August 23, 1965

Dependence on Barbiturates and Other Sedative Drugs

JAMA. 1965;193(8):673-677. doi:10.1001/jama.1965.03090080035009

In today's society, anxiety, tension states, insomnia, and other manifestations of stress are common. Many persons seek relief by self-medication with alcohol, and "over-the-counter" and prescription sedatives. Unfortunately, social acceptance of this kind of self-medication seems to be increasing. It is essential, therefore, that physicians maintain and strengthen their dominant role in assuring proper use of sedative medication. The responsibility includes the administration of the minimum amount of drug needed to control the patient's symptoms and the avoidance of prescribing excessive quantities of a drug, in terms of both amount and duration, which is very likely to lead to strong psychic and physical dependence* and compulsive abuse, particularly by emotionally unstable persons.

Historical Note  Drug abuse is probably as old as the earliest civilizations. Man has used great ingenuity in identifying substances which ease tensions, but for centuries available agents remained relatively static, limited to botanicals and their derivatives. Then,

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