Separate and combined psychopharmacological effects of alprazolam and oxycodone in healthy volunteers

James P. Zacny*, Judith A. Paice, Dennis W. Coalson

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Scopus citations


Background: There are epidemiological data indicating that medical and/or nonmedical use of prescription opioids oftentimes involves concurrent use of other substances. One of those substances is benzodiazepines. It would be of relevance to characterize the effects of an opioid and a benzodiazepine when taken together to determine if measures related to abuse liability-related effects and psychomotor performance impairment are increased compared to when the drugs are taken alone. Methods: Twenty volunteers participated in a crossover, randomized, double-blind study in which they received placebo, 0.5. mg alprazolam, 10. mg oxycodone, and 0.5. mg alprazolam combined with 10. mg oxycodone, all p.o. Subjective, psychomotor, and physiological measures were assessed during each of the four sessions. Results: Oxycodone by itself increased drug liking and "take again" ratings relative to placebo, but these ratings were not increased when oxycodone was taken with alprazolam, which by itself did not increase either of these ratings. The two drugs in combination produced stronger effects (larger in magnitude or longer lasting) than when either was taken alone on a number of measures, including psychomotor performance impairment. Conclusions: In healthy volunteers, abuse liability-related subjective effects of oxycodone were not enhanced by alprazolam. There was enhanced behavioral toxicity when the drugs were taken together, and thus, this is of significant concern from a public safety standpoint.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)274-282
Number of pages9
JournalDrug and Alcohol Dependence
Issue number3
StatePublished - Aug 1 2012


  • Abuse liability
  • Alprazolam
  • Benzodiazepine
  • Drug interaction
  • Healthy volunteer
  • Oxycodone
  • Prescription opioid
  • Psychomotor performance
  • Subjective effects

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Toxicology
  • Pharmacology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Pharmacology (medical)

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