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Halcion vs. Ambien

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Halcion vs. Ambien

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If you are not getting a good night’s sleep, you are not alone. With so many insomnia treatment options on the market, it can be exhausting to learn the different types of medications, let alone decide which treatment option is best for you. 

In this article, we give a side-by-side comparison guide of two commonly prescribed medications used to treat insomnia, Halcion and Ambien, so that you can be better informed when discussing treatment options with your healthcare provider. 

If you are suffering from chronic sleep disturbances and believe you would benefit from insomnia treatment, let Klarity help. At Klarity, we believe in providing affordable, convenient care for your mental health whenever and wherever you need it. Start by taking this free 2-minute self-evaluation, and we’ll connect you with an insomnia-trained healthcare provider in 48 hours. 

What is Halcion?

Halcion is the brand name of the generic drug triazolam, which belongs to a class of medications called benzodiazepines. Halcion works by binding to GABA inhibitory receptors, which slow down activity in the brain, causing sedation and promoting sleep. 

Halcion Forms and Doses

Halcion or triazolam is available in tablet form only in 0.125 mg and 0.25 mg dosages. The name-brand Halcion drug is available in 0.25 mg dosing only but is a scored tablet that can be split into smaller dosages. The initial dose is 0.125 mg once daily before bed but can be increased to the maximum dose of 0.25 mg per day.  

Conditions Halcion Treats

Halcion is FDA-approved for the short-term treatment of sleep-onset insomnia, which can be described as difficulty initially falling asleep. This medication also has an off-label use of oral sedation prior to outpatient dental procedures.  

Halcion Costs

Halcion, or triazolam, is a relatively affordable medication and is covered by most insurance plans. If you do not have health insurance, the use of coupon codes at large pharmacies can significantly lower the cost of the medication. 

For example, the retail price of Halcion is over $200 for a 30-day supply, but with the use of coupons, the cost is lowered to under $10 per month. 

Halcion Side Effects

As with any medication, there is a risk of developing side effects when starting Halcion. If you begin to experience serious adverse effects, it is important to contact your healthcare provider immediately. 

The most common side effects associated with Halcion include: 

  • Daytime drowsiness 
  • Dizziness
  • Loss of coordination 
  • New or worsening depression 
  • Headache 
  • Issues with memory 
  • Paresthesias or numbness and tingling 

Halcion Warnings For Use

While Halcion is considered to be a relatively safe and effective medication to take for the treatment of insomnia, there are some important safety precautions that should be kept in mind before starting the medication. 

Complex Sleep Behaviors 

A rare but serious side effect of Halcion is complex sleep behaviors, which can be described as activities or behaviors that occur when the individual is not fully conscious or awake. Some examples of this include sleepwalking and sleep-driving, which can both end in dangerous outcomes for those involved. 

If you begin to experience complex sleep behaviors when starting Halcion or any sleep aid, it is important to immediately discontinue the medication and contact your healthcare provider. Most people do not remember these events and, therefore, should be closely monitored when starting the medication. 

Limit Long-term Use 

Halcion is intended for the short-term treatment of sleep-onset insomnia. This medication is considered to be a schedule-IV controlled substance due to its potential for misuse and dependency. 

Long-term use of benzodiazepines will result in dependency, and the patient will need to be slowly tapered off the medication in order to prevent withdrawal or discontinuation syndrome. This medication should be avoided by anyone with a current or past substance abuse history. 

Psychological and Behavioral Changes

Reports have found that with long-term use of Halcion, there is a potential risk of developing changes in mood and behavior. This may include new or worsening depression, including suicidal ideation, hallucinations, confusion, agitation, or bizarre behavior. 

Before starting the medication, your healthcare provider should evaluate you for underlying mood or psychiatric disorders, as this can precipitate these symptoms. 

Halcion Interactions

Be sure to disclose all medications you are currently taking with your healthcare provider, including all over-the-counter medications and supplements. 

