Cocaine Influences Alcohol-Seeking Behavior and Relapse Drinking in Alcohol-Preferring (P) Rats

Sheketha R. Hauser, Jessica A. Wilden, Gerald A. Deehan, William J. Mcbride, Zachary A. Rodd

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

8 Scopus citations


Background: The results of several studies suggest that there may be common neurocircuits regulating drug-seeking behaviors. Common biological pathways regulating drug-seeking would explain the phenomenon that seeking for 1 drug can be enhanced by exposure to another drug of abuse. The objective of this study was to assess the time course effects of acute cocaine administration on ethanol (EtOH) seeking and relapse. Methods: Alcohol-preferring (P) rats were allowed to self-administer 15% EtOH and water. EtOH-seeking was assessed through the use of the Pavlovian spontaneous recovery (PSR) model, while EtOH-relapse drinking was assessed through the use of the alcohol-deprivation effect. Results: Cocaine (0, 1, or 10 mg/kg), injected immediately, 30 minutes, or 4 hours prior to the first PSR testing session, dose-dependently increased responding on the EtOH lever compared to extinction responses and responding by saline controls. Under relapse conditions, cocaine given immediately prior to the relapse session had no effect (1 mg/kg) or reduced responding (10 mg/kg). In contrast, cocaine given 4 hours prior to the relapse session markedly enhanced EtOH responding compared to saline. Conclusions: The enhanced expression of EtOH-seeking and EtOH-relapse behaviors may be a result of a priming effect of cocaine on neuronal circuits mediating these behaviors. The effect of cocaine on EtOH-relapse drinking is indicative of the complex interactions that can occur between drugs of abuse; production of conflicting behaviors (immediate), and priming of relapse/seeking (4-hour delay).

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2678-2686
Number of pages9
JournalAlcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research
Issue number10
StatePublished - Oct 1 2014


  • Alcohol-Preferring (P) Rats
  • Cocaine
  • EtOH-Relapse
  • EtOH-Seeking
  • Pavlovian Spontaneous Recovery

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Toxicology
  • Medicine(all)

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