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Saturday, May 19, 2012

Diazepam and other Benzos (diazepines) take the brakes off of dopamine-producing neurons

Like opioids and cannabinoids, diazepam and other benzodiazepines take the brakes off of dopamine-producing neurons. April 2012 By NIDA Notes Staff       

Since their introduction in the 1960s, drugs categorized as benzodiazepines, which include diazepam (Valium) and alprazolam (Xanax), have been widely prescribed to treat anxiety and insomnia, alcohol withdrawal, and other conditions. Although they are highly effective for their intended uses, these medications must be prescribed with caution because they can be addictive. Now, work by NIDA-funded researchers has established that benzodiazepines cause addiction in a way similar to that of opioids, cannabinoids, and the club drug gamma-hydroxybutyrate (GHB). The discovery opens the door to designing new benzodiazepines that counteract anxiety but are not addictive.

Dr. Christian Lüscher and colleagues at the University of Geneva, Switzerland, studied benzodiazepines as part of a larger project to identify the point of convergence for all neurobiological pathways to drug addiction. Their findings strongly suggest that this juncture occurs when dopamine surges in response to drug taking initiate a change in synaptic plasticity in dopamine-producing cells.

Posted By: STS  First @ 8:37:17 AM


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