Halcion (Triazolam) - Oral

Warning:

Use of Halcion (a benzodiazepine) with opioids should be avoided (e.g., with Tylenol #3 which contains codeine, or hydrocodone products). The combination of benzodiazepines with opioids can cause slowed or trouble breathing and death. Combination treatment with opioids should only be used in people when other options won’t work. When combination treatment is used, close monitoring, minimal dosages, and the shortest medication duration possible is recommended. Benzodiazepine use may lead to misuse, abuse and/or addiction, which may lead to overdose or death. Before prescribing and during treatment, check each person’s risk for misuse, abuse, and addiction. Abrupt stopping or quickly reducing your dose of Halcion after using it for a while may cause serious withdrawal reactions, which can be life-threatening. To minimize your withdrawal risk, work with your healthcare provider to gradually lower your dose of Halcion.

What Is Halcion?

Halcion (triazolam) is a prescription medicine in the benzodiazepine drug class used for the short-term management of insomnia (difficulty sleeping). Halcion and other benzodiazepines are Schedule IV drugs. They are highly addictive and should be used cautiously.

Halcion and other benzodiazepines bind to specific places in your brain called “benzodiazepine receptors,” and can make you feel tired and relaxed. The effect of benzodiazepines, in general, makes them an effective option for treating sleep problems in the short term.

Drug Facts

Generic Name: Triazolam

Brand Name(s): Halcion

Drug Availability: Prescription

Therapeutic Classification: Benzodiazepine

Available Generically: Yes

Controlled Substance: Schedule IV

Administration Route: Oral

Active Ingredient: Triazolam

Dosage Form(s): Tablet

What Is Halcion Used For?

Halcion has been approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for the short-term management of insomnia. This usually means you will only get around four to eight weeks worth of medication. That said, contact your healthcare provider if you can’t sleep after seven to 10 days of taking it as you may need to be evaluated for other underlying issues like sleep apnea, anxiety or depression.

Halcion (Triazolam) Drug Information - Illustration by Dennis Madamba

Verywell / Dennis Madamba

How to Take Halcion

It’s important to follow directions from your healthcare provider for your medicine. Generally, Halcion should be taken once a day right before you go to bed to help you sleep and also to help avoid any excessive drowsiness in the morning. This medicine should be taken on an empty stomach. Do not take it unless you have at least seven to eight hours before you need to wake up. It is very important to not take more Halcion than is prescribed.

Storage

Halcion should be stored in a cool, dry place. In general, medicines should be kept away from areas of high heat like in your kitchen or very humid places like your bathroom. These environments can affect how well medicines work. It's also important to make sure that this medicine is kept away from children and pets to avoid unintended consumption. 

There may be special requirements to receive a refill since this is a Schedule IV medication (a controlled substance). The requirements for refills will vary depending on which state you live in.

Off-Label Uses

Similar to other benzodiazepines, Halcion can be used for treating different types of anxiety. Specifically, Halcion has been useful for treating anxiety from dental work. It's usually given one hour before the dental procedure. If you're over the age of 65 years or are sensitive to sedation, a lower dose will likely be given. Since it works quickly and is also cleared from the body pretty quickly, it has fewer side effects like “brain fog.”

How Long Does Halcion Take to Work?

Halcion will start to work in 30 minutes for its sedative effects. Its maximal effect occurs within two hours, but you may start feeling drowsy a little before or after two hours. The range is due to how your body breaks down the drug which varies from person to person.

What Are the Side Effects of Halcion?

You should follow directions from your healthcare provider or pharmacist on any medication you receive. It’s even more important for Halcion since it is a very potent sedative medication, and can be highly addictive.

This is not a complete list of side effects and others may occur. A healthcare provider can advise you on side effects. If you experience other effects, contact your pharmacist or a healthcare provider. You may report side effects to the FDA at fda.gov/medwatch or 1-800-FDA-1088.

Common Side Effects

Common side effects of Halcion can include:

  • Tiredness
  • Drowsiness
  • Headache
  • Dizziness
  • Light-headedness
  • Impaired movement
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting

Severe Side Effects

Contact your healthcare provider right away if you are experiencing any of the side effects below. This drug will most likely be discontinued if any of these occur:

  • “Sleep-driving” and other complex behaviors: This drug has caused episodes of driving while not fully awake.
  • Increased heart rate
  • Hallucinations
  • Sleep walking
  • Fainting

You should call 911 if your symptoms feel life-threatening, or if you think you are experiencing a medical emergency.

Long-Term Side Effects

Similar to other benzodiazepines, some of the most common long-term side effects of Halcion are your body getting used to the drug (tolerance), withdrawal symptoms, and addiction.

