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Editorial
November 2016

Translational Research on Incubation of Cocaine Craving

Author Affiliations
  • 1Behavioral Neuroscience Research Branch, Intramural Research Program, National Institute on Drug Abuse, National Institutes of Health, Baltimore, Maryland
JAMA Psychiatry. 2016;73(11):1115-1116. doi:10.1001/jamapsychiatry.2016.2110

In 1986, Gawin and Kleber1 proposed that cue-induced cocaine craving increases progressively during early abstinence and remains high during extended periods. However, subsequent inpatient clinical studies in the late 1980s have shown that baseline (nonprovoked) craving for cocaine decreases progressively during the first month of abstinence.2 Consequently, the hypothesis by Gawin and Kleber1 was not empirically tested in clinical studies on the time course of cue-induced cocaine craving during abstinence and was largely forgotten. More than a decade later, and largely independent of the early clinical literature, studies using animal models of relapse3 have shown that the rat’s drug-seeking response to cues associated with cocaine (Figure)47 and other abused drugs8 increases progressively after cessation of drug self-administration, a phenomenon termed incubation of drug craving.7

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