Brief Communication | Published:

Conditioning and opiate withdrawal


The amygdala links neutral stimuli with the agony of overcoming drug addiction.


The habitual behaviour of many opiate addicts means that the aversive symptoms of drug withdrawal are frequently experienced in specific environments1. Stimuli in these environments acquire some of the negative affective properties of opiate withdrawal through pavlovian conditioning, and subsequent exposure to these stimuli alone can then elicit a conditioned withdrawal response that is often associated with drug craving, drug seeking, and relapse back to compulsive drug use after a long abstinence1,2. We show here that selective excitotoxic lesions of the basolateral amygdala, part of the limbic forebrain, prevent the development of conditioned withdrawal in morphine-dependent rats.

Access optionsAccess options

Rent or Buy article

Get time limited or full article access on ReadCube.


All prices are NET prices.


  1. 1

    Wikler, A. Arch. Gen. Psychiatry 28, 611–616 (1973).

  2. 2

    O'Brien, C. P., Testa, T., O'Brien, T. J., Brady, J. P. & Wells, B. Science 195, 1000–1002 (1977).

  3. 3

    Koob, G. F. & Le Moal, M. Science 278, 52–58 (1997).

  4. 4

    Schulteis, G. & Koob, G. F. Neurochem. Res. 21, 1437–1454 (1996).

  5. 5

    Koob, G. F., Wall, T. L. & Bloom, F. E. Psychopharmacology 98, 530 –534 (1989).

  6. 6

    Whitelaw, R. B., Markou, A., Robbins, T. W. & Everitt, B. J. Psychopharmacology 127, 213–224 (1996).

  7. 7

    Everitt, B. J. et al. Ann. NY Acad. Sci. 877, 412– 438 (1999).

  8. 8

    Baldwin, H. R. & Koob, G. F. Neuropsychopharmacology 8, 15–21 (1993).

  9. 9

    Everitt, B. J., Cardinal, R. N., Hall, J., Parkinson, J. & Robbins, T. W. in The Amygdala: A Functional Analysis (ed. Aggleton, J.) (Wiley, New York, in the press).

  10. 10

    Aston-Jones, G., Delfs, J. M., Druhan, J. & Zhu, Y. Ann. NY Acad. Sci. 877, 486–498 ( 1999).

  11. 11

    Groenewegen, H. J., Wright, C. I. & Beijer, A. V. J. Progr. Brain Res. 107, 485–511 (1996).

  12. 12

    Schulteis, G., Markou, A., Gold, L. H., Stinus, L. & Koob, G. F. J. Pharmacol. Exp. Ther. 271, 1391–1398 (1994).

Download references

Author information

Correspondence to B. J. Everitt.

Rights and permissions

To obtain permission to re-use content from this article visit RightsLink.

About this article

Further reading

Figure 1: Basolateral amygdala lesions significantly attenuate the conditioned withdrawal produced by a tone/light conditioned stimulus (CS) paired with naloxone during four conditioning trials.


By submitting a comment you agree to abide by our Terms and Community Guidelines. If you find something abusive or that does not comply with our terms or guidelines please flag it as inappropriate.