Etizolam is a thienodiazepine, which is classified as similar to a benzodiazepine. Medically, this drug can be prescribed for anxiety, insomnia, depression, and panic disorders. This drug can also be abused.
While etizolam is prescribed by doctors in India, Japan, and Italy, this drug is not prescribed in the United States. In the U.S., it is considered to have no accepted medical use, according to the U.S Drug Enforcement Administration.
In the U.S., etizolam is used as an illicit recreational substance. It is said to have an abuse potential lower than benzodiazepines, according to research published in the Indian Journal of Pharmacology. However, because its effects are similar to benzodiazepines, it has a potential for abuse.
The side effects associated with consuming high levels of etizolam are the same as those associated with benzodiazepine abuse. According to American Family Physician, these can include:
- Loss of full control of bodily movements (ataxia)
- Motor control issues
- Muscle weakness
- Mental confusion
- Poor concentration
- Dysarthria, or unclear speech
- Diplopia, or double vision
- Memory impairment
- Increased excitement, aggression, impulsivity, irritability, and hostility
- Emotional blunting and depression
When used alone, the risk of overdose is relatively low. However, when combined with other drugs that affect the nervous system, toxic effects are more common. Such drugs include hypnotics, neuroleptics, antihistamines, sedating antidepressants, anticonvulsants, and alcohol, according to Psychiatric Annals.
One study published in Psychiatric Annals concluded that about 80 percent of people who abuse benzodiazepines also abuse other drugs, with opioids being the most common.
One study looked specifically at people with alcohol addiction. This research concluded that 3 percent to 41 percent of people with alcohol addiction said they also abused a benzodiazepine drug at some point to modulate their withdrawal or intoxication effects, according to research published in the American Journal of Psychiatry.
When someone is using a therapeutic dosage, the primary withdrawal effects are related to anxiety, according to research published in the New England Journal of Medicine.
The Following are Also Common:
- Increased heart rate
- Increased blood pressure
- Sensory hypersensitivity
These symptoms can occur in people who abuse the drug and those taking it as prescribed for a prolonged period. Experts also have observed protracted abstinence syndrome among those withdrawing from benzodiazepines and similar drugs. For several months, this syndrome can cause depression, anxiety, and insomnia. People may also have gastrointestinal, musculoskeletal, and neurologic effects.
When withdrawal symptoms start depends on the half-life of the drug. The half-life of etizolam is about 3.5 hours.
The first two stages of withdrawal can last an average of 11 to 15 days. For the first one to four days, people might experience insomnia and anxiety. The second phase comes after and is considered full-blown withdrawal, according to research published in Addiction. Following this phase, people experience a third phase where their anxiety symptoms return and persist. These symptoms may remain until they receive treatment for their anxiety.
Getting through the detox and withdrawal period can be challenging for people who are trying to do it on their own. Detox centers can be beneficial to alleviate a person’s symptoms so that they can make it through the withdrawal process safely.
When someone’s withdrawal symptoms from etizolam are moderate to severe, it is imperative to seek help. Symptoms at this level can be dangerous. Professional assistance can help to reduce the risk of serious issues, such as seizures.
During the withdrawal process, health care professionals may taper the dose of etizolam. This can help to reduce the severity of the symptoms a person experiences.
How long a taper lasts ultimately depends on the dose the person is taking and if they are abusing other substances in addition to this drug.
People may receive sedating antidepressants or anticonvulsants to help them through the withdrawal period. Anticonvulsants can be helpful during withdrawal, but only if the person is not dependent on another substance, too, according to research published in Australian Prescriber.
Those who experience cardiovascular effects, such as increased blood pressure or heart rate, might benefit from antihypertensive drugs. Other drugs that target specific withdrawal symptoms might also be considered on an individual basis.
Choosing a Detox Center
Between 2005 and 2011, about 1 million people in the U.S. went to an emergency department because of an adverse benzodiazepine medication reaction, according to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.
Those with etizolam or benzodiazepine abuse problems should consider a detox center to help them overcome the issue. It is not safe to just stop taking benzodiazepines without medical oversight once dependence has formed.
Factors to Consider When Choosing the Right Detox Center Include:
- The overall quality of the facility and the programs it offers
- The program’s rate of success and overall reputation
- The services the facility provides
- Whether the facility offers medical supervision
- The experience and credentials of the facility’s staff
- The facility’s location
- The types of substance abuse the facility treats
The facility must also provide help for the specific substance abuse issue that the person is dealing with.
People should also consider any specific needs they have. For example, if someone has a medical condition, the facility must have the tools and resources necessary to provide treatment while simultaneously providing substance abuse treatment.
Those who prefer a more holistic approach should seek out a detox center that offers this approach. A holistic center works to treat the mind, spirit, and body at the same time. These centers may offer more complementary or alternative therapies in addition to traditional options.
Cost and insurance coverage are other factors to explore. Talk to a financial professional at the facility to determine if your current health insurance is accepted. If not, you should find out what the costs are and if the facility is willing to create a payment plan to make the total cost easier to handle.
Benzodiazepine Withdrawal Dangers
Etizolam is about six to 10 times more potent than the benzodiazepine diazepam, according to the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA). When people are withdrawing from etizolam and benzodiazepines, certain symptoms are considered more dangerous than the others.
These May Include the Following:
- Extreme dysphoria
- Paranoid thoughts
- Severe headaches
- Confusional states
Since 2012, there has been an increase in people in the U.S. who experience seizures as a result of illegal use of etizolam, according to the DEA. The majority of seizures do not leave people with permanent effects. However, there are cases where seizures can be life-threatening or cause complications, such as injuries related to falling, emotional health issues, or injuries related to a car accident if someone has a seizure while driving, according to the Mayo Clinic.
One report discussed a person who experienced catatonia when they were withdrawing from etizolam, according to research published in the Asian Journal of Psychiatry. Catatonia is characterized by abnormal behaviors and movements associated with a disturbed mental state.
Several deaths have been noted where the deceased had etizolam in their system, according to the World Health Organization. Some of these deaths were attributed to more than one drug, however.
Those who believe they are dependent on etizolam should consult a professional for assistance with the withdrawal process. This can help them to complete this process safely and more comfortably. A detox center also has the tools and resources needed to reduce the risk of withdrawal dangers.