Drug Interaction on Psychomotor Skills Related to Driving: Diazepam and Alcohol

STUDY: Linnoila, M., and M.J. Mattila: Drug Interaction on Psychomotor Skills Related to Driving: Diazepam and Alcohol. Europ. J. Clin. Pharmacol., 5:186-194. 1973. Site: Department of Pharmacology, University of Helsinki, Helsinki, Finland. Subjects: The four hundred volunteers (371 males, 29 females) were comprised of medical students, technical students, and cadets. A brief history was taken to exclude subjects suffering from diseases or taking drugs. (Caffeine and tobacco were not specifically mentioned as being exclusionary, but coffee and “drugs” were stated as excluded “during the tests.”) The mean age of the subjects was 22 years (S.D. = 2.8 years). The subjects were divided into 20 groups of 20 subjects each which were similar in sex, age, weight, educational level, and district of residence. Driving experience was not mentioned. Results of only 10 of the test groups are reported in this article. Method: The research was experimental, under controlled laboratory conditions, using double-blind technique. Coding was changed daily, and 10 subjects were tested each day. Before any administration of drugs and drink, the subjects were instructed in the test procedures and apparatus by the same person in Read more […]

Benzodiazepines: Drug Discrimination and Physiological Dependence

The benzodiazepines are among the most widely used of all prescribed drugs. Concern about abuse of these drugs has prompted the development of preclinical methods for assessing various pharmacological effects of diazepam-like drugs which are relevant to their abuse and dependence liability. This abstract describes results from a series of ongoing experiments to assess discriminative stimulus effects and physiological dependence-producing properties of benzodiazepines. Drug discrimination: In drug discrimination procedures, animals are trained to respond differentially depending on the nature of drug pretreatment. The procedure can provide information analogous to a human testing situation in which subjects categorize drugs with respect to their subjective effects. In ongoing drug discrimination experiments, four baboons were trained to discriminate lorazepam (1.0 mg/kg) and two baboons were trained to discriminate pentobarbital (5.6 mg/kg) in a two-lever drug versus no-drug discrimination procedure. Food delivery depended on 20 consecutive responses on one lever in sessions preceded by an intramuscular injection of the training drug (60-min pretreatment time), and on 20 consecutive responses on the other lever Read more […]

A Review of Drug Abuse Data Bases: the National Survey

The data base which appears to provide the most consistent source of drug use data on youth and young adults is the National Survey co2nducted between 1971 and 1977. There are five studies in this series. The first two surveys were conducted for the National Commission on Marihuana and Drug Abuse. The most recent three were conducted for the National Institute on Drug Abuse. The five studies are entitled: 1) 1971 study: Public Attitudes Toward Marihuana. 2) 1972 study: Drug Experience, Attitudes and Related Behavior Among Adolescents and Adults. 3) 1974 study: Public Experience with Psychoactive Substances. 4) 1976 study: Nonmedical Use of Psychoactive Substances. () 5) 1977 study: National Survey on Drug Abuse. () These surveys share several critical characteristics which contribute to their utility for estimating drug use: Data collection on the “at risk” 18-25 year age bracket; Adequate and consistent sampling methodology; Comparability of drugs investigated; Comparability of question formats; and Accessibility of detailed tabular data. Each of the five studies is discussed below to demonstrate its adequacy as a data base for projecting the number of drug users in the United States Read more […]

Types of Drug Dependence

The WHO expert committee has recognized that different groups of drugs produce different types of dependence and that the type should be specified. The currently accepted types, the main classes of drugs involved and the clinical characteristics of the dependence are shown in Table Dependence types currently recognized and their clinical features. Apart from noting the great variety of types that are now recognized, the majority of classes can be ignored for the purpose of the present paper and attention can be concentrated on the groups of ethanol and barbiturate/sedative. There are still divergent opinions on whether they should be grouped together, for both show psychological and physical dependence with virtually identical withdrawal reactions, or whether they should be separated. In favour of their being put into a single group is the extensive cross tolerance that can occur among drugs with similar actions, regardless of chemical structure, and the partial effectiveness of one group in ameliorating the withdrawal effects of the other. Thus, for example, severe ethanol withdrawal reactions can be prevented by barbiturates, phenothiazines, benzodiazepines, chloral hydrate and paraldehyde. Conversely ethanol Read more […]

Is Cocaine Addictive?

The debate over whether or not cocaine is addictive is ongoing and complicated. The majority of mental health professionals take the view that regular cocaine users cannot voluntarily stop taking the drug. In this sense, cocaine meets the definition of an addictive drug. Moreover, these experts believe that cocaine use leads to physical changes in the brain that encourage continued use. Journalist Norbert R. Myslinski reports: According to Prof. Karen Bolla of Johns Hopkins University, cocaine impairs memory, manual dexterity, and decision making for at least a month. Her study suggests damage to the brain’s prefrontal cortex, leading to loss of control over consumption of the drug. A deadly spiral is set up, making it more and more difficult for the addict to quit. Continued drug abuse becomes increasingly a matter of brain damage and less a matter of weak character. Another study performed by researchers at Rockefeller University in New York City confirms Bolla’s conclusions and provides a detailed explanation of the brain chemistry of a chronic cocaine user. The Rockefeller University investigators found that repeated exposure to cocaine causes a change at the molecular level that alters a brain protein called Read more […]

