Nicotine as a Conditioned Stimulus: Impact of Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder Medications

Carmela M. Reichel, Jessica D. Linkugel, Rick A. Bevins

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

20 Scopus citations


People diagnosed with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) are at an increased risk to start smoking and have greater difficulty quitting. Nicotine, one of the principal addictive components of tobacco smoke, functioned as a conditioned stimulus (CS) for intermittent sucrose delivery in a Pavlovian drug discrimination task with rats. This study compared the ability of commonly prescribed ADHD medications (i.e., methylphenidate, atomoxetine, and bupropion) and additional dopamine reuptake inhibitors (i.e., cocaine and GBR 12909) to substitute for the CS effects of nicotine. Atomoxetine was also used to antagonize these CS effects. Rats acquired the discrimination as evidenced by increased dipper entries in nicotine (0.2 mg base/kg) sessions as compared with saline sessions. Nicotine generalization was dose dependent. Bupropion (10 and 20 mg/kg), methylphenidate (10 mg/kg), and cocaine (5 and 10 mg/kg) partially substituted for the 0.2 mg/kg nicotine CS. Atomoxetine did not substitute for the nicotine CS; however, atomoxetine (1 to 10 mg/kg) partially blocked nicotine's CS effects. These results suggest that atomoxetine, bupropion, and/or methylphenidate may be effective treatments for people diagnosed with ADHD and addicted to nicotine.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)501-509
Number of pages9
JournalExperimental and Clinical Psychopharmacology
Issue number5
StatePublished - Oct 2007


  • dopamine
  • drug discrimination
  • interoceptive Pavlovian conditioning
  • nicotinic acetylcholine receptors
  • norepinephrine

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pharmacology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Pharmacology (medical)


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