Relative reinforcing effects of cocaine, remifentanil, and their combination in rhesus monkeys

G. Winger, C. M. Galuska, S. R. Hursh, J. H. Woods

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

35 Scopus citations


Human polydrug abusers often take combinations of opioids and stimulants, but it is not clear why. Behavioral economics with demand curve analysis is uniquely able to separate two of the possibilities: that the drug combination increases the reinforcing potency of the component drugs or that the drug combination is a more effective reinforcer than either drug alone. Rhesus monkeys self-administered a range of doses of cocaine, remifentanil, and combinations of the drugs through indwelling intravenous catheters; the number of responses required for each drug infusion increased across drug-availability sessions. Combining small doses of cocaine and remifentanil that by themselves resulted in very low rates of responding yielded rates of responding that were higher than the maximum maintained by any dose of the constituent drugs. Nevertheless, demand curve analysis demonstrated that the drug combination was equally elastic as the component drugs, indicating that it was not more effective as a reinforcer than either cocaine or remifentanil alone. This suggests that enhanced self-administration of this particular drug combination is due primarily to the drug enhancement of the potency of the other drug.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)223-229
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2006

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pharmacology


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