Self-administration of drugs in animals and humans as a model and an investigative tool

Addiction. 2007 Dec;102(12):1863-70. doi: 10.1111/j.1360-0443.2007.02011.x.


Aim: To review briefly the methods, assumptions, models, accomplishments, drawbacks and future directions of research using drug self-administration in animals and humans.

Background: The use of drug self-administration to study addiction is based on the assumption that drugs reinforce the behavior that results in their delivery. A wide range of drug self-administration techniques have been developed to model specific aspects of addiction. These techniques are highly amenable to being combined with a wide variety of neuroscience techniques.

Conclusions: The identification of drug use as behavior that is reinforced by drugs has contributed greatly to the understanding and treatment of addiction. As part of a program of pre-clinical research that also involves screening with a variety of simpler behavioral techniques, drug self-administration procedures can provide an important last step in testing potential treatments for addiction. There is currently a concerted effort to develop self-administration procedures that model the extreme nature of the behavior engendered by addiction. As advances continue to be made in neuroscience techniques, self-administration should continue to provide a means of applying these techniques within a sophisticated and valid model of human drug addiction.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Intramural
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Behavior, Addictive*
  • Haplorhini
  • Humans
  • Models, Animal*
  • Rats
  • Reinforcement, Psychology
  • Self Administration*
  • Substance-Related Disorders* / rehabilitation