Physical dependence in baboons chronically treated with low and high doses of diazepam

Barbara J. Kaminski, C. A. Sannerud, E. M. Weerts, R. J. Lamb, R. R. Griffiths

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Scopus citations


Physical dependence on diazepam was evaluated in male baboons chronically treated with either low or high doses of diazepam. Baboons received either a single oral daily administration of a low dose (0.5 mg/kg per day) of diazepam (n=4) or continuous intragastric infusion of a high dose (20 mg/kg per day) of diazepam (n=7). Development of physical dependence during chronic dosing with 0.5 mg/kg per day diazepam was assessed at 2 and 4 weeks and then monthly, during 1-h behavioral observations, following injections of the benzodiazepine competitive antagonist flumazenil. After 3-24 months of diazepam treatment, dosing was discontinued and physical dependence assessed via observation and responding for food pellets. In baboons that received 0.5 mg/kg per day diazepam, flumazenil precipitated a mild- to intermediate-intensity benzodiazepine withdrawal syndrome, which included decreases in the number of food pellets earned per day and increases in withdrawal postures, self-directed behaviors, aggressive behaviors and retching/vomiting. Three of four baboons showed signs of precipitated withdrawal after only 2 weeks of chronic low-dose treatment. Flumazenil continued to precipitate withdrawal signs, but with no systematic increase in severity, throughout the 6-10 months of 0.5 mg/kg diazepam administration. When 0.5 mg/kg per day diazepam dosing was discontinued, the number of food pellets earned per day decreased in two of the four baboons, but no systematic changes in behavioral signs were observed. In contrast, within 7-10 days of termination of 20 mg/kg per day diazepam dosing, withdrawal signs of intermediate intensity and a decrease in the number of food pellets earned per day occurred in all baboons. In the present study, physical dependence developed after 2 weeks of a chronic low dose of diazepam administration but did not increase further over long-term exposure to diazepam.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)331-342
Number of pages12
JournalBehavioural pharmacology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jul 2003


  • Baboon
  • Benzodiazepine
  • Diazepam
  • Flumazenil
  • Physical dependence

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Pharmacology


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