Natural High: Animals that Use Drugs in the Wild
It is increasingly recognized that studying drug taking in laboratory animals does not equate to studying genuine addiction, characterized by loss of control over drug use. This has inspired recent work aimed at capturing genuine addiction-like behavior in animals. In this work, we summarize empirical evidence for the occurrence of several DSM-IV-like symptoms of addiction in animals after extended drug use. These symptoms include escalation of drug use, neurocognitive deficits, resistance to extinction, increased motivation for drugs, preference for drugs over nondrug rewards, and resistance to punishment. The fact that addiction-like behavior can occur and be studied in animals gives us the exciting opportunity to investigate the neural and genetic background of drug addiction, which we hope will ultimately lead to the development of more effective treatments for this devastating disorder.