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  • Mixing Halcion (Triazolam) & Alcohol | Interactions & Effects

    Mixing Halcion & Alcohol | Interactions & Effects

    Many individuals turn to alcohol or prescription drugs like the brand name benzodiazepine Halcion in order to fall asleep faster and easier.

    However, Halcion and alcohol are known to cause dangerous and potentially harmful drug interactions when mixed, and combination use of these two substances should always be avoided.

    Drug Interactions Between Benzodiazepines & Alcohol

    Benzodiazepine drugs are schedule IV controlled substances used to treat panic and anxiety disorders, seizures, and insomnia. They include alprazolam (Xanax), diazepam (Valium), lorazepam (Ativan), and triazolam (Halcion) among many others. 

    Slowed CNS Activity

    Benzos work by increasing the action of the GABA neurotransmitter in the brain, causing a sedative effect that slows down central nervous system (CNS) activity as long as the drug is active. 

    This calms feelings of anxiety, stress, and restlessness at low doses, and at higher doses (benzodiazepine abuse) can cause an overwhelming sense of calm, euphoria, or pleasure with reduced inhibition and decision making.

    Ethanol, the psychoactive substance we know as drinking alcohol, is believed to bind directly to GABA receptors in the brain, enhancing the overall effect of GABA. 

    Increased Effects

    On its own, binge drinking alcohol triggers a burst of pleasure, energy, and reduced inhibition swiftly followed by drowsiness and impaired thinking, judgment, coordination, and memory.

    When you add a benzo like Halcion into the mix, these CNS depressants will build on each other’s effects, greatly increasing your risk of harmful side effects or overdose.

    Short-Term Side Effects Of Halcion & Alcohol Use

    Although Halcion has a very short half-life compared to other benzos, short-term use of Halcion with alcohol is a form of drug abuse with the potential to cause severe harm to your physical and mental health. 

    These effects will likely vary depending on your tolerance, physiology, and the dosage you take.

    Worsened Symptoms Of Insomnia

    While drinking alcohol with Halcion may help you fall asleep much faster, the alcohol may worsen symptoms of insomnia by suppressing your ability to enter REM sleep (deep sleep) and waking you up earlier as it is filtered out of your system. 

    Sleepwalking & Other Adverse Effects

    Mixing alcohol with Halcion can also cause you to sleepwalk, sleep eat, or even sleep drive, which is extremely dangerous.

    Other potentially serious side effects include:

    • drowsiness and sedation
    • lightheadedness
    • impaired reflexes and coordination
    • reduced thinking, judgement, and impulse control
    • memory loss
    • reduced heart rate, blood pressure, and body temperature
    • breathing problems

    Respiratory Depression

    Because high doses of CNS depressants can cause respiratory depression (difficulty breathing), or respiratory arrest (stopped breathing), the use of Halcion and alcohol together has been known to cause lasting physical and/or mental harm or death in certain cases.

    Long-Term Side Effects Of Halcion & Alcohol Use

    Chronic use of Halcion with alcohol will likely only intensify the harmful long-term effects of both substances. These long-term effects may include:

    • sleep apnea and other sleep problems
    • liver disease
    • long-term learning and memory impairment
    • mood and behavioral changes
    • depression and anxiety
    • in the case of pregnancy, increased risk of miscarriage and developmental defects
    • high blood pressure
    • cardiovascular disease
    • immune dysfunction
    • sexual or reproductive dysfunction
    • physical dependence to one or both substances

    Polydrug Dependence & Addiction

    Using potentially addictive substances in combination tends to increase the rate at which physical dependence, tolerance, and addiction develop.

    Prolonged use of Halcion, in particular, can trigger the development of physical dependence in less than a month. 

    As a result, it is only prescribed by healthcare providers for very limited use, usually 7-10 days at most. It should never be taken more often or in higher doses than prescribed or mixed with other depressants like alcohol.

    Once physical dependence develops, you will likely experience uncomfortable or even dangerous withdrawal symptoms when you stop taking one or both drugs. 

    Other Drugs That May Cause Harmful Interactions With Halcion

    Other substances that you should not take Halcion with, or should use with caution only if instructed to do so by your healthcare provider, include:

    • opioid narcotics
    • ritonavir
    • itraconazole
    • nefazodone
    • ketoconazole
    • isoniazid
    • grapefruit juice
    • oral contraceptives
    • ranitidine

    If you or a loved one struggles with benzodiazepine misuse or dependence, alcohol misuse, or polydrug misuse, contact us today to learn about our treatment options.

    Written by Ark Behavioral Health Editorial Team
    ©2023 Ark National Holdings, LLC. | All Rights Reserved.
    This page does not provide medical advice.

    Centers for Disease Control and Prevention - Alcohol Use and Your Health
    Food and Drug Administration (FDA) - Halcion®
    Journal of Psychiatric Research - Benzodiazepines and alcohol
    University of Michigan Health - triazolam

    Medically Reviewed by
    Kimberly Langdon M.D.
    on May 11, 2022
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