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Alcohol. 1990 May-Jun;7(3):193-7.

Pharmacology of drug self-administration.

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Research Institute of Scripps Clinic, Department of Neuropharmacology, La Jolla, CA 92037.


Limited access to drugs provides a reliable model for their acute-reinforcing effects and a means by which to explore neuropharmacological mechanisms involved in these effects. In limited access situations intravenous self-administration rates of opiates and psychomotor stimulants is inversely related to dose, and competitive antagonists at low doses increase the number of injections self-administered. Competitive agonists decrease drug self-administration. However noncompetitive antagonists tend to produce decreases in self-administration and the specificity of these results are difficult to interpret. A limited access procedure of ethanol (10% v/v) self-administration using a sucrose or saccharin fade out procedure resulted in reliable and stable ethanol (10% v/v) and water self-administration in a concurrent choice situation using nondeprived unselected Wistar and alcohol preferring P-rats. As observed by others, the opiate antagonist naloxone decreased fluid intake in both strain of rats. However, contrary to earlier results naloxone did not produce a selective decrease in ethanol preference. The serotonin antagonist methysergide had no significant effect on fluid intake or ethanol preference. However, the long-acting dopamine agonist bromocriptine decreased ethanol intake and increased water intake producing a significant decrease in ethanol preference. The results with naloxone suggest that opiate interactions with ethanol may reflect a more general effect on consummatory behavior and the results with bromocriptine suggest that the reinforcing effects of low doses of ethanol may involve a dopaminergic component. Future studies should explore further the interactions of ethanol with competitive antagonists (if possible), and fluid intake or ethanol preference with limbic-extrapyramidal circuitry involved in mediating the reinforcing actions of other drugs of abuse.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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