Comparison of the reinforcing and anxiogenic effects of intravenous cocaine and cocaethylene.


People report that ethanol improves the experience produced by cocaine. This effect may be attributable to cocaethylene (CE), a cocaine metabolite formed only in the presence of ethanol. To test this, rats were trained to run an alley for a single intravenous dose of either cocaine (0.5-2.0 mg/kg) or an equimolar dose of CE (0.75-2.88 mg/kg). The rats' start latency and running speed measured the reinforcing effects of the drugs and the number of times rats approached but failed to enter the goal box (i.e., approach-avoidance retreats) indexed anxiety. Rats reinforced with CE had shorter start latencies and faster running speeds and exhibited fewer "retreats" than cocaine-reinforced rats. These results suggest that CE is more reinforcing and less anxiogenic than cocaine and hence may account for the combined effects of cocaine and ethanol in humans.


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