Who are the roughly 20 million persons in this country who take Valium?

According to a study published two years ago by a group of University of Massachuttes sociologists:

About two-thirds of the Valium users in that state are women.

Contrary to the stereotype of the pill-popping housewife, only 14.1 percent of the state's Valium users are housewives and 48.9 percent are white-collar workers.

Over half those using Valium have family incomes over $12,000.

Just over 60 percent of the Massachusetts users first took Valium for psychological problems and 41.5 percent had previously used another tranquilizer.

Although Hoffmann-LaRoche says Valium should be considered short-term therapy, only 13.6 percent of those surveyed had used it for less than a month, while almost 67 percent had used it for more than a year.

Just over 90 percent of those surveyed, however, had either taken the drug at the prescribed dosage or decreased their dose over time.

Another study, conducted by researchers at George Washington University and the National Institutes of Health, examined national attitudes about all tranquillizers. It found that:

Eight-seven percent of those surveyed beleived "it is better to use will power to solve problems than it is to use tranquilizers."

Almost 70 percent believe "tranquilizers don't really cure anything, they just cover up the real trouble."

Eighty percent believe long-term use of tranquilizers can cause physical harm.

Fifty-nine percent feel "many doctors prescribe tranquilizers more than they should."

However, 74 percent believe "tranquilizers work very well to make a person more calm and relaxed."

Sixty-four percent approve of the use of tranquilizers in a work setting to "offset a major (psychological problem), 55 percent approve their use to "offset a moderate" problem, but only 13 percent believe they should be used to "enhance normal functioning."

The researchers also found that the less education a person has, the the more a person believes that "taking tranquilizers is a sign of weakness."