Relationship between drug discrimination and ratings of subjective effects: implications for assessing and understanding the abuse potential of D-amphetamine in humans

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The discriminative and subjective effects of drugs in humans are related, but the full extent of this relationship remains to be determined. To further explore this relationship, a retrospective analysis was conducted on data from six studies completed in our laboratory that used identical procedures. The relationship between the discriminative and subjective effects of a range of doses of D-amphetamine (i.e. 2.5–15 mg) was examined using correlational analyses. Significant correlations with discrimination performance were observed on 15 of 20 items from the Drug-Effect Questionnaire across a range of qualities [e.g. Pay For (a positive effect indicative of abuse potential) and Active (a stimulant-like effect)], but the magnitude of these relationships was modest (r<0.52). The current findings demonstrate that diverse subjective effects contribute to the discriminative effects of D-amphetamine and indicate that the former are a more practical means to assess the abuse potential of drugs. Although these procedures are fundamentally related in that they rely on the presence of an interoceptive drug state, they differ in the dimension(s) of the interoceptive effects that participants must quantify. The simultaneous use of drug discrimination and subjective effects may, therefore, reveal complimentary aspects of drug effects that underlie their potential for abuse.

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