Sleep and anxiety disorders are two of the most common health issues that Americans face every year. Anxiety disorders are the most common mental health issue in the country, affecting millions of people each year. And as much as a third of Americans sleep fewer than the hours recommended for good health. Several medications are used to treat these common problems, including a class of drugs called benzodiazepines, first introduced in the 1960s. Xanax is a popular brand name in the United States that contains the benzodiazepine called alprazolam. Etizolam is a less common benzodiazepine sold under brand names like Etilaam and Etizex globally.Etizolam and Xanax are chemically similar, and they have related (although not identical) effects.

However, etizolam is not well-studied and not properly regulated in the United States. Doctors will not prescribe etizolam, and the drug is too potent to self-prescribe, as it has mild (but present) abuse potential. It is not approved for medical use in the U.S.

Presently, Xanax is the better choice of the two. It should only be used as prescribed. But what is the difference between etizolam and alprazolam? How do these two drugs compare? Learn more about Xanax and etizolam and which one is more effective.


Etizolam is a thienodiazepine, a class of drugs chemically similar to benzodiazepines.

It isn’t currently a scheduled substance in the United States, and it is not approved for medical use. However, it is regulated as a prescription medication in Japan, Italy, and India.

When used correctly, it can help to treat anxiety and sleep disorders. While more studies and regulations are needed, it is believed to be less likely to cause dependence than benzodiazepines like Xanax.

Unfortunately, etizolam is currently sold as a “research chemical” in the United States, and it is very easy to acquire for illicit use. This illicit use carries many of the same risks and dangers as benzodiazepines. It should not be used recreationally.


Xanax is a benzodiazepine and is available by prescription.

It is primarily used to treat moderate to severe anxiety disorders, short-term anxiety, and panic attacks. It can help with certain related conditions, such as agoraphobia. It is not a cure for these conditions but can make them much more manageable.

Unfortunately, benzodiazepines are sometimes abused, often with other drugs like opioids. This can lead to a dangerous, potentially even lethal, overdose. One of the primary reasons benzodiazepines (benzos) are abused is for their calming and sedation effect.

Never take more Xanax simply because your prescribed dose is not working as intended. Instead, discuss your concerns with a doctor.

Comparing Xanax and Etizolam

Xanax and etizolam are chemically quite similar.

Thienodiazepines, including etizolam, have significantly less research supporting their use than benzodiazepines like Xanax.

It has been suggested thienodiazepines may be less addictive than benzodiazepines. Even so, they are not immune to abuse or dependence.

Etizolam appears to have less of a sedative effect than benzodiazepines like Xanax, although their anxiolytic (painkilling) effect is extremely similar.

Benzodiazepines are classified by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) as Schedule IV substances. Thienodiazepines are not scheduled at all in the U.S.

There is some controversy regarding benzodiazepines’ classification. Schedule IV substances are designated as having a relatively low potential for abuse, but benzodiazepines are frequently abused, and dependence forms very quickly with continued use.

A peer review on etizolam by the World Health Organization did not recommend etizolam to receive similar scheduling. At the same time, the drug is dangerous enough that it should be more thoroughly regulated than it is presently, especially considering its growing illicit use and the negative consequences use can have on users.

What Are the Legal Statuses of Alprazolam and Etizolam?

Xanax was approved as a prescription drug in the United States in 1981. Since then, it has become a popular choice when treating anxiety disorders. It’s among the most popular benzodiazepines, and more than 17 million prescriptions were sold in the U.S. in 2019, putting it among the most common prescription drugs in the country. 

Though it’s useful as a prescription medication, it has also been used as a recreational drug, which has contributed to a stricter legal status. It’s a federally controlled substance and classified as a Schedule IV drug in the U.S. That means it’s considered to have a moderate abuse potential along with currently accepted medical uses. Federally scheduled drugs aren’t usually classified based on their chemical effects and properties; rather, they are classified based on their abuse potential and how the public uses them.

Etizolam is an under-researched drug. In fact, little research has been done on its drug class, thienodiazepines. It was first patented in 1972, but the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has not approved it for medical use. However, the drug was approved for research purposes in 2020. Unlike alprazolam and other benzodiazepines, etizolam is not a federally controlled substance, and it’s not scheduled on the federal level. However, it is a controlled substance in several states. Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, and Georgia have classified it as a Schedule IV drug. Louisiana, Mississippi, Texas, South Carolina, and Virginia have prohibited it as a Schedule I drug. It’s also a controlled substance in Ohio and Indiana.

Which Should I Take?

Generally, it’s important to explore different options with your doctor. In many cases, a drug that works well for one person is not ideal for someone else. Plus, anxiety is a complex problem, so finding the right treatment for your needs may be a trial-and-error process you go through with professional help. However, Xanax is a common option, and etizolam is much less common for people in the United States.

Since etizolam is not approved in the U.S., a doctor will not prescribe it to you. As a result, you should not take it.

  • Etizolam has similar effects to Xanax, although it has less of a sedative effect.
  • Etizolam is not regulated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in the United States, and it is not a prescription medication. It is a regulated drug in some U.S. states.
  • Etizolam seems to have less abuse potential than benzodiazepines, but there are at least some cases of dependence.

Etizolam is used in other countries within fairly respected medical communities, though the drug has been banned in India. There is no study indicating it is extremely dangerous as compared with similar drugs like Xanax.

States that have classified etizolam as a Schedule I substance, meaning it has no accepted medical use and high potential abuse, probably did so out of caution. Etizolam does indeed have a limited amount of research on it in comparison to other widely used drugs. More research is needed to justify changing its scheduling. Purchasing etizolam online and self-prescribing it is not advised. This practice is likely illegal in many areas, not just the states where it is scheduled. For this reason, Xanax is essentially the only advisable choice of the two drugs and only when properly prescribed.

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