When you think of drugs that treat anxiety, sleep disorders, or even convulsions, your mind may automatically stray to benzodiazepines drugs, barbiturates, or Z-drugs. Many people worldwide struggle with various disorders, and medications such as the ones previously mentioned have been designed, at least in the short-term, to help individuals try to overcome their ailments.

If you struggle with anxiety or sleep disorders, you’re not alone; you join an estimated 50 to 70 million others across the country who struggle with a sleep disorder, which makes up 70 percent of the adult population that battles with a sleep disorder at a certain point. The demanding lifestyle many of us live contribute to sleeplessness, and they can also account for the anxiety that accompanies many.

In addition to those who struggle with sleep disorders, an estimated 19.1 percent of the adult population suffers from an anxiety disorder, which could relate to generalized anxiety disorder, agoraphobia, social anxiety, or post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). These ailments often cripple the individual, making it challenging for them to complete routine tasks such as working, going to school, or relationships.

Many people rely on medications to function in the world. While not everyone will deal with permanent anxiety, it is something that can occur at any time in anyone. Individuals may go to doctors and get these drugs to have in the event of a panic attack, but this can lead to dependency and addiction.

If doctors fear their patient has developed an addiction to the medications, they will immediately stop prescribing them. Unfortunately, this will not spearhead the problem, and individuals will seek relief elsewhere. While it has never been a problem for benzos since there weren’t any alternatives, such as heroin to prescription opioids, more research drugs have become available on the black market that mimic the effects of benzos.

One such drug is known as etizolam, and even though it is illegal in the United States, it is sold as a research chemical online and in retail stores. Marketing of etizolam as a research chemical allows companies to bypass the law, and the drug is sought out. In most cases, it will be used recreationally, and below, we will discuss what to expect when using etizolam recreationally.

What is Etizolam?

Etizolam is a thienodiazepine anxiolytic, which is said to have lower dependence potential than other benzodiazepines. The drug was developed in Japan, and presently, it is registered for use as a medication in Japan, Italy, and India. The main application is the treatment of generalized anxiety disorder with depressive symptoms, as well as a sleep aid in some situations. The therapeutic effect is comparable to alprazolam (Xanax).

Etizolam acts on the benzodiazepine site of the gamma-Aminobutyric acid (GABA) receptor, and it behaves as a full benzodiazepine receptor agonist, similar to diazepam (Valium). Testing on laboratory animals showed muscle relaxation, and depending on the animal studied, the drug was about as active or up to six times as active as diazepam.

Etizolam produces similar adverse effects as you’d expect from benzodiazepines, such as sedation and muscle relaxation, and the effects are responsiveness to GABA. Death by etizolam is rare, but there are two known cases of such an event. Studies on abuse and dependence have not been published, but initial reports suggest that etizolam abuse is increasing in the United States and Europe.

How is Etizolam Abused?

As we’ve described above, etizolam is a depressant drug that can be used recreationally when purchased on the web, or as a prescription in the countries listed above. While it is illegal in several states, it is not “federal scheduled,” which means the federal government does not control it.

The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) states that the drug can be bought online or in stores as a research chemical. It can also be sold from illicit sources, which increases the risk that the drug can be combined with other dangerous or unknown chemicals. Those who purchase the drug illegally typically do so to use it recreationally, to satisfy an existing benzodiazepine dependence, or self-medicate for their anxiety or sleep disorders.

The drug causes euphoria when taken in high doses and even shows a higher probability of causing euphoric effects over benzodiazepines like Valium. Self-medication is a form of abuse that involves taking prescription strength medication without consulting a physician. Without the guidance of a doctor, you will be unaware of the proper dose that can assist your needs.

Unfortunately, those who use the drug may do so in conjunction with alcohol or opioids to intensify the effects. These behaviors dramatically increase the odds of fatal overdose. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), nearly 30 percent of fatal opioid overdoses also involved benzodiazepines. As mentioned above, etizolam rarely caused fatal overdoses, but these studies only tested animals that used the drug on its own.

What are Etizolam’s Side Effects?

Benzo abuse is dangerous, even when the medications are used alone. But these dangers increase dramatically when other depressant drugs are introduced.

Common Side Effects and Risks of Medications Like Etizolam Include:

  • Dizziness
  • Drowsiness
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Memory impairment
  • Slurred speech
  • Decreased coordination
  • Physical weakness
  • Blurred vision
  • Coma
  • Potential organ failure

Abrupt cessation of etizolam, like all benzo drugs, can be deadly.

If You Decide to Stop the Drug Cold Turkey, You Can Expect Uncomfortable Withdrawal Effects Such As:

  • Rebound anxiety
  • Rebound insomnia
  • Muscle pain
  • Muscle stiffness
  • Restlessness
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Headache
  • Seizures
  • Delirium tremens (DTs)

Treatment for Recreational Etizolam Use

Etizolam abuse that leads to dependence or addiction is dangerous and must be addressed immediately. Any benzo abuse can result in grave danger, so reaching out for help can be the difference between life or death. The recommended course of action for this kind of drug abuse is the full continuum of care, which starts in a medical detoxification center.

Once you are admitted to detox, addiction specialists will thoroughly assess the situation to determine the severity of the addiction. They also will determine if you have any co-occurring mental health disorders, and what drugs you were abusing. They will then devise a plan that places you on the right treatment path.

Once you’ve removed etizolam and any other foreign substances from your body, you will move onto the next level of care. It could mean you are placed in a residential treatment center, intensive outpatient, or outpatient treatment. It will depend on the severity of your addiction, among other factors.

Drugs that affect the GABA in your brain must be taken seriously, and if you are ready to stop using drugs, it’s imperative you go about the right way and check yourself into treatment.

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