Etizolam Addiction and Abuse
What is Etizolam?
According to the United States Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), etizolam is similar to benzodiazepine drugs like Xanax, which are used to treat anxiety and sleep problems.1 Like benzodiazepines, abusing this drug can result in dependence and require treatment to stop using this substance.
Class and ScheduleAs the DEA has explained, etizolam is not currently scheduled in the United States, as it is not approved for medical use. While it is allowed for legitimate medical purposes in Japan, India, and Italy, it is not legal in the United States, even for medical purposes. It has sedative effects like the benzodiazepine drugs, although its official classification is as a thienodiazepine. This means that instead of a benzene ring, it has a thiophene ring.1
Is it Addictive?The DEA may not list etizolam on its schedule of controlled substances, but that does not mean the drug is not addictive. According to research with humans, people can become physically dependent while taking it. This means that the body will adapt to the drug and have difficulty functioning without it.1 The rate of abuse in the United States seems to be on the rise. According to the DEA, law enforcement agencies across the United States seized just three samples of etizolam in 2012. By 2016, there were 600 drug seizures, and three-quarters of the way through 2019, there were 953 seizures.1
Is it Safe?In addition to the risk of abuse and addiction, there is also concern regarding the safety of etizolam. According to the DEA, this drug is 10 times stronger than Xanax in terms of its sedative effects.1 This means that the drug can leave a person feeling rather weak and drowsy. In addition to this, the U.S. government does not regulate the drug. This means that people may buy “research” versions of the drug from Internet retailers, and without government oversight, it is unknown if these drugs are truly safe.
How is it Used?According to the DEA, etizolam is available as both a tablet and a powder. This means that people may ingest tablets by mouth as they would with any other pill, or they may even snort the powder or inject it. There have also been reports of the drug being spiked on blotter paper.1
What are the Short-Term Effects?
In addition to significantly reducing anxiety and helping people to fall asleep more quickly and stay asleep longer, etizolam has some short-term side effects. These include the following, according to the National Center for Biotechnology Information:2
- Drowsiness and sedation
- Weak muscles
- Poor coordination
- Slurred Speech
- Changes to sex drive
- Visual hallucinations
Long-term EffectsWhile there is not much research on the long-term use of etizolam given the fact that it is not an approved medication in the United States, one of the risks with ongoing use is the development of tolerance and dependence. This means that as drug use continues, larger doses are needed to achieve the same effect. This can also lead to dependence, in which the body adapts to the presence of the drug and cannot function without it. Ultimately, this can cause withdrawal symptoms when use stops. There is also an increased risk of becoming addicted to etizolam with ongoing use.
Overdose and Withdrawal
Can You Overdose on Etizolam?
Beyond some of the unpleasant short-term effects of etizolam, there is a risk of overdose with this drug. As the National Center for Biotechnology Information has explained, research shows that this drug can cause respiratory depression in both oral and intravenous doses. This means breathing may stop if a high enough dose of the drug is taken. A drug called Flumazenil can reverse the effects of an overdose.
According to researchers writing for Forensic Science International, when used at normal doses, etizolam can be safe, but high doses, especially when taken in combination with other drugs, can lead to death. If you or someone you love is having difficulty breathing or experiencing excessive sedation after taking this drug, you should get emergency medical treatment as soon as possible to prevent serious complications or a fatal overdose.
What is Withdrawal Like?If a dependence develops and withdrawal begins, unpleasant side effects may appear. Since etizolam is similar to other sedative drugs like benzodiazepines, its withdrawal symptoms may mirror those of this class of drugs. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), common withdrawal symptoms include:
- Sleep disturbances
- Overactive reflexes
- Elevated heart rate and blood pressure
- Drug cravings
Treatment for Etizolam Abuse
Etizolam withdrawal symptoms can be severe, so treatment for abuse should begin with detoxing from the drug under the guidance of a doctor or medical professional. According to researchers writing for the International Medical Case Reports Journal, the preferred method for treating etizolam dependence is to begin by replacing the drug with a long-acting benzodiazepine drug and gradually tapering the daily dose until the drug is no longer needed. This alleviates withdrawal and prevents serious side effects. Some patients may take a selective-serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) drug to replace the drug and treat underlying anxiety.4
After detoxing, it is important to receive ongoing addiction treatment to address the issues that led to the abuse. For example, psychological or behavioral care, such as counseling, can help people to cope with stress and develop ways to manage anxiety without abusing drugs.
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