Diazepam promotes choice of abstinence in cocaine self-administering rats.

Eric Augier, Caroline Vouillac, Serge H. Ahmed
Addiction Biology. 2011-09-28; 17(2): 378-391
DOI: 10.1111/j.1369-1600.2011.00368.x

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1. Addict Biol. 2012 Mar;17(2):378-91. doi: 10.1111/j.1369-1600.2011.00368.x. Epub
2011 Sep 28.

Diazepam promotes choice of abstinence in cocaine self-administering rats.

Augier E(1), Vouillac C, Ahmed SH.

Author information:
(1)Institut des Maladies Neurodégénératives, Université de Bordeaux, France.

When facing a choice between cocaine and a potent, albeit inessential, non-drug
alternative (i.e. water sweetened with saccharin), most cocaine
self-administering rats abstain from cocaine in favor of the non-drug pursuit,
regardless of the dose available and even after extended drug use. Only a
minority continues to take the drug despite the opportunity of making a different
choice and increasing stakes. This pattern of individual variation could suggest
that the majority of rats are resilient to addiction, taking cocaine by default
of other options. Only a minority would be vulnerable to addiction. This study
tested the hypothesis that rats choose to refrain from cocaine
self-administration because cocaine would be conflictual, having both rewarding
and anxiogenic properties. Contrary to this hypothesis, however, we report here
that diazepam-a broad-spectrum benzodiazepine anxiolytic-did not decrease, but
instead, further increased cocaine abstinence. Interestingly, although diazepam
decreased locomotion, rats adapted to this effect by spending more time near the
lever associated with the preferred reward, a behavior that minimized the need
for locomotion at the moment of choice. When responding for cocaine or saccharin
was analyzed separately, we found that diazepam decreased responding for cocaine
without affecting responding for saccharin. Finally, the abstinence-promoting
effects of diazepam were also induced in cocaine-preferring rats treated
chronically with diazepam. Overall, this study demonstrates that abstinence from
cocaine cannot be explained away by the anxiogenic effects of cocaine, thereby
reinforcing the notion of resilience to addiction. It also supports the use of
benzodiazepines in the treatment of cocaine addiction.

© 2011 The Authors, Addiction Biology © 2011 Society for the Study of Addiction.

DOI: 10.1111/j.1369-1600.2011.00368.x
PMID: 21955224 [Indexed for MEDLINE]

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