A choice-based screening method for compulsive drug users in rats.

Magalie Lenoir, Eric Augier, Caroline Vouillac, Serge H. Ahmed
Current Protocols in Neuroscience. 2013-07-01; 64(1): 9.44.1-9.44.17
DOI: 10.1002/0471142301.ns0944s64

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We describe a protocol for screening compulsive drug users among cocaine
self-administering rats, the most frequently used animal model in addiction
research. Rats are first trained on several alternating days to self-administer
either cocaine (i.v.) or saccharin-sweetened water (by mouth)–a potent, albeit
nonessential, nondrug reward. Then rats are allowed to choose between the two
rewards over several days until the preference stabilizes. Most rats choose to
stop using cocaine and pursue the alternative reward. Only a minority of Wistar
strain rats (generally 15%) persist in taking the drug, regardless of the
severity of past cocaine use and even when made hungry and offered the
possibility to relieve their physiological need. Persistence of cocaine use in
the face of a high-stakes choice is a core defining feature of compulsion. This
choice-based screening method for compulsive drug users is easy to implement, has
several important applications, and compares well with other methods in the

2013 by John Wiley & Sons, Inc.


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