In drug addiction, cues previously associated with drug use can produce craving and frequently trigger the resumption of drug taking in individuals vulnerable to relapse. Environmental stimuli associated with drugs or natural reinforcers can become reliably conditioned to increase behavior that was previously reinforced. In preclinical models of addiction, these cues enhance both drug self-administration and reinstatement of drug seeking. In this review, we will dissociate the roles of conditioned stimuli as reinforcers from their modulatory or discriminative functions in producing drug-seeking behavior. As well, we will examine possible differences in neurobiological encoding underlying these functional differences. Specifically, we will discuss how models of drug addiction and relapse should more systematically evaluate these different types of stimuli to better understand the neurobiology underlying craving and relapse. In this way, behavioral and pharmacotherapeutic interventions may be better tailored to promote drug use cessation outcomes and long-term abstinence.
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This work was supported by Public Health Service grants R00 DA036569 and DA036569–S1 (CG), AA AA025590 and DA043172 (MFO), and R00 DA033373 (JB) from the National Institutes of Health.
Namba, Mark D.; Tomek, Seven E.; Olive, M. Foster; Beckmann, Joshua S.; and Gipson, Cassandra D., "The Winding Road to Relapse: Forging a New Understanding of Cue-Induced Reinstatement Models and Their Associated Neural Mechanisms" (2018). Psychology Faculty Publications. 144.