Benzodiazepines (benzos) and opioids seem to go together like fish and chips. Many drug users purchase prescription diazepam (valium, ‘vallies’). Some are on a prescription (despite lack of evidence for effectiveness of long term prescribing and some concerns about a link with increased mortality). Some purchase ‘street’ benzos which can contain other things including amitryptyline which is very dangerous in overdose. Benzos themselves are dangerous when taken with other ‘downers’ like opiates or alcohol.
One popular, unlicensed (in Europe at least) benzo is etizolam. it’s being sold as one of the New Pychoactive Substances in Scotland (NPS), though it’s actually licensed in a few other countries, making it ‘unscheduled’ in the UK and USA, rather than a ‘legal high’. The Scottish Drugs Forum put out a useful briefing sheet about it recently.
What do we know about it? Here are ten useful nuggets – some from the SDF briefing and one or two of my own.
- One milligramme of etizolam is equivalent to 10mg of diazepam (a blue valium)
- It’s about £1.00 per tablet, though can be much less if bought in bulk
- Best not to use; you don’t know what you are getting
- Can quickly cause dependence and be hard to come off
- Effects (Click on box 1 below)
- It’s not good for those with liver disease (think Hep C or alcoholic liver disease)
- Dangerous with other downers
- If determined to use, it’s possible to reduce harm (Click on box 2 below)
- Don’t stop suddenly, this may cause seizures, taper the dose
- If you think you are dependent seek treatment advice
For those seeking treatment, the management will be the same as for diazepam, though from my experience, this being Scotland, many folk will present for help with opiates and benzos.
Box 2 – Harm reduction advice (Source SDF)