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Behav Pharmacol. 2005 Nov;16(7):521-9.

The influence of alcohol pre-treatment on the discriminative stimulus, subjective, and relative reinforcing effects of nicotine.

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  • 1Department of Psychiatry, University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania 15213, USA.


Alcohol intake may acutely alter the discriminative stimulus and subjective effects of nicotine, perhaps explaining why alcohol increases tobacco smoking. In this study, cigarette smokers were initially trained to discriminate 20 microg/kg nicotine by nasal spray from placebo. Three sessions then followed, in which the generalization of nicotine discrimination was tested across a range of doses (0--20 microg/kg) following pre-treatment with 0, 0.4, and 0.8 g/kg alcohol p.o. Intermittent 'topping' doses of alcohol maintained a steady breath alcohol level (BAL) throughout testing. Generalization testing involved both two- and three-choice ('novel' option) procedures. A visual discrimination task was also conducted to determine the specificity of effects of alcohol. Subjective and cardiovascular measures were obtained concurrent with discrimination responding. The relative reinforcing effects of nicotine were assessed after the end of generalization testing using a choice procedure. Alcohol pre-treatment had no significant effects on nicotine discrimination or self-administration behavior. Alcohol and nicotine each influenced selected subjective responses and heart rate, but virtually no interactions between the drugs were observed. Within the limitations of this study, these results do not support the notion that alcohol acutely alters nicotine's discriminative stimulus, subjective, or relative reinforcing effects at these low nicotine doses. Acute effects of alcohol on smoking behavior may be due to alterations in other effects of nicotine intake or in non-nicotine effects of tobacco smoking.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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