Etizolam is a benzodiazepine analogue similar to diazepam or Valium. It works like other benzodiazepines, although it has a slightly different chemical makeup. Where benzos have a benzene ring, etizolam has a thiophene ring.
Etizolam depresses the central nervous system and animal testing seems to point toward its effectiveness as a muscle relaxer, anti-convulsion medication, sleep aid, sedative and anti-anxiety medication. The World Health Organization reports that etizolam is six to 10 times more potent than diazepam for most of its effects. It is currently not approved for use in the United States; however, it is on the market in Japan, Italy, and India under names such as:
Etizolam is not regulated or controlled in the United States as an acceptable medication as of yet.
How Etizolam Is Abused
While etizolam is not on the market in America and you won’t find it in your local pharmacy or get a prescription from your doctor, you can obtain it over the Internet and through other channels. This is highly dangerous as you can never be sure what exactly you are obtaining online. Without more information and knowledge of etizolam’s potential effects, it is extremely risky to use without being under a physician’s care.
Etizolam is a tablet that is typically swallowed orally, but addicts are also known to crush and snort them. Because it is fairly new and not controlled in the United States, etizolam also contains none of the safety features to prevent abuse and tampering offered by some of the other more common and well-known prescription drugs.
Anxiety Disorder and Etizolam
Etizolam generally works like the rest of the benzodiazepine family in that it targets the neurotransmitter gamma-amino butyric acid (GABA) in the brain, working to increase production and slow nerve impulses. According to the Center for Substance Abuse Research, benzodiazepines are the one of the most prescribed depressant medications in America. They are often used to treat anxiety. Etizolam works like these other benzodiazepines; however, it seems to be more selective, binding to specific receptor sites in the brain and causing a more anxiolytic or anti-anxiety effect.
While etizolam is relatively unproven and under the radar, there has been a study done to attempt to determine its effectiveness on generalized anxiety disorder, or GAD. Because etizolam is more potent than Valium and seems to have fewer side effects, those suffering from GAD are interested in it.
While depressive and anxiety symptoms did seem to be improved with etizolam and side effects were less dramatic, daytime drowsiness being the most reported, other benzodiazepine side effects need to be taken into account as well.
Some of the biggest issues with benzodiazepines are their high risk for addiction and severe withdrawal symptoms. When taken correctly, drugs like etizolam and Valium are meant as short-term solutions and not intended to be taken for long periods of time.
Risks of Abuse
Being similar to a benzodiazepine, etizolam carries many of the same risk factors. The potential for fatal overdose due to a suppression of the central nervous system is high. Benzodiazepines were implicated in 6,500 deaths in 2010 as published in the Journal of American Medical Association.
One of the major risks of benzo abuse is that of mixing it with another substance. The interaction of more than one substance creates even bigger risks and opportunities for overdose. Some of the other side effects of benzos and etizolam are:
- Mental confusion
- Impaired coordination
- Short-term memory loss
- Decreased appetite
- Blurry vision
- Slurred speech
- Decreased heart rate
- Dry mouth
- Mood swings
- Sleep issues
- Muscle weakness
Etizolam and its benzodiazepine counterparts are intended for short-term relief of anxiety symptoms due to their extremely high potential for tolerance and dependence over time, which can lead to addiction. The National Survey on Drug Use and Health indicated that in 2010, seven million people used prescription drugs for nonmedical purposes, or in other words, abused them, in the past month.
By chemically altering the brain, these drugs create a tolerance when used over time. Users need more and more of the drug to obtain the desired effects. Not only that, but the user’s brain then slows down its natural production of these chemicals; so when the drug is withdrawn, users have physical and emotional reactions that can be quite severe, including shaking, sweats, night terrors, nausea, trouble sleeping, headaches, irritability, and increased anxiety and paranoia. These chemical changes in the brain can take years to repair.
Those who suffer from anxiety disorders may be drawn to drugs like etizolam regardless of the fact that they are still relatively untested and unproven. On the surface, etizolam can appear to be more helpful with anxiety symptoms than other benzodiazepines and bring fewer side effects. Many have already tried most of the more common benzodiazepine medications and developed a tolerance, thus increasing the appeal of new and different medications.
If someone you know has become addicted to etizolam or other substances and also suffers from an anxiety disorder, specialized treatment in which both afflictions are addressed is vital. Not all treatment is the same, and it is important for each individual to be assessed by a skilled professional and treated with a customized plan. Withdrawal symptoms can be dangerous and detoxification should be monitored by a consulting doctor.
Treating addiction and anxiety simultaneously is imperative in helping to avoid relapse and promote lasting healing and recovery. Call now to talk with one of our admissions coordinators about how to move forward with your recovery.
David W. Newton is a board certified pharmacist and also has been a board member for boards of examiners for the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy since 1983. His areas of expertise are primarily pharmaceuticals as well as cannabinoids. You can read an article about his expertise in CBD on the National Library of Medicine.
Reviewed by: Kim Chin and Marian Newton