Interactions between opioids and stimulants: Behavioral pharmacology of abuse-related effects

David R. Maguire, Vanessa Minervini

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

4 Scopus citations


Opioid abuse continues to be a significant public health challenge, with rates of opioid-related overdose deaths increasing continuously over the last two decades. There also has been a sharp increase in overdose deaths involving stimulant drugs, primarily cocaine and methamphetamine. Recent estimates indicate a high prevalence of co-use of opioids and stimulants, which is a particularly complex problem. Behavioral pharmacology research over the last few decades has characterized interactions between opioids and stimulants as well as evaluated potential treatments. This chapter describes interactions between opioids and stimulants, with a focus on pre-clinical studies of abuse-related behavioral effects using self-administration, reinstatement, drug discrimination, place conditioning, and intracranial self-stimulation paradigms in laboratory animals. In general, the literature provides substantial evidence of mutual enhancement between opioids and stimulants for abuse-related effects, although such results are not ubiquitous. Enhanced abuse-related effects could manifest in many ways including engaging in drug seeking and taking behaviors with greater persistence, effort, and motivation and/or increased likelihood of relapse. Moreover, studies on opioid/stimulant combinations set the stage for evaluating potential treatments for polysubstance use. Behavioral pharmacology research has proven invaluable for elucidating these relationships using rigorous experimental designs and quantitative analyses of pharmacological and behavioral data.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationBehavioral Pharmacology of Drug Abuse
Subtitle of host publicationCurrent Status
EditorsJun-Xu Li
PublisherAcademic Press Inc.
Number of pages33
ISBN (Print)9780323915267
StatePublished - Jan 2022

Publication series

NameAdvances in Pharmacology
ISSN (Print)1054-3589
ISSN (Electronic)1557-8925


  • Drug abuse
  • Drug discrimination
  • Drug-drug interaction
  • Intracranial self-stimulation
  • Opioids
  • Place conditioning
  • Reinstatement
  • Self-administration
  • Stimulants

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pharmacology


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