The most common drug interactions with Halcion include:

  • Other central nervous system depressants, such as alcohol or other benzodiazepines
  • Other sleep aid medications, such as Ambien
  • Opioid medications
  • Certain psychiatric medications, such as Cymbalta, Lexapro, or Buspar 
  • Peripheral neuropathy medicine, including Gabapentin and Lyrica 
  • Diabetic medications, such as Metformin 

What is Ambien?

Ambien is the name-brand for the generic drug zolpidem and is one of the most commonly prescribed medications used to treat the most common symptoms of insomnia. Ambien is considered to be a sedative-hypnotic medication that acts on GABA receptors in the brain. 

GABA receptors are considered to be inhibitory and, when activated, slow the activity within the brain, producing its sedating effect. Ambien works at the same site on the receptors as benzodiazepines, which likely explains its high potential for abuse and dependence. 

Ambien Forms and Doses

Ambien is available as an oral solution, and various tablets, including immediate-release, extended-release, and sublingual tablets that dissolve under the tongue. The average dose of Ambien is started at 5 mg and can be slowly increased as needed, with a maximum dose of 12.5 mg.  

Conditions Ambien Treats

Ambien or generic zolpidem is solely prescribed and FDA-approved for the treatment of traditional insomnia symptoms in individuals over the age of 18 years of age. 

Insomnia

The symptoms of insomnia vary from person to person, but overall there are two types of insomnia. Sleep onset insomnia is the inability to fall asleep, and sleep maintenance insomnia is the inability to stay asleep throughout the night. While some may struggle with one or the other, some individuals may experience issues with both falling and staying asleep. 

The different formulations of Ambien tablets are useful in addressing different insomnia symptoms. For example, if you primarily experience difficulty falling asleep, the immediate-release or sublingual tablets will help you get to sleep faster. On the other hand, the extended-release tablets would be useful for those who have difficulty staying asleep throughout the night.  

Ambien Costs

The price of Ambien varies depending on your insurance coverage, which dose you are on, and which pharmacy you use. Ambien is covered by most health insurance plans, and if you are uninsured, coupon codes are widely available and significantly reduce the cost of the medication. 

For example, the average retail price of Ambien is typically over $730 for a 30-day supply, but with the use of coupon codes, the price for the same medication ranges between $4-$40. 

Ambien Side Effects

Ambien is associated with a number of different side effects that vary in severity from mild to severe, and it can be potentially fatal. It is important that you are closely monitored when initially starting Ambien for some of the severe adverse effects, such as complex sleep behaviors. 

Some of the common side effects associated with Ambien include: 

  • Headache 
  • Drowsiness or dizziness 
  • Nausea, abdominal pain, dry mouth, constipation, or diarrhea 
  • Loss of coordination or balance 
  • Confusion or altered consciousness
  • Changes in mood or mental state 
  • New or worsening anxiety or depression, including suicidal ideation 
  • Complex sleep behaviors, such as sleepwalking or sleep-driving
  • Visual changes 
  • Muscle pain 
  • Congestion 
  • Allergic reaction 

Ambien Warnings For Use

Although Ambien is a relatively common drug that is used to treat insomnia, there are a few warnings for use that should be mentioned. Due to the sedating effects of Ambien, other central nervous system depressants such as alcohol and benzodiazepines should be strictly avoided.

Before starting Ambien, it is important that you are screened for any underlying serious psychiatric conditions. Studies have shown that the use of Ambien can cause changes in mood and behavior, likely in those with undiagnosed conditions. 

Complex Sleep Behaviors 

Complex sleep behaviors are actions performed while the individual is not fully awake or conscious. Some examples include sleepwalking or sleep-driving, which is not only dangerous for the person involved but also those surrounding the individual. 

If you experience complex sleep behaviors while taking Ambien, it is important to immediately discontinue the medication and contact your healthcare provider. 

