Preference for diazepam, but not buspirone, in moderate drinkers

Suzette M. Evans, Roland R. Griffiths, Harriet De Wit

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The purpose of the present study was to determine the preference for buspirone, an anxiolytic predicted to have minimal abuse potential, in comparison with diazepam in moderate drinkers. Preference for diazepam and buspirone was assessed in 55 moderate drinkers using a seven-session procedure consisting of four sampling sessions followed by three choice sessions. On each sampling session subjects ingested five capsules, one every 30 min. Color-coded capsules contained placebo on two sessions and drug on two sessions. Each drug capsule contained diazepam (4 mg) for 30 subjects and buspirone (5 mg) for 25 subjects. On choice sessions subjects chose whichever of the two color-coded capsules, i.e., drug or placebo, they wished to take. After ingesting one capsule, every 30 min they had the option of ingesting another capsule of the same color and content, for a maximum of seven capsules over the session (maximum of 28 mg diazepam or 35 mg buspirone). In the diazepam group 70% of subjects chose diazepam over placebo on at least two of the three choice sessions, whereas in the buspirone group only 24% of subjects chose buspirone over placebo on at least two sessions. Both diazepam and buspirone increased measures of sedation. Only diazepam increased ratings of liking and impaired performance, whereas only buspirone decreased ratings of feeling Friendly. These results replicate previous findings indicating that diazepam has reinforcing effects in moderate drinkers. Further, these results demonstrate the pharmacological specificity of this effect by showing that buspirone did not function as a reinforcer under these same conditions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)154-163
Number of pages10
Issue number2
StatePublished - 1996


  • Abuse liability
  • Anxiolytic
  • Buspirone
  • Choice
  • Diazepam
  • Drug abuse
  • Humans
  • Reinforcement
  • Self-administration
  • Subjective effects

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pharmacology


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