Addiction potential of benzodiazepines and non-benzodiazepine anxiolytics

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


In reviewing the addiction potential of benzodiazepines (BZ’s) and non-BZ anxiolytics, one must retain as a caveat that recurring cycles have appeared throughout the historical development of dif ferent CNS depressants.1 Since the early use of bromide salts in the nineteenth century, the introduction of each successive generation of psychosedative has been heralded as a major innovation resulting in improved efficacy with reduced side effects. Each of the drugs successively developed, including paraldehyde, chloral hydrate, barbiturates, meprobamate and the BZ’s, probably represent im provements in efficacy and/or safety; however, the potential for abuse and addiction has been recognized belatedly in each case. The barbiturates fell into disfavor in the late 1950’s as their poten tial for abuse and physical dependence was recognized. The BZ’s have now replaced the barbiturates for the treatment of anxiety dis orders. Compared to the barbiturates, BZ’s are considered safer and more effective with fewer side effects. However, BZ’s were once thought to not cause addiction. Now, more than 25 years following the introduction of chlordiazepoxide, we have finally begun to rec ognize the addiction potential of the BZ’s.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationAddiction Potential of Abused Drugs and Drug Classes
PublisherTaylor and Francis
Number of pages26
ISBN (Electronic)9781317839484
ISBN (Print)9780866569750
StatePublished - Jan 1 2013
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Medicine
  • General Psychology
  • General Social Sciences


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