Tolerance may develop if you take this drug for a long time as your body needs a higher dose to get the same effect. If you stop taking the medication for a while, you may feel withdrawal symptoms for several weeks to more than a year. It is important to contact your healthcare provider if you have any of these symptoms, like:

  • Anxiety
  • Trouble with memory
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Tingling
  • Weakness
  • Muscle twitching
  • Ringing in your ears

Prolonged use of this medicine can put you at a higher risk for addiction and substance use disorder, which can lead to overdose or death, especially when Halcion is used along with certain other prescription drugs, alcohol, or street drugs. Contact your healthcare provider if you start to have a craving for this medicine beyond its medical use so you can get appropriate medical care.

Report Side Effects

Halcion may cause other side effects. Call your healthcare provider if you have any unusual problems while taking this medication.

If you experience a serious side effect, you or your healthcare provider may send a report to the FDA's MedWatch Adverse Event Reporting Program or by phone (800-332-1088).

Dosage: How Much Halcion Should I Take?

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The dose of this medicine will be different for different patients. Follow your doctor's orders or the directions on the label. The following information includes only the average doses of this medicine. If your dose is different, do not change it unless your doctor tells you to do so.

The amount of medicine that you take depends on the strength of the medicine. Also, the number of doses you take each day, the time allowed between doses, and the length of time you take the medicine depend on the medical problem for which you are using the medicine.

  • For oral dosage form (tablets):
    • For insomnia:
      • Adults—0.125 to 0.25 milligram (mg) at bedtime. Your doctor may adjust your dose as needed. However, the dose is usually not more than 0.5 mg per day.
      • Older adults—At first, 0.125 mg at bedtime. Your doctor may adjust your dose as needed. However, the dose is usually not more than 0.25 mg per day.
      • Children—Use and dose must be determined by your doctor.

Modifications

If you are over the age of 65 years, you may be given a smaller dose to reduce side effects. Some of Halcion’s side effects are dose-dependent. This means that at higher doses, some side effects may show up, while others may not.

Missed Dose

If you miss a dose of Halcion, you should take it as soon as you remember. When you remember, and you are close to the next scheduled dose, you should take only that dose, and not the dose that you missed. It's important to NOT take more than one dose at a time. If you miss a dose, you may not be able to get a full night’s sleep.

Overdose: What Happens If I Take Too Much Halcion?

You may start to experience the symptoms of a Halcion overdose at around 2 milligrams. Symptoms may include:

  • Drowsiness
  • Confusion
  • Decreased coordination
  • Coma
  • Difficulty breathing

Death has been reported with Halcion overdoses, similar to other benzodiazepines.

Flumazenil may be used when it is suspected that you have overdosed.

What Happens If I Use Too Much Halcion?

If you think you or someone else may have overdosed on Halcion, call a healthcare provider or the Poison Control Center (800-222-1222).
If someone collapses or isn't breathing after taking Halcion, call 911 immediately.

Precautions

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It is very important that your doctor check your progress at regular visits to make sure this medicine is working properly and to check for any unwanted effects.

If your condition does not improve within 7 to 10 days, or if it becomes worse, check with your doctor.

Using this medicine while you are pregnant can harm your unborn baby. Use an effective form of birth control to keep from getting pregnant. If you think you have become pregnant while using the medicine, tell your doctor right away.

Do not take itraconazole (Sporanox®), ketoconazole (Nizoral®), nefazodone (Serzone®), or certain HIV medicines (eg, indinavir, nelfinavir, lopinavir, ritonavir, saquinavir, Kaletra®, Norvir®) while you are using this medicine. Using these medicines together with triazolam may increase the chance of serious side effects.

Triazolam may cause serious allergic reactions, including anaphylaxis and angioedema, which can be life-threatening and require immediate medical attention. Call your doctor right away if you have itching, hives, hoarseness, nausea or vomiting, trouble breathing, trouble swallowing, or any swelling of your hands, face, mouth or throat while you are using this medicine.

This medicine may be habit-forming. If you feel that the medicine is not working as well, do not use more than your prescribed dose. Call your doctor for instructions.

This medicine may cause you to do things while you are still asleep that you may not remember the next morning. It is possible you could drive a car, sleepwalk, have sex, make phone calls, or prepare and eat food while you are asleep or not fully awake. Tell your doctor right away if you learn that any of these has happened.

This medicine will add to the effects of alcohol and other central nervous system (CNS) depressants. CNS depressants are medicines that slow down the nervous system, which may cause drowsiness or make you less alert. Some examples of CNS depressants are antihistamines or medicine for hay fever, allergies, or colds, sedatives, tranquilizers, or sleeping medicine, prescription pain medicine or narcotics, barbiturates (used for seizures), muscle relaxants, or anesthetics (numbing medicines), including some dental anesthetics. This effect may last for a few days after you stop taking this medicine. Check with your doctor before taking any of the above while you are using this medicine.

This medicine may cause some people, especially older persons, to become drowsy, dizzy, or less alert than they are normally, which may lead to falls. Even though triazolam is taken at bedtime, it may cause some people to feel drowsy or less alert the next morning. Do not drive or do anything else that could be dangerous until you know how this medicine affects you.

