Commonalities and Distinctions Among Mechanisms of Addiction to Alcohol and Other Drugs

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24 Scopus citations


Background: Alcohol abuse is comorbid with abuse of many other drugs, some with similar pharmacology and others quite different. This leads to the hypothesis of an underlying, unitary dysfunctional neurobiological basis for substance abuse risk and consequences. Methods: In this review, we discuss commonalities and distinctions of addiction to alcohol and other drugs. We focus on recent advances in preclinical studies using rodent models of drug self-administration. Results: While there are specific behavioral and molecular manifestations common to alcohol, psychostimulant, opioid, and nicotine dependence, attempts to propose a unifying theory of the addictions inevitably face details where distinctions are found among classes of drugs. Conclusions: For alcohol, versus other drugs of abuse, we discuss and compare advances in: (i) neurocircuitry important for the different stages of drug dependence; (ii) transcriptomics and genetical genomics; and (iii) enduring effects, noting in particular the contributions of behavioral genetics and animal models.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1863-1877
Number of pages15
JournalAlcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research
Issue number10
StatePublished - Oct 2015


  • Addiction
  • Alcohol
  • Animal Models
  • Cocaine
  • Drugs of Abuse

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Toxicology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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