Opioid Involvement in Alcohol Drinking

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69 Scopus citations


A large body of evidence indicates that the endogenous opioid system plays an important role in maintaining alcohol drinking behavior. Evidence is reviewed that indicates that the reinforcing properties of alcohol that lead to continued and repeated bouts of drinking may be due, in part, to alcohol-induced activation of the endogenous opioid system. Much of this evidence is pharmacologic in nature. Blocking the action of endogenous opioid peptides via administration of opioid antagonists significantly attenuates alcohol consumption in animals under a variety of experimental conditions. In clinical trials, opioid receptor antagonists decrease alcohol consumption, relapse rates, subjective high, and alcohol craving in outpatient alcoholics. The potential clinical utility of opioid receptor antagonists in the treatment of alcoholism and alcohol dependence is discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)156-167
Number of pages12
JournalAnnals of the New York Academy of Sciences
Issue number1
StatePublished - Oct 1994

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)
  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • History and Philosophy of Science

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