Alprazolam as a neuroleptic adjunct in the emergency treatment of schizophrenia

James G. Barbee, Donna M. Mancuso, Charles R. Freed, Alexandre A. Todorov

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

51 Scopus citations


Objective: While neuroleptics remain the mainstay of drug intervention in the emergency management of psychosis, a variety of agents have received study as alternatives or adjuncts to these drugs in an attempt to improve the safety and efficacy of acute treatment. The purposes of this study were to investigate the efficacy and safety of alprazolam as a neuroleptic adjunct for schizophrenic patients in psychotic relapse and to clarify the effects of combination treatment on specific aspects of the psychotic process. Method: Twenty-eight acutely psychotic patients with schizophrenia who were admitted to an emergency psychiatric service were randomly assigned to treatment with either haloperidol and alprazolam or haloperidol with placebo under double-blind conditions. Drug administration lasted 72 hours. Results: Both groups improved significantly. The combination-treated group required significantly less medication and had 56% fewer dystonic reactions. The addition of alprazolam was most effective for symptoms of excitement and uncooperativeness, particularly in the initial hours of treatment. Conclusions: The combination of alprazolam and haloperidol seems to be the most effective for agitated patients, particularly in the first 48 hours of treatment. It may also result in fewer dystonic reactions.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)506-510
Number of pages5
JournalAmerican Journal of Psychiatry
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jan 1 1992


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