The Biology of Addiction

Methamphetamine is one of many stimulants (e.g., amphetamine, cocaine, caffeine, nicotine) with a wide variety of molecular structures and chemical mechanisms. What the various stimulants have in common are effects that mimic those of the sympathetic nervous system, both peripheral and central nervous system components, to produce arousing effects similar to epinephrine. The peripheral nervous system effects include vasoconstriction, increased muscle tone, increased heart rate, higher blood pressure, and anesthesia. In medical settings, stimulant medications can be used to control bleeding, rescue patients from shock, numb a sore throat, relieve asthma, or clear a stuffy nose. Incorrect use of the same stimulant medications, however, can kill patients by causing fatal elevations of temperature, irregular heart rhythms, stroke, or heart attacks. Central nervous system effects include increased alertness and energy, and decreased appetite. Stimulants are especially helpful in specific disorders such as narcolepsy, attention deficit disorders, HIV, and aspects of depression. Incorrect use of stimulants, however, is associated with seizures, psychosis, anxiety, depression, and suicidality. Chronic use can also aggravate Read more […]

Defeat Of The Foster Bill

The December sessions heard arguments in support of strict control of habit-forming drugs, and several members of the drug trades favorably inclined toward the Foster bill appeared at the hearings. After the Christmas recess the opposition was heard. A week before hearings were resumed, Wright came to New York to conciliate doubtful medical and pharmaceutical interests. The drug-trade leaders gathered at the home of Dr. William J. Schieffelin, president of the National Wholesale Druggists Association (NWDA) and a prominent member of various national reform movements.88 After this meeting, trade representatives hoped that modifications would be made in the bill. Druggists, however, continued their attacks. The Drug Trade Section of the New York Board of Trade came out in opposition to the Foster bill, which it now described as pleasing no one except Dr. Wright. The section also correctly predicted that no action would be taken during the last session of the 6ist Congress.89 Attitudes toward narcotic control varied considerably within the drug industry. Restrictions on small amounts of narcotics that could make a best seller out of an otherwise slow item (mainly proprietary medicines) were opposed by retail drug interests. Read more […]

Narcotics In Nineteenth-Century America

Before 1800, opium was available in America in its crude form as an ingredient of multidrug prescriptions, or in such extracts as laudanum, containing alcohol, or “black drop,” containing no alcohol. Valued for its calming and soporific effects, opium was also a specific against symptoms of gastrointestinal illnesses such as cholera, food poisoning, and parasites. Its relatively mild psychological effect when taken by mouth or as part of a more complex prescription was enhanced by frequent use, and the drug was supplied freely by physicians. In addition, self-dosing with patent medicines and the ministrations of quacks contributed to narcotic intake. The medical profession’s need for something that worked in a world of mysterious mortal diseases and infections cannot be overlooked as a major stimulus for the growth of the opium market. A drug that calmed was especially appealing since physicians could at least treat the patient’s anxiety. Technological advances in organic chemistry during the early nineteenth century led to plentiful supplies of potent habit-forming drugs. Alkaloids in crude opium were separated and crystallized to isolate active principles that give opium its physiological and psychic effects. Analysis Read more […]


Lay reformers took a vigorous and uncomplicated stand on narcotics. In general, two problems enflamed them: corporate disregard of public welfare and individual immorality. This dichotomy is artificial but it helps to identify the objects of the reformers’ zeal and it made a difference in the kinds of laws proposed. Reformers like Samuel Hopkins Adams, whose “Great American Fraud” series in Collier’s in 1905-07 revealed the danger of patent medicines, were of course concerned over the damage done to unsuspecting victims of such medicines. Adams directed his attack against pharmaceutical manufacturers whose expensive and inaccurate advertising promotions sold harmful nostrums to the public. In keeping with his exposes of crooked politicians and corporations, Adams argued that regulatory laws should be aimed at the suppliers.27 For other reformers, though, the addict evoked fears; their agitation resulted in legislation directed more at the user, who might be sent to jail for possession, than at the manufacturer who produced barrels of morphine and heroin. The Southerners fear of the Negro and the Westerner’s fear of the Chinese predominated in this approach to the drug problem. The origin of concern thus affected the Read more […]

LSD and Psychotherapy

Since it had repeatedly been observed that extremely small doses of LSD were sufficient to produce changes in perception and behavior that resembled symptoms of schizophrenia, researchers concluded that the brain, under certain circumstances, might produce small quantities of a substance identical or very similar to LSD, and that this could be the explanation for at least some psychoses. If this could be proven, scientists hoped, then schizophrenia and other psychoses could be considered physical, not mental, disorders. The idea that chemicals could alter the brain’s chemistry and possibly cause mental illness was revolutionary. Moreover, if this was the case, blocking abnormal mental states by administering medications might be possible. In effect, this could provide a cure for many psychiatric disorders. In 1953, the German psychiatrist Walter Frederking, in conjunction with several colleagues, was the first to use low doses of LSD in standard therapy sessions to relieve anxiety in patients and to cure various mood disorders such as depression, manic depression, and an assortment of phobias. Frederking and others reported remarkable results from this new therapy, and by the end of the decade, many articles describing Read more […]