Rationale: Stimuli that are paired with opioid withdrawal can themselves produce effects similar to withdrawal that might promote relapse. Objective: This study compared precipitated and conditioned withdrawal and tested whether withdrawal is modified by clonidine or morphine. Methods: Morphine-treated rats (10 mg/kg/12 h) received naloxone (3.2 mg/kg) in a novel environment (conditioned stimuli [CS]). Other rats received naloxone in the absence of the CS. Body weight and observable signs were used to measure withdrawal. Results: Naloxone produced weight loss and withdrawal signs in morphine-treated rats. Following pairings of the CS and naloxone, the CS alone had effects similar to naloxone; conditioned withdrawal was greater after three naloxone/CS pairings, as compared to one, and with longer morphine treatment. Antagonist-precipitated withdrawal was greater in rats that previously were physically dependent on morphine, as compared to withdrawal in rats that were never dependent; however, conditioned withdrawal did not differ between groups. When administered concurrently with naloxone, clonidine (0.1 mg/kg) attenuated some precipitated withdrawal signs, although conditioned withdrawal was largely unchanged. Administration of 10 mg/kg of morphine before the CS alone attenuated all conditioned withdrawal signs, whereas 0.1 mg/kg of clonidine before the CS alone reduced some directly observable signs and not weight loss. Conclusions: Conditioned withdrawal occurs rapidly and is greater with longer periods of morphine treatment or more pairings of naloxone and the CS; however, a history of physical dependence does not increase conditioned withdrawal. Modification of conditioned withdrawal by drugs might be a useful approach for treating relapse.
- Conditioned withdrawal
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