Smoked heroin self-administration in rhesus monkeys

Adande J. Mattox, Marilyn E Carroll

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

20 Scopus citations


The purpose of the present study was to evaluate behavioral and pharmacological determinants of smoked heroin self-administration. Eight rhesus monkeys were trained to self-administer smoked heroin under a chained fixed-ratio (FR, 64-1024) for lever presses, FR 5 for inhalations schedule during daily experimental sessions. Demand for heroin was determined by plotting consumption (smoke deliveries) as a function of price which was varied by increasing the FR lever press requirement from 64 to 1024. The heroin demand curve was compared to that obtained with smoked cocaine base. Dose-effect determinations were obtained by varying the unit dose of heroin from 0.025 to 1.6 mg/kg per delivery. Pretreatment with naloxone (0.01-1.0 mg/kg IM, 10 min presession) and suhstitution tests with the peripherally acting opioid loperamide (0.1 mg/kg per delivery) were also conducted. Deliveries of smoked heroin decreased, but lever responding per delivery increased as the FR increased. Demand for heroin was elastic and comparable to demand for smoked cocaine base. Varying the dose of heroin available for self-administration resulted in an asymptotic dose-effect curve. Naloxone pretreatment produced dose-dependent decreases in heroin self-administration. Substitution of loperamide for heroin produced extinction-like responding within one or two sessions, with the total smoke deliveries decreasing by 80% of heroin levels within 8-15 days. Reinstatement of heroin resulted in a rapid return to baseline levels of self-administration. These data suggest that rhesus monkeys will readily and reliably self-administer heroin via the inhalation route, and hehavioral and pharmacological manipulations indicate that smoked heroin functioned as a positive reinforcer.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)195-201
Number of pages7
Issue number3
StatePublished - 1996


  • behavioral economics
  • cocaine base
  • crack
  • drug self-administration
  • heroin
  • inhalation
  • loperamide
  • naloxone antagonism
  • rhesus monkeys
  • smoking


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