The aim of the present investigation was to examine benzodiazepine sensitivity in abstinent alcoholics. For this purpose, two escalating doses of the benzodiazepine midazolam were IV administered to nine alcohol-dependent patients after 2-3 weeks of abstinence and 12 healthy, non-alcoholic volunteers. A variety of dependent measures were examined, including the power spectrum of the resting electroencephalogram (EEG) and evoked EEG responses, saccadic eye movements, self-reported sedation, and vigilance task performance. Analyses revealed a significant association between plasma midazolam levels and changes in EEG beta power, pattern shift visual evoked potential amplitude, heart rate, and saccade amplitude and velocity. The patient and control groups differed significantly in the onset latencies of their saccadic eye movements, and marginally in EEG beta power, both before and after midazolam. However, no differences were detected between the groups in the dose of midazolam required to produce sedation or in midazolam's neurophysiological effects.
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