Not Intended for Long-term Use 

Ambien is considered a schedule-IV controlled substance due to its potential for abuse and dependence. This medication should be avoided in those with a current or past history of substance abuse. 

This medication is intended to be taken for a short period of time, as long-term use can result in dependence on the medication. If someone is taking Ambien consistently for an extended period of time, they will need to be slowly tapered off to prevent withdrawal or discontinuation syndrome.  

Ambien Interactions

As always, it is important to disclose all current medications you are taking with your healthcare provider, including all over-the-counter medications and supplements. 

Some common drug interactions with Ambien include: 

  • Other central nervous system depressants, including alcohol and benzodiazepines 
  • Opioid pain medications, including 
  • Certain antidepressant medications, such as Lexapro, Lyrica, Zoloft
  • Specific antihypertensives, such as lisinopril 
  • Muscle relaxants, including Flexeril

Which Insomnia Medication Should I Take?

As previously mentioned, insomnia presents itself in different ways from person to person, and there are many different medications that can specifically target certain symptoms. In order to find the best insomnia treatment plan for you, discuss your symptoms with your healthcare provider. 

If you are in need of a compassionate insomnia-trained healthcare provider to help navigate this process with you, schedule an appointment on Klarity today. 

Halcion and Ambien Frequently Asked Questions

Comparing two different medications that are both used for the same condition can get confusing. We went over a lot of information, and it is normal to have questions. 

Below we have listed the most frequently asked questions about Halcion and Ambien.

Are Halcion and Ambien the same class of drug?

Although Halcion and Ambien act in a similar fashion on the same group of receptors, they belong to two different classes of medications. 

Halcion or triazolam is a benzodiazepine and Ambien or zolpidem is considered a sedative-hypnotic medication. Both medications act on GABA receptors to calm the mind, leading to sedation and to enter a sleep state.  

What’s better for Insomnia? Halcion or Ambien?

While both medications have been shown to be highly effective in treating insomnia, they each have unique properties which help with different symptoms. For example, Halcion is primarily used to treat sleep onset insomnia and helps you fall asleep faster. 

On the other hand, Ambien can help you fall asleep and stay asleep, which may be a more beneficial option for someone with both sleep onset and maintenance insomnia symptoms. 

How should Halcion be taken? How should Ambien be taken?

Due to the sedating effects of either medication, both medications should be taken at night. It is recommended that each medication should be taken immediately before going to bed. 

Can Halcion cause depression? Can Ambien?

A shared potential side effect of both Halcion and Ambien is the development of new or worsening depression, including suicidal ideation. It is important to disclose if you have any underlying or undiagnosed mood or psychiatric disorders before starting either medication. 

Can I drive on Halcion or Ambien?

No, driving and operating heavy machinery should be strictly avoided after taking either medication. Due to the sedating effects of these medications, driving after taking either medication can be very dangerous for not only the individual but those surrounding them. 

Can I drink alcohol when taking Halcion or Ambien?

Alcohol and other central nervous system depressants should be strictly avoided when taking Halcion or Ambien. Mixing the two substances increases the risk of experiencing adverse effects, as well as sedating effects associated with both substances. 

Does it matter what time of day I take Halcion or Ambien?

Yes, both Halcion and Ambien should be taken at night, immediately before bedtime. 

Start Your Insomnia Treatment Today With Healthcare Providers on Klarity

If you are not getting enough sleep throughout the night, this can leave you feeling drained, irritable, and unable to concentrate throughout the day. Insomnia takes a toll on your everyday life, and you deserve to wake up feeling refreshed and ready to take on the day. 

Skip the hassles associated with the traditional doctor’s visit, including long wait times, traffic, taking time off of work, and expensive co-pays. At Klarity, we believe in access to affordable mental health care at the convenience of your own home, anytime you need it. 

Schedule an appointment today, and we’ll connect you with a licensed healthcare professional in as little as 48 hours so you can get started on your individualized insomnia treatment plan right away. 

Start today, and discuss your symptoms with a specialist who can help.

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