Triazolam is a prescription drug that is one of the many drugs in the benzodiazepine family. Triazolam is approved by the FDA and other authorities internationally for general medical use. It is often prescribed to help patients get to sleep.
Triazolam works by slowing down brain activity. It does so by causing enhancement of the GABA neurotransmitter at the GABAa receptor. As such, it functions as a depressant. Depressants are drugs that depress brain activity. While it is primarily intended as a sleep aid, and almost exclusively prescribed for this purpose, its depressant characteristics mean it will also alleviate anxiety, and have a calming effect. It can also have an anticonvulsant effect on the brain.
The drug is recommended for use as a treatment for acute insomnia. It is meant to be used only for short periods of time. Therefore, it is not normally prescribed for chronic insomnia. Acute insomnia is often brought on by sudden lifestyle or environmental changes. Jet lag is a common cause of acute insomnia, and Triazolam is often prescribed to treat insomnia caused by jet lag.
The reason it is such a popular choice among doctors treating acute insomnia is that it is fast acting, and that its soporific effects wear off quite quickly. Its short effective period means those who take it should not feel any drowsiness when they awake. The Triazolam-affected period of sleep is around 1.5 hours. After that time, the Triazolam has been totally metabolized by the liver and no longer affects brain activity in most people.
Triazolam, under the brand name Halcion, was originally produced by Pharmacia and Upjohn. Following standard testing protocols, the drug was approved for use in tablet form, with each tablet containing 0.25 milligrams of the active ingredient. That approval came in November 1982. In 1985, Pharmacia and Upjohn applied for, and received, approval for a lower strength version, with each tablet having a dosage of 0.125 milligrams.
In 1994, Mylan Pharms Inc and Roxane both received approval for Triazolam as a generic version of Halcion. These approvals were for the 0.125mg and 0.25mg dosages. Today, the drug is manufactured and distributed by Pfizer.
The drug is classed as a Schedule IV drug under the Controlled Substance Act. Schedule IV drugs are deemed to be low risk drugs for substance abuse, and also low risk in terms of patients developing dependency. Other Schedule IV drugs include Xanax and Valium.
Triazolam is issued in tablet form. Tablets should be swallowed whole. When the drug is prescribed to help patients get to sleep, it is recommended that it be taken shortly before bedtime. Patients should avoid eating meals too soon before bedtime, as the effects of the drug are diminished when the stomach is fairly full.
Although the drug is normally fully metabolized within two hours, its effects may last longer. Therefore, doctors will recommend that you take Triazolam only if you plan to sleep for seven or eight hours. If you know you will not be able to sleep for that long, you should not use Triazolam. This is because the effects of the drug may not have worn off, and waking too soon after taking the drug can cause memory problems.
Abuse and addiction
Triazolam, like other benzodiazepines, is abused most often by people who have addictions to other drugs or alcohol, making it a secondary drug in abuse and addiction terms. Users can become dependent on the drug when they take it for prolonged periods, or when they exceed the recommended dosage.
The street names used for other drugs in the benzodiazepine family can apply to Triazolam. These include:
Effects of abusing Triazolam
Abuse can take different forms, and the effects may be different. Abuse by taking the drug for prolonged periods can result in insomnia. While the drug is prescribed for insomnia, it can actually induce the condition when overused.
When people are high on Triazolam, whether from taking too much of the drug or using it in combination with other drugs, they can display some or all of the following symptoms:
- Slurred speech – it can be difficult to understand what they are saying
- Incoherence – they have problems putting logical sentences together
- Disorientation – they do not know where they are or where they have come from
- Problems with muscular control – they find it difficult to perform simple tasks like walking
- Respiratory problems – breathing can be labored.
If you suspect somebody has abused Triazolam, you should seek medical help immediately. Abusers can lapse into coma, and can be at risk of dying if they are not treated urgently.
Once the emergency situation has been dealt with, a person who abuses Triazolam should be advised to seek long-term treatment. The purpose of this treatment will be to help the person stop taking the drug.
There may be withdrawal symptoms. These can include:
- Muscular spasms
Withdrawal symptoms tend to be short lived. However, the psychological reasons for abusing the drug need to be addressed, and professional therapy is the best option.