Behavioral effects of alprazolam in humans

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The purpose of this study was to examine, in healthy volunteers without histories of extensive sedative use, the acute behavioral effects of doses of alprazolam used in clinical applications. Subjects participated in daily sessions over 12 study days. They consumed a standard breakfast, received an oral drug dose (0, 0.25, 0.5, 1 mg) and completed performance tasks for 3 hours after dosing. Tasks included a digit-symbol substitution task, a repeated-acquisition of response sequences task, a differential reinforcement of low response rate task designed to monitor time estimation, a number recognition task, and a second-order repeated-acquisition of response sequences task. Each active dose was administered prior to two sessions, according to a randomized block design, and placebo sessions separated successive active-dose sessions. With the exception of the second-order repeated acquisition of response sequences task, dose-related changes in performance were observed during all tasks, but effects were significant only following the 1 mg dose. No drug-related changes were observed on visual-analog scale ratings of drug effect. The data indicate that the risk of adverse performance effects following use of alprazolam is related to dose, with risks increasing at doses at or above 0.5 mg.

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