Alcohol Oral Self-Administration in Rats: Attempts to Elicit Excessive Intake and Dependence

  • T. J. Cicero
  • B. R. Smithloff
Part of the Advances in Experimental Medicine and Biology book series (AEMB, volume 35)


The search for an animal analogue of human alcoholism has been the subject of intense research interest since Richter’s (1) demonstration that a rat will drink weak alcohol solutions in preference to water. However, in the three decades following these studies there has yet to be a demonstration of addiction to alcohol in an animal when oral se1f-administration techniques have been employed (e.g., 2,3). This conclusion is based on the fact that in no self-selection study, even those in which “experimental alcoholism” has been claimed, have the criteria of drug and, specifically, alcohol addiction been met. These criteria are: 1) The oral self-administration of alcohol, in the absence of food deprivation, in amounts sufficient to regularly produce intoxication, as determined by both behavioral analysis and blood alcohol levels; 2) The development of tolerance to alcohol’s effects after chronic oral self-administration; 3) The development of a withdrawal syndrome (i.e., physical dependence) upon abrupt withdrawal of alcohol following a period of chronic self-administration; and 4) The development of “psychological dependence” on alcohol, as indicated by, for example, the animals self-selection of alcohol to avoid a withdrawal syndrome or willingness to perform work or overcome an imposed barrier to obtain alcohol. Although a number of investigators have recently reported the production of physical dependence on alcohol in several species and by a variety of procedures (4,5,6,7), it can be unequivocally stated that, on the basis of the criteria outlined above, an animal analogue of human alcoholism has not yet been generated.


Fluid Intake Withdrawal Syndrome Alcohol Withdrawal Alcohol Group Physical Dependence 
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Copyright information

© Plenum Press, New York 1973

Authors and Affiliations

  • T. J. Cicero
    • 1
  • B. R. Smithloff
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of PsychiatryWashington University School of MedicineSt. LouisUSA

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