Naloxone Blocks Reinforcement but Not Motivation in an Operant Runway Model of Heroin-Seeking Behavior

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The present study examined the effects of opiate receptor antagonism on both the motivation to seek heroin and the reinforcing consequences of heroin administration. Subjects were trained to discriminate between olfactory cues predicting either the delivery of intravenous heroin reinforcement (S+) or saline (S−). Subjects were then tested in the presence of the opiate receptor antagonist, naloxone (0.5, 1.0, or 3.0 mg/kg intraperitoneally). Naloxone had no effect on either S+ or S− trials. However, 24 hr later on the first posttreatment trial, subjects that had received heroin in the presence of naloxone (on the previous trial) now traversed the alley more slowly when presented with the S+. These data suggest that although the motivation to seek heroin was not disrupted by naloxone, the reinforcing consequences of heroin administration were.

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