Addiction is a global crisis, with over 3.5 million deaths occurring each year from alcohol misuse and drug overdose.1,2  Animal models are valuable in understanding neurobiological mechanisms behind compulsion, relapse and prevention, as well as the physiological effects of addiction and treatments. 

Substances Commonly Researched Using Preclinical Models:

  • Alcohol
  • Sugar
  • Illicit Substances (e.g. Cocaine, Methamphetamines)
  • Prescription Drugs (e.g. Opioids, Benzodiazepines)
  • Tobacco and Nicotine
  • Inhalants 


Commonly Used Species in Addiction Research

Mouse Silhouette




non-human primate

Nonhuman Primates


DSI Solutions are Trusted by Addiction Researchers to Get Meaningful Results from
Their Studies

The following areas of research and commonly collected biomarkers in preclinical studies are used to gain a better understanding of addiction, prevention, and improved therapeutic outcomes in the clinic. DSI provides a wide range of validated physiological monitoring solutions to fit researcher needs during the many stages of their studies.

Click on a research area below to learn more about endpoints of interest collected in addiction studies.


Numerous drugs and addictive substances are known to cause disturbances within the cardiovascular system. Overdosing or long-term use can result in abnormal cardiac function or permanent damage. Complications include abnormal heart rate, narrowing of vessels, changes in heart conduction, cardiomyopathy, hypertension, heart failure, and more.

Common Endpoints

Blood Pressure

Heart Rate

Pulse Wave Velocity

Blood Flow


Cardiac output

Google Scholar Indexes 105 Publications Citing DSI, Cardiovascular and Addiction


From respiratory complications brought on by the long term use of tobacco products, to opioid induced respiratory depression, researchers are using animal models to evaluate how addictive substances effect lung function. The methods below help researchers gain insight into lung health and disease caused by acute and chronic substance abuse. 

Common Endpoints

Breathing Frequency

Inspiratory and Expiratory Duration

Peak Airflow Rates

Tidal and Expiratory Reserve Volume

Volume and Functional Residual Capacity

Respiratory Muscle Function

Lung and Chest Wall Compliance


Google Scholar Indexes 478 Publications Citing DSI's Buxco Respiratory Solutions and Overdose

Behavioral Testing

Animals have the ability to become addicted to alcohol and drugs, similar to humans. This makes in vivo models the most translatable method to reliably study addiction in preclinical studies. Researchers studying addictive behavior use objective and subjective tools to assess self-administration, tolerance, withdrawal, motivation, cognitive function, punishment, and more. 

Common Endpoints

Task Performance


Activity and Ambulation

Pain and Sensation




*Behavioral solutions are available from our Harvard Bioscience sister brands Panlab and Coulbourn Instruments. Reach out to us to learn more about how to incorporate these solutions into your current research set-up. 

Google Scholar Indexes 973 Publications Citing Panlab and Addiction
Google Scholar Indexes 2,140 Publications Citing Coulbourn and Addiction
Google Scholar Indexes 160 Publications Citing DSI, Behavior and Addiction


Electrophysiology provides real time information on neural activities based on frequency or voltage changes within the brain or individual neurons. Researchers use electrophysiology to gain insight into neurobiological vulnerabilities that promote substance dependency and relapse, to look at acute and chronic physiological effects caused by substances and for target identification for pharmacological treatments. 

Common Endpoints

Electroencephalogram (EEG)

Electromyogram (EMG)


Neurotoxicity - Concentration - Response Curves

Neurotransmitter Signaling

*In vitro solutions are available from our Harvard Bioscience sister companies Multichannel Systems and HEKA Elektronik. Reach out to us to learn more about how to incorporate these solutions into your current research set-up. 

