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Halcion vs Xanax: What is the Difference?

Benzodiazepines are a class of drugs that are primarily used to treat anxiety and seizure disorders. Some benzodiazepines may also be used to treat the symptoms of insomnia. While benzodiazepines have medicinal uses, they are known to be habit-forming and highly addictive. 

Up to 20% of all benzodiazepine use qualifies as substance abuse.[1] Additionally, the CDC reports that benzodiazepines were involved in 17% of all drug overdose deaths from 2019 to 2020.[2]

Because benzodiazepine medications can cause mind-altering effects like euphoria and drowsiness, many people abuse these drugs. If you are considering taking a benzodiazepine, it is important to know the differences between common types. Xanax and Halcion are two common benzodiazepines that share some similarities and differences that you should be aware of. 

What is Xanax (Alprazolam)?

Xanax is the brand name for a benzodiazepine medication called alprazolam. Alprazolam is available by prescription only and is commonly used to treat anxiety and panic disorder. Like other benzodiazepines, Xanax works by reducing activity in your brain to promote relaxation and calmness.[3]

Like any medication, Xanax can cause side effects. Typically, these side effects subside after you have been taking the medication for some time. The common side effects associated with alprazolam include:[3]

  • Drowsiness and lightheadedness
  • Headaches
  • Tiredness
  • Dizziness
  • Nausea 
  • Irritability
  • Talkativeness and difficulty concentrating 
  • Dry mouth or increased salivation
  • Changes in sex drive 
  • Constipation 
  • Increased or decreased appetite 
  • Difficulty urinating 
  • Pain in the joints 

It is important to note that Xanax is only intended for short-term use because it can be habit-forming and addictive

What is Halcion (Triazolam)?

Halcion is the brand name for a benzodiazepine medication called triazolam. Triazolam is typically prescribed to treat insomnia and other sleep disorders. By slowing down activity in your brain, triazolam can help you fall and stay asleep throughout the night.[4]

Like Xanax, Halcion can cause a variety of side effects. The common side effects associated with triazolam include:[4]

  • Drowsiness and tiredness
  • Daytime sleepiness the morning after taking the medication 
  • Feeling lightheaded or weak
  • Balance and coordination issues 
  • Unusual sleep behaviors (i.e. driving, eating, or having intercourse)
  • Changes in mood like anxiety or depression 

Like other benzodiazepines, Halcion is only intended for short-term use. When used long-term, dependency is likely to occur. This can lead to a substance use disorder, which is why doctors are careful to limit the amount of time their patients are taking Halcion. 

Differences Between Xanax and Halcion 

While Xanax and Halcion are both benzodiazepines with many similarities, there are some differences between the two. 


Xanax or alprazolam is primarily used to treat anxiety and panic disorders. On the other hand, Halcion is used to help patients overcome insomnia, whether they have issues falling asleep or staying asleep throughout the night. 

Duration of Effects

Xanax is considered an intermediate-acting drug, while Halcion is a short-acting benzodiazepine. 

Xanax does have an extended-release formulation, which means the drug slowly releases the medication throughout the day instead of all at once. Halcion does not have an extended-release formula, because it is intended to be used for sleep. 


Because Halcion causes effects faster than Xanax, it tends to be more potent. While the maximum dosage of Halcion is 0.5mg per day, people can take up to 4mg of Xanax daily. 

Likelihood of Dependence and Addiction

Lastly, both substances are known to cause dependency and addiction when taken long-term. But is one more addictive than the other?

While Xanax and Halcion are equally as addictive, you might develop a dependency on Halcion faster because Halcion is the more potent benzodiazepine when compared to Xanax. 

Xanax is only intended to be used for 2 to 3 weeks, while Halcion use should never surpass a week or 10 days at a time.

Finding Help for Benzodiazepine Abuse 

If you or a loved one are dependent on or addicted to a benzodiazepine like Xanax or Halcion, professional drug rehab can help. Whether you are taking the medication as prescribed or misusing a benzodiazepine, you can develop a substance use disorder. 

By attending a drug rehab center, you will have access to evidence-based behavioral therapies, group counseling, and relapse prevention planning. In other words, you will receive everything you need to overcome your addiction and regain control over your life.

To learn more about benzodiazepine addiction treatment or to find help for yourself or a loved one, contact Mandala Healing Center today.