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Neuroplasticity and Predictors of Alcohol Recovery

Recovery from alcoholism is a complex and long-term process with high relapse rates. Therefore, understanding why people relapse has been critically important to improving treatment outcomes. To that end, researchers are looking for clinical and biological markers that predict relapse after treatment and to use those risk factors to develop effective treatments to reduce relapse rates. One...

Immune Function Genes, Genetics, and the Neurobiology of Addiction

The nervous system and the immune system interact closely to regulate the body’s immune responses, including inflammatory responses. Accordingly, the term “neuroimmune system” refers to the immune system and those components of the nervous system that help regulate immune responses and also encompasses the hormones and other signaling molecules that convey signals between the immune and nervous...

Treatment of Alcohol Dependence With Drug Antagonists of the Stress Response

Although alcohol dependence affects 4 percent of the adult population and is the third leading cause of preventable death in the United States (Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration 2009), fewer than 15 percent of people with alcoholism receive treatment (Hasin et al. 2007). The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders–Fourth Edition Text Revision (DSM–IV–TR) ...

Identifying Gene Networks Underlying the Neurobiology of Ethanol and Alcoholism

The multiple genetic, environmental, and behavioral factors that play a role in the development of alcohol use disorders (AUDs) make it difficult to identify individual genes linked to these disorders. Nevertheless, some genetic risk factors (i.e., specific variants) associated with AUDs have been identified within many genes, some of which code for proteins involved in known biological pathways...

Advances in Medications and Tailoring Treatment for Alcohol Use Disorder

Despite decades of research on various methods for treating alcohol use disorder (AUD), AUD remains prevalent throughout the world, making it critical to develop a more comprehensive approach to address the issue. Heavy drinking is the third largest risk factor for global disease burden, leading to enormous social and economic decline (World Health Organization 2014). Each year, alcohol misuse...

Genetic and Environmental Determinants of Stress Responding

The development of alcohol dependence is a complex process influenced by both genetic and environmental risk factors (Prescott and Kendler 1999). The relative contributions of genetic and environmental influences fluctuate across development. During adolescence the initiation of alcohol use is strongly influenced by environmental factors (Dick et al. 2007; Heath et al. 1997; Karvonen 1995...

Co-Occurring Alcohol Use Disorder and Anxiety: Bridging the Psychiatric, Psychological, and Neurobiological Perspectives

“Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”

—George Santayana

Few observations in psychiatry have been documented as long and as consistently as the association between anxiety (and general negative affect) and the chronic misuse of alcohol. Research has shown that up to 50% of individuals receiving treatment for problematic alcohol use also met diagnostic criteria...

Women and Alcohol - From the Editors

Recent epidemiological research has identified alarming trends in drinking patterns of girls and women in the United States. In recent years, the amount and frequency of alcohol use are increasing in White and Hispanic girls and young women in contrast to decreasing patterns of heavy alcohol use in boys and young men.1,2 Similarly, current and binge alcohol use is rising among older women,3,4 resu...

Forebrain-Midbrain Circuits and Peptides Involved in Hyperalgesia After Chronic Alcohol Exposure

Introduction

Chronic pain increases the risk for development of alcohol use disorder (AUD). Given that acute alcohol consumption can reduce pain, humans sometimes drink alcohol for relief of pain. Chronic alcohol consumption, however, can increase pain sensitivity during withdrawal and facilitate pain sensitization related to comorbid pain conditions.1 Ascending and descending nociceptive...