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Etizolam vs. Xanax

Medically Verified: 2/1/24

Medical Reviewer

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All of the information on this page has been reviewed and verified by a certified addiction professional.

Benzodiazepines are a class of medications that slow down activity in your central nervous system (CNS). These medications are most often used to treat anxiety conditions, insomnia, and seizure disorders.[1] While benzodiazepines are highly effective in treating these conditions, they are also known to be addictive and habit-forming.

Estimates are that 17.3% of people who use benzodiazepines are abusing them.[2]

One of the most popularly abused benzodiazepines is Xanax (alprazolam), an addictive and frequently prescribed medication. Another benzodiazepine drug that is known for its abuse potential is referred to as etizolam.

What is Xanax (Alprazolam)?

Xanax is the brand name for alprazolam, a benzodiazepine medication that is most commonly prescribed to treat anxiety and panic disorders, as it decreases abnormal excitement in the brain.[3]

While Xanax can provide medicinal benefits, it is only intended for short-term use because it is a common drug of abuse that leads to addiction and life-threatening long-term effects.

The common side effects of Xanax include:[3]

  • Drowsiness and lightheadedness
  • Headaches
  • Tiredness
  • Dizziness
  • Irritability
  • Talkativeness
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Dry mouth or increased salivation
  • Nausea
  • Constipation
  • Changes in appetite and weight
  • Difficulty urinating
  • Joint pain

What is Etizolam?

Etizolam is a thienodiazepine, which are analogs of benzodiazepines. In other words, while etizolam is related to benzodiazepines, it has slight chemical differences. While other benzodiazepine medications are widely prescribed in the United States, etizolam is not approved for medicinal use.

In some countries, etizolam is used to treat anxiety, panic, and insomnia. However, the potency is the reason that it is not approved for medicinal use in the United States. According to the DEA, “Clinical studies suggest that etizolam is approximately 10 times as potent as diazepam in producing hypnotic effects.”[4]

The common side effects of etizolam include:[4]

  • Drowsiness
  • Sedation
  • Muscle weakness
  • Incoordination
  • Fainting
  • Headaches
  • Confusion
  • Depression
  • Slurred speech
  • Visual disturbances
  • Changes in libido
  • Tremors

Some people may abuse etizolam by buying it from drug dealers or illegal websites online. It is important to note that abusing etizolam can lead to life-threatening overdoses that cause respiratory depression and death.

What are the Differences Between Etizolam and Xanax?

The main difference between etizolam and Xanax is that Xanax is a traditional benzodiazepine, while etizolam is a thienodiazepine that is far more powerful.[4]

Another thing to be aware of is the possibility of experiencing visual disturbances when abusing etizolam. This is not a common side effect of Xanax.

Lastly, while Xanax is approved for medicinal use in America, etizolam is not. Etizolam is primarily used in Japan, Italy, and India. However, people still obtain etizolam in the United States illegally, with the DEA reporting indictments for individuals who were selling it on the internet.[5]

Why is Benzodiazepine Abuse So Dangerous?

The main risk for abusing benzodiazepines is the possibility of becoming addicted. Once you are addicted to a benzodiazepine drug, your likelihood of experiencing an overdose increases because the longer you abuse benzodiazepines, the more likely you are to develop a tolerance.

Once you have a tolerance, you will have to increase your dose to experience the effects you desire. This could cause you to take life-threatening amounts of a specific benzodiazepine, resulting in an overdose.

The symptoms of a benzodiazepine overdose include:[6]

  • Extreme lethargy
  • Becoming unconscious
  • Confusion and dizziness
  • Poor coordination
  • Shakiness
  • Irregular or shallow breathing
  • Weak pulse and low blood pressure
  • Slurred speech
  • Blurry vision

If you or someone you love is displaying the symptoms of a benzodiazepine overdose, you must contact emergency medical services immediately.

Find Help for Etizolam or Xanax Addiction

If you or a loved one abuse etizolam, Xanax, or any other kind of benzodiazepine drug, help is available. These substances can be extremely dangerous, sometimes causing fatal overdoses when abused in large amounts. Thankfully, drug rehab programs can provide you with the tools and support you need to maintain long-term sobriety.

To learn more about our benzodiazepine addiction treatment programs, contact Carolina Center for Recovery Today.


  1. The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA): Benzodiazepines, Retrieved June 2023 From
  2. The National Library of Medicine: Benzodiazepine Use and Misuse, Retrieved June 2023 From
  3. Medline Plus: Alprazolam, Retrieved June 2023 From
  4. The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA): Etizolam, Retrieved June 2023 From
  5. The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA): Four Indicted for Roles in Selling Illegal Depressant Etizolam over the Internet, Retrieved June 2023 From
  6. The National Library of Medicine: Benzodiazepine Toxicity, Retrieved June 2023 From