Along with expected sedative effects of relaxation and drowsiness ethchlorvynol can cause skin rashes, faintness, restlessness and euphoria. Early adjustment side effects can include nausea and vomiting, numbness, blurred vision, stomach pains and temporary dizziness. An overdose is marked by confusion, fever, peripheral numbness and weakness, reduced coordination and muscle control, slurred speech, reduced heartbeat.
It is addictive and after prolonged use can cause withdrawal symptoms including convulsions, hallucinations, and memory loss. Due to these problems, it is unusual for ethchlorvynol to be prescribed for periods exceeding seven days.
Ethchlorvynol is a member of the class of sedative-hypnotic tertiary carbinols, which includes methylparafynol. It is not a barbituric acid derivative. The systematic name of ethchlorvynol is usually given as ethyl 2-chlorovinyl ethynyl carbinol or 1-chloro-3-ethyl-1-penten-4-yl-3-ol. Its empirical formula is C7H9ClO. In the United States Abbott Laboratories used to sell it under the tradename Placidyl. During their heyday, they were known on the street as "jelly-bellies". Since Abbott and Banner Pharmacaps, which manufactured the generic version, discontinued production in 1999, ethchlorvynol is no longer available in the United States.
One of the physicians who treated Rehnquist for Placidyl withdrawal, according to the FBI files, described auditory hallucinations in the form of voices discussing him outside his hospital room. At one point the Justice tried to flee the hospital, believing that the CIA was plotting against him.