Intravenous ethanol/cocaine self-administration initiates high intake of intravenous ethanol alone.
ABSTRACT Evidence suggests that ethanol (EtOH) preexposure influences the rewarding valence of subsequent EtOH use. This study was conducted to determine if EtOH preexposure through EtOH/cocaine self-administration facilitates the motivational effects of EtOH alone. Rats self-administered intravenous (iv) EtOH/cocaine combinations (EtOH/Cocaine Fading group; EtOH 125.0 mg/kg/inj+Cocaine 0.1-0.75 mg/kg/inj) during a preexposure period. Consequently, these rats self-administered intravenous EtOH alone (62.5, 125.0, 250.0 and 500.0 mg/kg/inj) significantly more than a control group with prior cocaine self-administration experience (0.1-0.75 mg/kg/inj). In addition, at equal EtOH intake levels, locomotor activity was significantly enhanced in the EtOH/Cocaine Fading group but not the Cocaine Control animals (P=.01). The amount of EtOH self-administered in the EtOH/Cocaine Fading group during 1-h sessions (approximately 0.5-2.0 g/kg) corresponded with blood alcohol levels (BAL) ranging from 44 to 221 mg/dl. The highest BALs reported here have not previously been demonstrated after voluntary EtOH intake through any route of administration. These data suggest that preexposure to EtOH during EtOH/cocaine self-administration sessions modified neural substrates underlying both the reinforcing and locomotor responses to EtOH alone. Further studies utilizing intravenous EtOH self-administration will allow identification of various long-term behavioral and neural consequences of voluntary high EtOH intake.