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I think it is cute that the author trys to make some leap about valium. If Huxley was talking about, or thinking of anything it would have been a more contemporary problem. Though my memory of the book is hazy, I do not recall that Soma was addictive or potentially deadly.

The contemporary family of drugs would have been barbiturates, and in the very early days of their use. Well before we knew how bad that they were in regards to addition and withdrawl. Valium is a benzodiazepine, and those come much later, again we don't find out how bad the withdrawal from them is till much later. In some regards benzodiazepines end up replacing barbiturates not for consumer heath reasons rather for patent and profit reasons because as it turns out both are fairly damaging.

Benzodiazepines are much more difficult to fatally overdose on than barbiturates, which is IMO an important health reason.

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