Flashback Friday: Perspective On Valium And Other Benzodiazepines

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In the December, 1982 edition of High Times’ “Abuse Folio” column, David Smith and Rick Seymour write out medical advice from David Smith, M.D concerning Valium.

Valium (diazepam) is the second most commonly prescribed drug in the United States, and is the leading representative of the largest drug group in the world, the benzodiazepines. Valium is widely prescribed for the symptomatic relief of anxiety, insomnia, muscle spasm and is used in the treatment of convulsive disorders and alcohol dependence. Valium has a wide safety ratio and has less overdose potential than other nonbenzodiazepine drugs used for the same purpose, such as the short-acting barbiturates. However, alcohol intensifies the toxic effects of Valium and greatly increases the possibility of overdose and dependence. Individuals with a past or family history of alcoholism may have a psychobiological predisposition to addiction and can develop dependence on Valium at therapeutic doses when taken daily for more than three months. Individuals without such a predisposition, however, can take such a therapeutic dose without developing addiction. This differential response based on biological variability has caused great confusion in the minds of both consumers and physicians relative to the true addicting potential of Valium, and at what dose addiction will take place. Recent research has discovered specific benzodiazepine receptors in the brain, and it is possible that those individuals who are predisposed to addiction have hypersensitive benzodiazepine receptors that facilitate dependence even at therapeutic doses. All benzodiazepines, including the newer drugs being introduced for the relief of anxiety, such as Ativan® (lorezepam), act through the same brain mechanism and have a similar acting potential to Valium. Switching from one benzodiazepine to another will not eliminate addiction but only change the character of addiction. Valium is a long-acting drug, whereas Ativan is a short-acting drug, but the addictive process …

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Author: High Times / High Times

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