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The stimulus properties of morphine and ethanol

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The present investigation sought (a) to establish the efficacy of morphine and ethanol as discriminative stimuli when each is paired with the administration of saline and (b) to compare, in a qualitative sense, the stimulus properties of the two drugs. Additional experiments examined the effects of treatment with naloxone or l-propranolol upon morphine and ethanol-mediated discriminated responding. Finally, the stereospecificity of the stimuli produced by morphine was determined by a comparison, in morphine-trained rats, of levorphanol and dextrorphan. Discriminated responding developed rapidly in both the morphine and ethanol groups. In tests in which ethanol was administered to morphine-trained animals and vice versa, no similarity to stimulus properties was apparent. Antagonism of discriminated responding induced by morphine and ethanol was attempted using naloxone and l-propranolol. Naloxone blocked the actions of morphine but was without effect upon ethanol. No evidence of antagonism of either drug by propranolol was found. When a range of doses of levorphanol (0.1–3 mg/kg) and dextrorphan (3–100 mg/kg) was tested in morphine trained animals, only levorphanol was able to substitute for morphine. The present results suggest that the stimulus properties of morphine represent typical opiate effects.

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Winter, J.C. The stimulus properties of morphine and ethanol. Psychopharmacologia 44, 209–214 (1975).

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Key words

  • Ethanol
  • Morphine
  • Drug discrimination
  • Naloxone
  • Propanolol
  • Levorphanol
  • Dextrorphan