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Updated on September 26, 2022

Etizolam Uses, Effects & Abuse

What is Etizolam?

Etizolam is an anti-anxiety and anticonvulsant drug similar to benzodiazepines. It's sometimes referred to as a "designer" benzodiazepine. Examples of benzodiazepines include Valium® (diazepam) and Xanax® (Alprazolam). 

Etizolam can help treat various medical and mental health conditions, such as:

  • Generalized anxiety disorder (GAD)
  • Panic disorder
  • Depressive symptoms 
  • Subdural hematomas (bleeding occurring inside the skull but outside the brain tissue)

It is an extremely short-acting drug, with a half-life of 5 to 7 hours. This means that half of the drug will still be in your body after this time.

Despite this, etizolam has been shown to be more potent than diazepam (10 times more in hypnotic effects).  

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Is Etizolam Legal in the U.S.?

While legal in Japan, Italy, and India, etizolam is not available by prescription in the United States.

However, many laboratories manufacture etizolam for research purposes, making obtaining the substance more accessible via the internet. Etizolam is described as a “research chemical” on different sites or at local retail shops.  

This ease of availability can encourage some to buy the drug for medical use without a healthcare professional’s advice. Others misuse the drug for recreational purposes.

Street names for etizolam include:

  • Blues
  • Vallies
  • Benzos
  • Scoobies

A study of calls to the National Poison Data System in the U.S. showed that exposure to “designer” benzodiazepines is rising. Out of the 234 exposure cases across 40 US states, 162 were etizolam.  

Side Effects & Risks of Etizolam 

Regardless of the reason for drug use, etizolam has side effects. Some common ones include:

  • Drowsiness
  • Muscle weakness
  • Sedation
  • Sleepiness
  • Muscle relaxation
  • Ataxia (disorders that affect motor skills, such as balance or speech)
  • Slurred speech
  • Loss of consciousness 
  • Changes in libido

Etizolam is also a central nervous system (CNS) depressant, so there is a risk of respiratory depression (slow, ineffective breathing), coma, overdose, and death.

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Is Etizolam Addictive?

Misusing etizolam can result in psychological and physical addiction. But it might not be as addictive as benzodiazepines.

Still, etizolam withdrawal is similar to benzodiazepine withdrawal. Someone who has become dependent on the drug may go through withdrawal symptoms after quitting. These symptoms include:

  • Palpitations
  • Insomnia
  • Irritability
  • Tremors
  • Rebound anxiety 
  • Headaches
  • Nausea
  • Sweating 
  • Seizures (severe cases)

Etizolam is usually taken as an oral tablet. But people who misuse the drug may crush and snort it to experience a more intense high.

As etizolam is a relatively new drug, there are no guidelines to prevent abuse. Unlike some other more common and well-known prescription drugs, etizolam does not have the same safety features.

Addiction Treatment Options

Those suffering from anxiety disorders may choose to take etizolam despite the health risks. More evidence is needed to understand etizolam and its effects on the body, so it is not recommended to self-medicate. Instead, those with anxiety and panic disorders should seek professional help to discuss a treatment plan.

For those who have already developed an addiction, the best option is tapering. This is when intake of a drug is slowly reduced over time, usually in a controlled setting like inpatient rehab.

Etizolam can remain in the body for up to 40 hours. However, some people metabolize etizolam more slowly than others, and it can linger in their bodies for up to three-and-a-half days.

Returning to 'normal functioning' after detox can take anywhere from several days to months. It can even take years, depending on how long a person has been abusing the drug.

Detox for etizolam and similar drugs is typically slow and uncomfortable. Expect withdrawal symptoms to persist for long periods and adversely affect daily life.

People experiencing etizolam withdrawal can benefit from the help and support in a medical detox program.

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Resources

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  1. Critical Review Report: ETIZOLAM.Controlled Substances, World Health Organization, Oct. 2019.
  2. Etizolam.Drug Enforcement Administration. Diversion Control Division. Drug & Chemical Evaluation Section, Drug Enforcement Administration, Mar. 2020.
  3. Gupta, Sumit, and Bhavuk Garg. “A case of etizolam dependence.” Indian journal of pharmacology vol. 46,6 : 655-6. doi:10.4103/0253-7613.144943.
  4. Nielsen, Suzanne, and Andrew McAuley. “Etizolam: A rapid review on pharmacology, non-medical use and harms.” Drug and alcohol review vol. 39,4 : 330-336. doi:10.1111/dar.13052.
  5. Busardò, Francesco Paolo et al. “Is etizolam a safe medication? Effects on psychomotor perfomance at therapeutic dosages of a newly abused psychoactive substance.” Forensic science international vol. 301 : 137-141. doi:10.1016/j.forsciint.2019.05.018.
  6. Bertolino, A et al. “Etizolam in the treatment of generalized anxiety disorder: a controlled clinical trial.” The Journal of international medical research vol. 17,5 : 455-60. doi:10.1177/030006058901700507.

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