Performance and subjective effects of diazepam and d-amphetamine in high and low sensation seekers

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Although sensation-seeking status is associated with age of initiation and amount of drug use among adolescents, and sensitivity to the behavioral and reinforcing effects of drugs among young adults, it is unclear whether sensation-seeking status among adolescents is predictive of sensitivity to the pharmacological effects of drugs (i.e. abuse potential) as adults. This study examined the acute behavioral effects of oral diazepam and d-amphetamine in young adults, ages 18–21 years, who had consistently scored in the highest or lowest third of their grade-based cohort on a modified Sensation Seeking Scale that was completed annually between ages 10 and 14 years. Healthy participants completed 16 7.5-h test days, with test days separated by a minimum of 48 h. Each day, assessments consisting of computer task performance, verbal report of drug effects, and cardiovascular measures were completed 0, 50, 110, 170, 230, and 290 min after drug administration. Placebo and three active doses of diazepam and d-amphetamine (2.5, 5.0 and 10.0 mg/70 kg) were tested under double-blind conditions according to a randomized-block design. Typical stimulant and sedative effects were obtained with d-amphetamine and diazepam, respectively. Drug effects varied as a function of sensation-seeking status, with magnitude of effects on cardiovascular function, task performance, and report of positive drug effects being greater among high sensation seekers, and report of negative drug effects being greater among low sensation seekers. Adolescents who report high levels of sensation seeking on a consistent basis are more sensitive to pharmacological effects of stimulant and sedative drugs that are associated with abuse potential as young adults.

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