Therapeutic doses of diazepam do not alter impulsive behavior in humans

Brady Reynolds, Jerry B. Richards, Michelle Dassinger, Harriet De Wit

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

41 Scopus citations


This study examined the effects of low, therapeutic doses of diazepam on several measures of impulsive behavior in healthy volunteers. Volunteers (N=35) participated in a three-session double-blind randomized design in which they received diazepam (5 or 10 mg) or placebo. The volunteers were classified as high and low impulsive based on the Barratt Impulsiveness Scale-11 (BIS-11). One hour after ingesting the capsule on each session, participants completed mood questionnaires and five impulsivity tasks: go/no-go task, delay discounting task, time estimation task, stop task, and the balloon analogue risk task (BART). Diazepam (5 and 10 mg) produced its prototypic sedative-like mood effects. However, the drug did not affect performance on any of the measures of impulsive behavior in either the high or low BIS participants. These results suggest that low doses of diazepam, including doses that are used therapeutically, do not increase impulsive behavior. Whether higher doses would increase impulsivity remains to be determined.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)17-24
Number of pages8
JournalPharmacology Biochemistry and Behavior
Issue number1
StatePublished - Sep 2004

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This research was supported by grants from NIDA (DA09133, DA10588 and T32DA07255). The authors acknowledge the expert assistance of Elizabeth Young and April Adams.


  • Behavioral task measures
  • Delay discounting
  • Diazepam
  • Humans
  • Impulsivity
  • Inhibit
  • Valium

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Toxicology
  • Pharmacology
  • Clinical Biochemistry
  • Biological Psychiatry
  • Behavioral Neuroscience


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