Stress vulnerability and alcohol use and consequences: From human laboratory studies to clinical outcomes

Vijay A. Ramchandani, Bethany L. Stangl, Sara K. Blaine, Martin H. Plawecki, Melanie L. Schwandt, Laura E. Kwako, Rajita Sinha, Melissa A. Cyders, Sean O'Connor, Samir Zakhari

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


It is well known that vulnerability to stress is a risk factor for alcohol use disorder (AUD). Chronic alcohol use can result in neuroadaptations in cortico-striatal pathways and hypothalamic pituitary adrenal (HPA) axis function that are manifested in altered behavioral and cognitive control functions contributing to alcohol craving, compulsive motivation, consumption, and consequences. This symposium brings together studies utilizing novel approaches to help improve our understanding of stress – past, acute, and chronic – on alcohol seeking and consumption and related outcomes using a combination of human laboratory models, neuroimaging, and clinical measures. Examining factors that determine vulnerability as well as resilience to stress are of particular interest in the study of AUD because, in addition to increasing our understanding of the risk factors for AUD, such knowledge can be used to develop more effective treatments. Dr. Stangl presented a novel human experimental model that demonstrates, for the first time, stress-induced increases in alcohol self-administration in binge drinkers using a guided imagery paradigm combined with intravenous alcohol self-administration (IV-ASA). Dr. Blaine presented data demonstrating that glucocorticoid response to stress drives compulsive alcohol motivation and intake in binge/heavy drinkers. Dr. Plawecki presented data examining sex differences in the effect of two distinct stress paradigms – mood induction and abstinence – on IV-ASA in moderate drinkers. Dr. Schwandt presented clinical data providing a new perspective on the relationship between childhood trauma and AUD by suggesting possible underlying mechanisms that confer resilience, rather than vulnerability, to severe early life stress exposure.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)75-88
Number of pages14
StatePublished - Nov 2018


  • Alcohol use disorder
  • Early life stress
  • Gender
  • Intravenous alcohol self-administration
  • Resilience
  • fMRI

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health(social science)
  • Biochemistry
  • Toxicology
  • Neurology
  • Behavioral Neuroscience

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