Drug abuse continues to have a serious impact on our culture, and significant efforts are underway to develop effective treatment for drug abusers. Pharmacotherapeutic agents can be useful elements of treatment programs (e.g., methadone for heroin abusers, nicotine patches or gum for cigarette smokers, etc.), but at the present time, effective medications for the treatment of cocaine abuse are in short supply. Stimuli that are associated with abused drugs, such as cocaine, can become conditioned reinforcers that evoke, elicit, or reinforce behavior in drug-experienced humans and nonhumans. Although a number of reports have investigated the effects of drugs on food paired conditioned reinforcers, little is known regarding the effects of drugs on cocaine-paired stimuli, and the most frequently used methodologies in this area could be improved in several ways.
The aims of this proposal are to explore the role of cocaine-paired stimuli in cocaine self-administration using a novel (observing-response) procedure and to evaluate the effects of dopaminergic, serotonergic, glutamatergic, and other, possibly """"""""anti-craving,"""""""" drugs (e.g., acamprosate, buprenorphine, etc.) on the effectiveness of cocaine-paired conditioned reinforcers. Data generated from this project could have implications in the development of novel pharmacotherapies for the treatment of cocaine abusers.