A nicotine challenge to the self-medication hypothesis in a neurodevelopmental animal model of schizophrenia

Research output: Contribution to journalReview article

17 Scopus citations


Nicotine addiction is the leading cause of premature illness and death in the general population. Up to half of all cigarettes are consumed by a minority of the population: persons with schizophrenia and other forms of mental illness. Ironically, despite nicotine dependence being considered a serious and deadly form of addiction in the general population, research on smoking in mental illness is predominantly guided by the idea that smoking has beneficial medication-like treatment effects. This article considers pitfalls of adherence to the self-medication hypothesis as an exclusively held dogma. New evidence from animal modeling work suggests the need to broaden hypothesis-driven research on smoking in mental illness. Adolescent smoking could predispose to mental illness and/or increased nicotine dependence in schizophrenia may represent an involuntary, general addiction vulnerability that has little to do with the 'helpful' psychoactive effects of nicotine or other drugs.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)139-148
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Dual Diagnosis
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 1 2009



  • Animal models
  • Dual diagnosis
  • Integrated neurocircuit vulnerability
  • Neurodevelopmental
  • Nicotine addiction
  • Schizophrenia
  • Self-medication

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health

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