David Earl Johnson, LICSW

2 minute read

Valium is widely known as an addictive drug that is still occasionally prescribed for anxiety. Long-term use of Valium takes risks with a drug with perhaps the worst withdrawal syndrome of any addictive drug. Now there is evidence that the addictive effects occur with the very first dose of the drug. Psych Central News

“… a single drug or alcohol dose is sufficient to generate an initial stage of addiction. Recent research conducted under the umbrella of the Academy of Finland Research Programme on Neuroscience (NEURO) has discovered the same phenomenon in the dosage of benzodiazepine diazepam. “Previously, addiction to benzodiazepines has been explained by reference to negative rather than positive reinforcement. In other words, the thinking has been that the reason people continue to use the medicine is that it helps to alleviate their distressing withdrawal symptoms and general discomfort, rather than because it provides a sense of reward,” says Professor Esa Korpi, who has been in charge of the research project at the University of Helsinki. However, according to the latest research it seems that diazepam causes a similar change in the brain’s reward-inducing dopamine cells as a dose of alcohol, morphine, amphetamine or cocaine. Furthermore, neural message transmission in the dopamine cells is reinforced for up to 72 hours after ingestion of diazepam. “Our studies have shown that diazepam also affects the dopamine system, which adds a new positive reinforcement mechanism of reward learning to the theory of benzodiazepine addiction,” Korpi explains.”

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