Do not stop using this medicine without checking first with your doctor. Your doctor may want you to gradually reduce the amount you are using before stopping it completely. This may help prevent a worsening of your condition and reduce the possibility of withdrawal symptoms, including seizures, stomach or muscle cramps, sweating, tremors, vomiting, or unusual behavior.

If you develop any unusual and strange thoughts or behavior while you are using triazolam, be sure to discuss it with your doctor. Some changes that have occurred in people using this medicine are like those seen in people who drink alcohol and then act in a manner that is not normal. Other changes may be more unusual and extreme, such as confusion, worsening of depression, hallucinations (seeing, hearing, or feeling things that are not there), suicidal thoughts, and unusual excitement, nervousness, or irritability.

Symptoms of an overdose include: change in consciousness, difficult or trouble breathing, difficulty with coordination, irregular, fast or slow, or shallow breathing, loss of consciousness, mood or mental changes, pale or blue lips, fingernails, or skin, sleepiness or unusual drowsiness, or slurred speech. Call your doctor right away if you notice these symptoms.

Using this medicine while you are pregnant may cause neonatal withdrawal syndrome in your newborn babies. Tell your doctor right away if your baby has an abnormal sleep pattern, diarrhea, a high-pitched cry, irritability, shakiness or tremors, weight loss, vomiting, or fails to gain weight.

Do not take other medicines unless they have been discussed with your doctor. This includes prescription or nonprescription (over-the-counter [OTC]) medicines and herbal or vitamin supplements.

What Are Reasons I Shouldn’t Take Halcion?

If you are pregnant, or if you think you are pregnant, you should not take or be prescribed Halcion. This drug has led to birth defects in rats at high doses. You should discontinue this drug prior to becoming pregnant. You should also not be given this drug if you have ever experienced an allergic reaction to this drug or any other benzodiazepine. 

The smallest effective dose should be used in adults over the age of 65 years.

What Other Medications Interact With Halcion?

Halcion should not be used with other benzodiazepines or opioids. Combining the two increases the risk that you suffer death due to a decreased rate of breathing. Examples of benzodiazepines include:

  • Diazepam
  • Alprazolam
  • Lorazepam
  • Temazepam

Examples of opioids include:

  • Hydrocodone
  • Morphine
  • Codeine

Some medications that increase the level of Halcion in your body include:

  • Ketoconazole
  • Itraconazole
  • HIV medications in the protease inhibitor drug class (e.g., ​​darunavir, fosamprenavir, indinavir, Lopinavir/ritonavir)

What Medications Are Similar?

Halcion is most commonly used for the treatment of insomnia and short-term sleeping difficulty. Halcion is not the only medicine that is available for insomnia though. For the long-term treatment of insomnia, there are a few other options. Examples of other options for insomnia that have been recommended by clinicians include:

  • Eszopiclone
  • Temazepam
  • Zaleplon
  • Zolpidem
  • Doxepin
  • Trazodone
  • Melatonin
  • Magnesium

This is a list of drugs that are also used for the treatment of insomnia. It is NOT a list of drugs that are recommended to take with Halcion. In fact, you should not take these drugs together. Taking more than one drug for the treatment of your sleep disorder can increase the chances of complications. You should always ask your pharmacist or healthcare provider if you have any questions.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • What else should I do to manage my insomnia?

    There are non-drug therapies that are available to manage your insomnia. One of those options is to undergo a sleep study to rule out sleep apnea as a cause of your insomnia, or cognitive behavioral therapy. Another strategy is to control your surroundings as you get ready for bed and setting a sleeping routine. Other strategies include reducing the amount of time spent sleeping outside of night hours and reducing stress or increasing relaxation.

  • How can I manage the side effects of Halcion?

    To manage side effects such as headache, dizziness, or nausea and vomiting, it is best to take it right before bedtime so you are not feeling these side effects as much during your sleep. In addition, you may consider asking your healthcare provider to reduce your dose since you may be sensitive to the current dose since the side effects are dose-dependent.

  • How much does Halcion cost? Is there a way to get help paying for it?

    Halcion is a pretty expensive medicine. The cost ranges from $175 to $185 for a one month supply. There are cheaper alternatives for the treatment of insomnia, and even options that will cost nothing but changing your lifestyle. A cheaper drug option that is available is the generic, triazolam. Triazolam has an average cost of $35 to $40 for a one month supply.

How Can I Stay Healthy While Taking Halcion?

In order to stay healthy while taking Halcion, it’s important to take it as directed by your healthcare provider. It may be difficult to take it regularly at first, but in order to get your insomnia under control and get a good night's sleep, it must be taken regularly. Along with taking this medicine regularly, it's always important to try to live a healthy lifestyle by setting a good sleep routine, maintaining a healthy diet, exercising as tolerated, and staying well hydrated.

Medical Disclaimer

Verywell Health's drug information is meant for educational purposes only and not intended as a replacement for medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment from a healthcare provider. Consult your healthcare provider before taking any new medication(s). IBM Watson Micromedex provides some of the drug content, as indicated on the page.

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