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Behavioral economic analysis of opioid consumption in heroin-dependent individuals: effects of alternative reinforcer magnitude and post-session drug supply.

Author(s): Greenwald MK, Steinmiller CL

Affiliation(s): Substance Abuse Research Division, Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Neurosciences, Wayne State University, 2761 East Jefferson Ave., Detroit, MI 48207, USA. mgreen@med.wayne.edu

Publication date & source: 2009-09-01, Drug Alcohol Depend., 104(1-2):84-93. Epub 2009 May 21.

Publication type: Randomized Controlled Trial; Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural; Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

This study investigated the extent to which hydromorphone (HYD) choice and behavioral economic demand were influenced by HYD unit price (UP), alternative money reinforcement magnitude and post-session HYD supply. Heroin-dependent research volunteers (n=13) stabilized on buprenorphine 8 mg/day first sampled two HYD doses (12 and 24 mg IM, labeled Drug A [session 1] and Drug B [session 2]). In each of the final six sessions, volunteers were given access to a 12-trial choice progressive ratio (PR) task and could earn a HYD unit dose (2 mg, fixed) or money ($2 or $4, varied across sessions), administered immediately after the work session. Before the PR task, volunteers were told which HYD supplemental dose (none, Drug A or B) would be available 3h after receiving the PR-contingent dose. PR-contingent HYD choice significantly decreased when $4 relative to $2 was concurrently available. Information about the post-session HYD supplement moderated this effect: when subjects were told a supplemental dose was available, HYD-seeking behavior decreased when the money alternative was smaller ($2), but this information did not further attenuate HYD choice, which was already low, when the money alternative was higher ($4). HYD demand elasticity was only increased by the $4 relative to $2 alternative without the HYD supplement. In summary, opioid-seeking behavior is influenced by the availability of concurrent non-drug and drug alternatives. These findings show that drug availability and non-drug alternatives interact to modulate drug-seeking behavior.

Page last updated: 2009-10-20

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