Google Scholar Indexes 99 Publications Citing DSI, Nervous System and Addiction
Google Scholar Indexes 432 Publications Citing HEKA, Patch-Clamp and Addiction
Google Scholar Indexes 91 Publications Citing Multichannel Systems and Addiction


Alcohol, tobacco and drugs have a direct effect on the central nervous system and in particular the hypothalamus, which is responsible for thermoregulation. Researchers add temperature monitoring to their addiction studies to correlate changes in behavior and physiology with core body temperature. Wireless solutions allow for relevant data collection without the worry of handling side effects, like stress induced temperature changes. 

Common Endpoints

Core Body Temperature

Localized Temperature

Ambient Temperature



Google Scholar Indexes 177 Publications Citing DSI, Temperature and Addiction


Drug and alcohol abuse affect blood glucose control and can lead to cellular damage and chronic dysregulation in glucose homeostasis. This increases the risk for diabetes and metabolic syndrome. Researchers are also studying the addictive quality sugar has on behavior and neural networks. Monitoring glucose during addiction studies provides insight into the effects of substances on glucose secretion, insulin resistance, activity, and stress. 

Common Endpoints


Blood Glucose




Google Scholar Indexes 65 Publications Citing DSI, Glucose and Addiction

Highlighted Publications and References

Alipio, J. B., Haga, C., Fox, M. E., Arakawa, K., Balaji, R., Cramer, N., ... & Keller, A. (2020). Perinatal fentanyl exposure leads to long-lasting impairments in somatosensory circuit function and behavior. bioRxiv.

Bloom, A. J. (2019). Mouse strain-specific acute respiratory effects of nicotine unrelated to nicotine metabolismToxicology mechanisms and methods29(7), 542-548.

Brackley, A. D., Andrade, M. A., & Toney, G. M. (2020). Intermittent hypercapnic hypoxia induces respiratory hypersensitivity to fentanyl accompanied by tonic respiratory depression by endogenous opioidsThe Journal of Physiology.

Gutierrez, A., Creehan, K. M., & Taffe, M. A. (2020). A vapor exposure method for delivering heroin alters nociception, body temperature and spontaneous activity in female and male rats. Journal of Neuroscience Methods, 108993.

Hurley, S. W., Beltz, T. G., Guo, F., Xue, B., & Johnson, A. K. (2020). Amphetamine-induced sensitization of hypertension and lamina terminalis neuroinflammationAmerican Journal of Physiology-Regulatory, Integrative and Comparative Physiology318(3), R649-R656.

Javadi-Paydar, M., Kerr, T. M., Harvey, E. L., Cole, M., & Taffe, M. A. (2019). Effects of nicotine and THC vapor inhalation administered by an electronic nicotine delivery system (ENDS) in male ratsDrug and alcohol dependence198, 54-62.

Kiguchi, N., Ding, H., Cami-Kobeci, G., Sukhtankar, D. D., Czoty, P. W., DeLoid, H. B., ... & Ko, M. C. (2019). BU10038 as a safe opioid analgesic with fewer side-effects after systemic and intrathecal administration in primatesBritish journal of anaesthesia122(6), e146-e156.

Lai, C. C., Fang, C., Kuo, C. Y., Wu, Y. W., & Lin, H. H. (2020). Activation of mGluR5 and NMDA Receptor Pathways in the Rostral Ventrolateral Medulla as a Central Mechanism for Methamphetamine-Induced Pressor Effect in Rats. Biomolecules10(1), 149.

Liu, J. (2020). Alcohol consumption combined with dietary low-carbohydrate/high-protein intake increased the left ventricular systolic dysfunction risk and lethal ventricular arrhythmia susceptibility in apolipoprotein E/low-density lipoprotein receptor double-knockout miceAlcohol89, 63-74.

McCranor, B. J., Jennings, L., Tressler, J., Tuet, W. Y., Cox, V. E. D., Racine, M., ... & Litvin, S. R. (2020). Assessment of naloxone as a therapeutic for inhaled carfentanil in the ferretToxicology Reports7, 1112-1120.


1Facts and figures. (2019, December 03). Retrieved October 07, 2020, from

2Facts & Stats. (2020, April 13). Retrieved October 07, 2020, from