Triazolam is a hypnotic drug. It is a member of the benzodiazepine family of drugs. In the United States, it is sold under the brand name Halcion as well as under its generic name.
Triazolam is used for the short-term (generally seven to ten days) treatment of insomnia. Continued usage for more than two to three weeks requires a complete re-evaluation of the person receiving the drug.
Triazolam increases the speed with which people achieve sleep, increases the duration of sleep, and decreases the likelihood of being awakened during sleep. The effect of triazolam decreases after 14 days of continuous use. In such cases, sleep patterns frequently return to those experienced prior to beginning use of triazolam or worse. This is called rebound insomnia.
The recommended dose of triazolam is 0.25 mg before going to bed. People with smaller body masses
and older individuals can receive a comparable effect with 0.125 mg of triazolam. The lowest effective dosage of the drug should be used to minimize adverse reactions.
Because of problems with rebound insomnia, patients should not receive triazolam for more than seven consecutive days. Accompanying rebound insomnia may be daytime anxiety.
Triazolam can cause serious birth defects. Women should not take this medicine if they are pregnant, think they may be pregnant, or are trying to get pregnant.
The drug may cause daytime anxiety after as few as 10 days of continuous usage. If this occurs, triazolam use should be discontinued.
People using triazolam should exercise caution when driving or using power tools or machinery.
People who use triazolam to reduce jet lag on long flights should be aware of a condition sometimes called “traveler’s amnesia. ” This is a condition in which the traveler completes the flight and carries on with normal activities but has no memory of these activities. The period of amnesia may last for a few minutes to a few hours. Traveler’s amnesia is most common when the traveler has had too little sleep or has been drinking alcohol.
Triazolam has relatively few side effects. Those that have been reported include drowsiness, headache, dizziness, nervousness, a feeling of being light-headed, problems with coordination, nausea and vomiting.
Less frequent side effects include euphoria, tachycardia, fatigue, confusion, impaired memory, muscle cramping, pain, and depression.
Triazolam increases the effect of drugs and substances that depress the central nervous system. This class of drugs includes anesthetics, narcotics, sedatives and other sleeping pills, atropine, and alcohol.
Some drugs and foods increase the effects of triazolam. They may also increase the chances of having side effects. These include cimetidine, isoniazid, oral contraceptives, and grapefruit juice.
Amnesia —A general medical term for loss of memory that is not due to ordinary forgetfulness. Amnesia can be caused by head injuries, brain disease, or epilepsy as well as by dissociation.
Euphoria —A feeling or state of well-being or elation.
Hypnotic —A type of medication that induces sleep.
Insomnia —A chronic inability to sleep or to remain asleep throughout the night.
Tachycardia —A pulse rate above 100 beats per minute.
Adams, Michael, and Norman Holland. Core Concepts in Pharmacology. Philadelphia: Lippincott-Raven, 1998.
Foreman, John C., and Torben Johansen. Textbook of Receptor Pharmacology. 2nd ed. Boca Raton, FL: CRC Press, 2002.
Page, Clive P., and Michael Murphy. Integrated Pharmacology. St. Louis: Mosby-Year Book, 2002.
Johnson, Matthew W., Patricia Suess, and Roland R. Griffiths. “Ramelteon.” Archives of General Psychiatry 63.10 (Oct. 2006): 1149–57.
Mintzer, Miriam Z., and others. “Dose Effects of Triazolam on Brain Activity During Episodic Memory Encoding: A PET Study.” Psychopharmacology 188.4 (Nov. 2006): 445–61.
Vansickel, Andrea R., Lon R. Hays, and Craig R. Rush. “Discriminative-Stimulus Effects of Triazolam in Women and Men.” American Journal of Drug and Alcohol Abuse 32.3 (2006): 329–49.
American Academy of Clinical Toxicology. 777 East Park Drive, P.O. Box 8820, Harrisburg, PA 17105-8820. Telephone: (717) 558-7750. Fax: (717) 558-7845. http://www.clintox.org/index.html
American Academy of Family Physicians. 11400 Tomahawk Creek Parkway, Leawood, KS 66211-2672. Telephone: (913) 906-6000. http://www.aafp.org/
American Psychiatric Association. 1400 K Street NW, Washington, DC 20005. Telephone: (888) 357-7924. Fax (202) 682-6850. http://www.psych.org/
American Society for Clinical Pharmacology and Therapeutics. 528 North Washington Street, Alexandria, VA 22314. Telephone: (703) 836-6981. Fax: (703) 836-5223.
Pfizer Inc. Halcion (Triazolam Tablets U.S.P.): Full U.S. Prescribing Information. http://www.pfizer.com/pfizer/download/uspi_halcion.pdf
L. Fleming Fallon, Jr., MD, Dr.P.H.
Ruth A. Wienclaw, PhD