Orally delivered alprazolam, diazepam, and triazolam as reinforcers in rhesus monkeys

T. Gomez, J. Roache, R. Meisch

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations


Rationale: Benzodiazepines are among the most frequently prescribed drugs and are usually taken by mouth. However, there have been few studies of oral self-administration of these drugs, and the results of IV self-administration studies indicate that benzodiazepines are modest reinforcers. Objectives: To determine if orally delivered alprazolam, diazepam, and triazolam could serve as reinforcers for rhesus monkeys, and to determine some of the conditions under which benzodiazepine reinforced behavior occurs. Methods: Diazepam or midazolam was initially established as a reinforcer by a fading procedure whereby increasing concentrations were added to a 1 or 2% ethanol solution, and subsequently the ethanol concentration was decreased in steps to zero. Diazepam- and midazolam-reinforced responding persisted in the absence of ethanol. Triazolam and alprazolam served as reinforcers when substituted for diazepam or midazolam. Results: Alprazolam, diazepam, and triazolam served as effective reinforcers across a wide range of concentrations and under fixed-ratio sizes of 16 and 32. Rates of responding were usually far higher than that for the concurrently available vehicle, water. Drug intake (mg drug/kg body weight) generally increased with increases in drug concentration. When large drug amounts were consumed, signs of intoxication were observed. Conclusions: In contrast to reports of low response rates and weakly maintained behavior, the present results show that the three benzodiazepines can serve as effective reinforcers.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)86-94
Number of pages9
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2002


  • Acquisition
  • Alprazolam
  • Benzodiazepine
  • Diazepam
  • Drug reinforcement
  • Oral route
  • Rhesus monkey
  • Self-administration
  • Triazolam

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pharmacology


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