Diazepam and methadone interactions in methadone maintenance

Kenzie L. Preston, Roland R. Griffiths, Maxine L. Stitzer, George E. Bigelow, Ira A. Liebson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Survey study data and high rates of diazepam use/abuse in methadone maintenance suggest that acute administration of diazepam with daily methadone doses may enhance methadone effects. Acute subjective and physiologic effects of single oral doses of placebo, diazepam (20 and 40 mg), methadone (100%, 150%, and 200% of the maintenance dose), and four diazepam-methadone dose combinations (20 and 40 mg diazepam in combination with 100% and 150% of the maintenance dose) were assessed under double-blind conditions. The subjects were five adult male patients on methadone maintenance with histories of diazepam abuse who were receiving 50 to 60 mg methadone a day. Physiologic measures were continuously monitored for 30 min before and for 2 hr after dosing. Pupil diameter and subjective responses were measured 15 min before dosing and 15, 30, 45, 60, 90, and 120 min after dosing. Methadone induced dose-dependent increases in pupil constriction and scores on a subjective opioid effects rating scale, but diazepam had no significant effect on either. The combination of methadone at 150% of the maintenance dose with 40 mg diazepam induced increases in these measures greater than those induced by either drug dose alone. Drug combinations, however, were more frequently identified as being benzodiazepine/barbiturate-like than as methadone-like. Thus although the subjective effects of the drug combination are distinguishable from those of methadone alone, diazepam with methadone in methadone maintenance appears to increase some physiologic and subjective opioid effects that may be related to the relatively great use/abuse of diazepam in this population.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)534-541
Number of pages8
JournalClinical pharmacology and therapeutics
Issue number4
StatePublished - Oct 1984

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pharmacology
  • Pharmacology (medical)

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