Etizolam is the name of an anti-anxiety medication legally prescribed in several countries (e.g., India, Italy and Japan), but not legally prescribed in the U.S. This medication belongs to a group of substances called thienodiazepines, which bear a strong chemical resemblance to a well-known group of sedative/tranquilizers called benzodiazepines. Unfortunately, in America, etizolam has become a recreational street drug. As with benzodiazepines, the use of thienodiazepines can lead to serious problems that include physical dependence/addiction and overdose. Professional treatment should be sought for benzodiazepine and thienodiazepine abuse.
Like benzodiazepines, thienodiazepines produce a calming effect by slowing down the normal rate of activity in your central nervous system. In fact, in terms of the basic effects they have inside your body, benzodiazepines and thienodiazepines are essentially the same. However, etizolam is a particularly powerful type of thienodiazepine. The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) reports that the medication produces effects six to 10 times stronger than the effects of the widely prescribed benzodiazepine Valium. In America, only research institutions can legally obtain etizolam. Despite this fact, online ordering services and illicit retail outlets make the medication available throughout the country. In addition to tablet form, illicit batches of the medication can be powdered or fixed to the surface of blotter paper.
Since thienodiazepines work in essentially the same manner as benzodiazepines, they can have similar harmful effects, especially when abused. And, since etizolam is not legally prescribed in the U.S., all cases of use in this country qualify as cases of abuse. In addition to physical dependence/addiction and overdose, the list of the medication’s unwanted effects includes:
- Unusually weak muscles
- Loss of normal muscle coordination
- Muscle tremors
- A confused mental state
- A depressed mental state
- Changes in normal vision
- Speech slurring
- Changes in normal sex drive
An overdose occurs when excessive amounts of the medication interfere with the basic function of your central nervous system. Like benzodiazepine overdoses, thienodiazepine overdoses don’t typically produce fatal outcomes, especially when you receive timely and appropriate medical care. However, you can die in a worst-case scenario. In addition, the risks for fatal outcomes can rise sharply if you take thienodiazepines in combination with other substances. Etizolam and other thienodiazepines will also trigger withdrawal symptoms in physically dependent or addicted users.
Who Abuses the Medication?
Reports of etizolam abuse first appeared in the U.S. in the early 2010s. Since that time, poison control centers have noted a small but growing number of emergency room visits by consumers of the medication. The DEA reports that abuse occurs among a broad range of population groups, including teenagers, young adults and older adults. Resources U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration: Etizolam https://www.deadiversion.usdoj.gov/drug_chem_info/etizolam.pdf University of Maryland – Center for Substance Abuse Research: Benzodiazepines https://www.cesar.umd.edu/cesar/drugs/benzos.asp Annals of Emergency Medicine: Overdose of Etizolam – The Abuse and Rise of a Benzodiazepine Analog https://www.annemergmed.com/article/S0196-0644(14)01602-3/fulltext Medscape: Benzodiazepine Toxicity https://emedicine.medscape.com/article/813255-overview