Relative abuse liability of triazolam: experimental assessment in animals and humans

Neurosci Biobehav Rev. Spring 1985;9(1):133-51. doi: 10.1016/0149-7634(85)90039-9.


The abuse liability of a drug is a positive, interactive function of the reinforcing and adverse effects of the drug. The relative abuse liability of the hypnotic benzodiazepine, triazolam, has been controversial. This paper reviews animal and human studies bearing on its relative abuse liability, including data on pharmacological profile, reinforcing effects, liking, speed of onset, discriminative stimulus effects, subjective effects, physiological dependence, rebound and early morning insomnia, drug produced anxiety, lethality in overdose, psychomotor impairment, interactions with ethanol, anterograde amnesia, impaired awareness of drug effect, and other psychiatric and behavioral disturbances. It is concluded that the abuse liability of triazolam is less than that of the intermediate duration barbiturates such as pentobarbital. Although there are considerable data indicating similarities of triazolam to other benzodiazepines, there is also substantial speculation among clinical investigators and some limited data suggesting that the abuse liability of triazolam is greater than that of a variety of other benzodiazepines, and virtually no credible data or speculation that it is less. Further research will be necessary to clarify definitively the abuse liability of triazolam relative to other benzodiazepines.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Amnesia / chemically induced
  • Animals
  • Anti-Anxiety Agents* / adverse effects
  • Behavior, Animal / drug effects
  • Discrimination, Psychological / drug effects
  • Drug Interactions
  • Emotions
  • Ethanol / pharmacology
  • Humans
  • Psychomotor Performance / drug effects
  • Reinforcement, Psychology
  • Self Administration
  • Sleep Initiation and Maintenance Disorders / chemically induced
  • Species Specificity
  • Substance Withdrawal Syndrome / psychology
  • Substance-Related Disorders / etiology
  • Substance-Related Disorders / psychology*
  • Triazolam* / adverse effects
  • Triazolam* / poisoning
  • Triazolam* / toxicity


  • Anti-Anxiety Agents
  • Triazolam
  • Ethanol