Original Article

Initial experience of heroin use under a two-chained operant schedule influences drug-seeking behavior after one month of abstinence

Authors: Bin Lu, Mu Li, Yuan-yuan Hou, Jie Chen, Zhi-qiang Chi, Jing-gen Liu
DOI: 10.1038/aps.2010.16


Aim: To evaluate the influence of an initial heroin experience under a modified two-chained training schedule on drug-seeking behavior after a long abstinence period.
Methods: Rats were trained to respond for intravenous heroin (120 μg/kg) under a heterogeneous chained schedule of reinforcement using different responses in the first and second links of the chain. Animals received low-frequency drug administration training for four days and were then subjected to one month of abstinence in their home cages. Heroin-seeking behavior induced by re-exposure to the first chain associated context or discriminative stimuli was assessed after abstinence.
Results: Almost all animals could acquire operant skills quickly under the two-chained schedule training for four days, as measured in first active response latency, travel speed and goal-box enter latency. Both first chain associated context and discriminative stimulus could reinstate heroin-seeking behavior after one month abstinence.
Conclusion: These observations suggest that an early experience of drug use is sufficient to maintain heroin-seeking behavior even after a one month abstinence.

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