information, see http://www.drugs.com/pro/halcion.html

“Halcion,” Drugs.com, Official US Food And Drug Administration Information, see http://www.drugs.com/pro/halcion.html

“Triazolam (Oral Route),” Mayo Clinic Staff, see http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/drug-information/DR602771

“Halcion,” Drugs.com, Official US Food And Drug Administration Information, see http://www.drugs.com/pro/halcion.html

“Triazolam,” The United States National Library of Medicine, the National Institutes of Health, PubMed, see http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmedhealth/PMH0000809/

Stein, Benjamin. “Our Man in Nirvana,” The New York Times, January 22, 1992.

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