Insights from Preclinical Choice Models on Treating Drug Addiction

Trends Pharmacol Sci. 2017 Feb;38(2):181-194. doi: 10.1016/ Epub 2016 Dec 2.


Substance-use disorders are a global public health problem that arises from behavioral misallocation between drug use and more adaptive behaviors maintained by nondrug alternatives (e.g., food or money). Preclinical drug self-administration procedures that incorporate a concurrently available nondrug reinforcer (e.g., food) provide translationally relevant and distinct dependent measures of behavioral allocation (i.e., to assess the relative reinforcing efficacy of the drug) and behavioral rate (i.e., to assess motor competence). In particular, preclinical drug versus food 'choice' procedures have produced increasingly concordant results with both human laboratory drug self-administration studies and double-blind placebo-controlled clinical trials. Accordingly, here we provide a heuristic framework of substance-use disorders based on a behavioral-centric perspective and recent insights from these preclinical choice procedures.

Keywords: addiction; choice; drug self-administration; preclinical model; substance-use disorder.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Choice Behavior
  • Clinical Trials as Topic
  • Humans
  • Macaca mulatta
  • Mice
  • Models, Animal
  • Receptors, Opioid, kappa / antagonists & inhibitors
  • Reinforcement, Psychology
  • Self Administration
  • Substance-Related Disorders / drug therapy*


  • Receptors, Opioid, kappa