Speedball (heroin/cocaine) addiction is a distressing public health concern for which there currently is no approved medication. Preclinical evidence suggests that 2 adrenergic agonists may reduce addiction-related effects of heroin and cocaine in laboratory animals, suggesting that they also may be particularly effective in attenuating effects of heroin/cocaine 'speedball'combinations. In response to PA 08-186, which calls for research to develop pharmacotherapies for polydrug addiction, we propose to evaluate the ability of 2 agonists to reduce the abuse- and relapse-related effects of speedball combinations in nonhuman translational models of drug addiction. First, drug discrimination and observational procedures will be used to establish proper temporal and dosing parameters for a series of novel 2 agonists that differ in 2 adrenoceptor selectivity and have favorable side-effect profiles compared to the FDA-approved drug clonidine. This information will guide our studies of how acute and chronic treatment with 2 agonists alters the reinforcing strength and intake of speedball combinations using a choice procedure that incorporates concurrently available second-order schedule of i.v. drug injection and food reinforcement. A major problem in drug addiction is that relapse in abstinent individuals can be triggered by a variety of stimuli including exposure to drugs, drug-related cues, or stressful events. To address this problem, separate studies will be conducted to determine how 2 agonists modify the ability of speedball injections, speedball-associated cues, or stressful stimuli to trigger drug- seeking behavior. Finally, chronic treatment studies with selected 2 adrenergic agonists will be conducted to determine whether tolerance occurs to the sedative or other observable side-effects of selected 2 agonists during repeated administration. We expect our research to identify 2 agonists that effectively attenuate the reinforcing effects of speedball self-administration and inhibit the impact of relapse-related triggers to drug-seeking. These findings will provide essential preclinical information to guide further development of 2 agonists as candidate pharmacotherapeutics for speedball addiction.

Public Health Relevance

There is a clear medical need for new candidate medications to manage the Increasing dual heroin/cocaine ('speedball') abuse and addiction poses a grave public health problem for which no effective medications exist. Previous findings indicate that 2-adrenergic agonists can attenuate addiction-related effects of, separately, heroin and cocaine. We will address this public health problem of dual heroin/cocaine abuse and addiction by evaluating 2 adrenergic agonists as candidate pharmacotherapeutics to counteract 'speedball'abuse and aid in relapse prevention.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA)
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Biobehavioral Regulation, Learning and Ethology Study Section (BRLE)
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Lynch, Minda
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Mclean Hospital
United States
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