Can addiction arise without context?

Hello everyone!
I wonder if drugs seeking behavior can arise without exhibiting any behavior at all? Or can a subject become addicted to a drug, not knowing that it administers the drug? As far as I know, to train a mouse for drug-seeking behavior, you need to reinforce some kind of behavior with a drug that forces a surge of dopamine in the brain. But what if you give drugs to the mouse in such a way that it doesn’t aware of it? Will it still exhibit drug-seeking behavior or feel an addiction?

The mouse will not!
I read a study where they tested exactly this by (IIRC) injecting cocaine through a tube in their urethra so that the mouse could not feel the drugs being administered.

If the mouse has any clue as to why it got the drugs then it will seek those clues like an addict. If for example they had used a hypodermic to inject then the mouse would have associated needle jabs with the drugs.

However, while the experiment was a success (in that the mouse did not habitually seek more drugs), the mouse still got drugged (at least once by the researchers) and addictive drugs can have permanent effects on the brain. Addictive drugs alter your emotions and “baseline” of happiness. Addictive drugs tend to have a lot of side effects on the brain which the mice certainly would have suffered from, even if they did not form a habit of seeking drugs.


Wow, that’s interesting. Could you please share the cite of the study?

Yeah, there are a lot of other side effects besides drug-seeking behavior, but I see a mouse that didn’t associate the drug with any clue have better chances to recover. So, probably, it’s better to inject medical drugs with addictive side effects in secret from patients. But, likely, for ethical reasons, it will not be.

Sorry, I don’t have a citation for you. I don’t know where I read that and searching “mouse addiction” yields a lot of results. But I do know that people have tried to answer that question: “what if you give drugs to the mouse in such a way that it isn’t aware of it?”

It doesn’t have to be in secret, you just want to avoid conditionable stimuli: any sensation that can be subconsciously associated with phasic dopamine surge. Patch is perfect for that: you don’t feel it and drug release is gradual, there is no surge. That’s why nicotine patch is not addictive but smoking is: strong associated stimuli and acute release.