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Alcohol is the most commonly used drug in the United States and alcohol abuse can lead to alcohol use disorder. Alcohol use disorder is a persistent condition and relapse rates following successful remission are high. Many factors have been associated with relapse for alcohol use disorder, but identification of these factors has not been well translated into preventative utility. One potentially important factor, concurrent nicotine use, has not been well investigated as a causal factor in relapse for alcohol use disorder. Nicotine increases the value of other stimuli in the environment and may increase the value of alcohol. If nicotine increases the value of alcohol, then nicotine use during and after treatment may make relapse more probable. In the current study, we investigated the effect of continuous nicotine exposure (using osmotic minipumps to deliver nicotine or saline, depending on group, at a constant rate for 28 days) on resurgence of alcohol seeking in rats. Resurgence is a type of relapse preparation that consists of three phases: Baseline, Alternative Reinforcement, and Resurgence Testing. During Baseline, target responses produced a dipper of alcohol. During Alternative Reinforcement, target responses were extinguished and responses on a chain produced a chocolate pellet. During Resurgence Testing, responses on the chain were also extinguished and a return to responding on the target lever was indicative of resurgence. Multilevel modeling was used to analyze the effect of nicotine on resurgence. Both the nicotine and saline group showed resurgence of alcohol seeking, but there was no difference in the degree of resurgence across groups. Future directions could involve testing alternative drug delivery techniques.
Frye CCJ, Rung JM, Nall RW, Galizio A, Haynes JM, et al. (2018) Continuous nicotine exposure does not affect resurgence of alcohol seeking in rats. PLoS ONE 13(8): e0202230. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0202230