Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Honors Thesis



First Advisor

Jennifer Berry


Alcohol and nicotine are two of the most commonly abused drugs across the United States. Given the high rates of comorbidity, it remains a pressing public health concern to determine how the two drugs interact within the CNS, and how this impacts addictive behavior. The present study investigated the effect of comorbid abuse of nicotine and alcohol on stress and anxiety-like withdrawal symptoms, as both are associated with increased rates of relapse. A voluntary co­-consumption, two-bottle choice paradigm was used with nicotine and alcohol to induce binge-­like drinking behavior in mice following the drinking in the dark (DID) model of consumption. One bottle of water and one experimental bottle that contained nicotine (5-30 μg/ml), alcohol (3-20% v/v), nicotine+alcohol, or water were placed in each cage. Adult C57BL/6J mice (20 male, 20 female) mice had access to the substance of interest for 4 hours within their dark, or active, period in a 24 hour cycle. Plasma corticosterone levels were measured at baseline (before any substances were introduced) and again in the acute withdrawal period in n=16 mice. The marble burying task was done as a behavioral measure of anxiety-like withdrawal symptoms in n=24 mice. I expected to see an increase in stress and anxiety-like withdrawal symptoms in the co-morbid condition compared to the alcohol and nicotine conditions alone, and all drug conditions compared to the water control condition. I did not find significant results or trends for corticosterone or the MBT. I saw a trend towards significance in the main effect of sex on anxiety-like withdrawal symptoms. The present study contributes to the knowledge surrounding comorbid alcohol and nicotine dependence in hopes to better understand this addiction.

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Psychology Commons