Single-dose pharmacodynamics of diazepam and pentobarbital in substance abusers

J. T. Sullivan, D. R. Jasinski, R. E. Johnson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


The likelihood that a given drug will be misused is related to its ability to alter mood, feeling, thinking, and perception in a manner that is liked by substance abusers. The subjective and behavioral effects of diazepam (10, 20, and 40 mg), pentobarbital (120 and 240 mg as a positive control), and placebo (negative control), were evaluated in 12 subjects with histories of substance abuse by use of a double-blind, Latin square crossover study design. Drug administration was separated by a minimum of 3 days. Pharmacodynamic measures included subjective (euphoria subject liking, sedation, and symptoms) and behavioral (signs and observed liking) responses. The time course and profile of subjective and behavioral responses were similar for diazepam and pentobarbital. Valid relative potency estimates for the pharmacodynamic measures indicated that diazepam is approximately 10 times as potent as pentobarbital. The study indicates that the reinforcing effects of diazepam are similar to pentobarbital in substance abusers.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)645-653
Number of pages9
JournalClinical Pharmacology and Therapeutics
Issue number6
StatePublished - 1993


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pharmacology

Cite this

Sullivan, J. T., Jasinski, D. R., & Johnson, R. E. (1993). Single-dose pharmacodynamics of diazepam and pentobarbital in substance abusers. Clinical Pharmacology and Therapeutics, 54(6), 645-653.