Etizolam is a thienodiazepine-based drug with multiple therapeutic properties that is sometimes used to treat anxiety, panic disorder, depression, or sleep disorders. At least one clinical trial has found etizolam to be more effective than a placebo in alleviating symptoms of depression and generalized anxiety disorder. This medication's effects are similar to those of the benzodiazepine drug family that includes lorazepam, clonazepam, and triazolam. As of 2011, this drug was not approved for any use by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, although it is used in some other countries. In Italy, it is known by the trade name Depas, while in Japan it goes by a number of brand names such as Capsafe, Sedekopan, and Eticalm.
Side effects are said to be mild or moderate, depending on the therapeutic dose given for specific conditions; the most common effect of etizolam is sleepiness during daytime hours. The dosage tends to be carefully monitored because of the risk of a fatal overdose. This drug is typically reserved for short-term use, due to its chemical similarity to the benzodiazepines. The long-term effects of benzodiazepine medications can include disturbing nighttime dreams, memory loss, hostile behavior, and physical addiction. People who abruptly stop taking benzodiazepines tend to experience severe withdrawal symptoms, sometimes requiring hospitalization.
Like its benzodiazepine-based cousins, etizolam is sometimes sought as an illicit drug for recreational use. Using this drug in search of a so-called high can be dangerous because of the impaired judgment it causes. In addition, there is a significant increase in the likelihood of overdose when etizolam is combined with alcohol.
Benzodiazepines can have varied therapeutic effects, depending on the dosage of the particular drug. These medications tend to be sedating at low doses, whereas higher doses can have anxiolytic or hynotic effects. In some medical cases, they can also be used to prevent seizures. Diazepam and alprazolam are two of the most common benzodiazepines to be obtained illegally for recreational use. Illicit users of cocaine or narcotic medications are said to be more likely to also abuse benzodiazepine drugs.
One benzodiazepine medicine that has gained media attention is flunitrazepam or Rohypnol®, also known informally as "roofies." In some high-profile cases, this medication has been used in combination with alcohol to render another person unconscious for the purpose of sexual assault. For this reason, flunitrazepam has become known as the so-called date rape drug.