Beta-adrenergic antagonists attenuate withdrawal anxiety in cocaine- and morphine-dependent rats

Psychopharmacology (Berl). 1993;113(1):131-6. doi: 10.1007/BF02244345.


Rats were treated chronically with either cocaine (20 mg/kg/day, 14 days), morphine (incrementing doses of 10 mg/kg/day to 80 mg/kg, 11 days) or saline. During morphine or cocaine abstinence (48 h), dependent rats showed increased anxiety-like behavior in a conditioned defensive burying paradigm as evidenced by significantly shorter latencies to begin burying as well as a 4-fold increase in burying duration relative to saline-treated animals. This withdrawal-induced increase in burying behavior was blocked by pretreatment with either the beta-adrenergic antagonist propranolol (5 mg/kg) or the lipophobic selective beta 1-antagonist, atenolol (5 mg/kg). These results are consistent with the possibility that activation of peripheral beta 1 receptors may substantially contribute to withdrawal-induced anxiety and that beta-adrenergic antagonists could be useful in treating in cocaine and morphine dependent addicts.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adrenergic beta-Antagonists / therapeutic use*
  • Animals
  • Anxiety / drug therapy*
  • Anxiety / psychology*
  • Atenolol / therapeutic use
  • Cocaine*
  • Injections, Intraperitoneal
  • Male
  • Morphine Dependence / psychology*
  • Propranolol / therapeutic use
  • Rats
  • Rats, Sprague-Dawley
  • Substance Withdrawal Syndrome / drug therapy*
  • Substance Withdrawal Syndrome / psychology*
  • Substance-Related Disorders / psychology*


  • Adrenergic beta-Antagonists
  • Atenolol
  • Propranolol
  • Cocaine