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Eur J Pharmacol. 1998 Mar 12;345(1):13-26.

Effects of an alternative reinforcer on intravenous heroin self-administration by humans.

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Division on Substance Abuse, New York State Psychiatric Institute, New York 10032, USA.


Five heroin-dependent research volunteers, maintained on divided daily oral morphine doses, participated in an inpatient study designed to evaluate intravenous (i.v.) heroin self-administration when money ($10, $20 or $40) was concurrently available. Each morning participants received a single injection of heroin (placebo, 6.25, 12.5, 25, or 50 mg/70 kg, i.v.) and each afternoon, they had the opportunity to self-administer all or part of the morning dose. Participants responded under a progressive-ratio schedule (50, 100, ..., 2800) during a 10-trial self-administration task. During each trial, participants could respond for 1/10th of the sampled heroin dose or 1/10th of a single money value. The progressive-ratio value increased independently for each option. The total amount of heroin and/or money chosen during the self-administration task was administered at the end of the task. Heroin dose-dependently increased ratings of 'good drug effect' and 'high', impaired task performance and decreased pupil diameter and blood oxygen saturation. Heroin also dose-dependently increased progressive-ratio break point values, which varied as a function of the alternative money amount. Consistent with previous studies, the present results demonstrate that alternative reinforcers, depending on magnitude, are effective in reducing heroin use in opioid-dependent individuals.

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