Prazosin + Naltrexone Decreases Alcohol Drinking More Effectively Than Does Either Drug Alone in P Rats with a Protracted History of Extensive Voluntary Alcohol Drinking, Dependence, and Multiple Withdrawals

Dennis D. Rasmussen, Carrie L. Kincaid, Janice C. Froehlich

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

11 Scopus citations


Background: Prazosin (PRZ; an α<inf>1</inf>-adrenergic receptor antagonist) and naltrexone (NTX; a nonspecific opioid receptor antagonist) each decrease alcohol drinking when administered to rats selectively bred for high voluntary alcohol drinking (alcohol-preferring or "P"), and the combination of PRZ + NTX decreases alcohol drinking more effectively than does either drug alone. As drug responsiveness can depend on history of alcohol drinking and dependence, we investigated whether various schedules of PRZ and NTX administration, alone or in combination, are effective in decreasing alcohol drinking in male P rats with a history of protracted voluntary alcohol drinking, dependence, and repeated withdrawals closely resembling human alcoholism. Methods: Male P rats became alcohol-dependent during 1 year of ad libitum 24 h/d access to food, water, and 20% alcohol with repetitive temporary alcohol withdrawals. Four sequential studies then addressed effects of oral PRZ (2 mg/kg) and NTX (10 mg/kg), alone or together, on alcohol drinking during: (i) daily alcohol access with daily drug treatment, (ii) intermittent alcohol access with daily drug treatment, (iii) intermittent alcohol access with occasional drug treatment, and (iv) postdeprivation reinstatement of alcohol access. Results: The combination of PRZ + NTX consistently suppressed alcohol drinking during daily or intermittent alcohol access conditions and when drug treatment was either daily or occasional. PRZ + NTX was consistently more effective than either drug alone. The reduction in alcohol drinking was not due to sedation, motor effects, or malaise. Conclusions: Both daily and "as-needed" treatment with PRZ + NTX are highly effective in suppressing daily, intermittent, and postdeprivation alcohol drinking in male P rats with a protracted history of alcohol dependence and repeated withdrawals. This drug combination may be especially effective for treating individuals with long histories of heavy alcohol abuse, dependence, and repeated relapse, as commonly encountered in clinical practice.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1832-1841
Number of pages10
JournalAlcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 1 2015



  • Alcohol
  • Alcoholism Treatment
  • Naltrexone
  • Noradrenergic
  • Opioid
  • Prazosin

ASJC Scopus subject areas

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

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