History of drug exposure as a determinant of drug self-administration

A. M. Young, S. Herling, J. H. Woods

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23 Scopus citations


Drug self-administration is controlled, in part, by the subject's history of drug exposure. Although a history of drug administration is not necessary for many drugs to function as reinforcers, prior exposure can increase the likelihood that certain drugs, such as ethanol, will maintain behavior. While it has been demonstrated that physiological dependence is not necesssary for a drug to function as a reinforcer, the conditions under which such dependence is maintained can control the later self-administration of the drug. Once drug-maintained behaviors are established, the particular drug that maintains behavior can influence the initial pattern of intake of a new drug and thus the dose of that drug that will maintain behavior. Additionally, under certain conditions, similarity between the discriminative stimulus effects of the drug that previously maintained behavior and those of a new drug can increase the likelihood that the new drug will function as a reinforcer. Finally, stimuli that have been paired with drug administration can powerfully control later drug-maintained behavior, the direction of such control being determined by the conditions under which such pairing occurred. In summary, both the type of drug with which a subject has experience as well as the contingencies governing that experience contribute to subsequent drug self-administration.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)75-89
Number of pages15
JournalNIDA Research Monograph Series
VolumeNo. 37
StatePublished - 1981


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