Response to Diazepam in Sons of Alcoholics

Deborah S. Cowley, Peter P. Roy‐Byrne, Carol Godon, David J. Greenblatt, Richard Ries, R. Dale Walker, Herman H. Samson, Daniel W. Hommer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

32 Scopus citations


Alcohol exerts several of its actions via the chloride channel associated with the central GABA‐benzodiazepine receptor complex. To explore possible role for this receptor complex in risk for alcoholism, and to determine whether risk for alcoholism is associated with risk for benzodiazepine abuse, the authors administered intravenous diazepam to 18 sons of male alcoholics (SOAs) and 18 control subjects. Four logarithmically increasing doses of diazepam and matched volumes of placebo were given in randomized order on separate days about 1 week apart. SOAs were significantly more likely than controls to report euphoric responses to diazepam. At some diazepam doses, SOAs were more likely to report feeling “high” and “intoxicated.” SOAs and controls did not differ in feeling “drugged.” SOAs and controls may differ in expectations regarding the subjective effects of drugs and/or in the function of the central GABA‐benzodiazepine receptor complex. These findings also add further evidence for increased pleasurable effects, and thus possibly increased risk for benzodiazepine abuse, in subgroup of SOAs.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1057-1063
Number of pages7
JournalAlcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research
Issue number6
StatePublished - Dec 1992
Externally publishedYes


  • Alcoholism
  • Diazepam
  • Genetics
  • Subjective Effects

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Toxicology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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