Title

Resurgence of Alcohol Seeking Produced by Discontinuing Non-Drug Reinforcement as an Animal Model of Drug Relapse

Document Type

Article

Journal/Book Title/Conference

Behavioural Pharmacology

Volume

17

Issue

4

Publisher

Lippincott, Williams & Wilkins

Publication Date

2006

First Page

369

Last Page

374

DOI

10.1097/01.fbp.0000224385.09486.ba

Abstract

Findings from basic behavioral research suggest that simply discontinuing reinforcement for a recently reinforced operant response can cause the recurrence (i.e. resurgence) of a different previously reinforced response. The present experiment examined resurgence as an animal model of drug relapse. Initially, rats pressed levers to self-administer alcohol during baseline conditions. Next, alcohol self-administration was discontinued and non-drug reinforcers (food pellets) were presented contingent on an alternative response (chain pulling). Finally, when the non-drug reinforcer was discontinued, alcohol seeking recurred even though alcohol was still unavailable for lever pressing. These results suggest that simply discontinuing non-drug reinforcement for a behavior may be sufficient to produce relapse to drug seeking. The resurgence procedure could provide a method to examine environmental, pharmacological, and neurobiological factors that lead to relapse following the loss of a non-drug source of reinforcement.

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