Alcohol abuse is frequently associated with nicotine (Nic) use. The current experiments were conducted to establish an oral operant ethanol + Nic (EtOH + Nic) co-use model and to characterize some aspects of EtOH + Nic co-use.
Rats were allowed to choose between EtOH alone or EtOH + Nic solutions. Additionally, alcohol-preferring (P) rats were allowed to concurrently self-administer 3 distinct EtOH solutions (10, 20, and 30%) with varying amounts of Nic (0.07, 0.14, or 0.21 mg/ml) under operant conditions. P rats were also allowed to concurrently self-administer 2 distinct amounts of Nic (0.07 and 0.14 mg/ml) added to saccharin (Sacc; 0.025%) solutions.
During acquisition, P rats responded for the EtOH + Nic solutions at the same level as for EtOH alone, and responding for EtOH + Nic solutions was present throughout all drinking conditions. P rats also readily maintained stable self-administration behaviors for Nic + Sacc solutions. The results demonstrated that P rats readily acquired and maintained stable self-administration behaviors for EtOH + 0.07 and EtOH + 0.14 mg/ml Nic solutions. Self-administration of EtOH + 0.21 mg/ml Nic was established in only 50% of the subjects. P rats readily expressed seeking behaviors for the EtOH + Nic solutions and reacquired EtOH + Nic self-administration during relapse testing. In addition, tail blood samples indicated that EtOH + Nic co-use resulted in pharmacologically relevant levels of both EtOH and Nic in the blood.
Overall, the results indicate that P rats readily consume EtOH + Nic solutions concurrently in the presence of EtOH alone, express drug-seeking behaviors, and will concurrently consume physiologically relevant levels of both drugs. These results support the idea that this oral operant EtOH + Nic co-use model would be suitable for studying the development of co-abuse and the consequences of long-term chronic co-abuse.
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