Modeling risk factors for nicotine and other drug abuse in the preclinical laboratory

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94 Scopus citations


Risk factors that predict vulnerability for nicotine and other drug abuse have been identified using preclinical models, and there is close agreement with clinical and epidemiological studies. The major risk factors to be discussed are age, sex/hormonal status, impulsivity, sweet-liking, novelty reactivity, proclivity for exercise, and environmental impoverishment (vs. enrichment). This discussion will focus on factors that preclinical research has determined are strong and translatable predictors of nicotine and other drug abuse. An advantage of using preclinical models is that prospective, longitudinal studies and within-subject designs can be used to reveal risk factors that are diverse yet maintain unique characteristics. The many interrelationships among these factors lead to an additive vulnerability that increases the predictability that drug abuse will occur. A feature that these risk factors have in common is that they consistently predict vulnerability to drug abuse over critical transition phases of addiction that are difficult to examine prospectively in humans, such as acquisition, escalation, and reinstatement of drug-seeking after abstinence (relapse). The models offer valuable information that has been transferred to effective prevention and treatment strategies for smoking and other drug abuse in humans.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)S70-S78
JournalDrug and alcohol dependence
Issue numberSUPPL. 1
StatePublished - Oct 1 2009

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Funding for this study was provided by NIDA grants R01 DA03240, R01 DA019942, P20 DA024196, K05 DA015267 (M.E.C.), F31 DA020237 (J.L.P.), and F31 DA023301 (J.J.A.).


  • Adolescence
  • Drug abuse
  • Environmental enrichment
  • Hormonal influences
  • Impulsivity
  • Nicotine
  • Novelty reactivity
  • Physical activity
  • Preclinical models
  • Risk factors
  • Sex
  • Sweet preference


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