Interactions between nicotine and drugs of abuse: a review of preclinical findings

Am J Drug Alcohol Abuse. 2017 Mar;43(2):155-170. doi: 10.1080/00952990.2016.1209513. Epub 2016 Sep 2.


Polysubstance abuse is common among substance-use disorder patients, and nicotine is one of the most commonly co-used substances. Epidemiological and clinical laboratory studies suggest that nicotine, when combined with other drugs of abuse, increases intake of one or both substances. This review focuses on the preclinical literature regarding nicotine's interaction with alcohol, stimulants (i.e., cocaine, amphetamines), opioids (i.e., morphine, heroin), and Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). The current understanding of how these various classes of abused drugs may interact with nicotine on behavioral, physiological, and pharmacological indices that may be important in maintaining co-use of one or both substances in human populations are highlighted. Suggestions as to future areas of research and gaps in knowledge are offered.

Keywords: Polysubstance use; THC; alcohol; cocaine; nicotine; opioids; preclinical.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Analgesics, Opioid / pharmacology
  • Animals
  • Central Nervous System Stimulants / pharmacology
  • Dronabinol / pharmacology
  • Drug Interactions
  • Ethanol / pharmacology
  • Humans
  • Illicit Drugs / pharmacology*
  • Nicotine / pharmacology*


  • Analgesics, Opioid
  • Central Nervous System Stimulants
  • Illicit Drugs
  • Ethanol
  • Nicotine
  • Dronabinol